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Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Genetically engineered corn, soy and plant oil should be disclosed on mandatory food labels, a coalition of more than 350 producers, trade groups and consumers said in a petition to U.S. regulators.
The U.S. should require added disclosure even when a product containing a gene-altered organism is similar to foods that aren’t bioengineered, the groups said today in the petition to the Food and Drug Administration. Stonyfield Farm, the organic-yogurt maker owned by Danone SA, and Dean Foods Co.’s Horizon Organic are among the coalition members.
Petitioners, led by the Washington-based Center for Food Safety, want to reverse a 1992 Food and Drug Administration policy that doesn’t require different labeling. Gene-altered seeds are used for almost 90 percent of U.S.-grown corn, 94 percent of soy and 90 percent of cottonseed, an oil-producing plant, the coalition said.
“Consumers ought to have the right to choose whether to be buying these foods,” said Gary Hirshberg, chief executive officer of Londonderry, New Hampshire-based Stonyfield Farm, in an interview. “Polls show a vast majority of Americans say they don’t want to eat genetically engineered foods.”
Under current rules, foodmakers may voluntarily disclose whether a product has gene-altered ingredients, as long as the information is “truthful and not misleading,” said Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokeswoman, in an e-mail.
Mandatory labels for gene-altered products would mislead consumers “by falsely implying differences where none exist,” said Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a Washington trade group.
“Consumers don’t want confusing debates about food politics,” said Greenwood in an e-mail. “Consumers want wholesome food at an affordable price. Agricultural biotechnology is one of the tools that ensures our food supply is affordable, reliable and safe.”