The American Medical Association House of Delegates yesterday adopted a formal statement in opposition to the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered, or bioengineered, foods. (Note: the organization did not consider or take a position on the California food labeling ballot measure). The vote took place at the AMA’s annual meeting in Chicago.
The AMA formal statement reads, in part: “Our AMA believes that as of June 2012, there is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods, as a class, and that voluntary labeling is without value unless it is accompanied by focused consumer education.”
“The AMA’s rejection of mandatory labeling is consistent with the overwhelming majority of respected medical doctors, scientists and health experts that have concluded that foods made with the benefits of modern biotechnology are safe, and that labeling of these foods is unnecessary,” said Kathy Fairbanks, spokesperson for the Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling Proposition.
A story from Law360 about the vote can be found here.
About the California Ballot Measure:
The proposition would ban the sale of tens of thousands of common and perfectly-safe grocery products that contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, unless they are specially repackaged, relabeled or made using non-GE ingredients just for sale in California. This measure is riddled with loopholes, lawsuits, new bureaucracy and red tape that will cost consumers and taxpayers millions while providing absolutely no benefits.
The measure exempts two-thirds of the foods people eat every day from labeling requirements, including meat, eggs, dairy, alcohol and foods sold in restaurants, even if these foods contain genetically engineered ingredients.
And in order to avoid putting scary-sounding labels on their products, food producers and family farmers will be forced to switch to more expensive ingredients, like organics, and families’ food costs will go up by hundreds of dollars per year.
This measure would also create a whole new category of lawsuits allowing trial lawyers to sue family farmers, small grocers and food companies so they can extract legal fees and settlements. The independent state legislative analyst says the measure will cost the state and its taxpayers millions of dollars to carry out and for the cost of lawsuits.
There have been more than 300 independent medical studies on the health and safety of foods made using genetically engineered ingredients. The World Health Organization, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association and many others have all come to the conclusion that foods made using GE ingredients are safe, and are not materially different than other foods. As a result, the FDA does not require labels on foods with genetically engineered ingredients because these labels will only serve to confuse and mislead consumers into thinking these food products are unsafe, which isn’t true.
Organizations opposed to the measure include the California Farm Bureau Federation, California Chamber of Commerce, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, California Taxpayer Protection Committee, California Women for Agriculture, Council for Biotechnology Information, California Retailers Association, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Southern California Black Chamber of Commerce, Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce, California League of Food Processors and many others. The coalition continues to grow each day. A full list can be found here.