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Label Leery

A panel of biotech experts, which included such anti-choice luminaries as Dan Leskien of Friends of the Earth and Rebecca Goldburg of Environmental Defense, has issued a report urging the U.S. government “to adopt stricter regulations requiring new gene-spliced foods to win government approval before they can be sold and also to require that such food be clearly labeled.”

So what’s wrong with that? Irena Chalmers, a longtime observer of the foodservice industry, tells us in Nation’s Restaurant News. The best a label could do, she says, would be to “inform the consumer that something that may or may not be found in a genetically modified food product may or may not be safe.” Chalmers notes that “not a single cough, sore throat or illness has been attributed to eating genetically modified food…In 1994 the FDA ruled that it must prove a health food unsafe before it can be removed from the shelf. How can we justify making genetically modified foods exempt from that rule?” Chalmers concludes by asking, “Is perception rather than reason to be the new yardstick for establishing ‘truth in labeling’ regulations?” (“Without more facts, there can be no ‘truth in labeling’ for genetically modified foods,” Nation’s Restaurant News, 12/11/00)

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