Tag Archives GMO

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deactivated an import alert that prevented the introduction of genetically engineered (GE) salmon into interstate commerce. The agency's statement indicates that it placed the ban in 2016 with the intention of lifting it when standards for labeling GE food were finalized. With the implementation of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard in late 2018, the authority to regulate GE food shifted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), according to the statement, so the import ban deactivation will remove barriers for USDA regulation. "With the deactivation of the import alert, AquAdvantage Salmon eggs can now be imported to the company’s contained grow-out facility in Indiana to be raised into salmon for food. As was determined during the FDA’s 2015 review, this fish is safe to eat, the genetic construct added to the fish’s genome is safe for the animal, and the manufacturer’s…

A study in Nature Human Behavior has reportedly found that Americans who oppose the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) believe themselves to be highly informed on the subject but lack knowledge of it. Fernbach et al., "Extreme opponents of genetically modified foods know the least but think they know the most," Nature Human Behavior, January 14, 2019. A survey of 501 Americans asked true/false questions about GMO technology and asked participants about their willingness to eat GMO foods, likelihood of participation in protests against them and belief in the necessity of GMO regulation. The researchers reportedly found that "as extremity of opposition to and concern about genetically modified foods increases, objective knowledge about science and genetics decreases, but perceived understanding of genetically modified foods increases."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Agricultural Marketing Service has released the final National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS), which will require food manufacturers, importers and other entities to indicate on a product's label whether it was made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The rule applies to food products in which the predominant ingredient is subject to the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; "[a] multi-ingredient food product that contains broth, stock, water, or similar solution as the first ingredient, and a meat, poultry, or egg product as the second ingredient on the food label would also not be subject to the NBFDS," according to the announcement. The rule takes effect February 19, 2019, and mandatory compliance with the rule begins on January 1, 2022.

The Associated Press has detailed the efforts of Recombinetics, a company that develops genetically engineered (GE) animals, to seek regulatory and public approval of its work. The company CEO reportedly told the news outlet that it aims to assuage fears about GE animals by focusing on how they can help ease animal pain, such as breeding cows without horns so that farmers can stop removing the horns to keep the cows from harming each other. This approach has apparently led to some support among animal-welfare groups; the Humane Society of the United States supports GE pigs bred to no longer require castration, AP reports, although the organization does not give "blanket approval" for the technology. "If you edit for your chicken to be the size of an elephant, that's not good," the organization's vice president of farm animal protection reportedly said.

A Pew Research Center poll has reportedly found that Americans are "of two minds about food additives" because about half "say the average person faces a serious health risk from food additives over their lifetime (51%) while the other half believes the average person is exposed to potentially threatening additives in such small amounts that there is no serious risk (48%)." The poll also found that 49 percent of respondents believed genetically modified (GM) foods to be "worse for one's health than non-GM foods, while 44% say such foods are neither better nor worse and 5% say they are better for one's health." Pew reports that it found "an inverse relationship between how much people know about science generally, based on a nine-item index of factual knowledge, and their beliefs about the health risk of foods with additives as well as GM foods. People with low science knowledge tend to…

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has issued a statement announcing the agency's Plant and Animal Biotechnology Innovation Action Plan. Gottlieb describes the plan as identifying priorities in three areas: (i) "advancing human and animal health by promoting product innovation and applying modern, efficient and risk-based regulatory pathways;" (ii) "strengthening public outreach and communication regarding the FDA’s approach to innovative plant and animal biotechnology;" and (iii) "increasing engagement with domestic and international partners on biotechnology issues." The plan indicates that FDA will "adopt a comprehensive policy framework for the development and regulatory oversight of animal biotechnology products, including for intentionally genetically altered animals and the food and drug products derived from them." The statement also announced that the agency's Center for Veterinary Medicine will host a webinar on genome editing in animals on December 3, 2018.

A California federal court has granted class certification to a group of consumers alleging that Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. misrepresented its food as made without genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Schneider v. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., No. 16-2200 (N.D. Cal., entered September 29, 2018). Chipotle has faced a number of similar suits, but other iterations have been dismissed. The court found that the plaintiffs met each of the requirements for class certification, rejecting Chipotle's argument that each class member may have seen significantly different marketing messages. "Plaintiffs rely primarily on the advertisements and statements issued and installed in all of Chipotle's stores," the court found, noting that three advertisements supported the plaintiffs' claims. "Based on Plaintiffs’ theory that 'reasonable consumers understood Non-GMO to include meat and dairy ingredients that were not sourced from animals fed GM feed,' [] the Court finds that the representations made on these three in-store signs are…

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has submitted a citizen petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) challenging the use of labeling that asserts that products are free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). "[T]he 'Non-GMO' Project's butterfly logo and language on consumer foods and goods misleads and deceives consumers through false and misleading claims about foods, food ingredients and their characteristics related to health and safety," the petition argues. ITIF urges FDA "to prohibit the use of the term 'Non-GMO' on consumer foods and goods" because it allegedly constitutes "misbranding under the law." ITIF objects to the Non-GMO Project's distinction between "natural" foods and those made with GMOs. "The techniques used to bioengineer crops and livestock to produce foods were discovered as natural phenomena, and the enzymes and reagents involved are all extracted or derived from sources in nature. While in vitro bioengineering methods may produce 'combinations…

The Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health have filed a lawsuit alleging that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) failed to comply with mandatory deadlines established by the 2016 Federal Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standards Act, which would require labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Ctr. for Food Safety v. Perdue, No. 18-4633 (N.D. Cal., filed August 1, 2018). The act's statutory deadline for the completion of final regulations implementing the statute and establishing the national disclosure standard was July 29, 2018. The complaint alleges that “[t]he statute preempted state laws requiring [genetic engineering (GE)] labeling, but until USDA issues the regulations, the statute is an empty vessel: there can be no federally required disclosures.” “Due to the lack of mandatory labeling, many American consumers are under an incorrect assumption as to whether the food they purchase is produced with GE,” the plaintiffs allege.…

The U.S. Department of the Interior has reportedly withdrawn a 2014 memorandum prohibiting the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in National Wildlife Refuge areas. "There may be situations [] where use of GMO crop seeds is essential to best fulfill the purposes of the refuge and the needs of birds and other wildlife as described above. A blanket denial of GMOs does not provide on-the-ground latitude for refuge managers to work adaptively and make field level decisions about the best manner to fulfill the purposes of the refuge," a memorandum from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Greg Sheehan states. "Therefore, by this memorandum, I am withdrawing the July 17, 2014 memorandum in full, thereby reversing the decision to universally ban the use of genetically modified crops on refuges."

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