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Additive Status Sought for Modified Foods

March 21, 2000|Melinda Fulmer

More than 40 environmental and consumer groups are petitioning the Food and Drug Administration today to classify genetically modified organisms as a food additive, requiring stringent testing and special labeling. Current FDA guidelines, which were issued in 1992, don't require testing of the 46 genetically modified foods because they are generally recognized as safe. As food additives, however, GMOs would be subject to rigorous testing before they are allowed on supermarket shelves, a move that would discourage most manufacturers from using them. There is no scientific proof that GMOs pose a threat to human health, but groups such as Consumers Union, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club argue there has been insufficient testing done to determine the safety of genetic engineering and are pushing for screening for allergens, toxicity and nutritional content. "The whole presumption of safety is scientifically unsound," said Joseph Mendelson of the Center for Food Safety in Washington. "This is a negligent policy that leaves out the analysis of human health issues and safety assessments."

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