June 21, 2012 |
Should foods containing genetically modified ingredients be specially labeled as such? The American Medical Assn. doesn't think so , according to a policy statement adopted Tuesday at its annual meeting in Chicago. The 500-ish-word statement, which is not yet up at the medical association's website, says among other things that as of this month, “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.” Federal oversight in agriculture, the statement also says, “should continue to be science-based and guided by the characteristics of the plant or animal, its intended use, and the environment into which it is to be introduced, not by the method used to produce it, in order to facilitate comprehensive, efficient regulatory review of new bioengineered crops and foods.” In other words, it's less important whether a plant or animal was altered by conventional breeding or genetic engineering, say, than what the potential for a problem might be. The AMA does want each new genetically modified organism, or GMO, product to be carefully assessed for consumption safety and potential environmental risks such as spread of insect-resistance or herbicide-resistance to a crop's wild relatives.