The American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates has called for mandatory pre-market safety testing of genetically engineered (GE) foods – but said there is currently no reason to label them.
The AMA House of Delegates weighed in on the debate over labeling of foods that contain ingredients produced through genetic engineering at its annual meeting on Wednesday, issuing a position statement that says there is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods.
It added: “Voluntary labeling is without value unless it is accompanied by focused consumer education.”
The organization said it “urges government, industry, consumer advocacy groups, and the scientific and medical communities to educate the public and improve the availability of unbiased information and research activities on bioengineered foods.”
In its statement, the AMA also said it “supports mandatory pre-market systematic safety assessments of bioengineered foods”.
Specifically, it urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remain alert to new data about the health effects of GE foods and to update its policies accordingly.
The AMA’s Dr. Patrice Harris said that the position recognizes that there is currently no evidence that there are material differences or safety concerns in available bioengineered foods.
She added: “Recognizing the public’s interest in the safety of bioengineered foods, the new policy also supports mandatory FDA pre-market systemic safety assessments of these foods as a preventive measure to ensure the health of the public. We also urge the FDA to remain alert to new data on the health consequences of bioengineered foods.”
‘Labeling may confuse consumers’
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) issued a statement welcoming the AMA’s policy, and pointed out that the position was in line with the FDA’s and other scientific bodies’ position that GE foods are materially the same as non-GE foods.
“Because foods and beverages that contain GE ingredients are no different than those that do not, mandatory labeling of foods containing GE ingredients is unnecessary and may actually confuse consumers,” the GMA said.
“Labeling information should be reserved for important food safety and/or nutrition information, such as allergen warnings or front-of-pack nutrition labeling.”
California consumers are set to vote on labeling of genetically modification in foods in November, after a campaign to include the measure on the ballot attracted nearly a million signatures.