In his first inaugural address, President Obama vowed to “restore science to its rightful place.” One area in which the president has indisputably done just that is his administration’s approach to genetically improved foods: Obama’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has retained the science-based policy toward the labeling of these foods that is endorsed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Medical Association (AMA). That is, the FDA does not recommend special labels.
However, not everyone is on board with the science about genetically improved foods. Leading the charge is the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which conveniently agrees with science that supports its agenda and rejects science that doesn’t. In order to build momentum for so-called “GMO labeling” — the placing of misleading warning labels on genetically improved foods — EWG sent a letter calling on the President to go back on his vow to put science first.
EWG is calling on the President to order the FDA to overturn its science-based guidance and place the labels on food packaging. And if the signatories are any indication, the labels will benefit Big Organic, whose products don’t use genetically engineered ingredients. The list features the typical anti-genetic improvement activists-for-cash, including Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, the Organic Consumers Association, the Organic Trade Association, and PCC Natural Markets. They aren’t the only organic companies and industry pressure groups behind the letter; a large number of the signatories stand to profit if misleading warning labels are placed on non-organic foods.
There are more questionable signatories. In addition to the profit-seekers, other hypocritical environmentalists like Greenpeace, Green America, Food and Water Watch, and the Sierra Club; animal liberation groups like Farm Sanctuary; and dubious “health” organizations like the Weston A. Price Foundation populate the plea to the President. They stand in opposition to a consensus of reputable scientists including the AMA, AAAS, the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of London, the World Health Organization, and numerous other national academies of science who find genetically improved foods safe for consumption.
The sides in this dispute are clear. We hope that President Obama and his administration will uphold his inauguration promise to scientists and reject this ideologically and financially motivated plea.