Jan 9 2014

Are GMOs “natural?” The FDA won’t say.

I’ve written frequently about the “natural” issue—what’s natural in foods and what’s not—on this site and now must do so again.

Yesterday, FoodNavigator reported that the FDA “respectfully declined” to decide once and for all whether foods labeled “natural” can include GMOs.

To summarize what brought this on:

  • Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers referred a lawsuit over “all-natural’ claims on GMO-containing Mission tortilla chips to the FDA to decide whether GMO-containing products can be considered “natural.”
  • So did two other judges in cases involving Campbell Soup and General Mills Kix cereal.

The FDA’s letter to the three judges says the agency has to make decisions like this in the context of rulemaking, not litigation.

So how about making a decision about what “natural” means once and for all?

Not a chance.  The FDA says it has better things to do:  “Because especially in the foods arena, FDA operates in a world of limited resources, we necessarily must prioritize which issues to address.”

Back to court, this one goes, or so it seems.

  • Mark.

    Maybe time for some private organization to award “natural” certification? I wonder who’d be considered trustworthy enough? Considering what for example the Heart Association says is heart-healthy food, that might be a problem.

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  • David

    If transgenics aren’t considered natural then should we consider plants created using chemical or radiation mutagenesis or any plant, such as corn, that has been extensively tampered with by humans over thousands of years? Hardly anything we eat is in its original “natural” form.

  • Leah

    Is it possible for the FDA to create a once and for all definition of “natural” and make it law for every company to address whether or not their foods are natural? As the world’s population grows, genetically modified organisms are going to gain importance so that there is enough food for every person. Doesn’t this mean that the government should address this issue now before it becomes an even bigger deal?

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