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USA Today: FDA tries to remove genetic label before it sticks

  • Subject: [cg] USA Today: FDA tries to remove genetic label before it sticks
  • From: Alliums garlicgrower@earthlink.net
  • Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 07:26:51 -0400

Hi, Folks!

Very interesting article from USA Today about the FDA's disagreement with the proposed Oregon GE labeling law which is to be voted on by referendum in the upcoming election.


Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden

A mission of
St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street, Phoenixville, PA 19460

FDA tries to remove genetic label before it sticks
By Elizabeth Weise USA TODAY

PORTLAND, Ore. -- In an unusual  move, the federal government has warned
state of Oregon that it could be  interfering with national food producers
if voters pass a ballot measure  requiring all genetically modified foods
sold in the state to be  labeled.

The unsolicited letter, which  arrived Monday in the office of Oregon Gov.
John Kitzhaber, says the measure  "would impermissibly interfere with
manufacturers' ability to market their  products on a nationwide basis."
letter was signed by Food and Drug  Administration deputy commissioner
Lester Crawford.

As much as 80% of the foods found in a typical American  supermarket
at least one ingredient created from genetically engineered  crops.
of the measure don't claim the foods are dangerous, but they say
should be able to make informed choices. Critics say labeling is
and will force one label for Oregon foods, a different one elsewhere.

If voters pass the measure Nov. 5, Oregon will be the first  state to
require labeling of so-called GE foods. Europe and Japan already  require

The FDA letter now inserts a federal interest in what to  this point had
been a brewing state fight.

Still, Measure 27 is the subject of intense interest far  beyond Oregon's
borders. Food suppliers and processors argue that if they lose  in Oregon,
they'll face unjust suspicion from consumers that the foods aren't  safe
the prospect of labeling laws in other states.

"In this letter, we are not promising to take action, but  we are letting
the people of Oregon know, as best we can, what our views are  about the
ordinance," a senior FDA official said.

The FDA statement appears to allude to the commerce clause  of the
Constitution, which prohibits states from impeding the flow of interstate
commerce, says Jonathan Adler, a professor of environmental and
constitutional  law at Case Western Reserve law school in Cleveland.

The governor's press secretary, Tom Towslee, says the  governor was
surprised to get the letter. "For the federal government to weigh  in on a
ballot measure in little old Oregon is a little unusual, but they
feel strongly about it," Towslee says.

The two-page letter also states that the FDA has found  that, in its
scientific judgment, there "is no significant difference" between
bioengineered foods and their conventional counterparts.

Donna Harris, who launched the campaign to get the  initiative on the
ballot, doesn't buy it. "If they're the same as everything  else, then how
come they have a patent on them?"

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