Anti-biotech campaign moves to White House petition site

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2012 -Organizers of the “Just Label It” campaign who have asked the FDA to mandate labeling of food with biotech ingredients are taking their crusade to the White House. In less than a week, they have surpassed the goal of getting 25,000 people to clink a link on its “We the People” web site to ask President Obama to “speak out in favor of” mandatory labeling.

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The 25,000 threshold is the minimum adopted by the White House to merit an official response to a petition on its web site. It's the same mechanism that raw milk advocates used to try to get support for legalizing interstate sales of unpasteurized milk. Their effort came to naught when, in January, the White House upheld the FDA ban on shipping raw milk across state lines.

The no-biotech campaign, driven largely by organic and “natural” food vendors and their ideological allies, appealed for signatures as soon as the petition was posted last Thursday. “We already know our voices are being heard on Capitol Hill, but while FDA is still deciding, we're not letting the pressure up and nor should you,” says a post on the “Just Label It” site. “Please join us in asking President Obama to listen to the American public and speak out in favor of the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.” It also urged followers to use social media to encourage their friends to “sign up for better transparency in our food system.”

The appeal apparently reached the sponsors' goals. The petition had gathered 14,033 signatures by mid-day Monday; it passed muster by moving past the 25,000-mark late Tuesday afternoon.

The advocates' petition argues for the “right to know how the food we eat and feed our families is produced,” but predictably does not suggest that such labels would give consumers any meaningful information. FDA has consistently found no material difference between biotech and other foods.

However, the petition repeats the oft-used argument that more than 40 countries require labels on biotech foods and reiterates the results of its poll showing large majorities in both parties and among independents support biotech labeling. “At a time when partisan rancor dominates the public conversation, there are few topics that can muster such overwhelming support,” it said.


Original story printed in April 18th, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.

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