GMA Says Massachusetts Mandatory Labeling Bill 'Unnecessary And Redundant'

May 23, 2001 PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2001 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The Grocery Manufacturers of America today urged members of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Commerce and Labor to reject a state proposal requiring mandatory labels for biotech foods.

"The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already regulates the introduction of and labeling of biotech foods," said Lisa Katic, director of science and nutrition policy at GMA. "This makes mandatory state labeling for genetically-enhanced food products unnecessary and redundant."

In testimony before Massachusetts lawmakers, Katic pointed out that FDA has been reviewing biotech crops for decades and has determined that these foods are as safe or safer than foods developed through crossbreeding and traditional methods. Katic also noted that in addition to FDA review, food biotechnology is regulated for safety and environmental impact by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Katic said that while GMA opposes mandatory labeling, the food industry understands consumers want to learn about the benefits of biotech. "A label is just not the best vehicle to educate consumers about modern biotechnology in a truthful and non-misleading manner," said Katic. "Based on repeated surveys, we know consumers would view the label as a warning. The scientific evidence points in the exact opposite direction. There is simply no basis for sending this type of warning to consumers."

To ensure that consumers are informed about biotech foods, GMA member companies have made information available through consumer 1-800 numbers, supermarket brochures and through websites such as the Alliance for Better Foods ( ).

"Current U.S. policy on labeling -- based on science -- has consistently served the best interests of consumers. It would be a mistake to make unnecessary changes to that system and begin a process that could lead to an unmanageable patchwork quilt of state regulations on labeling practices," concluded Katic.

GMA ( ) is the world's largest association of food, beverage and consumer product companies. With U.S. sales of more than $460 billion, GMA members employ more than 2.5 million workers in all 50 states. The organization applies legal, scientific and political expertise from its member companies to vital food, nutrition and public policy issues affecting the industry. Led by a board of 44 Chief Executive Officers, GMA speaks for food and consumer product manufacturers at the state, federal and international levels on legislative and regulatory issues. The association also leads efforts to increase productivity, efficiency and growth in the food, beverage and consumer products industry.

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