2006P-0415 Petition Seeking Regulation of Cloned Animals
FDA Comment Number : EC568
Submitter : Mr. Jacob Orlowitz Date & Time: 01/03/2007 12:01:21
Organization : 4.0 Tutoring
Category : Individual Consumer
Issue Areas/Comments
GENERAL
GENERAL
To the Members of the FDA:
I am a concerned citizen and consumer. I think the issue of regulating our national food supply requires due diligence, especially when a matter of biological engineering and ethics is intertwined. In order to maintain a high level of transparency, consumer trust, and market flexibility, I recommend the following:

All food that is under certain 'disputed' categories should be labeled SAFE-II-EAT. The SAFE-II-EAT labeling program would have some obvious benefits. For one, it would subtly introduce the idea of cloned foods ('II') while also reassuring people that these foods were indeed researched and regulated.

A large fear of consumers is not that cloned foods or gmo foods or irradiated foods, etc. will kill them per se, but that they won't have the CHOICE as a consumer when making their purchasing decision. The prevalence of an organics movement is broad testament to this. Thousands of citizen-consumers appreciate the distinction of organic as a measure of food quality and safety. This special designation, however, should not exist. Indeed, it would not be necessary if there was a more comprehensive and thorough survey of food-preparation methods that was included with each product. A simple sticker and a group of well-chosen icons would do to inform consumers without scaring them.

The natural counter to this suggestion is that 'since they're safe, they don't need to be labeled'. This is a convenient and reasonable answer, but it traps the consumer in a catch-22. It must be safe, because the FDA said so, and if the FDA didn't say so it wouldn't be available, goes the logic. It is fair logic, designed not to unnecessary stimulate fears. But education and transparency can not solely be in the hands of the FDA. Regardless of how thorough and well-intentioned your studies and scientists are, they are not immune from error. Moreover, citizens who request to know how their food is produced should not have to haggle with their government to find out. Perhaps it would be educational. If people knew how extensively their food production was influenced by chemical, biochemical, genetic, and other methods geared towards the production, hygiene, and transport of their food they would either a) be shocked and make very different food choices or b) say, 'oh, guess irradiated fruit ain't that bad'. In either case the choice should be the consumers. In a free society the debate should not stop after 90 days. You might argue that the FDA must uphold a certain level of stability and that it cannot endorse products that are in dispute, but in lieu of proper labeling that dispute just DOES NOT HAPPEN in the public at large.

In sum, a comprehensive and transparent labeling system should be in place for products that are produced with any and all of the following methods
--chemical pesticides;
--growth hormones;
--antibiotics;
--genetic engineering;
--cloning;
--irradiation.

The consumer can continue to research and make up their own minds. Meanwhile, the FDA/USDA's SAFE-II-EAT stamp will reassure buyers that there is a reasonably high chance that their foods is fine without preventing a healthy debate after which they might decide otherwise.