Docket Management
Docket: 00D-1598 - Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have Been Developed Using Bioengineering
Comment Number: EC -249

Accepted - Volume 64

Comment Record
Commentor Mr. ray kirsch Date/Time 2001-03-15 10:22:26
Organization Mr. ray kirsch
Category Individual

Comments for FDA General
1. General Comments Good day, I have a number comments about the labeling of genetically engineered foods and the FDA's proposed labeling rules (Docket 00D-1598): 1. I believe that there is both data and information enough to show that bioengineering is a material fact that must disclosed on food labels. I urge the FDA to require labeling of all bioengineered foods. The FDA acknowledges that interpretation of its guidelines as to what is and isn't material is based on historical precedent. I would ask that the FDA revisit and reconsider how and why bioengineering is not part of this history and how it may be a material fact. The FDA requires labeling based on material fact if a bioengineered food is significantly different from its traditional counterpart such that the common or usual name no longer adequately describes the new food. I would argue that all bioengineered foods are significantly different from their traditional counterparts and thus require labeling. I would like the FDA to explain how it determines this significant difference given that the traditional counterpart is a socially and culturally defined term. That is, we as a society use more than physical science to determine whether or not what we have in our hand is a tomato. 2. In the discussion of voluntary labels, the FDA notes that a statement that a food was not bioengineered or does not contain bioengineered ingredients may be misleading if it implies that the labeled food is superior to food s that are not so labeled. However, in the discussion of labeling for bioengineered foods, no such requirement is noted. In fact, an example is given in which a tomato has been engineered to improve texture. Could this not be a claim of superiority? The rule must be applied evenly - to BOTH types of claims. The FDA must require that bioengineered foods make no statements implying they are superior to other foods. In addition I would like the FDA to explicitly state how it will evaluate the entire label and labeling in determining whether a label statement is in a context that the food is superior. 3. Finally, in light of the current Starlink corn contamination, I believe the FDA must recognize that it does not have the necessary procedures and processes in place to guarantee that an unexpected allergen is not present in a particular food. Admittedly this is a complicated matter. However, as bioengineering is the sole means by which allergens might cross species and appear in traditionally safe foods, I urge the FDA to leverage the good work of the food handling industry and require the labeling and tracking of all bioengineered foods. To say that we - the FDA and this nation - can safely and with assurance test each bioengineered food and then release it to go on its merry way - untrackable and unrecallable - is hubris. I urge the FDA to consider the Starlink case for what it is - a warning - and to heed this call for the mandatory labeling and tracking of bioengineered foods. Thank you for your time and consideration of these comments, Ray Kirsch

EC -249