Bioengineered Food--Safety and Labeling

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Science  20 Oct 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5491, pp. 457-459
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5491.457

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The safety and labeling of genetically engineered foods are two areas that have elicited considerable public concern and debate. This Policy Forum provides a legal analysis of these issues in the context of two bills that have been recently proposed in The U.S. Congress, the Genetically Engineered Food Safety Act and the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act. Most transgenic components of foods currently on the market are plant-incorporated protectants or their inert ingredients. Therefore, they have been evaluated for safety by the Environmental Protection Agency (as well as the Food and Drug Administration), and their disclosure in labeling should not be required. If plant-incorporated protectants are considered safer than chemical pesticides, and chemical pesticides do not have to be disclosed in labels, then bioengineered foods should not be subject to stricter regulation, nor should they be required to be labeled. The two bills are inconsistent, in many respects, with well-established principles of food regulation.