WASHINGTON — The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has filed a citizen petition with the Food and Drug Administration that seeks to prohibit the term “non-GMO” on consumer foods and goods. The petition said such claims, particularly the butterfly logo from the Non-GMO Project, are “false or misleading” in that they imply non-bioengineered/non-GMO products are healthier than bioengineered/GMO products.
“The Non-GMO Project butterfly campaign deceives consumers through false and misleading claims about foods, food ingredients, and their health and safety characteristics,” said Val Giddings, Ph.D., senior fellow for the ITIF. “The campaign constitutes misbranding under the law, and the FDA should act in the best interest of consumers and protect them, as the law demands, against the confusion spread by these false claims.”
The petition, which may be found here, cites the National Academy of Sciences in stating the fact that something has been genetically engineered/bioengineered/genetically modified/mutated, either in the lab or in nature, tells one nothing about the safety of the resulting product.
“The Non-GMO Project falsely implies that what happens randomly in nature is safer than what humans do deliberately, with care and foresight,” Giddings said. “Consumers deserve the truth about their food, and whether or not it has been bioengineered or otherwise improved by humans says absolutely nothing about the safety of the resulting product.”
The petition also states the butterfly logo is found on items where there is no counterpart improved through biotechnology available on the market. Examples include amaranth, blueberries, buckwheat and milk.
The Non-GMO Project, Bellingham, Washington, issued a statement in response: “The petition to the FDA, filed by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a biotech-backed think tank, is based on errors and misrepresentations. While it’s not surprising that this organization opposes the public’s right to know whether or not their food contains GMOs, the petition is factually inaccurate and fundamentally biased. We do not expect the petition to gain traction with the FDA.”
The Non-GMO Project previously has stated there is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs and that no epidemiological studies have investigated the potential effects of food with GMOs on human health. The Non-GMO Project, a non-profit organization, seeks to build and protect a non-GMO food supply. The organization offers a third-party, non-GMO verification program that allows products to qualify for the butterfly logo.
The Washington-based ITIF, a nonprofit research and educational institute, seeks to “formulate, evaluate and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity and progress.”