NEW YORK – Nearly 400 businesses and organizations dedicated to food safety and consumer rights formed a coalition today calling on the US Food and Drug Administration to require labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods, to give consumers the right to know what is in their food.

The Just Label It – We Have a Right to Know (www.justlabelit.org) campaign said it submitted a petition on behalf of millions of consumers to the FDA calling for the mandatory labeling of GE foods, also referred to as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Such foods are altered at the molecular level.

Filed with FDA, the petition calls for products using ingredients produced with genetic engineering to disclose this information on the label. By not informing consumers that they are purchasing GE foods, the public is misled into purchasing misbranded foods, the group charges. FDA has rejected labeling of GE foods since 1992, it added. Such labeling is required in the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Brazil and China.

The FDA is currently considering whether to approve the first genetically engineered animal – a salmon that grows to maturity twice as fast as normal – and if approved, whether to require labeling on this salmon.

"We are asking the FDA to change a decades-old and out-of-touch policy," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety and lead author of the petition.

The coalition's members include the American Nurses Association, breastcancer.org, Center for Food Safety, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union (publishers of Consumer Reports), Franciscan Action Network, National Cooperative Grocers Association Physicians for Social Responsibility, Union of Concerned Scientists, numerous food companies among others.