Federal Issue Brief

 H.R. 3553, Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act

AVMA Position:

Nonsupport

Summary:

The Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), the Federal Meat Inspection Act, and the Poultry Products Inspection Act to deem a food misbranded if it contains or was produced with a genetically engineered material unless its labeling contains statements meeting specified requirements.  The legislation also requires the periodic testing of such foods transferred along a chain of distribution to assure accuracy of labels, subject to specified exceptions.

Key Points in Opposition:

  • While the AVMA recognizes the public’s right to be informed about the content of food, the AVMA has policy supporting truthful and non-misleading human food labeling and believes that the labeling of genetically engineered food or food that is produced with genetically engineered material as it is defined within the legislation could mislead the general public to perceive an unrealistic food safety hazard.  At the same time, the FDA is prohibited from requiring labeling that is not truthful and misleading.
  • The legislation specifically includes food from which the animal “has been fed genetically engineered material,” which will prove to be extremely challenging logistically, if not impossible, to discern for most animal-derived products.  And should food and food products from genetically engineered material require labeling, it would create a precedent for labeling hundreds, if not thousands, of food products from GE plants (e.g. corn, soy) that have been safely consumed for many decades.
  •  The legislation is also inconsistent with the AVMA policy on use of biotechnology in veterinary medicine and animal agriculture. 

Current Status:

H.R. 3553 was introduced on 12/09/2011 by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH-10th) and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, and the Agriculture Committee.

AVMA Contact:

Dr. Ashley S. Morgan, Assistant Director, Governmental Relations Division, 202-289-3210.