In cooking, the process of clarification entails straining out extraneous muck from liquids so that they might be pure, clear and ideal for consumption. With this series on food terminology we're attempting to do the same.
If you pay attention to food labels, you might have to read between the lines when it comes to genetically engineered ingredients.
When Eatocracy polled readers yesterday if they would eat genetically modified salmon, approximately 45.1 percent of respondents answered: “not on your life.”
The irony of the results is that, according to the Center for Food Safety, it has been estimated that 70 to 75 percent of processed foods in supermarkets contain genetically engineered ingredients - they just aren’t required by the Food and Drug Administration to be labeled as such.
The big question remains: will consumers know if that salmon burger is genetically modified or not?
If the old policy FDA stands, in two words: you won’t.
In its "Statement of Policy: Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties," the FDA said foods developed using recombinant DNA (or rDNA) techniques would not be required to have special labeling to reveal that fact to consumers.
The FDA reasons: "the agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way, or that, as a class, foods developed by the new techniques present any different or greater safety concern than foods developed by traditional plant breeding.”
The only two exceptions to the 1992 labeling rule are: if the common name no longer applies to the new, modified food, or if an allergen issue exists.
For example, if a peanut protein is introduced into a tomato and there is research that verifies the introduced protein would cause an allergic reaction to those with a peanut allergy, the FDA ruled a label would be required - "even if its basic taste and texture remained unchanged.”
Still, opponents of GMO salmon like Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food and Water Watch, say the labeling discussion is premature - especially since the salmon hasn’t been approved.
“In light of the flimsy science debated in yesterday’s FDA hearing on genetically engineered (GE) salmon, the labeling discussion today is wholly inappropriate.”