We may have lost the battle in California to have our genetically modified foods labeled as such, but it's a pretty safe bet we wouldn't expect those foods to be labeled “natural.” Wouldn't you know it — that's exactly what the big food companies would like to do, and are now asking the Food and Drug Administration permission to do.
The New York Times reported yesterday that the Grocery Manufacturers Association — the trade organization that represents the country's biggest food companies — is petitioning the FDA “to issue a regulation that would allow foods containing genetically modified ingredients to be labeled 'natural.'” The article goes on to say:
Scott Faber, vice president of the Environmental Working Group, called the association's request “audacious.” He added, “It's like they're trying to get the government to say night is day and black is white.”
The association's request was sent just weeks before the end of the year, when the FDA is expected to establish voluntary guidelines for the labeling of foods containing biotech ingredients, based on the priorities it has identified for itself.
The use of the word “natural” has sparked some controversies in the wine world as well, with no real definition for the word. But on mass-produced, packaged foods, the word can equal big bucks. Sales of foods labeled “natural” are growing, which no doubt is why Big Food wants the right to label more and more products that way.
All the more reason to shop at the farmers market.