Peak & Prairie

Rocky Mountain Chapter's
Online Newsletter
December 1999 / January 2000



Do You Know What You Are Eating?

by John Wade, BioTech Task Force

You are probably consuming genetically engineered foods without knowing it. At least 44 different genetically engineered foods are being sold without labeling or being subject to mandatory pre-market safety testing. Among them are major soy-based baby formulas and some of the most popular corn chip brands. Even the FDA’s own scientists have stated that “undesirable effects such as increased levels of known naturally occurring toxicants, appearance of new, not previously identified toxicants, increased capability of concentrating toxic substances from the environment (e.g., pesticides or heavy metals), and undesirable alterations in the levels of nutrients may escape [plant breeders] attention unless genetically engineered plants are evaluated specifically for these changes.” Yet, the agency requires no mandatory safety testing before a genetically engineered food comes to market.

The guidelines to the 1993 Sierra Club Policy on Genetically Engineered Organisms state, “The federal government should...require that such foods be labeled for the changes made to them – including the presence of new, genetically encoded substances that affect the characteristics of foods, or changes in food composition that may cause reactions in sensitive individuals.”

The Sierra Club, therefore, does already have a position on labeling. We are actively engaged, with other organizations, in demanding that FDA require the needed labeling. FDA will be holding hearings on that matter, and other related concerns, in the near future. The Club will be there.

The Sustainable Planet Strategy Team recently appointed a Task Force on BioTech. RMC member Angela Medbery is a member. The TF will soon be circulating a proposed revision of Club policy on Biotechnology. 

In the meantime, a letter, over Carl Pope’s signature, went to President Clinton asking for mandatory labeling of genetically altered products and indicating the Club’s strong concerns about the current direction of biotechnology. Those concerns involve food safety, preservation of (natural) biodiversity, agricultural production and marketing nationally and globally, and prevention of serious biological accidents.

If you would like to know more, get involved, or make comments to the FDA, call Angela Medbery at 303-433-2608, or John Wade at 303-399-2887.


Send concerns to FDA:
The FDA is accepting comments through January 20 concerning labeling of biotechnology items in the food supply. Please write letters and let friends also know. 

Mail your comments to:
Re: Docket No.99N-4282
Docket Management Branch
Food & Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852

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