"The F.D.A. decided that the difference between fresh peas and frozen peas was a ‘material’ difference to the consumer,” said Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union, which supports labeling of genetically modified foods. “This stuff is as different as frozen peas and nonfrozen peas, if not more so.”
Agency scientists have expressed concerns about new genetically engineered plant products, wondering whether the new plants have the same levels of important nutrients as non-engineered varieties, for instance, and whether they might contain toxins, new allergens or unapproved food additives.
But unlike the approval process required for new drugs and even many food additives like artificial sweeteners, the review process for new G.M.O. plant foods is voluntary. Producers are asked only to consult with the F.D.A. The agency “does not conduct a comprehensive scientific review of data generated by the developer,” according to F.D.A. documents. Officials rely on producers to do their own safety and nutritional assessments, and they review summaries of those assessments.
“We recognize and appreciate the interest that some consumers have expressed in knowing whether a food was produced using genetic engineering,” said Theresa Eisenman, an F.D.A. spokeswoman. “Food from genetically engineered plants must meet the same requirements, including safety requirements, as foods from traditionally bred plants.”
Roni Caryn Rabin, "The Consumer: Information Not on the Label," New York Times, May 26, 2014, accessed May 30, 2014, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/26/information-not-on-the-label/?_....