Washington, DC-There is no scientific rationale for labeling seed or food based on the method used to produce it, says the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) in response to the European Union's (EU's) recent proposal to the World Trade Organization to require labeling of genetically modified seed.
The EU is calling for "any label or document, official or otherwise, which is affixed to or accompanies the seed of agricultural plant species or seed potatoes lot, shall clearly indicate that the variety has been genetically modified."
"ASTA, representing more than 900 seed-related companies in the United States, finds this proposal scientifically indefensible," says Executive Vice President Dean Urmston. "ASTA concurs with the U.S. House Committee on Science's April 13 report that says 'the United States should not accept any international agreements that violate the scientific principles and limit trade in, or mandate labeling of, a plant or food product based on the method used to develop it.'"
This recommendation is consistent with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) policy on food labeling which is based on the characteristics of food, rather than the process used to create it. The FDA only requires special labeling for a new food product if it contains different levels of nutrients or increased levels of previously known toxic substances than its traditional counterpart, or if a known or potentially new allergen has been introduced to the modified product.
ASTA strongly supports the FDA's current policy on labeling and urges the U.S. government and World Trade Organization to oppose the EU's proposal to require special labeling for genetically modified seed.
Founded in 1883, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), located in Washington, DC, is one of the oldest trade organizations in the United States. Its membership consists of more than 900 companies involved in seed production and distribution, plant breeding, and related industries in North America. As an authority on plant germplasm, ASTA advocates science and policy issues of industry importance. Its mission is to enhance the development and free movement of quality seed worldwide.