Background

The Food and Drug Administration has issued two draft guidance documents on voluntary labeling indicating whether foods have or have not been derived from genetically engineered plants or genetically engineered Atlantic salmon. The guidance documents are intended to help food manufacturers that wish to voluntarily label their plant-derived food products or ingredients (for humans or animals) or their food products or ingredients derived from Atlantic salmon as having been made with or without bioengineering. These documents were issued concurrently with a final rule approving for the first time a genetically engineered animal – an Atlantic salmon created with a recombinant DNA gene construct – intended for food.

The FDA indicates that foods derived from GE plants and animals must meet the same requirements, including safety and labeling requirements, as other foods. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the FDA can only require additional labeling of foods derived from GE sources if there is a material difference – such as a different nutritional profile – between the GE product and its non-GE counterpart. 

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