New initiative launches to increase understanding of genetically engineered foods

USA – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), have launched a new initiative to help consumers better understand foods created through genetic engineering.

The new initiative, dubbed “Feed Your Mind” seeks to provide information on genetic engineering foods, commonly called genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as well as address consumer health and safety concerns arising from the use of these foods.

FDA explains that the initiative will answer the most common questions that consumers have about GMOs, including what GMOs are, how and why they are made as well as how they are regulated.

FDA Commissioner, Stephen M. Hahn, further noted that while foods from genetically engineered plants have been available to consumers since the early 1990s and are a common part of today’s food supply, there are a lot of misconceptions about them.

Notably, genetic engineering has created new plants that are resistant to insects and diseases, led to products with improved nutritional profiles, as well as certain produce that don’t brown or bruise as easily.

“This initiative is intended to help people better understand what these products are and how they are made,” Stephen explains.

“Farmers and ranchers are committed to producing foods in ways that meet or exceed consumer expectations for freshness, nutritional content, safety, sustainability and more.

“I look forward to partnering with FDA and EPA to ensure that consumers understand the value of tools like genetic engineering in meeting those expectations,” said Greg Ibach, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at USDA.

“As EPA celebrates its 50th anniversary, we are proud to partner with FDA and USDA to push agricultural innovation forward so that Americans can continue to enjoy a protected environment and a safe, abundant and affordable food supply,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn.

The “Feed Your Mind” initiative will be launching in phases. The initial launch of the initiative included a new website, as well as a selection of fact sheets, infographics and videos.

The agencies noted that additional materials, including a supplementary science curriculum for high schools, resources for health professionals and additional consumer materials, will be released later in 2020 and 2021.

To guide development of the “Feed Your Mind” initiative, the three government agencies have formed a steering committee and several working groups consisting of agency leaders and subject matter experts.

In addition, the partners have said that they have sought input from stakeholders through two public meetings; opened a docket to receive public comments; examined the latest science and research related to consumer understanding of genetically engineered foods; and conducted extensive formative research.

The initiative was funded by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 as the Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative.

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