Election Day on November 5 brought a setback to the GMO labeling movement, as the state of Washington’s ballot Initiative 522 was voted down. The vote as of November 7 was 54% No to 46% Yes, though votes were still being counted. Earlier polls had staked the initiative to a sizable lead, but the gap closed as the election neared and many voters minds apparently changed. The initiative would have required foods containing genetically modified ingredients to convey that fact on the label.
Even with its approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeming imminent, genetically-engineered (GE) AquAdvantage salmon has been dealt a major blow. Several large national retailers made commitments to deny AquAdvantage, produced by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies, entrance into their stores.
Baltimore, MD—Products certified organic in the United States will now be accepted as such in Japan, and vice versa, per an agreement between the countries. The new organic equivalency agreement was announced at a ceremony at the All Things Organic conference, during Natural Products Expo East.
Omaha, NE—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) informed ConAgra Foods, Inc. that it will allow a qualified health claim linking whole grains with reduced risk of type-2 diabetes. The decision comes after the company petitioned the agency in 2012 to use a similar claim in its own wording. The new allowable health claim wording is very cautious, however, and FDA will assess on an individual basis whether any instances of the claim on food packaging are misleading to consumers.
Washington, D.C.—A controversial provision that critics named the “Monsanto Protection Act” was stopped in its tracks when it was removed from the spending resolution Congress was engrossed with in late September. U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) successfully pushed to have the item in question, Sec. 735, removed from the Senate version of the bill. The provision was set to expire at the end of September 2013.
A new report on the specialty food market presents a bounty of information on this broad and growing category. The report was based on consumer responses to a variety of survey questions about their buying and other habits. It defined specialty foods as those that are distinctive and of premium quality, often made by small or local manufacturers or having ethnic or exotic flavors.
Washington, D.C.—Over 150 companies and organizations sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack calling for better oversight of the experimental field trials used to test genetically engineered (GE) crops. The action was spurred by the high-profile discovery in May of unapproved GE wheat in an Oregon farmer’s field.
Columbia, MO—As certain types of synthetic nanoparticles have made their way into applications from water treatment to food packaging to pesticides over the past few years, a debate has ensued over the potential for contamination, and the health risks to humans in case it does occur. A recent study at the University of Missouri confirmed the presence of potentially toxic silver nanoparticles in pears and, in doing so, established a viable method for detecting such particles in food.