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FDA Delete 1 Million Signatures for GMO Labeling

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Comment by Cornelia on March 30, 2012 at 9:24am

That's a pretty misleading and sensationalist headline... The Chicago Tribune article linked explains the finer points of what's going on. As usual, it is not black or white, but somewhere in the gray area.

But whether the citizens petition gathered a million or 394 official commenters, the FDA was required to respond in 180 days and it did, sort of.

"They sent a letter saying that they had not made a decision yet and when they did they would let us know," said Andrew Kimbrell an attorney for the Center for Food Safety, one of the partner groups on the Just Label It campaign. .

"We know that this is a complicated issue and this response is not uncommon," he said. "But legally they are in a very difficult position in not mandating labeling because, among other things, so many of our trading partner require it."

He was hopeful for an expeditious response but noted that JLI could also sue for unreasonably delay if it should come to that.

Comment by Marianne Smith on March 30, 2012 at 9:39am

Sometimes it takes a sensationalist headline to get people to waking up or pay attention.  Because of my heirloom seeds business, I am asked on a daily basis "What is GMO?' or "what is an heirloom seed?"

I think it's important for people to get involved in their food and fight back!

The same article says:

Organizers say the campaign garnered more than a million supporters, far more than any other petition brought to the FDA in history. But the FDA disagrees.  By its count the number is: 394.

In the words of Jack Reacher, "Hope for the best, plan for the worst."

Comment by Sue McGovern on April 6, 2012 at 10:00am

The rumor that the FDA deleted 1 million comments submitted by the Just Label It coalition is absolutely false. Here's the update: 

After an unprecedented 1.1 million comments delivered to FDA, we’ve had an official response: “…We have not been able to reach a decision on your petition….We hope to be able to complete the review of your petition and respond to your request in the near future.”  ... Underwhelming? Yes.Expected? Yes.Do we leave it at that? Absolutely NO. But you’ll have to stay tuned for what’s next because today we need to do some RUMOR CONTROL!  

Contrary to some internet buzz, the FDA has NOT deleted one million comments. According to FDA spokesperson Siobhan DeLancey , “Comments are always retained as part of the public record…”. In fact, FDA has told JLI that we’ve overwhelmed the twelve staff responsible for uploading public comments.


Then why all the confusion? The reason for public comment is so that the FDA can hear from the American public. That means they actually read the comments. One way they manage the process when they receive large quantities is by bundling similar comments or petitions. Bundling facilitates the process of reading the massive deluge of comments. For instance, DeLancey told JLI, “…comment 395 contains 37,254 identical comments”.  So while there may appear to be only hundreds of comments on the FDA site, the reality is all of the names of people who contacted FDA in support of the petition calling for labeling of GMOs either are already uploaded and contained in the comments on the site, or will be by the time the FDA is done uploading them, which they expect to be in the next several weeks.  

So to set the record straight:

-       NO COMMENTS have been deleted by FDA

-       FDA has the 1.1 million names and is still uploading them

-       Because FDA BUNDLES similar comments, on the regulations.gov site when they have completed the upload, you will only see listed hundreds of comments but the FDA acknowledges that these entries contain ALL of the comments and names that have been submitted.

The bigger question of course is do these one million commenters matter? We can without hesitation tell you an enthusiastic “YES”. We might not have the money of the small minority who oppose labeling, but we have 91% of the American people, and their voices are being heard.  We can tell you from our experience in recent months, once we reached half a million people the media and officials in DC started to listen and doors were opened. Senior leaders at the White House, USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the FDA, have all been briefed on the campaign to label GE foods and are following the developments and the number of signatures closely.

The number of people behind the campaign means everything. Stay tuned for next steps…..www.justlabelit.org 


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