March 27 was the deadline for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make its response to the Just Label It (JLI) petition urging the agency to label genetically modified foods for American consumers, but the Chicago Tribune reports that the FDA has essentially said that they have not
made a decision and will require more time to do so. Organizers, including the Center for Food
, hoped for something more substantive sooner because ‘so many trading partners require labeling’ and recognize that JLI could sue for unreasonable delay if need be.

Currently there is a debate between the two groups as to the appropriate way to count petitioners. JLI believes that they have over a million supporters so far but the FDA counts only 394. To the FDA, a form letter counts as one comment; if ten thousand people were to sign the letter, it would still be only one comment. The FDA says that this is standard practice with all dockets (citizen’s petitions).

The article quote Andrew Kimbrell, an attorney with the Center for Food Safety that “This is petition has nothing to do with whether or genetically modified foods are dangerous. We don’t label dangerous foods, we take them off the shelves. This petition is about a the citizens’ right to know what they are eating and whether or not these foods represent a novel change.”

According to the article, organizers have presented the results of a Mellman Group poll showing that 91 percent of Americans polled favored labeling, and that eighty-one percent of those polled strongly favored it.

For the full article, click here. For more information about the JLI campaign, click here. For more information regarding the agricultural biotechnology, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center Biotechnology Reading Room as well as the Center’s online database of Congressional Research Service Reports on Biotechnology.