The FDA may think so. Action Alert!
Last week, the FDA announced that it would be accepting public input on how—or whether—to define the term “natural” on food labels. This action came about as a result of a number of petitions filed by the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA) and Consumers Union.
The GMA asked the FDA to redefine “natural” so that foods derived from biotechnology (read: GMO foods) could use the label, while Consumers Union separately filed a petition asking the FDA to prohibit the use of “natural” on food labels altogether since the term is vague and misleading to consumers.
The Consumers Union petition to the FDA is based on data from a Consumer Reports National Research Center survey. According to the survey, nearly 90% of consumers expect “natural” on a food label to mean much more than it does. About two-thirds of consumers thought that “natural” meant that no pesticides, GMOs, or chemicals were used in food carrying the label. Currently, however, the FDA’s policy is that it won’t object to a product sporting the word “natural” so long as it doesn’t contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.
The FDA is asking for public input on a variety of questions revolving around which foods should be allowed to bear the term “natural” and what kinds of things—such as processing and different manufacturing methods—should bar a food from being called “natural.”
ANH-USA has staunchly defended the right of consumers to have access to information regarding food and supplements, and has vehemently opposed efforts by federal agencies to gag free speech about the benefits of natural products (see, for example, the next article in this week’s Pulse). The problem with the current “natural” label, however, is that it is so loosely defined that it confers little to no actual meaning, while the presence of the label dupes consumers into buying food they believe is healthy and truly natural but contains all sorts of non-natural ingredients and processing.
It might be worth trying to rework a definition of “natural” that is rigorous and provides useful information to consumers, but unfortunately this seems like a lost cause. The “organic” label is much more constraining than the “natural” label, and we’ve seen how even that definition is constantly threatened by Big Food. There’s no reason to think the case would be different with the much looser “natural” label. The GMA petition is a case in point—what meaning does the label have if genetically manipulated foods doused with herbicide can be called “natural”?
The FDA and other federal agencies are too open to crony influence from industry to be trusted to create a definition of “natural” that has public health—rather than industry profits—as its motivating force. We can imagine the flood of comments from Big Food companies looking for exemptions for their products. Therefore, we agree with Consumers Union that the “natural” label should be banned outright.
This may all be theatrics anyway—a ploy by the FDA to make it look like it is doing something substantive when it actually plans to punt on this issue yet again. When the FDA first considered defining “natural” in 1991, the agency similarly asked for public input to help them reach a definition of the term. After reviewing the submissions, the agency said “none of the comments provided FDA with a specific direction to follow for developing a definition regarding use of the term ‘natural.’”
Action Alert! Write to the FDA and tell them that the “natural” label is confusing to consumers and should be abandoned. Please send your message immediately.
Other articles in this week’s Pulse of Natural Health:
Ban New Green Products?
Are Cardiologists Dangerous?
Are GMOs a “Natural” Food?
The FDA may think so. Action Alert!
21 thoughts on “Are GMOs a “Natural” Food?”
Horizontal gene transfer between species occurs continuously. While only a fraction of the transferred genes are heritable, there are 39 proved heritable genes in humans which could not have come from primates and some not even from mammals. There are possibly hundreds more that have not been proved and an uncountable number that each of us has acquired but which are not heritable. Wouldn’t that be far more common in plants and animal cultivars with shorter lifespans?
One cannot reject crops with genes that are newly acquired while accepting those acquired earlier because they are naturally transferring every day. One cannot tell the “original” without destructively testing every seed.
Is a gene intentionally transferred after required planning and testing more likely to be harmful than an undetected “natural” one? Claims regarding genetic modification are much like non-Kosher beef being tainted because it was killed the wrong way or handled by someone who has also handled pork.
Let “organic” producers continue to make claims regarding methods of plant and animal husbandry but drop those regarding genetic purity which become more laughable by the day.
To imply that the MULTIPLE enzymes necessart to split specific portions of the DNA apart and have “sticky ends” for reattachment – and get these multiple enzymes from multiple bacterial varieties/species (whatever) and then MODIFY the promoter – which unlike nature NEVER turns off – and then get your terminator – and have to modify that with the same enzymatic splicing – is beyond ludicrous. It borders mental retardation. It is dishonest and you are either duped by the industry – whose own science is NEVER proven safe, and HAS combined things which could NEVER happen in nature – unless you ALSO want to pretend that in the primitive, pre-biotech days, the (tropical origin) tomatoes had to FLY up to the Arctic Circle to rape fish with anti-freeze genetics in them, well, let’s just say this was not your best post, and nowhere close to reality.
Denial is not an argument. See Crisp, Altair, Chiara, Boschetti, Malcolm Perry et all. 2015, Expression of multiple acquired genes is a hallmark of both vertebrate and invertebrate genomes. Genome Biology 16(1);50
More broadly see Skeptical Inquirer Vol 39, No. 6 in which Martin Shelomi, PhD, a research fellow at the Max Plank Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany studying horizontal gene transfer in insects summarizes current research.
We carry many thousands of enzymes which do nothing at all because the gene for another enzyme in the same metabolic chain has mutated. That enzyme may find itself catalyzing a link in unrelated metabolic chain. That is how evolution works. What is true for a useless enzyme that is leftover is equally true for a mutant enzyme or an acquired enzymes. Genes don’t know the species in which they reside or how they got there. To claim broadly that a vertically sourced gene is beneficial and a horizontally acquired one is deleterious is not scientific but ideological or religious.
The process of “genetic engineering” as described IS NOT THE SAME as what happens in nature. Period. You DON’T have multiple bacteria – in the same cell cutting out segments, putting in foreign segments, modifying terminators and promoters, etc. What you DO have is change.
Perhaps some of the new genetics explains some of this. The old contention that much of the DNA was “junk” DNA is disproven, and about 80% of what had been considered “junk” and redundancy is in actually an extremely complicated and sophisticated set of instructions for varied epigenetic influences. A further 12 – 15% of the former “junk” DNA is now known to be active – but they don’t have a clue yet as to WHAT it is doing, how, or why.
Apparently the Russians – you’d likely know more about the nuts and bolts – figured out an energenetic component to epigenetics, and have taken frog cells (what? undifferentiated stem cells?) and figured out “salamander frequency” and hit those frog cells with that frequency. The cells turned into salamander cells.
So again, there is so much we don’t know, but the changes you mention could theoretically come from epigenetic influences with genetics which aren’t common. i think this new, vast horizon in genetics is both confusing, and promising. i also believe that some of that evolution you mention is possibly guided by intelligence. Meditation can change DNA epigenetically – there are double blind studies in which DNA damage in the human brain caused by aspartame. This was remediated by meditation and repaired fully.
Hard to set up a double blind study on THAT, lol!
If every gene not derived from vertical transfer is intrinsically harmful then that must be true for those acquired via horizontal transfer. Since such transfer is not merely possible but common and not obviously harmful the original claim is falsified. Having made an absolutist
claim, you are the one who must prove that every random natural transfer avoids the harm posited from every planned and tested one.
Functional and useful foreign genes have been permanently
incorporated into DNA. They did not prevent the organisms from reproducing and rather than being selectively eliminated were sufficiently beneficial to replace the original “wild” genetics. Such incorporation is a natural albeit uncommon part of evolution. If each one risks destroying the ecosystem then it would not exist now.
Finding horizontally transferred and incorporated genes in every species studied further falsifies the original claim and requires you
to provide even more compelling proof for it.
The argument of “so much we don’t know” is like throwing one’s pistol at an opponent after wasting all of the ammunition. Since no one knows everything about any action, fair application to everyone, not just Monsanto, would prevent anyone from ever doing anything.
Who cares if it’s ideological when it’s true? E. Coli rice makes me very sick. BT corn makes some other people sick. Frankenfish will probably make somebody out there sick too. And random mutation does *not* noticeably have these effects–who ever heard of a person who could eat white corn (without DNA from disease germs spliced into it) but not yellow, blue, or red corn?
Theoretically I’m sure there might be a deliberately spliced gene that wasn’t poisonous to anyone who tolerated the original food crops spliced–but why are we not hearing and reading about it, if there is one?
You can drink the ready roundup, we’ll pass.
Just occurred – are you including horiz gene transfer of intestinal flora there? Obviously when they constitute 99% of the “human” symbiote genetics, and they have similarity to other bacterium which we WILL come in contact with that is very much likely, whereas i suspect that the hominid genetics are not going to switch with a crayfish or even most bacterium.
Again – the way science does this stuff is NOT the same, and there are NO valid safety studies, which the LAW DEMANDS before entry into our food supply. Period. UNLESS you rigorously test GMOs for safety THEY ARE NOT LEGAL IN OUR FOOD SYSTEM.
The FDA is mandated to do that, and they broke the law because of pressure from biotech. They CANNOT declare something substantially equivalent and GRAS and allow it into the food chain by law BECAUSE IT LACKS SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY AND TESTING and so there is NO proof that it IS safe, equivalent, or whatever.
To state something is basically the same and yet so unique as to (illegal patenting of life) be deserving of a patent is just phukkin stupid doublespeak groupthink scientific concensus – but NOT any form of science, or legal action on the part of the FDA.
In fact, GMOs are “rigorously” tested for safety. Not only has each individual claim against any single GMO failed to be supported by scientific rigor, the absolutist claim that every GMO must be harmful (but just in some unknown and possibly untestable way) removes itself from the realm of science.
If you make a claim then you must be prepared to offer examples supporting it and must defend against counter examples. Setting aside capitalizations and epithets, I find neither of those in your post.
There is nothing natural about splicing genes apart and adding a chemical derivative designed to kill weeds into the gene pool. GMO…Genetically Modified Foods, come in many shapes and forms but for the most part Monsanto has added a weed killer to our basic plant life. Aside from the fact that generationally, we are using more weed killer than ever since even these plants develop immunities, the end result are food stuffs that, once entering out intestinal systems, begin the process of destroying our belly flora, making it impossible for us to survive.
While Monsanto advertises it products do not harm humans, they neglect to inform the consumer that the crops grown from these seeds, kill off everything we need to digest our food properly.
There is more to this than just Monsanto and GMO’s….this is by far the single biggest scandal our nation has ever faced and we play around with words like natural. GMO’ s are not natural….they are deadly and when consumed by one generation to the next, result in such things as autism, chronic heart disease in the form of congestive heart failure, IBS, all the way to Alzheimers. This impacts every area of our lives and yet the FDA has allowed itself to be sucked into it all.
Can’t help but wonder how much money has been exchanged in this heinous and deadly scandal.
Well, the Federal Reserve is missing over 11.5 TRILLION $$$…….
What is your point? That is what happens when you let petty financial thieves/crooks/criminals run your national government! U.S. government is literally nothing but loan sharks, corrupt greedy curs and murderers.
LOL i hesitate to call 11.5 TRILLION too petty…..
The rich maggot class – who are the self-annointed “elites” (but in reality are idiots) bought our govt a long time ago, and have altered elections. In my mind the only way to remove their influence short of sharpening your pitchforks (i have 4, 5, and 6 tine ‘forks myself on the ranch, heh-heh) is to NEVER vote repub or demo again.
They “BOTH” are needed to pass that legislation that screws us over and hands the country, power, and our lives to the rich. When in majority – either party MUST get votes from the alleged “opposition” to meet quorum or the votes don’t pass; the rich don’t get their toys – so they help each other out. All the time. For over 50 years at the least.
This means that despite what they promise THEY ALWAYS CONSCIOUSLY AND LITERALLY ATTACK YOU AND OUR COUNTRY and as such – voting for republican or democrat AGAIN is to repeat the same action and expect a different result.
Voting for anyone else tells them like nothing else can, that they are not trusted, not supported, and not believed.
Romney chased Ron Paul supporters because 3 million or less left the repubs because they realized that talk about the constitution was meaningful, and the conversation of conflict was meaningless in real terms. To get those errant supporters back – ROMNEY DID A RP IMITATION in the first debate and blew Obama out of the water. This proves that to chase those votes – if enough of us vote for protest or 3rd parties – or write-in, then they have no conclusion but that they are losing our support and their lies about being our friends aren’t taking. They will HAVE to change or lose us – and the realization will hit them regardless of how they lie and spin the results in their media.
Not only are they not natural, science has proven that glycans (cell surface sugars) will rid the body of anything not known in nature. Wake Forest is growing body parts using them.
Most forget that the first GMO product in the country KILLED people. EMS – Eisinophilic Myalgia Syndrome was caused by Showa Denko’s GMO bacterium.. The FDA lied about it being a filtering process. Somehow that never made sense, since ALL the L-tryptophan on the market was filtered, but ONLY the GMO strains caused EMS. The FDA then stated that EMS was found to precede the deadly outbreak – but ignored that the worst outbreak was from STRAIN V, which means that 4,3,2, or 1 could have caused the other cases – since ONLY the GMO strains from Showa Denko caused this damage. Hmmm.
People forget that in Germany, some Bt corn from i think Aventis killed the herd. The company tried to sneak a trial in remote Northern Italy on sheep to prove it should be kept on the market, but the sheep didn’t cooperate and died off inconveniently.
In Steven Drukers excellent read “ALTERED GENES, TWISTED TRUTH” he points out how we were literally about TWO WEEKS from possibly killing the world from GMOs. Some idiot geneticists without any knowledge of ecological systems, or apparently plant functions – developed a GMO version of Klebsiella Plantigo – a VERY common soil organism. It is found all over the world, in virtually every type of soil.
These fools made it break down crop residues into a form of alcohol. Nice theory, right? Except that Klebsiella ALSO lives in the living root systems of many, many plants. Someone in the laboratory grew multiple (beakers?) of wheat and had a control and GMO group. EVERY GMO wheat sample died – because that is what alcohol does to most plants – kills ’em deader than pasteurized bullsnot. They were about two weeks from releasing this monster into the environment!! That could have EASILY spread around the world, killed off almost all the plants, and the higher vertebrates as well.
But you know, it’s all safe and natural, and you should eat more of them. Or at least mail these CORPSE – ORATIONS your credit card and password.
Thanks for sharing this.
In a previous post I mentioned a strategy that I’m seeing work–and work fast, on issues that are a bit simpler than GMOs. I mentioned another web site, so now my post is being held for approval. Right. There are a couple of web sites that exist to activate random people who sign petitions relating to various issues, of which food quality is one. I’d like to invite everyone here to use those, both the one I use fairly often, and the one I’ve used only once or twice in six years. Sending our own petitions to the corporations *will* help, if there are enough of them…I mentioned these sites because they can collect thousands of signatures on a petition in a week.
Today I e-mailed a corporation, in spite of cookie and spam concerns, because that corporation (Riviana) has allowed my staff-of-life food to become more poisonous than salmonella is for me (E. Coli rice). I think e-mailing corporations directly does help…and the more e-mails pour in, the faster, the better. Real letters to corporations help. Blog posts and comments about corporations and their products help. Social media comments help. Every little bit…helps.
Every bit helps. Education is only part of the issue. i’ve found that because most people are literally brainwashed from their tvs and peer pressure (look at the response to that idiot phrase: conspiracy theorist”) that i have to take a different tack sometimes.
The best example i can give is GMO corn – for years prior to approval i’ve heard about how horrible and scary it was going to be. I KNOW the story line, the language, the science to a large degree – and it scared ME. So, imagine you are brainwashed Suzy Suburbia and i approach you about GMO corn. i start telling you about the new poisons, the new dangers – you are going to go into fight or flight mode – and since i scared you – i just turned you into an ostrich (at best) when what i NEED is an ally – preferably one active and interested in fighting this stupidity.
So – i needed to hit the visceral, gut level of reality – where that propaganda resides from listening to the rich people’s flawed paradigms since an infant.
Instead of talking about the scary stuff, i’d say “You know, to make a second generation GMO corn proves that the first generation didn’t work.” They ALWAYS looked at me – sharply, with interest, shock or whatever – BUT THAT MESSAGE GOT THROUGH and they thought about it. Improvement.
Then i usually point out “Since it takes about $10,000,000 and eight years to make a new GMO – that means they knew it would fail almost as soon as they planted the first GMO corn.” Wham. A core of truth in their visceral world.
Now if i can figure out how to do that with vaccination mandates, and……
Good technique. Actually corn is vulnerable to different things, so BT corn was engineered to kill insects, E. Coli corn to tolerate poisons designed to kill weeds…but that doesn’t matter because there is in fact already evidence that BT corn is breeding BT-resistant caterpillars, generating a smaller-scale version of the Vicious Spray Cycle.
Additionally, Bt in the Bt corn was never tested – and by law it needs to be tested in it’s whole food form, not separately. GMO corpse-orations say that it’s 1,000 X more powerful than regular Bt – then when they want it tested they state that it is the same as normal Bt and test THAT. It is too difficult and expensive to isolate amounts to test from the GMO plants.
The law (1958 FDCA – food, drug, cosmetic act) mandates any additions to our food supply be assumed unsafe until rigorous testing proves them safe. Scientific testing. That means published studies to allow other scientists to verify there was no publishing bias, no flawed experiment set up, that the conclusions are borne by the data, etc. This of course, has never been done.
When the GMO cheerleaders on blog sites tell people that Bt was used in organic farming so there is no problem with their having it in their plants, most people don’t realize the organic APPLICATION was done long enough prior to harvest to allow it to break down easily and completely before it could be consumed. The GMO corn/plants have the Bt inside the cells and so it does NOT break down prior to consumption – and in fact the r-DNA promoters CONTINUOUSLY pump more Bt into production because GMO engineers haven’t figured out how to stop the promoters – and that causes multiple problems for the plant. (energy allocation and the resultant modifications the plants must make – make or not make that protein, enzyme, etc…..)
The short answer is: No.
The hypocrisy is there within the crooks own lies: They want to claim on the patent side that GMO’s are unique and thus must be patented but on the food safety side they claim that it is perfectly safe because it is just like the conventional counterpart (but that is a blatant lie!).
Adding BT genes to plants that would otherwise never produce them on their own is not natural and never will be considered natural no matter how many liars they pay! They think their toxic society of making you unhealthy so they can make money off of you is just such a great idea but little do these fools realize they are not only destroying their very contributors that allows their society to function, but genetic engineering and its abuse for the sale of more toxic chemicals is destroying all life on the planet! No argument to be had! The crooks in the system will do whatever or say whatever to protect their atrocity. They can’t live up to it because that would mean they would have to publicly admit they have poisoned hundreds of millions of innocent men, women and children and even destroyed all life on the planet and these spineless cretins couldn’t own up to that if they tried!
You and i have also been ignoring that approval of GMOs is totally against the law. The nation’s LAW demands that ANY new food additive or food MUST BE ASSUMED UNSAFE AND TESTED RIGOROUSLY AND SCIENTIFICALLY TO PROVE IT’S SAFETY and this includes both short AND long term testing WITH THE WHOLE FOOD COMPONENT. You CANNOT by law take a protein or an isolated change and pretend that is the sum of the changes because it is NOT.