US food giants want to label GM food ‘natural’

The trade association representing many of America’s biggest food and drink firms wants to label genetically modified foods ‘natural’, reports the New York Times.

The newspaper has seen a letter from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) to the US Food and Drug Administration informing the agency that it will be petitioning it to “issue a regulation authorizing foods containing foods derived from biotechnology to be labels as ’natural’.”

The development comes as sales of certified organic food labelled organic are growing strongly while big name food brands are facing lawsuits for use of the word ‘natural’ on processed foods containing chemicals and artificial ingredients. Recently PepsiCo removed “all natural” from packs of its Naked drinks range and compensated consumers to the tune of $9 million after settling a lawsuit, while disputing the claims made against it.

Use of the term ‘natural is set to become a major battlefield in the US. The stakes were dramatically raised last year when Connecticut introduced legislation banning the use of the word ‘natural’ on all products containing GMOs.

Scott Faber, vice president of advocacy group the Environmental Working Group told the New York Times that the move by the GMA was “audacious”. He added: “It’s like they’re trying to get the government to say night is day and white is black”.