Your Influence Counts ... Use It! The SPOTLIGHT by Liberty Lobby

Reprinted from, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive

Your Medical Records At Risk

  • Health and Human Services is in the process of establishing regulations that provide almost any organization or individual with your private medical records.
By Don Harkins

The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods, a Seattle-based political advocacy organization, is urging Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman to reconsider his position that government-mandated labeling of genetically modified foods is unnecessary in the coming year.

During a Jan. 10 press conference to review the 1999 accomplishments of the U.S. Department of Agri culture (USDA) and preview priorities for this year, a reporter asked Glickman if he foresaw in the year ahead any changes in the U.S. ap proval process or in any labeling requirements in this country.

In response, Glickman said that he didn't see "what I call any mandatory or regulatory activities taking place from the government which will order anybody to do anything with respect to these issues whether it is labeling or anything else."

The USDA is in the process of forming a biotechnology advisory committee, a broad-based group of people from various sectors of agriculture and non-agriculture to help the agency deal with particular is sues, such as labeling requirements, he said.

Glickman's remarks show that "he is out of touch with the will of the American people," said Craig Winters, executive director of the Campaign to Label. "Polls consistently show a vast majority of people surveyed want labeling of these controversial genetically engineered foods. It's time for the U.S. government to react accordingly."

Winters' group is asking its members and supporters to flood the USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C., with letters in support of labeling, as well as to members of Congress and other government officials.

"The USDA has a record of going against the wishes of the American people on many food issues," Winters said. "Two years ago, the agency wanted to broaden the definition of 'organic' foods to include genetically engineered foods, nuclear-irradiated foods and foods grown with sewage sludge fertilizer. It took 280,000 letters from concerned Americans to prevent that action."

There already is an effort in the House to require any food that has been genetically engineered or contains genetically modified ingredients to bear the following label:

"United States government notice: This product contains genetically engineered material or was produced with a genetically engineered material."

The Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act, House Resolution 3377), is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich from Ohio (Here's to Your Health, January 2000).

H.R.3377 is being considered by the Subcommittee on Health and Environ- ment under the House Commerce Committee. It has 40 co-sponsors.

According to Winters, two-thirds of the foods on supermarket shelves are genetically engineered or contain genetically modified ingredients. The federal government has come under fire for not adequately testing genetically engineered foods for health and environmental risks, he said.