The FDA could soon have a much stronger regulatory role in food safety and health if it passes a bill by the end of this year, lawmakers have said.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) introduced a bill that would give the agency the power to block or delay new food products on the grounds of potential safety concerns.
Cohen, the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, said in a statement Thursday that the bill would require food companies to disclose whether they have engineered genes that may be harmful or harmfulful to animals.
“The FDA has a significant regulatory role that includes protecting the public health and safety from biotechnology-related risks,” Cohen said.
“I believe this bill is the first step in helping us ensure the agency’s regulatory authority in food is as broad as possible.”
Cohen said he was pushing for a measure to prevent the FDA from using its authority to block new food, rather than regulating the companies that make it.
“There is a difference between being a regulator and being a gatekeeper,” he said.
The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for regulating genetically engineered food, food additives and food products that contain it.
The agency is also charged with protecting the health of consumers by preventing the spread of dangerous diseases and contaminants.
The FDA does not have the authority to ban foods, but the agency has been pushing the food industry to use new genetic technology to improve food safety.
Last year, the agency issued new rules that would require manufacturers to disclose if they have genetically engineered genes.
The agency said last year that it had taken steps to address the concerns raised about the use of genetically engineered seeds in genetically modified foods.