What is in this article?:
Andrew Kimbrell, founder and executive director of the Center for Food Safety, shares his insights and knowledge about GMOs, from regulations to public safety and the latest science.
GMO dangers ignored
Many countries, including those within the European Union, require strict labeling and testing of GMOs. As a result of this labeling, GMO products simply do not sell in most of the world. Here in the United States we do not require labeling or testing of GMOs. How is it that in the US GMOs seem to have had free rein?
“Unlike our European allies, unlike Australia, Japan, much of Africa and others, we have failed in the United States, for 25 years now, to pass a single law on addressing and assessing the environmental or health consequences of GMOs,” Kimbrell pointed out. “Every effort has been defeated by the biotechnology industry.
“What we have in this country is a complete regulatory failure with GMOs. We have no mandatory labeling, no mandatory testing. The USDA to this day has never come up with an environmental impact statement on a single GMO plant, though they’ve promised it over and over again, and court after court has demanded they do so.
“The USDA has illegally approved one GMO after the other and has been disciplined by the courts, by the General Accounting Office, and by the Inspector General.
“The problem is that the USDA has pretty much become a rogue agency and a wholly owned subsidiary of the biotechnology industry, and that’s really sad. Former Iowa governor, now US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, was the biotechnology industrial organizations’ ‘Governor of the Year’ in 2001. He brought his current general counsel, Ramona Romero, directly from DuPont this year. The law firm that Vilsack worked for fought us on GMO cases after he wasn’t governor anymore.”
Another problem is a combination of outdated legislation and agency disparity when it comes to attempts to enforce it. “You have a brand-new technology without any congressional guidance, which then goes down to the agency level,” Kimbrell continued. “If you’re EPA, FDA or USDA, you are trying to regulate biotechnology in agriculture under laws that were passed 15 years before anyone knew this technology existed. Here you have corn engineered to contain Bt and they try to regulate it under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. That means they’re trying to treat the plant as a pesticide—the whole plant. When they passed that law in 1972 on pesticides, they thought they were regulating chemicals; they didn’t think they were regulating plants. In another example, we’re now seeing GMO salmon, and the FDA is treating it as an animal drug—the salmon. So what happens here is that because of the failure of Congress to withstand the lobbying of the industry, the entire technology has been shoved down to the agency level. We have about seven different agencies under about twelve different laws that are trying to regulate biotechnology, with laws that were passed long before biotechnology came on line. So it’s a system that’s built for failure.