- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - The FDA is
responsible for, among other things, making sure that food, feed
and food additives are safe to eat.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - The USDA is
responsible for, among other things, making sure plants are safe to
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - The EPA is
responsible for, among other things, making sure pesticides are
safe for human health and the environment.
While some may feel assured knowing that three separate entities
are tasked with making sure genetic engineering is safe, the truth
is that this setup allows for miscommunication, bureaucratic
failures, and a propensity to "pass the buck." Essentially, there
are too many cooks in the laboratory.
What's worse is that these agencies are inundated with former
industry executives and lobbyists from the major GMO companies:
Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta and BASF. The most egregious examples
come from two recent Obama appointments.
- Islam Siddiqui -- current VP of science and regulatory
affairs at CropLife, (which represents all the major GMO players)
and a former lobbyist -- has been nominated to the critical post of
U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator. This position will enable him
to keep pushing chemical pesticides, inappropriate biotechnologies,
and unfair trade arrangements on nations that do not want and can
least afford them.
- Roger Beachy -- long-time head of Monsanto's defacto
nonprofit research arm -- has been installed as director of the
USDA's newly created National Institute of Food and Agriculture
(NIFA). This office comes with a $500 million budget, and therein
control over the U.S. ag research agenda for years to come.
With former industry big wigs at the reigns there can be no
guarantee that these agencies are adhering to their missions of
protecting our health.
To Label, or not to Label
In 2008, the FDA announced that labeling of GE foods would
remain voluntary, citing that the methods used in the development
of bioengineered foods, including GE animals, was not "material"
information. This decision came despite 29,000 public comments,
most of which urged the agency to require mandatory labeling of
food products from GE animals. Meanwhile, the FDA seems poised to
make it as difficult as possible for companies who have eliminated
GE ingredients to add "NON-GE" labels. These responsible companies
will face burdensome regulations, while the FDA lets other
companies continue to use GE ingredients in secret.
Many nations have opted to ban GMOs based on the precautionary
principle. Unfortunately, the United States is not one of them.
The United States may soon be the only country in the world that
does not require labeling of genetically engineered food.
Greenpeace is calling for immediate interim measures such as
labeling of GE ingredients, and the segregation of genetically
engineered crops and seeds from conventional ones.