Skip to comments.USDA Rushing Through Dangerous New Rules on GE and Pharmaceutical Crops
Posted on 11/20/2008 8:22:39 AM PST by Scythian
In the waning months of the Bush administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has joined the ranks of federal agencies rushing through new regulations that weaken protections for human health and the environment. USDA has released a proposed rule that would significantly weaken oversight of all genetically engineered crops, and which continue to allow companies to grow food crops engineered to produce drugs and industrial chemicals.
The USDA began this process over four years ago by promising stricter oversight. Unfortunately, improvements considered early on have been dismissed, and the proposed rule now has the same gaping holes as the policy it is replacing, and creates a few new ones, as well. For instance:
* USDA has created a huge loophole allowing biotech companies to assess their own crops to determine whether USDA should regulate them. And the criteria are open-ended, very subjective, and will certainly reduce USDAs oversight of GE crops.
* The proposed rules could also allow companies to grow untested GE crops with no oversight whatsoever: Over time, the range of GE organisms subject to oversight is expected to decrease..., a move which USDA itself admits will make contamination of conventional/organic crops with untested GE material more likely.
* To add insult to injury, USDA has proposed to write into law its Low Level Presence policy, which excuses it from taking any action to remove untested GE crops from conventional or organic food, feed and seed. This contamination often occurs through cross-pollination or seed dispersal, and has cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales and lowered profits.
* USDA rejected options that would have banned outdoor cultivation of pharmaceutical-producing GE (food) crops, the only way to ensure that untested drugs dont end up in our food, despite strong support from citizens and the food industry.
* USDA has refused to propose any controls on pesticide-promoting GE crops, despite increasing pesticide use and an epidemic of resistant weeds that have been fostered by these crops.
* Finally, USDA snuck in a last-minute correction that bars state or local regulation of GE crops more protective than its own weak rule. CFS strongly opposes such preemptive language that would bar local or state authorities from putting meaningful regulations or restrictions on GE crops in place that best suit their communities. This last-minute change should be cause to extend the public comment period.
The USDA is treading dangerous new ground here. The structure of the new proposal opens loopholes that can be exploited by biotech companies and expose consumers to more untested and unlabeled genetically engineered foods.
After denying requests for an extension to the short comment period given for the proposed rules, USDAs comment period closes on Monday. Sign our petition to the USDA today and demand strongernot weakerregulations for genetically engineered crops!
Not a single soul concerned about this stuff I guess
Very interesting. Thanks for posting. Reminds me of a similar technique I read about recently in Science News.
Finally, USDA snuck in a last-minute correction that bars state or local regulation of GE crops more protective than its own weak rule. CFS strongly opposes such preemptive language that would bar local or state authorities from putting meaningful regulations or restrictions on GE crops in place that best suit their communities
That there is some USDA prime grade government stupidity. How is this justified? What constitutional grounds would be offered if this were to be challenged? Commerce clause? Necessary and proper clause? Case law blah blah? A briefcase full of cash?
Genetic Engineering is a good thing.
Learn it. Live it. Love it!
You really have no idea do you.
Offices are in Washington, DC (660 Pennsylvania Ave.) and (surprise) San Francisco (on outer Mission Street, in the Castro/Valencia/Potrero/Bernal Heights district, natch).
Its masthead mission statement is more succinct (emphasis added for Rio Lindans): "The Center for Food Safety works to protect human health and the environment by curbing the proliferation of harmful food production technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture."
If the clue light isn't glimmering yet, check out CFS's "Food and Global Warming" campaign at the group's website (http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/). Here's a taste: "Want to reduce global warming? Join our 'Cool Foods' Campaign and help take a bite out of global warming by changing the way you eat...." and "...We hope to inspire a groundswell of people committed to making sustainable food choices to reduce their 'FoodPrint'..."
Yep, we'll all starve together when we go. Advanced industrial nations first.
The CTA (as the International Center for Technology Assessmment styles itself) claims to be non-partisan, as any idiot can plainly infer from the following statement in a March 2007 letter from its Executive Director, one Andrew Kimball, to an unnamed U.S. senator:
"The government continues to expand its investment in nanotechnologys applications, but has failed to give the crucial social, environmental, health and safety, and ethical implications of the new technology its requisite and urgently needed share of that investment. ... Existing research suggests that nanotechnology presents unprecedented risks to human health and the environment that demand new paradigms of health and safety testing and risk assessment. Moreover, the convergence of nanotechnology with genetic technologies, information technologies, and cognitive neurology biology raises serious new EHS challenges. Substantially increased federal funding must address these fundamentally unique ethical, social, environmental, and health risks while these converging technologies are still in the early stages of development and commercialization. Significant increases in federal funding should first and foremost be allocated to study of these human health and environmental impacts, as well as broader societial issues and adequate oversight development, before widespread deployment of these technologies."
And: "CTA is the country's primary legal organization fighting megatechnologies and technocracies. Using legal petitions, comments, and litigation CTA is at the forefront of the battles to limit genetic engineering, end the patenting of life, address greenhouse gas emissions, protect animals from abuse in research and agriculture, and halt deforestation...."
Watermelons don't get much greener. Or redder.