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Whale of a Time Tweats

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Say NO to Monsanto - Five Ways the FDA Has Failed Consumers on GMOs

1. No health safety testing

Genetically engineered (GE) foods have never been safety tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), thanks to a 20-year-old policy that says it's up to the biotech companies to determine the safety of genetically engineered (GE) foods. So while all other developed countries require safety testing for GE plants, the government agency in charge of protecting U.S. citizens lets biotech companies, who stand to make billions in profits from GE foods, conduct their own "voluntary safety consultations."

2. No labeling

If the FDA isn't going to test GE foods for safety, the least it could do is require labeling, so people can choose to avoid GMOs if they want. But so far, the FDA has rejected labeling under the controversial argument that GE foods are "substantially equivalent" to their non-genetically engineered counterparts.

3. Revolving door policy

Is it any wonder the FDA gives the biotech industry free rein, when it allows Monsanto employees to revolve in and out of its doors?

Michael Taylor, the FDA's Deputy Commissioner of Food since January 2013, is the architect of the FDA's substantial equivalence policy, used to justify no safety testing and no labeling of GMOs. One look at Taylor's career trajectory and it's clear how he arrived at such a policy. He used to be the vice president for public policy at Monsanto.

GMO safety testing doesn't stand a chance, as long as Taylor bounces between the FDA and Monsanto - despite the fact that numerous FDA scientists, before and after creation of the FDA's substantial equivalence policy, had expressed concerns that genetic modification of the food supply was a potential threat to human health requiring more study before being approved for public consumption.

4. Pushing GE animals on consumers

The FDA did its best to sneak genetically engineered (GE) salmon by consumers in late December, when it quietly announced it was launching a 60-day public comment period. The announcement followed the release of the FDA's Environmental Assessment (EA) of GE salmon, which Michael Hansen, PhD, senior scientist with the Consumers Union, described as "flawed and inadequate."

An outraged public inundated the agency with thousands of comments. The FDA responded by extending the public comment period an additional 60 days. But given the agency's propensity to fast track GE crops, do we really think it will put the kibosh on what could become the first GE animal to enter the U.S. food supply?

5. Privatizing seeds

The FDA's love affair with Monsanto has led to the privatization, and patenting, of the very source of life: seeds. Monsanto is allowed to sell its patented genetically engineered (GE) "Roundup Ready" soybean seeds, and other patented seeds, to farmers under a contract that prohibits the farmers from saving the next-generation seeds and replanting them. Farmers who buy Monsanto's GE seeds are required to buy new seeds every year. Monsanto then sells the same farmers its proprietary pesticides, like Roundup, that can be sprayed in huge amounts on Monsanto's patented Roundup Ready crops, killing everything except the GE plants.

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