Originally published November 18 2014
Congress scrutinizing corrupt GMO approval process
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) After years of petitioning the government for redress, food freedom activists have finally gained a small victory on the biotechnology front. In response to a letter sent by Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has agreed to review the procedures by which genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are evaluated and approved in the U.S. to make sure that they actually reflect up-to-date science.
According to the Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH-USA), the GAO will conduct a thorough review of the long-term safety of GM crops for humans and the environment. The last time this was ever even considered was back in the early 1980s, more than a decade before the first GMOs hit the market, when the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy set up a basic regulatory framework for biotechnology.
"The laws and regulations that make up this framework have changed little since 1984," reads Sen. Tester's petition letter. "Accordingly, I ask you to review the Coordinated Framework, its relevant statutes and regulations, and its implementation by federal agencies to ensure that the regulation of genetically engineered crops fully reflects current science."
Mandatory safety testing is currently not required for GMOs The issue of food safety is something that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ignored ever since the first GMOs arrived on the scene in the mid-1990s. There is no requirement that GMOs undergo mandatory safety testing, for instance, nor does the FDA have to give a GMO an official safety endorsement before it is sold to consumers.
Instead, GMO companies are tasked with testing the safety of their own products, which has led to rampant scientific fraud and corruption. While the FDA provides limited consultation in the development, testing and sale of GMOs, even this process is optional, meaning biotechnology companies have free reign to sell whatever they want to the public without oversight.
"[T]he Food and Drug Administration's voluntary consultation process neither includes mandatory testing, nor provides an FDA endorsement of a food's safety," adds the letter. "Rather, the process allows a company to make its own determination of safety. Even the limited consultation process is voluntary."
Legislation specific to GMOs doesn't currently exist At the present time, there is no legislation at the federal level that specifically deals with GMO regulation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been granted some authority under the Plant Pest Act to restrict organisms that may harm other plants, which GMOs have been shown to do. But the guidelines defining what "plant pests" actually are is dubious.
"In something of a stretch, USDA reasons that GMO crops qualify as 'plant pests' because historically, the DNA from natural plant pathogens and/or microbial material were used in the genetic engineering of various plants," explains ANH-USA.
"The Plant Pest Act also gives USDA the authority to regulate noxious weeds, and therefore any engineered crop that can become a noxious, hard-to-control weed can be regulated."
GAO review will hopefully crack down on rogue 'experimental' crops Remember when unapproved GM wheat was found growing in organic wheat fields? Experimental GMOs and their potential to contaminate other crops is another issue that the GAO will address in its review, including experimental field trials that can spread GM pollen and seeds to nearby fields.
"The recent unapproved release of a variety of genetically modified wheat is only the latest in a series of economically damaging unapproved releases of regulated crops," explains Sen. Tester's letter. "These releases undermine consumer confidence and international markets, and call into question the effectiveness of oversight of field testing."
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