Stop The Trump Administration From Letting Chemical Companies Decide if The GMOs They Sell Are Safe!
The Trump administration just released new rules to change how genetically engineered crops (GE crops or GMOs) are regulated. Unfortunately the rules being proposed would make almost every GMO exempt from regulation and instead allow the companies that make GMOs decide the safety of their own products before selling them. If we don’t stop these new rules, the vast majority of GMOs will not be reviewed by the government. Instead chemical and food companies would decide whether or not their own GMOs are harmful. Talk about a conflict of interest!
With these new rules, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing a radical voluntary review system for GE crops. These new regulations leave it up to chemical companies—like Monsanto/Bayer and Dow—to “self-determine” review; in other words, these chemical companies would make their own determinations as to whether or not their GE plant experiments should even be reported to USDA at all.
If a chemical company has “self-determined” that its GE plant experiment does not need USDA oversight, it would skip being evaluated under the standards of our federal health and environmental laws. It would go straight to farm fields to be planted or to market to be sold. We at Center for Food Safety (CFS) believe that it should not be up to a chemical company—interested in improving its bottom line—to decide what is safe for our health, endangered species, and the environment.
And even in the rare instances when a company will volunteer to have their GE plant experiment regulated by USDA, the agency is proposing such a narrow scope of its review that it will only have a meaningful review processfor a tiny percentage of GMOs. This allows for the illusion of regulation, while actually letting the companies go scot-free.
One of the big problems with GMOs is their ability to cross-contaminate with conventional and organic crops as well as with plants in wildlife refuges. USDA perversely touts that there will be fewer “unauthorized releases” of GMOs with this new system, but that’s only because the vast majority of GE plant experiments will be totally exempt from any regulation in the first place! It’s like saying the crime rate will go down because the government legalized most forms of robbery. In reality, deregulating nearly all GMOs with no oversight will dramatically increase the frequency of contamination—which has already cost U.S. farmers billions of dollars over the past decade. When you go from bad oversight to no oversight, many more incidents of contamination are sure to follow.
Under the new proposal, the vast majority of GE plant experiments would not even have to be reported to USDA, much less grown with measures to prevent escape. So rather than increasing its monitoring of open air GE plant experiments, USDA’s new proposal abdicates the agency’s responsibility entirely, and leaves it solely up to chemical companies to self-police their new experiments. This change would exacerbate harm to farmers and the environment from increased contamination, while leaving the public completely in the dark as to where these new experiments are taking place.
USDA’s proposed GE regulations work very hard to make sure as little as possible is regulated. These proposed regulations rely on chemical companies deciding whether or not their GE plant experiments should be reviewed by a government agency at all. They do not address the massive increase in overall pesticide use that GMOs have caused or the continuing epidemic of increasingly pesticide-resistant “superweeds.” They fail to protect endangered species or farm workers. They even leave dangerous new “biopharm” GMOs completely unregulated, making our food system vulnerable to contamination from experimental pharmaceuticals. These rules leave our public health and environment completely at the mercy of chemical companies. USDA could do so much better, but instead it’s just doing the bidding of Monsanto and other chemical companies.
Center for Food Safety