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Genetically engineered crops have never been fully evaluated for safety. Now, in a surprising turn of events, the United States Department of Agriculture is actually re-opening their approval process for genetically engineered (GMO) crops. We have until Monday to tell the USDA to go back to the drawing board, and require real testing of GMOs.

Even though genetically engineered foods are changed in ways that could never happen in nature, by inserting genes from one organism into the DNA of a different plant or animal, we have a very broken regulatory system split between three agencies, none of which look at the crop or food in it’s entirety.

  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the agency charged with the most oversight of GMO crops, including their environmental and agricultural risks.  However, the USDA relies largely on the companies seeking approval of new GMO crops to decide how many and what kinds of tests to conduct, and what information is shared with regulators and the public. There are also no mandated contamination prevention practices, no post-market monitoring of commercialized GMO crops, and no protection for farmers harmed by GMO contamination.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates pesticides and herbicides that are sprayed on crops, and also the crops that are designed to produce their own pesticides in the plant, but once again the EPA is relying solely on data provided by the companies seeking approval.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does no independent safety testing, and relies on industry supplied data to see if a GMO crop is “Generally Recognized as Safe.” They also look at GMO animals as “Animal Drugs” and do not look at food safety information such as increased allergenicity or other impacts.

Now is the time to revamp this uncoordinated and broken system that lets GMOs slip through the cracks without full human and environmental safety testing. Tell the USDA to require real testing for GMOs!

Since GMOs were first allowed in the U.S. in 1994, no application to introduce a new genetically engineered crop has even been rejected. Our current approval process is full of loopholes and gaps, and even entirely voluntary in some cases, putting genetically engineered foods into the fields and onto the market without independent analysis of their potential impacts to public health, farmers, or the environment. Nonetheless, the biotech industry has pressed for lighter regulatory oversight, and there’s a chance that the USDA could use this comment period to weaken the approval process even further.

While we think there should be a moratorium on all new GMO plant and animal approvals until there is a real regulatory system in place for all agencies, this is an important opportunity to call for real testing at the USDA. The USDA comment period closes on Monday June 22nd.  Take action now to fix the broken regulatory process for genetically engineered foods and animals.

Thanks for taking action,

Sarah Alexander
Deputy Organizing Director
Food & Water Watch


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