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Finally—Congress Begins to Wake Up about Genetically Engineered Food

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Rep. Dennis Kucinich has introduced two bills that would mandate labeling and provide stricter safety protections for GE products. HR 3553, the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act, already has twelve co-sponsors (and bipartisan support). The bill requires labeling of all genetically engineered organisms—including fish, which is especially important since GM salmon approval seems imminent. For animals and animal products, the bill would also require disclosure if the animal has been fed GMO.
HR 3554, the Genetically Engineered Safety Act, has a number of excellent provisions. It:

  • Prohibits open-air cultivation of genetically engineered pharmaceutical and industrial crops, to prevent cross-pollination and contamination;
  • Prohibits the use of common human food or animal feed as the host plant for a genetically engineered pharmaceutical or industrial chemical; and
  • Establishes a tracking system to regulate the growing, handling, transportation, and disposal of GE pharmaceutical and industrial crops and their by-products.

This second bill currently has two co-sponsors: Rep. Raul Grijalva and Rep. Fortney “Pete” Stark. ANH-USA is working on Capitol Hill to garner greater support for both bills.
As we noted in November, the FDA is still reviewing the application for approving GE salmon. The House voted to stop funding the research on the fish but the Senate has not, and it seems a foregone conclusion that FDA will approve the salmon since USDA is funding it.
Rep. Kucinich’s bills will fix huge legal loopholes. Current laws require no oversight for GE products—and of course no labeling requirements. There is also a huge data gap regarding the safety of genetically engineered foods, as the few safety studies that have been done have all been sponsored by industry.
Dr. Joseph Mercola recently interviewed Dr. Don Huber, an agricultural scientist and expert in microbial ecology at Purdue University who has issued stern warnings about the devastating effects of GE food crops after discovering a brand new organism in GE animal feed—an organism that has since been clearly linked to infertility and miscarriage in cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, and poultry. It’s an interview no one should miss.
Our colleagues at ANH-Europe reported last week that one of the world’s largest chocolate producers, Mars, became the primary backer for scientists to produce a genetically modified (GMO) cocoa tree hybrid. As Dr. Robert Verkerk noted, “The last thing subsistence farmers need is GM crops….The push for GM is actually all about control of agriculture and control of the food supply by a handful of very large corporations.”
As huge a health issue as genetically engineered foods are, it is also a major environmental issue. GM farming, because of the constant and uncontrollable threat of cross-contamination, has the potential to wreak havoc on crops the world over—and thus have a devastating effect on the future of the entire human race.
We are also greatly concerned that the closed-system production of GMOs could cause a major environmental disaster as well. Just because the GMOs are not blowing in the wind, as it were, doesn’t mean we’re safe! Green algae, for example, is cultured for the production of biofuels and essential fatty acids—the DHA and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) used in some baby foods are derived from this cultured algae, as we discuss elsewhere in this issue.
While the bioreactors that process the algae are theoretically closed, they are not foolproof. Genetically modified algae could escape into rivers and oceans, and could compete and genetically recombine with natural algae. Creating an oil-rich layer of genetically engineered algae on the surface of the oceans would have unthinkable environmental consequences.
We need your help to get through not only to our legislators, but to world leaders as well.


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