USDA Creates New Program that Invites Blatant Conflicts of Interest on Genetic Engineering

May 2, 2011
Category: Uncategorized

GE tomatoThe USDA has started a disgraceful new program that makes it even easier for genetically engineered organisms to become deregulated—by having the corporations themselves provide all the documentation and analysis! A new Action Alert.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is responsible for granting or denying petitions from companies to deregulate genetically engineered organisms. Now APHIS has announced a two-year program called the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Pilot Project. It is designed to be another instance of the foxes guarding the henhouse, with conflicts of interest built into every step of the process.
Currently, APHIS prepares an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to show what impact a GE food or organism might have on the environment, to help determine whether it should be regulated or not. The petitioner requesting deregulated status (Monsanto, for example) has to submit specific information, but it is up to the APHIS to prepare the environmental documents and analyze all the info.
Under this new program, the petitioners will submit the environmental documents and analysis themselves! The Monsantos of the world can give the USDA all the environmental “analysis” necessary to support their own case—removing objectivity entirely from the process. It’s rather like the prosecution accepting the evidence presented by a defense attorney’s highly paid expert witness, instead of coming up with one’s own expert testimony.
But it doesn’t stop there. Instead of APHIS taking the analysis and developing an EA or EIS, an outside contractor will prepare the EIS—but the petitioner will provide the funds for it. This is another outrageous conflict of interest: petitioners will be providing the funds to support their own studies to determine the outcome of their own case. Would we trust a sugar company to fund a report on whether sugar causes cavities in teeth?
In previous issues we have reported on USDA’s push to deregulate genetically engineered organisms. Now they are considering a program that will make it worse—ensuring that corporate interests will continue to win out over consumer information and choice. USDA is setting up a process that will make deregulation even easier—almost certainly in anticipation of a whole slew of petitions to come. The agency’s policies have already encouraged many companies to petition for non-regulated status for their GE products.
Monsanto has created a soybean oil genetically engineered to contain stearidonic acid (SDA), one of the omega-3 acids, as an alternative to fish oil. Last year, after a petition from Monsanto, the FDA gave the oil Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status. Now Monsanto just needs permission from USDA to grow this GE soybean in open fields—which, if the trend holds up, will probably be granted.
In China, scientists have genetically engineered cows to produce “human” milk. With the USDA’s outrageous GE policies, is this something we can expect in the US soon?
Action Alert! Please contact APHIS and tell them the new pilot program creates undeniable and unconscionable conflicts of interest. Besides, the agency didn’t even give the public an opportunity to comment on it, which suggests a certain unwillingness to be taken to task by health-conscious American consumers!



TO SEND YOUR MESSAGE TO THE APHIS

Click THIS LINK to go to the Action Alert page. Once there, fill out the form with your name and address, etc., and customize your letter. We have a suggested message for you, but please feel free to add your own comments to the letter.

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8 responses to “USDA Creates New Program that Invites Blatant Conflicts of Interest on Genetic Engineering”

  1. Donna Miller says:

    To the FDA, USDA and any othee government group has an interest in GMO foods.
    I was under the impression these agencies were here to overseer the health benefits of the citizens of the U.S. I want to know what I am eating and believe it is my right to know what I am purchasing for me and my family. It should be my choice whether I want organic food or GMO foods.
    When I was a child everything was organic and the water and air were pure. Never heard of all the illnesses we now have. Something is wrong. It shouldn’t take a genius tro figure out what is happening to our people. At least giv e us a choice!
    Donna Miller

  2. Kate Ryan says:

    Thank you for all you’re doing to stop Monsanto’s genetically engineered crops!
    Sincerely,
    Kate Ryan

  3. Valerie says:

    I started a petition on change.org to send to our government telling them that we are NOT okay with the GMO industry self-regulating.
    If you are interested in signing, here’s the link:
    http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-the-usda-it-is-not-okay-to-let-the-gmo-industry-conduct-its-own-environmental-impact-studies
    I think it will take many voices to send a strong message to our government about this matter.
    Thank you,
    Valerie

  4. JOY PICKENS says:

    This is OUTRAGEOUS!!! Who is GUARDING, US from the USDA!!??

  5. gayle nasca says:

    Most people do not have a clue about engineered crops, etc. There must be a way for the public at
    large to hear an explanation of what it is and how horrible it is.. How can Monsanto and a few others like Monsanto continue to poison the public without most people ever knowing what is happening? Is Monsanto backed by mega corporations that are trying to thin the population? Just wondering.
    There is a possibility to alert all leaders of churches, temples and mosques to educate them so they might alert their congregations.

  6. Zee Stone says:

    What happened to scientific objectivity? We know that GMO foods affect fertility and haven’t the foggiest idea what else. Now you are proposing that companies themselves do all their own research to protect OUR safety?
    If this weren’t so important, it would be laughable.
    I want people to have SAFE food. You are setting up GMO food to be safe no matter what, and this is not accurate.
    Do not allow this ridiculous process.
    Zhenya Stone

  7. JC says:

    I would like to add a paragraph I inserted into the letter ANH provided:
    There is somewhat of a parallel I notice in this proposed process: Currently the FDA oversees and judges the results of drug studies performed by sponsoring pharmaceutical companies who want to show their compound has an important effect. However, the people in these studies have given their consent for the treatment, which they believe will help them. What your new process would do is make American citizens unwilling and uninformed test subjects in a series of large experiments. Not appropiate.
    I hope they take notice…

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