Food Safety biotechnology gm food

Published on December 3rd, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan

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Biotechnology Industry Spends Over Half a Billion Pushing GMOs

How much is food safety worth to U.S. lawmakers? The agricultural biotech industry has spent over half a billion dollars ($572 million) in the last 10 years on Congressional lobbying and campaign contributions pushing controversial projects like genetically modified (GM), aka genetically engineered (GE), crops and “food animals” (and the amount Big Biotech is putting in each year has doubled in that time period).

Without proper testing or cost-benefit evaluation (or with concerning results from the independent tests that have been done), the biotech industry would like our lawmakers to basically test such technology (er.. food) on the American public.

“The public needs to know that despite their concerns with eating genetically engineered (GE) foods, there’s a powerful industry spending hundreds of millions to promote products like GE salmon,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Over the last few months, our coalition has collected over 350,000 petitions from consumers who oppose FDA approval of genetically engineered salmon. Yet sadly, each of these consumers would have to pay around $1,500 to match the biotech industry’s lobbying influence.”

Anti-GM Labeling Efforts

Even beyond pushing such products as GM salmon, Big Biotech also puts this money into fighting campaigns aimed at simple labeling of GM food.

“FDA labeling of AquaBounty salmon has been a hotly contested issue. Despite consumer concerns, the agency currently does not require it,” Lauren Wright of Food & Water Watch writes. “According to an NPR article published earlier this week, a survey of more than 3,000 people (conducted for NPR by Thomson Reuters) revealed that 9 out of 10 people believe GE foods should be labeled. The majority said they would not eat a genetically engineered fish, labeled or not.”

Where Big Biotech’s Money Goes

And if you want to see how intricate and disturbing Big Biotech’s efforts at influencing lawmakers gets, check this out:

“According to [a Food & Water Watch] analysis, food and agriculture biotechnology firms and trade associations have hired on as lobbyists at least 13 former members of Congress and over 300 former congressional and White House staffers through well-connected lobbying shops.”

It seems pretty clear, Big Biotech isn’t interested in listening to the American public, and it’s not really that interested in convincing the American public that GM foods are safe (which it cannot legitimately do). Instead, it would rather pour a ton of money into efforts skirting the political process and dictating U.S. food policy.

“It seems the FDA is more interested in pandering to lobbyists then listening to the American public and the other federal agencies it is required by law to consult with,” Hauter said.

Luckily, organizations like Food & Water Watch, the Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, the Organic Consumers Association, Food Democracy Now, and CREDO Action are fighting for consumer rights and safe food practices in the U.S. Hopefully their efforts and the public’s and the common sense of our lawmakers can overcome half a billion dollars of Big Biotech lobbying and Congressional campaign efforts.

What do you think of Big Biotech’s efforts to go behind the American public’s back?

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Photo Credit: v i p e z via flickr (CC license)



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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • http://Web Strend

    Salmonella & e-coli on food crops & the egg recall? LIVING MICROORGAN­ISMS being used in microbial bio-contro­l products & added to chicken feed. Blessings from the FDA,USDA & EPA. In fact, “inventors­” with the USDA are listed on several patents.

    Melamine from cows milk? Linked to microbial bio-contro­l products; by way of capsules United States Patent 6506397 (for one); “Microcaps­ule according to claim 21, wherein said capsule shell is formed by condensati­on of formaldehy­de with at least one of urea & MELAMINE.”

    Contaminat­ion from microbial bio-contro­l products is found on the EPA’s, Biopestici­des & Pollution Prevention Division Form; 8570-6; “After fermentati­on & prior to further processing­, each batch must have been tested or the following microbial contaminat­es & have levels below those listed: E.COLI/ Coliform Bacteria, SALMONELLA­, Shigella, Staphyloco­cci, Vibrio, Yeast, Mold”

    One U.S. microbial Bio-contro­l products manufactur­er; MEXICO.

    U. S. Biotech company submitted microbial bio-contro­l fermentati­on batches to the EPA: found, QUALITY CONTROL/ST­ORAGE STABILITY PROBLEMS & HONEY BEES DIED.

    Biotech corporatio­ns DO NOT want the food borne illnesses to be linked to the farms; where microbial bio-contro­l products are being used as pesticides­, fungicide and insecticid­es

    Microbial bio-contro­l products are deemed “natural”; “active ingredient­” is naturally found; i.e., soil. Some “active ingredient­s” has been shown as low as 0.07% (listed on the product/s label). “NATURAL”? What are the other 0.93% ingredient­s in these products?

    PEOPLE – WAKE UP! DEMAND SOME ANSWERS!

  • http://www.sexliesandsoybeans.com Rick Goeld

    I am also concerned that Big Agra is spending billions influencing politicians in the US and elsewhere. GE grains and legumes are bad enough. Now we are faced with the threat of GE Salmon courtesy of AquaBounty Technologies (also known as FrankenFish, but I prefer the term Jurassic Salmon) Check out my website / blog for more on this, and check out my fiction novel Sex, Lies, and Soybeans. It’s a Sexy TechnoRomp with over-the-top characters, political intrigue, and screeching plot twists, and important, timely messages about the dangers of genetically engineered foods and the abuses of big business (www.sexliesandsoybeans.com)

  • http://www.cleantechnica.com Zach

    looks like a cool book. you have to have some humor with this topic, i think.. otherwise, it is too sad

    thank you for sharing :D

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