Urgent: Sign USDA Petition Demanding Stronger Regulations for Genetically Engineered Crops! - Eat Drink Better

Urgent: Sign USDA Petition Demanding Stronger Regulations for Genetically Engineered Crops!

[social_buttons]The comment period for proposed rule changes on Genetically Engineered Organisms ends on Monday, November 24th.

Sign the Center for Food Safety’s petition and make yourself heard on genetically modified foods and pharmaceutical crops issues!

From the CFS petition page:

In the waning months of the Bush administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has joined the ranks of federal agencies rushing through new regulations that weaken protections for human health and the environment. USDA has released a proposed rule that would significantly weaken oversight of all genetically engineered crops, and which continue to allow companies to grow food crops engineered to produce drugs and industrial chemicals.

The USDA began this process over four years ago by promising stricter oversight.  Unfortunately, improvements considered early on have been dismissed, and the proposed rule now has the same gaping holes as the policy it is replacing, and creates a few new ones, as well.  For instance:

* USDA has created a huge loophole allowing biotech companies to assess their own crops to determine whether USDA should regulate them.  And the criteria are open-ended, very subjective, and will certainly reduce USDA’s oversight of GE crops.

* The proposed rules could also allow companies to grow untested GE crops with no oversight whatsoever: “Over time, the range of GE organisms subject to oversight is expected to decrease…,” a move which USDA itself admits will make contamination of conventional/organic crops with untested GE material more likely.

* To add insult to injury, USDA has proposed to write into law its “Low Level Presence” policy, which excuses it from taking any action to remove untested GE crops from conventional or organic food, feed and seed.  This contamination often occurs through cross-pollination or seed dispersal, and has cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales and lowered profits.

* USDA rejected options that would have banned outdoor cultivation of pharmaceutical-producing GE (food) crops, the only way to ensure that untested drugs don’t end up in our food, despite strong support from citizens and the food industry.

* USDA has refused to propose any controls on pesticide-promoting GE crops, despite increasing pesticide use and an epidemic of resistant weeds that have been fostered by these crops.

* Finally, USDA snuck in a last-minute “correction” that bars state or local regulation of GE crops more protective than its own weak rule.  CFS strongly opposes such preemptive language that would bar local or state authorities from putting meaningful regulations or restrictions on GE crops in place that best suit their communities. This last-minute change should be cause to extend the public comment period.

The USDA is treading dangerous new ground here. The structure of the new proposal opens loopholes that can be exploited by biotech companies and expose consumers to more untested and unlabeled genetically engineered foods.

After denying requests for an extension to the short comment period given for the proposed rules, USDA’s comment period closes on Monday. Sign our petition to the USDA today and demand stronger—not weaker—regulations for genetically engineered crops!

Please sign the True Food Network petition!

Image: Brokinhrt at Flickr under Creative Commons License

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About the Author

lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, slacklining, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves good food, with fresh roasted chiles at the top of his list of favorites. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, RebelMouse, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!
  • Lynda Parkhurst

    Genetically modified food is dangerous. No need for it. We need to go organic.

  • dennis waugaman

    Lets not take unnecessary chances with this. I think we are rushing it without thorough testing and further research. Keep it out of the food supply for now. thanks, dennis waugaman