The Genetically Engineered Safety Act (H.R. 3554), submitted by Representative Dennis Kucinich, puts some limits on the use of human food crops and animal feed as genetically engineered pharmaceutical and industrial crops.
The intent of the Genetically Engineered Safety Act is:
To prohibit the open-air cultivation of genetically engineered pharmaceutical and industrial crops, to prohibit the use of common human food or animal feed as the host plant for a genetically engineered pharmaceutical or industrial chemical, to establish a tracking system to regulate the growing, handling, transportation, and disposal of pharmaceutical and industrial crops and their byproducts to prevent human, animal, and general environmental exposure to genetically engineered pharmaceutical and industrial crops and their byproducts, to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to the safety of genetically engineered foods, and for other purposes.
What Are Pharmaceutical and Industrial Crops?
The Genetically Engineered Safety Act defines pharmaceutical and industrial crops as plants that have been “genetically engineered to produce a medical or industrial product, including a human or veterinary drug, biologic, industrial, or research chemical, or enzyme.”
More than 300 outdoor field trials of pharmaceutical and industrial crops have received permits from the Department of Agriculture. Most of those field trials use food crops such as corn, soy, rice, sugar cane, and alfalfa.
Pharmaceuticals are controlled substances, but the Department of Agriculture recognizes that plants cannot be controlled. Genetically engineered plants have already cross-pollinated with neighboring farmers’ crops and with wild plants. Because of that, the Department of Agriculture is looking at tolerances and ways to slow the flow of genes into other plants.
In the meantime, people would be ingesting medicinal products they have no need for or which are actually harmful to them.
Where is the Bill Now?
Right now, the act is sitting in two committees – the House Agriculture committee and the House Energy and Commerce committee.
The Genetically Engineered Safety Act was submitted with two co-sponsors.
- Rep. Raul Grijalva [D, AZ-7]
- Rep. Fortney Stark [D, CA-13]
You might want to give your representative a call or write them a letter to let them know how you feel about the bill. Writing your elected representatives is the best way to get this bill noticed and moving through these committees.
Find your elected representative.
Image by Peter Blanchard, used with Creative Commons license.