USDA Proposes Further De-regulation of GMOs

ISIS Press Release 08/09/07

The proposed changes make the regulatory regime even more permissive. Prof. Joe Cummins and Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

This article was submitted to the USDA on behalf of ISIS. Please circulate widely to your policy-makers

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has proposed changes to regulations on Introduction of Organisms and Products Altered or Produced Through Genetic Engineering, available for public comment before 11 September 2007 at:

APHIS is seeking public comment on its draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) presenting alternatives in a series of questions. The questions and our answers are given below.

Question 1: Should APHIS continue to regulate GE [genetically engineered] organisms solely on the basis of potential risks as plant pests, or should they also be regulated based on other potential risks such as those for noxious weeds and biological control organisms?

Answer: APHIS should more realistically take into account the risk of transgenic contamination of crops and weedy relatives of the crops. The detrimental economic impact of transgenic contamination as well as the toxic potential, especially of pharmaceutical products or transgenic biopolymers, must be evaluated. Crops modified with genes to enhance energy production may genetically contaminate food crops. Finally, transgenic contamination should be treated as any other environmental pollution. APHIS should take into account the strong evidence that transgenic contamination is unavoidable [1] (GM Contamination At 21 km and Farther. No Co-Existence Possible, SiS 35)

Question 2: Should a new system of risk-based permit categories be designed to deal with new products and new concerns?

Answer: It is imperative that crops such as food crops modified to produce pharmaceutical proteins or crops destined for energy production should be evaluated by criteria that are different from those of food crops in recognition that the transgenes pose unique dangers to health. The same applies to...

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