Groups say new GMO rules could allow drugs in food

Newly proposed US Department of Agriculture rules governing genetically engineered crops—including food crops engineered to produce pharmaceutical and industrial products—are too lax to protect consumerism says the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Center for Food Safety.

UCS says that the proposed rules would not protect the food supply against potential contamination by drugs from “pharma crops,” and could also allow drugs the USDA deemed “safe” to end up in food products. Possible sources of contamination include cross-pollination and accidental seed mixing between pharma food crops and crops intended for distribution to consumers.

Jane Rissler, Food and Environment Program deputy director for the UCS, said that if the proposed rules are enacted, “…American consumers must accept the possibility of drugs in their breakfast cereal or other common foods. Moreover, these rules will likely lead to contamination scares, which will hurt the food industry.”

Rissler’s statement continues: “The USDA proposal, unlike the ban we recommended, offers no incentives to drug companies to pursue already existing, safer methods for producing drugs.

Meanwhile, the Center for Food Safety says that these proposed regulations may set in motion a process that would put many GE crops completely beyond the bounds of regulation, and outside the safety net designed to protect the American public.

“The USDA is treading dangerous new ground here,” said Bill Freese, Science Policy Analyst for the Center for Food Safety. “While they appear at first glance to be tightening regulation of an industry that desperately needs better oversight, the structure of the new proposal actually opens loopholes that can be exploited by biotech companies and expose consumers to more untested and unlabeled genetically engineered foods.”

© Copyright The Organic & Non-GMO Report November 2008