| Current regulations require only minimal safety testing for some foods, and none at all for others. There is no case in which there is a requirement for the evaluation of long-term impacts on health and the environment. At present, the United States is leading the world in biotechnological development and production of genetically modified organisms. Under present U.S regulations GE products are already being introduced without informing the consumers while in Europe, the European Union (EU), requires that all GMOs‘ be labeled and this has severely limited the importation of foods that are genetically modified. The United States, however, claims that there is no scientific basis to presuppose that genetically modified food products are more risky or substantially different from other products and as such GMO’s are not being labeled in the United States.
Under a policy developed in 1986, three federal agencies -- the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have the responsibility of implementing the nation's biotechnology regulatory framework and overseeing the bio-tech industry. One of the main problems associated with GM foods is that we are unaware of their long-term consequences on our environment and health. The EPA claims that many pesticides produced by Bio- tech corporations are safe for human beings without adequate field-testing. The FDA, which is responsible for food labeling, also claims that GMO is safe without adequate testing. Since, many countries, for example, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union already require labels on all GM products. We see no reason for the refusal of the FDA to label GM foods. It is quite interesting to note that even when products are labeled, there is a discretionary policy in the amount of information that is given. This can be seen in the fact that the labels on Monsanto's pesticide potatoes detail all the nutrients and micronutrients (even the amount of copper) in the potatoes, but fail to reveal that the potatoes are genetically engineered or that they contain pesticides. The FDA, in turn, says that it requires labels for GE foods only if a GE product “differs significantly from its conventional counterpart” (Labeling Genetically Modified Food).
Joseph Mendelson, a legal director at the Center for Food Safety (CFS) gives a counter argument by saying that the “FDA is not doing its duties to protect the public health by not requiring labels or ensuring the safety of GM foods on the market” (Chemical Week, January, 2000). Ironically labels are used when foods are exported because of the Cartagena Protocol, which demands that exporters of GM products used for food, feed, are required to label shipments with a declaration that the product "may contain GMO” and that the products are not intended for release into the environment (Food Biotechnology in the United States: Science, Regulation, and Issues). This is quite ironic because it shows the double standards that exist in the labeling issue. This double standard lies in the fact that people from other countries get the right to be informed about what they eat while the people living in the United States ( the main producers of these products) are not being informed, therefore their rights are implicitly being taken away from them. We believe that all these agencies( FDA,USDA,EPA) have failed to protect the consumers and are motivated in promoting the biotech industry that disregarded the warnings of its own scientists and environmental groups. The reason for their promotion of GMO is political.
The political issue lies in the fact that the companies that produce these genetically altered foods provide funding for political parties resulting in the government regulatory bodies putting an “okay” on GM foods or as in correct terms, acknowledging that GM foods are “substantially equivalent” to non-GM foods resulting in minimal testing. Although tests have been carried out, the results are not given. A test carried out by Dr. Arpad Pusztai concluded that GM potatoes caused severe harm to rats. The government dismissed this UK scientist’s result and his research institute silenced him.
Furthermore, the American Food and Drug Administration is currently being prosecuted for covering up research that suggested possible risks from GM foods. The tests concluded that rats who had been fed GM tomatoes developed erosions on their intestinal walls (conventional tomatoes did not have the same effect). GM products in order for them to be safe for human consumption, needs to have certain regulations carried out before putting them on the market. The National Farmers Union holds three guidelines for these types of foods meant for consumption and our stance aligns with their policies. The policies are as follows.
1) Food--Genetically modified and non-modified alike--must be adequately tested, regulated, and inspected. These critical tasks must be performed by a sufficient number of adequately funded, independent, publicly paid inspectors.
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