This comprehensive piece today on biotech crops covers problems associated with glyphosate, lawsuits against USDA (including OSA’s sugar beet case), the lack of independent research, and general shortcomings of regulations governing ag biotech. It’s worth reading in full. A few snippets:
Glyphosate: “We could be setting up a huge problem”
Robert Kremer, a U.S. government microbiologist who studies Midwestern farm soil…who works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), is among a group of scientists who are turning up potential problems with glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and the most widely used weed-killer in the world. “This could be something quite big. We might be setting up a huge problem,” said Kremer, who expressed alarm that regulators were not paying enough attention to the potential risks from biotechnology on the farm, including his own research.
U.S. regulatory framework “ill-equipped” to address concerns
“We don’t have a robust enough regulatory system to be able to give us a definitive answer about whether these crops are safe or not. We simply aren’t doing the kinds of tests we need to do to have confidence in the safety of these crops,” said Doug Gurian-Sherman, a scientist who served on a FDA biotech advisory subcommittee from 2002 to 2005. “The U.S. response (to questions about biotech crop safety) has been an extremely patronizing one. They say ‘We know best, trust us,'” added Gurian-Sherman, now a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit environmental group.
Independent research curtailed by patents
The developers of these crop technologies, including Monsanto and its chief rival DuPont, tightly curtail independent scientists from conducting their own studies. Because the companies patent their genetic alterations, outsiders are barred from testing the biotech seeds without company approvals.
Food and farm groups use courts in face of failed regulatory system
Judge White declined to immediately ban all GMO sugarbeet plantings, but said he would consider a permanent injunction at a hearing on July 9. Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, which filed the sugarbeet lawsuit, said the court actions should be a “wakeup call” for the U.S. government.”They will not be allowed to ignore the biological pollution and economic impacts of gene-altered crops. The courts have made it clear that USDA’s job is to protect America’s farmers and consumers, not the interests of Monsanto,” he said.
Send a message
Pass this article on to your elected officials. Ask them to apply pressure to USDA regarding implementing regulations that protect all farmers, not the biotechnology industry.
– Kristina Hubbard