Gifting Private Corporations with Giant GMO Free-For-All
According to the FDA, the “USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) oversees the agricultural and environmental safety of planting and field testing of genetically engineered plants.”
Apparently, according to the recent release of the USDA’s branch APHIS final ruling on the Movement of Certain Genetically Engineered Organisms - 7 CFR Parts 330, 340, and 372, they disagree. The statement “We do not agree,” appears 21 times in the 49 page document, with nearly all of the disagreement directed towards the comments opposing the ruling which essentially allows GMO companies to self determine if their products require regulation. There were 6,150 comments filed; only 25 expressed some support of the ruling.
The APHIS ruling is very clear that their intention is to reduce the GMO regulations, support the market, innovation and lower costs for the GMO developers. Not a word about health or safety.
Here are 13 points that should be of great concern to anyone - consumer or international trade partners alike- who would expect our food to be healthy and safe in America:
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will only regulate GMOs for “plant pest risk” (i.e.: risk of “weediness”) and for movement (transported from one place to another). Health and environmental impacts are not being considered.
The genetic manipulation of RNAi, CRISPR or any gene editing will not be regulated. Off target mutations from gene editing will not be considered. Only DNA genetic engineering, and even then, it is voluntary.
The entire process, to apply for exclusion from regulation or to report a GMO for regulation, is voluntary.
Any genetically engineered genes that are current in the gene pool are exempt. This includes existing genes from unrelated species of a current GMO to create a new GMO.
Any consideration of whether a manipulation is or is not natural has been removed. The word “natural” has been stricken from regulations and replaced with “known to occur.”
APHIS is clear that the intention of the updated regulations “allows the market to drive the demand for new plants” and reduce costs which could hamper "innovation".
For those companies that do choose to apply for an exemption for the GE product, no field tests or experimental data is required. In addition, a GMO plant can be used as the comparator in any data presented, instead of a non GMO plant.
Plant Made Pharmaceutical or Industrial Chemical (PMPI) producing plants shall only be regulated by permits for movement. No regulation of the safety or contamination risk of these plants which contain pharmaceuticals or chemicals like insulin or growth hormones will be conducted.
APHIS has determined that they “have not seen evidence in the scientific literature that there are unique hazards that arise solely from the use of recombinant DNA techniques, as compared with more conventional plant breeding techniques.” Therefore they are ignoring the hundreds of studies showing harm from the consumption of genetically engineered foods in animal studies and clinical studies showing harmful impacts on cells and other studies showing the production of toxins such as formaldehyde, Putrescine and Cadaverine by GMO plants.
If APHIS does not respond to an applicant for an exemption for their GE products within 180 days, they shall automatically receive an approval.
Microbial pesticides, the new alternative to toxic chemicals, which are genetically altered microbes found in soil, fungi and other microbes, are not to be regulated by APHIS. This includes Bacillus Thuringiensis, or BT Toxin GMOs.
APHIS acknowledges that GE crops contaminate organic crops. APHIS also states that the cost for protecting the organic crops from contamination shall be resolved in the marketplace, that organic growers should recover that cost by charging consumers accordingly.
APHIS states that the cost reduction of this new updated regulation shall save a GMO developing company, on average, in the scenario of producing 10 new GMO plants a year, 13.1 million dollars.
This ruling is an outrageously irresponsible disregard for public health and our economy.
It seems to be a gift to private GMO developing corporations, but it will come back to bite us all. GMOs and related chemicals do and will negatively impact our health, increasing our already skyrocketing health care costs. International trading partners will not want to purchase from a country with such disregard for food identity protection or safety. Unless food producers step up and take on more responsibility than our government requires, we expect our exports to plummet and health care costs to rise.
There is, in the ruling, of course no consideration or mention of the 2.2 trillion dollars of health care costs and hundreds of thousands of deaths that have been increasing exponentially since GMOs and related chemicals have been allowed into our food supply.
No mention of the 1,772 Americans a day dying of heart disease, or the 4,828 people a day expected to be diagnosed with cancer. Never mind the fact that the food genetically altered to tolerate and therefore transport toxic chemicals to our human population through consumption, are major contributing factors to these deaths.
No mention of the 1 out of 2 children in America who have chronic illness nor the fact that when they go organic and avoid GMOs and related toxins, that they recover from many, most or all of their health issues.
No mention that the new CRISPR and gene editing technologies create thousands of off target mutations and potential unpredictable environmental effects that could alter life on the planet irreversibly.
The repercussions of this ruling are enormous. Even larger, probably, than any of us can imagine life on earth is interconnected and the impact of one aspect of life, like the short film “How Wolves Change Rivers” depicts, can impact other areas that we could never have predicted.
It would be appropriate to be outraged.
It is also necessary to wonder what we can do, and to get creative in our counter of this flagrant display of complete disregard for public health. Consumer organizations and environmental groups are discussing legal options. In the meantime, this ruling shows that the individual’s decision, their purchase at the grocery store, is infinitely more important. The only protection one has currently is purchasing organic and Non-GMO Project verified together. The Moms Across America Gold Standard for food and supplements highlights this importance. A food manufacturer’s decision to purchase from suppliers who choose not to identify if their crop is GMO or not is also infinitely more important. And a retailer's decision to purchase brands that do or do not disclose, voluntarily if their products are GMO or not is also infinitely more important.
Moms Across America calls upon food producers and food manufacturers to go above and beyond - to do better than what our administration calls for and to restore integrity in the food supply by labeling their products. But we will not know for months or years if food manufacturers will step up.
It comes down to this - it’s up to us.
It is understandable to feel fear about our food supply and the future. However, the fear we feel can be eliminated when we realize that we can trust ourselves to make the right decisions for our families, and choose to buy organic, non GMO food as much as we can afford it.
We can encourage local farmers to switch 1% of their commodity crops to mixed vegetables, increasing local access to vegetables by 50% nationwide.
We can grow our own food and start community gardens.
We can choose to support the organizations that continue to fight for GMO regulation.
We can make the effort to educate our elected officials on the importance of GMO regulations and only vote for those who support public health.
Start a local Moms Coop and support your local community with resources for local growers. With this cooperative you can inform others and invite them to get involved in keeping your community safe from 5G, stop aerial spraying for mosquitos, and address other local health issues.
There is much we can do. But waiting for our government, and trusting them to protect us from the harmful impacts of GMOs is not one of them.