WASHINGTON, July 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Riders inserted into the House version of the Farm Bill on behalf of the chemical companies that make GE crops pose a significant threat to the nation's system of food safety evaluation. The move counters recent progress made by Just Label It, the national coalition for genetically engineered (GE) food labeling, and other GE food labeling supporters, including the unprecedented announcement that USDA and EPA would jointly evaluate 2,4-D corn and other GE crops, resulting in a wider view of the overall impacts.
"Americans want our federal agencies to do a thorough job of evaluating GE crops and GE foods, before they are introduced into the marketplace, into our stores, and into our homes," said Gary Hirshberg, Chairman and a founding Partner of JLI, and Chairman and Co-Founder of Stonyfield. "Rushing the approval of GE crops before they can be fully evaluated endangers our families."
The riders attached to the House Farm Bill included provisions that would outlaw any review of GE crops' impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), or any other environmental law, or by any other agency other than USDA. For example, harm to protected species could occur without any input from our expert wildlife agencies.
The new provisions would also prohibit other agencies from offering expert input in the review process, and instead limit review to solely USDA under the Plant Protection Act (PPA). In effect, this would likely eliminate any meaningful review. In addition, the riders would force the backdoor approval of GE crops, even if USDA has not reviewed and approved them. Unreasonably short deadlines, if not met by the agency, would default to immediate approval and commercialization.
Further results include the development of a dangerous national policy allowing transgenic contamination in crops and foods, risking loss of GE-sensitive domestic and export markets, and loss of biodiversity. The riders would also limit EPA's oversight of biotech crops engineered to produce or contain a pesticide by forcing the agency to choose the least burdensome choice for industry, regardless of environmental consequences.
"The U.S. has safeguards in place at numerous federal agencies to protect public health and the environment. We must not let a few powerful interests who are pushing a failed economic model of coercing farmers into buying both their seeds and their chemicals, hijack our federal regulatory process for GE crop approval – and ultimately steal our right to know about our food," warned Hirshberg.
JLI is urging supporters of GE foods labeling to ask the House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma and Ranking Member Collin Peterson of Minnesota to remove the riders, and ensure our right to know about our food.
About Just Label It
JUST LABEL IT (JLI) is a national coalition of more than 540 diverse organizations dedicated to the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods, also referred to as genetically modified, or GMOs. The Just Label It message is simple: consumers have a right to know about our food so we can make informed choices about what we eat and feed our families. For updated information, visit the Just Label It website, (www.justlabelit.org)
What is a GMO?
"Genetically engineered foods," "genetically modified organisms," or "GMOs," are organisms that have been created through application of transgenic, gene-splicing techniques that are part of biotechnology. This relatively new science allows DNA (genetic material) from one species to be transferred into another species, creating transgenic organisms with combinations of genes from plants, animals, bacteria, and even viral gene pools. The mixing of genes from different species that have never shared genes in the past is what makes GMOs and GE crops so unique. It is impossible to create such transgenic organisms through traditional crossbreeding methods.
SOURCE Just Label It