Thursday, April 24, 2003

New Pew report finds flaws in oversight of biotech crops
USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which oversees biotech plantings, does not have the authority under current regulations to impose conditions on the use of biotech crops once they have been "deregulated" (approved for large-scale planting) and cannot require biotech developers to monitor those crops' impact on the environment post-approval.

Although the EPA is responsible for setting standards to manage the environmental impact of pesticides, including so-called plant-incorporated protectants (or PIPs, like Bt, a bacterium that is engineered into the plant so that it produces its own pesticide), farmers are not legally accountable to EPA for meeting those standards. EPA now only imposes conditions on the biotech companies; the companies, in turn, are supposed to monitor how farmers use their products based on what farmers tell them. There are no official EPA standards for what constitutes an adequate degree of compliance or government audits of how well farmers are complying.�

Currently, the FDA has no affirmative postmarket inspection or compliance program for biotech foods, such as it has for other categories of food and drug products it regulates. Should there ever be a question about whether food has been contaminated with some non-food GM crop (such as a biopharmed plant), there are questions as to whether the agency has the detection methods it needs, the capacity to conduct large-volume sampling and testing, and adequate legal tools, such as the authority, to examine food industry records.

Proceedings of OECD "Ecological Impact of GMO Dissemination in Agro-Ecosystems" workshop here. Looks good, but it's 200 pages long. You read it and tell me what it says.

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