I wrote to Senator Mike Crapo to communicate my frustration about his decision to vote against Bernie Sanders’ (D-VT) amendment to the Farm Bill which would have allowed individual states to pass mandatory labeling of GMO foods.
I believe we have a right to know about genetic modification in our food supply. I do not believe our government or our food industry have a right to filter the information we are given about our food. Unfortunately, Senator Mike Crapo disagrees with me.
This is not the first time Senator Mike Crapo and I have exchanged letters. And a few months ago Leslie and I also met with his staff. His letter has many of the same arguments as the previous communications I have had with him which you may have read here. He continues to misinform the public with his version of the truth. This is the response I got today. My comments are in bold following each paragraph.
Thank you for contacting me regarding genetically engineered (GE) foods and crops. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.
The United States has a sophisticated regulatory framework overseeing food and drugs, and GE crops are regulated by three federal agencies. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ensures that biotechnology-derived foods meet regulatory standards for safety. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service regulates field-testing of crops prior to commercial release of newly developed plant strains. The Environmental Protection Agency registers pesticides used in U.S. commerce. Plants enhanced to produce pesticides are considered pesticides under this definition.”
Wrong. The FDA has never tested biotechnology derived foods for human safety. The FDA requires that the developer submit to the FDA, a report of the safety, nutritional and other regulatory issues that pertain to the new product. In short, the bioengineering company is responsible for its own testing and only has to consult with the FDA. There is no requirement for, nor have there ever been, any long term safety studies on GMOs. If this process satisfies the regulatory standards as Senator Crapo asserts, then the regulatory standards need to be changed!
The USDA has several different agencies that work with different aspects of genetically modified foods. None of those agencies have the task of looking at short term or long term effects of human consumption of genetically modified foods specifically. In addition, the Farm Bill now contains a rider that would prevent federal courts from halting the planting of GMO crops that have not undergone the proper environmental impact studies. We have seen courts ban crops like alfalfa and sugar beets because the proper environmental studies had not been completed.
“The FDA has a rigorous premarket approval process that new food ingredients must undergo before they reach the grocery store shelf. Because the FDA focuses on the final product rather than on the process by which a product is made, and GE foods do not differ significantly in substance from their traditional counterparts, it does not require foods to be labeled as genetically enhanced. In fact, all plant breeding involves some form of genetic manipulation. However, when gene-modifying techniques are used to significantly change the composition of a food, labeling is required.”
I am very well aware of the policy known as “Substantial Equivalence” which allows the FDA and the biotech industry off the hook for human safety testing. It was a policy written by Michael Taylor, who came to the FDA from his former job as Monsanto attorney. Michael Taylor has since moved back and forth between working for Monsanto and the FDA more than once and currently serves as the head of the FDA. In fact, our regulatory agencies are full of employees who move between regulatory agencies and the corporations they are supposed to regulate.
It is rather curious that products which are considered significantly equivalent are also unique enough to qualify for a patent under US Patent Law.
Senator Crapo’s implication that genetic modification is similar to any other form of plant breeding is either ignorant or a deliberate attempt to deceive. No other form of genetic manipulation uses the DNA for foreign species or gene splicing.
There are currently no GMO foods required to be labeled under the law.
“I understand the concerns expressed by many who oppose genetically engineering food products and seek mandatory labeling for foods containing GE ingredients. However, I am also aware of the many benefits provided by GE crops, including increased yields and nutrition and reduced pesticides and herbicides used in the environment. You may be interested to know that the only vote in the United States Senate to date requiring mandatory labeling for these food products, an amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill, was defeated by a vote of 73-26.”
Senator Crapo is aware that “many” people have expressed concern and would like to see mandatory labeling so they have the opportunity to make an informed decision. Yet, he votes against such labeling. Worse, he points out that the amendment was defeated by a vote of 73-26 in the Senate as if the majority of Senators showing arrogant disregard for the American people justifies his vote! Every poll shows that more than 90% of people support labeling.
“The United States has one of the safest and most abundant food supplies in the world. Consumer safety and a robust agricultural sector need not be mutually exclusive. GE food products are a relatively new development in commercial food production, and I agree with you that it is important that we continue to study and monitor this new technology that has already demonstrated positive benefits. As your U.S. Senator, I will continue to work to ensure sound consumer safety policies are adhered to while making sure our farmers and ranchers have the innovative tools they need to produce a safe and abundant food supply.”
I am not interested in Senator Crapo’s opinion about the safety and abundance of the food supply in the United States. There is growing evidence all around us that our regulatory system is no longer serving the needs of the American people but rather the economic needs of the biotech, agriculture and food industry.
I agree with Senator Crapo that consumer safety and a robust agricultural sector need not be mutually exclusive. In fact, it should never have become that way. If the industry were as concerned with consumer safety as they are of corporate profits, we would not be having this conversation.
“Again, thank you for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future on this and other matters of importance to you. For more information about the issues before the U.S. Senate as well as news releases, photos, and other items of interest, please visit my Senate website, http://crapo.senate.gov.
United States Senator”
We are really concerned about Mike Crapos inability to vote based on consumer/citizen demand. Although he knows consumers want labeling laws, he is choosing to be loyal to the industry.
Join us on Wednesday, July 18th at Mike Crapos office (251 East Front St.) at 4:00 p.m. as we voice our concerns with a Rally for the Right To Know that we are consuming GMOs!
You can get more details and RSVP to our Rally here.
Jenny Easley, Co-Founder of GMO Free Idaho