Lack of Government Oversight
The European Union, Japan, Russia and China are among the 64 nations worldwide that require GMO foods to be labeled. The European Union has also banned cultivation of GMO crops altogether, with only minor exceptions.
In contrast, the United States has a “fast track” approval process for new GMO food products. What’s more, the government does not use its own experts to make the key determination of whether a GMO food is safe. Instead, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) relies on the biotechnology companies to affirm that each new GMO food they create is “not materially different in any respect relevant to food safety.” The FDA accepts this assurance and informs the company that it has a “…continuing responsibility…” to ensure that the GMO food is safe, wholesome and in full compliance with regulatory requirements.
Not surprisingly, GMO crops have entered the U.S. food supply at an increasingly rapid pace over the last 16 years. And at the moment, industry has petitions pending for federal approval to market three new genetically modified foods. They would extend GMO foods into new sectors of the food supply while raising a host of novel concerns over human health and the environment. Currently awaiting approval are:
Genetically Modified Fish – salmon modified to produce growth hormones year-round rather than seasonally, causing the fish to grow at twice the normal rate but reducing their levels of health promoting, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
Genetically Modified Fruit – apples genetically modified to produce enzymes that keep them from turning brown. No one knows what the altered genes might do to nutrition quality or safety.
Genetically Modified “2,4-D” Crops – to combat weeds that have developed resistance to Roundup (glyphosate), Dow is seeking approval of GMO crops that are resistant to an older, high-risk herbicide. Many university weed scientists are speaking out against the dangerous notion that the best way to combat resistant weeds is to spray still more herbicide. In the U.S., there are already eight important weeds that are resistant to 2,4-D.
Like the GMO crops already in the food supply, these newly invented foods have not been subjected to independent safety testing, to clinical trials for possible effects on human health, to long-term tests for carcinogenicity or to testing for effects on fetal or child development.
The chemical and food industries, meanwhile, have spent hundreds on millions in campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures over the last decade to advance its interests. One of industry’s primary goals is to prevent mandatory labeling of GMO foods.