Recently, a New York Times article exposed the practices of the ground beef industry and inadequacies in USDA’s oversight. The industry’s desire to cut costs and the failure of the regulatory agency to have and/or implement safety protocols, has, at times, resulted in dire consequence.
The United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA” or “Agency”) requires that anyone desiring to import, transport interstate, or plant a regulated article must apply for a permit or make a notification to the Agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”) that an introduction will be made.
Under the Plant Protection Act (“PPA”) USDA requires that anyone desiring to import, transport interstate, or plant a “regulated article” must apply for a permit or make a notification to APHIS that an introduction will be made.
The United States Department of Agriculture shares significant regulatory authority over GM crops with FDA and EPA. Transgenic, or genetically modified, plants are regulated by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”) under the Plant Protection Act (“PPA”).
The FDA’s regulatory approach thus focuses on the end product, rather than the process used to create genetically modified foods. In short, the FDA regards GM products as “generally regarded as safe,” (“GRAS”) and does not subject GM food products to food additive review.
The Food and Drug Administration is the lead regulatory agency of food articles. It is in charge of ensuring the safety and effectiveness of food (other than meat), food additives, medical devices, drugs, veterinary drugs, cosmetics and genetically engineered food.
Whole Foods announced that it is partnering with the Non-GMO Project to use the Project’s Product Verification Program (“PVP”) to certify Whole Foods’ private labeling food line as being free from genetically modified ingredients.
A genetically engineered variety of soybean resistant to Asian rust will soon be widely available in West and Central Africa.
TSCA provides the EPA with authority to regulate chemical substances which may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment during manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce, use, or disposal. TSCA applies to uses of substances that are not specifically covered by another statute, i.e., TSCA does not apply to pesticides, food, drugs or cosmetics. TSCA is therefore a “catch-all” or “gap-filler” statute.
In the case of herbicide-tolerant crops, EPA establishes tolerances for the allowable amount of herbicide residues that may remain on the crop.
EPA uses its authority under FIFRA to regulate plant incorporated protectants, or substances produced to control pests, both, to ensure that the production of such a pesticide in plants is safe for the environment, and to establish allowable levels of the pesticide in the food supply.
Any substance produced and used in a living plant, whether through conventional breeding or genetic modification is regulated by the EPA if it is intended to control pests. As such, the EPA has a role in regulating the several types of genetically modified organisms.
This Pocket Shopper’s Guide to Avoiding GE Foods published by The Center for Food Safety answers the most pertinent and urgent consumer question about genetically modified foods. Which supermarket foods are genetically engineered?
Recently the Obama administration appointed Michael Taylor to serve as the senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA for food safety. It is also rumored that Pennsylvania’s Agriculture Secretary, Dennis Wolff, would be selected for the position of the Under-Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety. Consumer group advocates are ringing the alarm bells as both of these men are seen as being deeply rooted in the industry and there are serious concerns as to whether they will represent consumer’s interests in their positions (or, at a minimum, be objective and cautious).
Presently, it is questionable whether the genetically engineered foods are adequately controlled and/or regulated under U.S. law. There is no single federal statute or federal agency that governs the subject matter. Three federal agencies are primarily responsible for the regulation of genetically engineered foods – the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Because there are unknown risks with GMOs with respect to health and the environment, and because there are many other considerations such as corporate ownership and control of the GM seeds that many say will enslave poor farmers to the GM companies, many Christian theologians either advocate following a precautionary principle or reject the use of GMOs entirely.