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.
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.
The Islamic perspective on genetically modified foods, much like that of other religions, is complex and goes deeper than simply a determination of whether a certain food is halal or not (although that is certainly part of it).
Depends on who you ask. There is a the lack of consensus in the Jewish community and religious leaders debate the ethics and morality of GMOs. At the same time, logic dictates that foods should be properly labeled so that consumers of all faiths and those of no faith can make reasoned choices.
This is the second of a two part series which explores the biotech industry’s defense of GMOs. The article below explores the common application of genetic technology today in greater detail.
The most common application of genetic technology today is in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
There are several methods to achieve the exchange of DNA from one living organism into another. Read about the scientific process behind genetic modification.
As a follow up to my July 16, 2009 post, here are some more interesting statistics. The USDA reports that American farmers have adopted genetically engineered crops widely since their introduction in 1996, notwithstanding uncertainty about consumer acceptance and economic and environmental impacts.
Despite the strong opposition to GMOs by many consumer group advocates and many scientists, domestically and internationally, including some FDA scientists who raised questions about the safety of GMOs almost two decades ago, the speed at which GMOs are entering the market place seems unaffected. The statistics tell the story.
Taking a step in the right direction, the Obama Administration announced on July 14, 2009, that it will seek to ban the routine use of antibiotics on healthy farm animals. With the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as new strains of staph and strep, and waves of swine flue and the bird flue in recent history, it would seem illogical and dangerous to society as a whole for continuing the practice of feeding healthy farm animals antibiotics simply to encourage rapid growth.