Thursday, January 05, 2006


USDA needs to improve GE crop oversight

According to the Office of Inspector General for the USDA, the deparment needs to improve its regulation of genetically engineered crops. Auditors found that biotechnology regulators did not always notice violations of their own rules, did not inspect planting sites when they should have and did not assure that the genetically engineered crops were destroyed when the field trial was done. Articles in the New York Times and UPI give some details to the story. What does this mean, how should I feel about this story? Well I'll tell you how you should feel - just kidding but here is my opinion: It looks like the USDA has some room to improve in their oversight of genetically engineered crops. Has a lack of oversight caused genetic pollution in the environment? No. Genetically engineered crops have been released in the environment for over 15 years and I have not seen evidence of long term genetic pollution due to these releases. Yes, in the Prodigene case, there was contamination of the following year's soybean crop due to volunteer corn, but this contamination was found and remedied. However, I know of no documented cases that provide reproducible evidence that a transgene has escaped into the wild. If I'm wrong, please let me know. I think the companies out there working with GMOs realize the potential public backlash that could be felt if they allow a transgene to escape into the wild and are very competent in regulating themselves.

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