START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
Jan 13, 2006
Lax Oversight Found in Tests of Gene-Altered Crops

From: The New York Times
January 3, 2006
Lax Oversight Found in Tests of Gene-Altered Crops
By ANDREW POLLACK
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/03/science/03crop.html&OP=59df1423Q2F8Q3EXb8RWQ5CvTWWn686eeC8eH8e48vQ5CNXDQ5CX8e4Q5CTWQ20Q22znpQ24

The Department of Agriculture has failed to regulate field trials of genetically engineered crops adequately, raising the risk of
unintended environmental consequences, according to a stinging report issued by the department's own auditor.

The report, issued late last month by the department's Office of Inspector General, 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.

In many cases, the report said, regulators did not even know the locations of field trials for which they granted permits.

The regulatory branch "lacks basic information about the field test sites it approves and is responsible for monitoring, including whereand how the crops are being grown, and what becomes of them at the endof the field test," the report said.

The audit results are likely to renew calls by environmental groups for tighter regulations. "Over all, I thought the report was
devastating," said Margaret Mellon, director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists in
Washington.

Critics say genetically engineered crops could cause environmental harm, if, say, a gene for herbicide resistance spread to weeds, making them harder to kill.

In addition, the critics say, there could be harm to public health if a crop genetically engineered to produce a pharmaceutical or
industrial chemical, for instance, accidentally found its way into the food supply.

The audit did not find any instances of known harm to public health or the environment.

However, the report said that weaknesses in regulations and in the internal management controls at the Department of Agriculture
"increase the risk that genetically engineered organisms will inadvertently persist in the environment before they are deemed safe
to grow without regulation."

In a written response, the Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which regulates biotech field trials, said that it was already taking steps to adopt 23 of the 28 recommendations made by the inspector general, and that more changes were on the way.

W. Ron DeHaven, the administrator of the service, known as Aphis, wrote in the response, "Since 1987, Aphis has safely regulated G.E. organisms and provided oversight and enforcement for over 10,000 field tests with no demonstrable negative environmental impacts having arisen from these tests."

A biotechnology industry spokeswoman said the report would have little effect because changes were already under way. "This is a report that was pretty much obsolete before it was ever published," said the spokeswoman, Lisa Dry of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

The inspector general's office, however, said that further improvements would be required beyond those already planned.

Field trials are used to test experimental genetically engineered crops. Crop developers proposed to use 67,000 acres for such tests in 2004, up from 8,700 acres in 1994.

Once crops have proved themselves in field trials, the Agriculture Department can deregulate them, and seeds and harvested crops can be sold pretty much like any other seeds and crops.

The main varieties of genetically modified corn, cotton and soybeans grown in the United States have been deregulated.

The audit was conducted from May 2003 to April 2005 and involved visits to 91 field test sites as well as looking at records. The
report said auditors found 13 instances of violations of rules at 11 of those sites.

One of the most controversial areas of agricultural biotechnology involves genetically engineering crops to produce pharmaceuticals or industrial chemicals. The Agriculture Department has stricter requirements for those crops than for genetically modified crops meant
for food or animal feed.

However, the new report said the department often failed to enforce those stricter requirements. In most cases the auditors checked, the sites were not inspected five times each during field tests, as the department had promised. Nor were they inspected twice after the trial to make sure the crop was destroyed and the field fallow.

The report said that in two cases large harvests of pharmaceutical crops remained in storage for more than a year after the field test
ended with regulators' not knowing of the storage facility or approving it.

€ Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

********************************************************************************************************
This GMO news service is underwritten by a generous grant from the Newman's Own Foundation, edited by Thomas Wittman and is a production of the Ecological Farming Association www.eco-farm.org
*********************************************************************************************************
Visibility: Everyone
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted: Jan 13, 2006 12:52pm

 

 
 
Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of Care2.com or its affiliates.

Author

pElAgUS hellot
, 1
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Shares by Type:
All (1001) | Blog (255) | Alert (445) | Poll (4) | Recipe (12) | Photo (11) | Tribute (59) | Message (215)

Showing shares tagged with: oversight [show all]
SHARES FROM PELAGUS'S NETWORK
Feb
16
(0 comments  |  discussions )
\\n\\r\\n“Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.”\\r\\n\\r\\ n \\r\\n\\r\\nSpence r Johnson\\r\\n\\r\\n  \\r\\n\\r\\nMany years ago, when I was in high school chemistry lab, I was assigned to do a litm...
Feb
15
(0 comments  |  discussions )
New Petition! Speak out against Time-Warner Merger with Comcast! Let your opinion be know before your bill goes up and your programming choices dwindle.\\r\\n\\r\\nUrge DOJ and FCC to Not Allow Merger of Time-Warner and Comcast\\r\\nhttp://www.t hepetitionsi...
Feb
13
(0 comments  |  discussions )
New Petition! Speak out against Time-Warner Merger with Comcast! Let your opinion be know before your bill goes up and your programming choices dwindle.\\r\\n\\r\\nUrge DOJ and FCC to Not Allow Merger of Time-Warner and Comcast\\r\\nhttp://www.t hepetitionsi...
Jan
29
(0 comments  |  discussions )
\\nI have recently posted some BlogSpot radio interviews and YouTube videos, publicizing my two new books,\\r\\n1) Deepening Your Personal Relationships: Developing Emotional Intimacy and Good Communication.\\r\\n2) Psychological Healing Through Creative S...
Jan
24
by Ys A.
(0 comments  |  discussions )
\\nCoretta Scott King: “We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the ...
Jan
23
(0 comments  |  discussions )
\\nWe declare that no man nor nation nor race have a greater right than others to enjoy the fruits of their work, as the ecological sphere is our common condition of life http://www.beat s4change.org/aims.htm Nous déclarons qu\\\'auc...
Jan
18
by Ys A.
(0 comments  |  discussions )
\\nauthor: Ralph Nader\\r\\n\\r\\nAn epidemic of sky-rocketing medical costs has afflicted our country and grown to obscene proportions. Medical bills are bloated with waste, redundancy, profiteering, fraud and outrageous over-billing. Much is wrong with t...
Jan
13
(0 comments  |  discussions )
\\nDear Friends:\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\ n\\r\\nMy two current books have been published and are available for sale through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the publisher’s website, http://sbprabooks.com/Max Hammer. Reading these books can be very helpful for anyone...
by Fred H.
(0 comments  |  discussions )
\\nA stainless steel tank the size of a basketball court lies buried in the sandy soil of southeastern Washington state, an aging remnant of U.S. efforts to win World War II. The tank holds enough radioactive waste to fill an Olympic-sized swimming poo...
by Fred H.
(0 comments  |  0 discussions )
\\r\\nThe Olympic Peninsula is home to important state-owne d forests and many of our state’s most iconic creatures. To keep these forest ecosystems healthy, WEC and our partners at Conservation Northwe st and Olympic Forest Coal...