Close to 40 activist organizations that typically can look upon to rally with the organic industry against genetically engineered (GE) plants and animals did exactly that this past Monday. They weighed in with a letter to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for the federal regulation of biotechnology products.
APHIS has been welcoming such comments, even holding web-based hearings, since this past March as it withdrew work to update its 1990’s guideline for regulating GE organisms and came to the result of starting over with a clean slate.
June 22 was the deadline for providing written comments. APHIS as well conducted a series of webinars in May. However, it doesn’t look like the whole exercise is creating much interest with fewer than 200 comments submitted by June 22, deadline.
Monday’s letter, which involved some food company signature as well as those from organizations, called for APHIS to “regulate biotechnology-based process, not product.” The letter also called for tagging on noxious weeds to biotechnology guidelines, which the signers want regulated to the “fullest extent
In moving towards process over product, the joint signatures on the letter stated “Genetic engineering may have higher rates of unintended and potentially harmful effects than traditional breeding.”
Putting signatures to the letter were groups such as the Center for Food Safety and Food and Water Watch, organic businesses such as Amy’s Kitchen and Vegetables, and environmental organizations that consist of the Sierra Club and the Pesticide Action Network North America