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Ear to the Ground

USDA May Let Monsanto Test Own Crops

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Posted on Apr 26, 2011
Flickr / Peter Blanchard

Monsanto, a giant in the genetically modified food business, may be granted a privilege that any corporation would envy: regulating its own products.

The USDA’s National Environmental Policy Act Pilot Project will allow Monsanto and other biotech companies to run their own environmental impact studies, effectively trusting the companies to police themselves.

The plan is particularly controversial because Monsanto has a long history of manufacturing toxic chemicals (like Agent Orange and Roundup) and genetically modified crops with potentially dangerous effects. It’s also the producer of bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which is banned in Europe and Canada. Monsanto’s business practices have been called into question by an array of watchdogs and nonprofit organizations. —KDG

Fast Company:

Because the USDA is so bad at doing its job on time, the agency decided to see if anyone else was prepared to do its EIS work instead. And so it looks like the USDA will at least temporarily hand over environmental impact responsibilities to the biotech companies behind GMO crops. The pilot program will allow these companies to conduct their own environmental assessments of crops or outsource the work to contractors.

The USDA won’t actually admit that it’s bad at performing its duties—instead, the agency claims that the move will make the environmental reporting process more timely, efficient, and cost-effective, according to the Federal Register. No knock on Monsanto, which is surely made up of great, honest people, but if the company has a vested interest in getting one of its crops deregulated, why wouldn’t it try to fudge the numbers on an environmental review? And why wouldn’t its hired contractors do the same? If this wasn’t so dangerous, it would be funny.

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By Breast Cancer Action, May 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“It’s also the producer of bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which is banned in Europe and Canada.”

Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) is actually produced by Eli Lilly now.  Monsanto sold it to Eli Lilly’s Animal Health Division Elanco a few years back.

Breast Cancer Action runs a campaign called Milking Cancer demanding Eli Lilly stop producing rBGH, which has been linked to breast cancer by increasing levels of IGF-1.

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By MossyOak, April 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm Link to this comment

So now we’re privatizing research to the company most likely to benefit from the outcome. Brilliant. Do the taxpayers pay for this too? Shall we also have Merck and Pfizer do their own drug testing? And let’s allow Goldman Sachs to audit themselves since the SEC is obviously too busy counting paper clips and coffee cups.

Once again our government proves itself superfluous and redundant.

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By Norm Norton, April 26, 2011 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s all well and good to comment about an issue that needs the attention of citizens.  It’s even more important to ACTUALLY DO something significant that will allow necessary changes to be made to improve our country.

Here is a link that will interest many of you.

http://signon.org/sign/public-funding-of-elected

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By Josh, April 26, 2011 at 11:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well, I guess at least now we can dispense with the pretense that those evaluating the safety of these products are independent of those creating them…

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By question, April 26, 2011 at 11:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The most reassuring thing for me (as an organic gardener) is that if just ONE of the NEW experiments proves that just ONE of the NEW crops is an environmental danger, it will be too late.  Again.  The danger will have been unleashed & we can all sit back & watch it on TV or the internet.  Kind of like “On the Beach”.  Or Disneyland goes to Tokyo.  So where does the insanity of corporate greed & control actually end?  Just askin’.

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By Esther Cervantes, April 26, 2011 at 10:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The announcement in the Federal Register is here: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/fedregister/BRS_20110407.pdf

It includes contact information for the person in charge of accepting applications to the program. Let the USDA know what you think by contacting David Reinhold, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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By Pamela Drew, April 26, 2011 at 10:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is fabulous to see some public discussion of Monsanto’s role in the risk
assessment of genetically engineered GMO crops, but the current wave of
outrage over the new policy to outsource environmental impact overlooks the
fact that industry has done the safety testing from day one.

There has never been formal testing by Federal Agencies to determine the
human health effects, these crops have been passed through an ingeniously
evil loophole of “substantial equivalence” that allows industry to claim they are
the same as traditional foods and exempt from safety assessments.

This loophole was created by Monsanto lobbyist lawyer Michael Taylor under
the Bush Sr.-Quayle creation of a “Deregulated Biotech Framework” and now
Taylor is an Obama Food Czar.  Parties may change in the White House &
Congress but Monsanto’s government organization transcends & dominates
regardless of what side of the aisle is reported as the party in power.

Here’s a link to the Deregulation Notice for the first GMO, a #Monsanto soy now
fed to Americans for more than a decade and even a casual read shows that it is
Monsanto’s tests and Monsanto’s opinion that these pose no threat.  Industry
will claim GMO are tested and approved by FDA, but ask for a link to evidence
and you’ll see what I have after a decade of searching, nothing but a lie!

http://www.fda.gov/Food/Biotechnology/Submissions/ucm161130.htm

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By Inherit The Wind, April 26, 2011 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

Just feed it to the C-level executives and the board of directors.

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