Increased oversight of GMO crops needed-US GAO

The Government Accountability Office said in a report that more incidents of unauthorized releases could have occurred in the United States and simply gone unnoticed. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulate GMO crops. "As pointed out by GAO, the three regulatory agencies still do not adequately coordinate their regulation of the food safety or environmental consequences of these crops," the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit health advocacy group, said.

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Jeffrey Smith's first book, Seeds of Deception, is the world’s bestselling book on genetically modified (GM) food. His second, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, provides overwhelming evidence that GMOs are unsafe and should never have been introduced.

He’s also the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, whose Campaign for Healthier Eating in America is designed to create the tipping point of consumer rejection of GMOs, forcing them out of our food supply. As a major force riling against GM foods, Smith is responsible for limiting the spread of GM crops in the US, just like others have successfully done in Europe.

In addition to his books he has also created two videos: Hidden Dangers in Kids' Meals, and Your Milk on Drugs, Just Say No. -- Taken from mercola.com

To GM or not to GM: That is the Big Question?

On 1 May 2009 a Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal made a startling observation [C.eldoc1/g74a/01may09toi1.html]. The apex court in the matter of PILs seeking stringent regulatory mechanism and advanced testing for the toxicity of the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) said that' " GM seeds could possibly be a means to eradicate hunger and poverty. Poverty is probably more dangerous than the side effects of GM seeds".

A little earlier, no less a person then the Chairman of the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) had said that, "…genetically modified crops are the only answer to increase the production and productivity and to solve malnutrition problem in the country", and that "I am surprised to note that many non-governmental organizations are shouting from rooftops against the introduction of GM crops [C.eldoc1/g74a/28jan09h1.html]. They are either ignorant about the ground realities or have some ulterior motive". This from the head of the very office that has a critical role in conservation of biological diversity and protection of people's resources and knowledge under the Biological Diversity Act of 2002.

What is remarkable about the above two quotes is they are saying what agribusiness giants like Monsanto- who are in the business of marketing GM products- for more that two decades. Does this imply that the supreme judicial institution and the national body charged with the task of monitoring the entry of such organisms are in favour of GMOs?

The principle [C.eldoc1/g74a/PIL_October27.pdf] concern of the petitioners who filed a PIL before the Supreme Court is that there has been the lack of technical competence, transparency and accountability in the policymaking and regulatory bodies, which could have damaging consequences in a new technology area like GM crops. They were also asking the Court to direct the Union of India not to allow any release of GMOs into the environment by way of import, manufacture, use or any other manner unless the following precautions are taken [C.eldoc1/g74a/01jan09gec1.html]. Thus the issue on GMOs boils down to the fact that until effective mechanisms were in place to assess the harmful effects of GMO, they should not be allowed into the country.

There are two sides to the GM story as it is unfolding today. Critical Concerns, CED, 14th June 2009

Up to date online collation of news articles relating to the release of GMO food in India, please review: http://newsrack.in/stories/indiatogether/Agriculture/2.

More information on the implications of releasing GMO in India based on the GEAC's October approval is available at: www.esgindia.org

Analyses on Bt cotton in India, China and Africa in the context of the overall Q of whether GM crops are pro -poor: and if not why has this claim proved to be so resilient. These analyses confine themselves to productivity, costs, insect shifts, pesticide use, socio-agr effects and farmer net gains, not health and environemental issues by definition. -Contributed by Kavita K.

Undying Promise: Agricultural Biotechnology’s Pro-poor Narrative, Ten Years on

by Dominic Glover, STEPS Centre, 2009