I’m sure it will all be fine

What could possibly go wrong with this approach? By the way, I look forward to the day when we’re trained to do our own tax audits. Freedom!

For years, biotech agriculture opponents have accused regulators of working too closely with big biotech firms when deregulating genetically engineered (GE) crops. Now, their worst fears could be coming true: under a new two-year pilot program at the USDA, regulators are training the world’s biggest biotech firms, including Monsanto, BASF and Syngenta, to conduct environmental reviews of their own transgenic seed products as part of the government’s deregulation process.

This would eliminate a critical level of oversight for the production of GE crops. Regulators are also testing new cost-sharing agreements that allow biotech firms to help pay private contractors to prepare mandatory environmental statements on GE plants the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering deregulating.

Yep, and I’m sure they’ll be just as stringent as Enron’s accounting firms!

The USDA launched the pilot project in April and, in November, the USDA announced vague plans to “streamline” the deregulation petition process for GE organisms. A USDA spokesperson said the streamlining effort is not part of the pilot project, but both efforts appear to address a backlog of pending GE crop deregulation petitions that has angered big biotech firms seeking to rollout new products.

Documents obtained by Truthout under a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request reveal that biotech companies, lawmakers and industry groups have put mounting pressure on the USDA in recent years to speed up the petition process, limit environmental impact assessments and approve more GE crops. One group went as far as sending USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack a timeline of GE soybean development that reads like a deregulation wish list. [Click here and here to download and read some of the documents released to Truthout.]

As policy expert Bill Freese said, “It’s the equivalent of letting BP do their own Environmental Assessment of a new rig.”

4 thoughts on “I’m sure it will all be fine

  1. This is like when your kids keep hounding you to allow them to do something that you know will end up hurting them. If you have a mean streak you might just give in and say “Yeah, go ahead. Do it.” Knowing full well that they’ll eventually come home all bloody and busted up. In this case instead of it being your kids, it’s industry groups and lawmakers. Instead of it being you, it’s Obama who just wants these clowns off his back for a minute. In the end this “experiment” will all come to naught.

  2. Susie, those of us in the biotech field know that having a functioning FDA is crucial. But what you may not know is that tge FDA has been underfunded and technologically lagging for at least a decade. Given that the FDA can’t cover space as efficiently as it should, what is the alternative? I know people who have applied for these kinds of positions. They spend a couple of years in training. It’s not an easy job. And if the company in question makes a mistake, they’re still liable for civil penalties, which in this industry tend to be steep and painful.
    So, it’s not ideal by a long shot but sometimes beggars can’t be choosers. This is the responsibility of the government and it is being starved.

  3. And about those timelines, the companies put a lot of money into R&D. If their product sits in an FDA queue for years, that’s time eating into their patents and money they can’t recover. That cost gets passed on to you. It’s not that the FDA isn’t going fast enough. It’s that they sometimes don’t have the resources to go faster. And the FDA has been increasing the number of safety assays and trials before they approve. That’s fine by us. But they need to put more personnel on the case to make sure things progress in a timely fashion.
    If you invented the bread slicer and had a patent on it, how many years would you be willing to wait for your product yo be approved? What if it used to take six months but they just told you it will now take 2 years at best and they dont really have a hard and fast approval date in mind. They’re not really sure what would be the appropriate safety standards for your bread slicer. Meanwhile, you’ve taken out a second mortgage on the house and can’t start working on your next invention until your bread slicer is approved. Put aside the disgusting greed of the marketing department, is this any way to run a business? Time is money. The companies want the FDA to get its shit together. It’s not bad regulations. It’s poor administration.

  4. We’re talking about a company whose sole aim is replacing every natural seed with a patented, sterile version – essentially worldwide control over life itself. Not to mention an absolutley horrendous track record with farmers (the company has been caught deliberately infecting farmer’s fields and then suing them for patent infringement), with third world nations (check out the rate of Indian farmer suicides after Monsanto first provided “aid” and then jacked up their prices so high, the farmers had to go deep into unpayable debt to grow anything – that’s a war on food sovereignty).

    Not to mention that recent studies seem to show that none of the claimed benefits of the products (vs. non-GMO plantings) are true. Anything that slows that down is beneficial. That’s vastly different from developing a new cancer drug.

    Monsanto may be a corporation that does exciting science (I can’t really say), but I can say with certainty that their business practices are purely evil.

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