I write a good deal about the dangers of genetically modified (GM) foods and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). But the FDA has pushed the issue underground for the better part of three decades.
In fact, the FDA continues to insist GM foods and GMOs are “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) — which normally means an overwhelming preponderance of scientific evidence shows something poses no threat to human health. In fact, according to federal law, products cannot qualify as GRAS unless there is specific, affirmative evidence from high-quality technical studies demonstrating safety.
Of course — no such evidence exists about the safety of GM foods or GMOs.
To this day, the FDA continues to publicly claim GM foods and GMOs qualify as GRAS. And it continues to exempt them from safety testing. Yet the FDA’s own files from the past 25 years contain admissions the agency doesn’t possess any evidence that qualifies GM foods and GMOs as GRAS.
The Alliance for Bio-Integrity actually had to sue the FDA to find these files.
In fact, their investigation turned up a trove of 44,000 pages of hidden documents going back 25 years that show how the FDA deliberately looked the other way regarding GM foods. (As usual for the government, lots of paper, but no real action.)
Here are some highlights…
The FDA’s clear policy bias to foster biotechnology
In my view, this prejudicial posture is part of the crony capitalist conspiracy that funnels billions of taxpayer dollars into the false promises of biotech and genetic cures for everything. This mindset also garners billions more in private funds to “invest” in speculative ventures without safe products, let alone profits.
In a 1992 policy statement, the FDA claimed it was “not aware of any information” showing GM foods differ “in any meaningful way” from other foods. Yet — according to the Alliance’s investigation — the FDA’s own scientists submitted several warnings that these foods entail a unique set of risks to consumers.
Ironically, the FDA insists supplement manufacturers submit information on the safety of all their natural products. Furthermore, the absence of “any information” does not equate to safety.
The FDA’s double standard regarding its mission to protect the public
It amazes me how the FDA manages to over-reach its mandate regarding natural products. But at the same time, it under-fulfills its mission regarding GM foods. As usual, the government makes rules we must all follow — except the government itself.
In another obtained document, an FDA compliance officer wrote the agency “was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole…trying to force an ultimate conclusion that there is no difference between foods modified by genetic engineering and foods modified by traditional [agricultural] breeding practices. The processes of genetic engineering and traditional breeding are different, and according to technical experts in the agency, they lead to different risks.”
The agency’s biotech coordinator also admitted there was no general consensus in the scientific community that GMOs are safe.
In light of these risks, FDA’s own scientists insisted GMOs needed to undergo special testing, including toxicological tests.
The FDA continues to mislead Congress and the American public about GMO safety. It still doesn’t require any genuine scientific reviews as it does for natural products. Instead, it grants the biotech industry unrestricted, “self-regulation” and permits the free flow of GMOs into the food supply.
Beginning July 1, 2016, Vermont will become the first state in the nation to require manufacturers and producers to label GMO foods. (Two other New England states have GMO labeling laws on the books. But they require neighboring states to pass the same laws in order for them to go into effect.)
But the Vermont law almost didn’t happen.
Keeping citizens in the DARK about GMOs
Earlier this year, the biotech industry pushed for federal legislation (the so-called DARK act) to prohibit states from enacting this important GMO labeling requirement. The DARK act also included a change to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that would exempt genetically engineered products from the requirement for safety testing!
The House passed the DARK act, which congressmen added as a “rider” to the “must-pass,” controversial, year-end spending bill. But fortunately, the Senate blocked it. So states can still require GMO labeling.
When it comes to GMOs, we could learn a thing or two from our neighbors to the North. The Canadian government recently issued a report on GMOs by an expert panel of the Royal Society of Canada. That report states “the default presumption” for GMO foods should be that genetic alteration induces one or more unintended side effects that could be detrimental to the health of the consumer.
Tell your senators and congressman to oppose any and all legislation preventing labeling of GMOs. And while you’re at it, ask them to tell the FDA to start doing its real job!
Furthermore, all the presidential candidates who claim they want to protect the public should get a clue about this real threat as well. (Take note: Two prominent politicians who long ago came out in favor of GMOs are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.)
“FDA Deceptions Enabled the Marketing of GMOs,” Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.com) 12/16/2015