Janet Cotter, PhD comments on an overlooked aspect of President Trump's executive order on GMOs
On June 11, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to "streamline" GMO regulations in the US.
Trump's order also aims to brainwash the US people into accepting GMOs. There is to be no open debate on the topic. The orders are to produce "educational materials" that "clearly communicate the demonstrated benefits of agricultural biotechnology" – to be used in both science education and consumer outreach.
The order also has a section on what Trump sees as the imperative to "increase international acceptance" and "remove unjustified trade barriers" for GMOs.
This is no longer news in itself, but the urgency of it ("within 120 days") surprised me. To quote from the executive order (my emphasis):
"Sec. 8. International Outreach. Within 120 days of the date of this order, the Secretary and the Secretary of State (collectively, the "Secretaries"), in consultation with the United States Trade Representative, the Administrator, the Commissioner, and any other Administration officials that the Secretaries deem appropriate, shall develop an international communications and outreach strategy to facilitate engagement abroad with policymakers, consumers, industry, and other stakeholders. The goal of the strategy shall be to increase international acceptance of products of agricultural biotechnology in order to open and maintain markets for United States agricultural exports abroad.
"Sec. 9. International Trade Strategy. Within 120 days of the date of this order, the United States Trade Representative, in consultation with the Secretaries and the Trade Policy Staff Committee, shall develop an international strategy to remove unjustified trade barriers and expand markets for products of agricultural biotechnology."
I believe this urgency is partly explained by the fact that the US needs somewhere to dump its GM soy as trade war tariffs mean it is not going to China.
It's clear that GMOs would be a key part of any trade deal between the EU/UK and the US, with the US pushing to de-regulate gene-edited crops in the EU/UK.
Thus any move by the EU to de-regulate these “new GMOs” will inevitably have the appearance of bowing to US economic interests, rather than upholding scientific principles.
Janet Cotter, PhD is director of Logos Environmental, a scientific consultancy for environmental NGOs