Move could allow new GMO foods and animals to be grown and brought to market without any testing, oversight, or scientific review
President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday directing federal agencies to ease the rules for approving GM crops and foods.
The order instructs the US Dept of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – all of which have jurisdiction over agricultural GMOs – to review their biotechnology regulations to streamline approval processes, according to a White House fact sheet.
The Center for Food Safety warned that the proposed changes "could allow new GMO foods and animals to be grown and brought to market without any testing, oversight, or scientific review". It has launched an appeal for donations to enable it to challenge Trump's actions in court.
Trump signed the order on Tuesday during a visit to an ethanol plant in Iowa. The order is intended to speed approval of new GMOs, reduce developers’ costs and encourage more investment in GMO crops, the White House said in the fact sheet.
According to Bloomberg, "The move was cheered by industry representatives, who said prudent regulations can help foster biology-driven innovations that can improve nutrition, reduce food waste and bolster crop yields."
How further de-regulating GMOs could do any of these things remains a mystery, since even with the US's already lax regulatory system, GM has not bolstered crop yields, reduced food waste, or provided any nutritionally superior foods.
In an additional development, the USDA last week proposed a broad overhaul of GMO rules that would exempt from regulation new gene-edited GMOs with traits “similar in kind” to modifications that allegedly could be produced through traditional breeding techniques. This is another unproven claim – no "new GMO" has been shown to have similar modifications to those that could occur naturally and indeed, if this were the case, the GMO developer would not be able to patent it.
Not a done deal, says Center for Food Safety
In a publicly emailed statement the Center for Food Safety commented, "Just because Trump orders the deregulation of GMOs does not mean that it’s a done deal. EPA, FDA, and USDA have to make any changes to the GMO regulations that Trump wants available to the public, and that’s where we come in. Center for Food Safety (CFS) will be vigilant in tracking these changes and fight to halt every one of these illegal actions in court.
"Under this new executive order, any new GMO crops or animals — such as GMO pigs — could appear in the supermarket without having gone through any federal scientific review for potential environmental or human health harms. With this order (which is a boon to pesticide and GMO corporations such as Bayer/Monsanto and Dow/Dupont), Trump is showing his complete disregard for farmers, human health, and the environment.
"The good news is, we’re confident that we can right this wrong. For more than two decades, CFS has successfully stopped dozens of new GMO crops and animals, including GMO wheat, rice, tomatoes, and many others. We’re already in court fighting GMO crops that rely on toxic pesticides such as dicamba and 2,4-D (a chemical component of Agent Orange).
"The executive order would also enlist government agencies in a 'domestic engagement' campaign to further deceive and confuse the public about the true nature of GMOs. It also includes an 'international outreach' component to force other countries to accept GMOs that they don’t want!
"This move from the Trump administration comes just one week after the USDA issued a proposed rule to sharply limit and weaken the regulation of GMOs that fall under its jurisdiction. CFS is prepared to challenge this newly proposed rule which is now set to exclude the majority of GMO crops from any regulation whatsoever."