GM Food

bridges vol. 14, July 2007 / Bills in Brief: S&T Policy News

Since 1986, responsibility for GM food has been spread among three different federal institutions: the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

No existing US federal law specifically regulates genetically modified (GM) food. Therefore, state legislatures have attempted to address the growing concern surrounding genetically modified organisms. For example, some counties in California and some towns in New England have passed local measures.

{access view=guest}Access to the full article is free, but requires you to register. Registration is simple and quick - all we need is your name and a valid e-mail address. We appreciate your interest in bridges.{/access} {access view=!guest} The United States House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture has begun the process of writing the Farm Bill 2007 . This process is supported by the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry . The aim of this bill is to ensure safe access, secure an inexpensive food supply, and provide a safety net for farmers and ranchers. It also authorizes important nutrition programs, encourages environmentally friendly conservation programs, and supports the development of agriculturally based renewable energy.

Critics say that the bill aims to prevent state restrictions on food and agricultural products which previously have been deregulated by the USDA. The precise wording states that "no State or locality shall make any law prohibiting the use in commerce of an article that the Secretary of Agriculture has inspected and passed, or determined to be of non-regulated status." In simpler terms, that would mean that state and local policies could not ban the sale of GM products that have been approved by the USDA and other regulatory agencies. The broad scope of the language would affect state and local prohibitions on the cultivation of genetically modified crops, bans on the sale of rBGH milk, and the outlawing of foie gras.

Environmentalcommons, an NGO working to engage and educate the public on environmental issues and policies, has established an online tracking system which monitors state legislation regarding the approval and selling of GM food and plants. More information on current state legislation can be found at:
http://environmentalcommons.org/gmo-tracker.html.

Information on the Farm Bill can be found at:
http://agriculture.house.gov/inside/2007FarmBill.html ,
and a fact sheet with the most important proposals is available at:
http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1UH?contentidonly= true&contentid=2007/ 01/0019.xml .


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