The Government Accountability Office has just produced a report looking at the way the federal agencies regulate (or don’t regulate) genetically modified crops. At issue is the escape of unauthorized modified genes into supposedly non-GM crops, animals, or the environment. The report notes six such incidents. These, it says, caused not harm to human or animal health but did result in “lost trade opportunities.” The report documents long-standing gaps in coordination and direction among the three regulatory agencies involved: FDA, USDA, and EPA. If I count right, it’s been nearly 15 years since the FDA approved the first genetically modified food (bovine growth hormone, quickly followed by tomatoes) and the government still can’t figure out what to do about them.
It’s interesting that this report comes just as Monsanto is asking the FDA to approve the company’s new supposedly drought-tolerant. If this corn really does what it is claimed to, it could fulfill what biotechnology companies have long promised. We will have to wait and see on this one.