The USDA Is Scrapping Terrible, Nonsense GMO Rules


Kristen V. Brown, Gizmodo

Nov 9, 2017


In January, as the Obama era was winding down, both the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture quietly snuck through proposed regulations set to substantially overhaul the regulation of genetically engineered organisms for the first time in 30 years—and create drastic roadblocks to the development and commercialization of genetically engineered foods.


Scientists railed against the regulations as anti-science. Now the USDA has announced that it is withdrawing its proposed rules.


During a comment period after proposing the rules, the agency said that it received 203 comments from growers, scientists, consumer safety groups, industry, and even a separate federal agency.


“Some thought that our criteria for designating GE [genetically engineered] organisms as regulated organisms were too expansive, potentially resulting in our regulating a wider range of GE organisms than necessary and thereby increasing, rather than reducing, the regulatory burden for the biotechnology industry,” the agency’s acting director of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service wrote in an official document. “Other commenters, however, thought that certain exemptions and exclusions contained in the proposed rule would effectively narrow the scope of our regulatory authority over GE organisms and increase the risk of the unintended presence of GE crops in organic and other non-GE crops.”


The outcry came because the FDA and USDA each sough to regulate genetically engineered animals and plants, respectively, based on wildly different criteria from one another, and each policy with its own individual set of problems. The USDA suggested that it would only regulate plants with genes from pests or noxious weeds. The FDA, meanwhile, sought to create strict regulatory hurdles for any genetically modified animal.


In both cases, critics complained that the basis for regulation was unscientific...


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