One Year Later: A Rocket Docket Update
By Genna Reed
The USDA really wasn’t kidding when it said it would be speeding up its regulatory process. On July 19, three crops whose petitions were just submitted to USDA within the last year have already been given preliminary determinations of non-regulated status—meaning they are one step closer to approval with only draft environmental assessments prepared.
Before 2011, the approval process for genetically engineered (GE) crops gave the public a better opportunity for review and comment and gave the USDA more time to review the petition and incoming comments at various steps in the process. Now, in just a year since their petitions were introduced, three GE crops have advanced in the new process and could be approved in a matter of months.
The crops in question, and up for comment for 30 days, are Genective’s glyphosate-tolerant corn, Monsanto’s glyphosate-tolerant canola and Monsanto’s glyphosate-tolerant corn. Just what the world needs: three more Roundup Ready crops to spur the resistance of acres and acres of superweeds.
Mike Firko, APHIS Acting Deputy Administrator for biotechnology regulatory services announced the new determinations saying, “This was the first GE product to complete our improved regulatory review process, and the three others are nearing completion…Under the improved process, we met our goal for our review of these petitions after making them available for public comment. We remain focused on providing a more timely and predictable review process while continuing to ensure the safe introduction of genetically engineered crops.” In other words, USDA is speeding up the process by doing even less review and hoping for the best.
The reality is that the agency is not ready to keep up with the influx of field trials and new approvals, which will ensure that mistakes continue to crop up. The GE wheat contamination incident in Oregon that occurred in May has still not been solved (and according to Secretary Vilsack may never be solved), yet the USDA claims they have their GE program under control. I don’t buy it and you shouldn’t either. Tell your elected officials to support legislation to make labeling of GE foods the law.