---Two Studies Challenge Integrity of Biotechnology
by Julianne Johnston
Agweb, 6/19/2003 http://www.agweb.com/news_show_news_article.asp?file=AgNewsArticle_200361995
Two studies have been released this week that challenge the integrity of the biotechnology industry in agriculture. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) issued a report criticizing USDA on its handling of biotech tests. The second report, from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), states 19% of farmers aren't planting the required buffer amount.
The USPIRG report says USDA and other regulatory agencies have not adequately answered fundamental questions about genetic engineering and its implications for human health and the environment. "Field tests of genetically engineered crops should proceed only under a thorough and comprehensive ecological framework designed to assess their full impact," they state.
USPIRG says in order to make progress towards these goals, leaders should enact a moratorium on the field testing and commercialization of genetically engineered foods and crops unless:
independent safety testing demonstrates they have no harmful effects on human health or the environment;
the public's right to know about field tests is improved and any products commercialized are labeled;
and the biotechnology corporations that manufacture them are held accountable for any harm they may cause.
Their report can be found at this link.http://uspirg.org/uspirg.asp?id2=10192&id3=USPIRG
Meanwhile, the CSPI says many Corn Belt farmers aren't complying with the refuge requirement when planting GM corn, "thereby threatening the long-term effectiveness and environmental benefits of the technology."
Thirteen percent of farmers growing Bt corn planted no refuges at all. According to CSPI, farmer noncompliance with refuge requirements is more widespread than the biotechnology industry claims, partly because industry does not survey small farms, which have higher rates of noncompliance. CSPI obtained the NASS data under the Freedom of Information Act.
"Noncompliance on this scale shows that current regulations aren't up to the task," said Gregory Jaffe, director of CSPI's biotechnology project. "Both the EPA and the biotech industry must do more to make sure that farmers meet these very basic obligations, so that the benefits of this technology won't be squandered. As biotech applications become even more advanced-and potentially more dangerous-this kind of noncompliance will be even less tolerable."
Link to CSPI study.http://www.cspinet.org/new/200306191.html
"The public's confidence in the regulatory system will be put at risk if the industry and farmers get away with ignoring government-impaired obligations that are designed to protect the environment," Jaffe said. "If EPA wants to maintain its public credibility, violators must be swiftly brought back into compliance or denied access to the technology. A minority of noncompliant farmers should not be allowed to jeopardize a technology that the vast majority of farmers safely apply."
Excellent summary with links to the reports. CSPI receives Rockerfeller money to promote biotech.