Regulating GMO Seeds

Blog, Agriculture, Les Routledge

Tom Philpott over at Grist has written a post complaining about the USDA allowing proponents to fund environmental assessment studies required to satisfy Environmental Impact Assessment regulations.

In early April, the USDA made what I’m reading as a second response to Judge White, this one even more craven. To satisfy the legal system’s pesky demand for environmental impact studies of novel GMO crops, the USDA has settled upon a brilliant solution: let the GMO industry conduct its own environmental impact studies, or pay other researchers to.

His complaint makes for a nice sound bite.  However, if he is going to prevent
GMO technology developers from sponsoring environmental impact analysis, is he proposing to prohibit that practice in the pharmaceutical sector?  Should new drugs be held off the market until government researchers get around to conducting their own research on the safety of new medications?

Indeed, the list of potential offenders in Tom’s mind is much more extensive.  For example, should proponents proposing to construct wind farms be prevented from sponsoring the research needed to support an impact assessment?  Should conservation agencies that invest in wetland restoration work be prevented from sponsoring research related to the environmental and health impacts of their projects?

The concept of proponents conducting or sponsoring research required to comply with environmental impact assessment regulations is well established in both Canada and the USA.  There is no reason why GMO technology developers should be treated any different than proponents from other sectors of the economy.