REGULATORY BREAKDOWN: Direct Quotes from the People Supposedly Regulating GE Foods

Friday 16 January 2009 11:50 am
From: "GMWatch "

NOTE: Anyone who says GM foods are carefully regulated is badly misinformed
or simply lying, as the following carefully sourced quotes make abundantly
clear. Links to all the sources can be found at the banGMfood site, see url
below.

Link to: Regulatory breakdown

EXTRACT: "What Monsanto wished for from Washington, Monsanto -- and, by
extension, the biotechnology industry -- got. Even longtime Washington hands
said that the control this nascent industry exerted over its own regulatory
destiny -- through the Environmental Protection Agency, the Agriculture
Department and ultimately the Food and Drug Administration -- was
astonishing." Kurt Eichenwald, Redesigning Nature, The New York Times

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"Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job." [The FDA is the US government's Food and Drug Administration, responsible for food safety]

Philip Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications, "Playing God in the Garden"., New York Times Magazine, 25 October 1998
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"Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety."

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), "Statement of Policy: Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties". (GMO Policy), Federal Register, Vol. 57, No. 104, 1992, p. 229
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"It is not foreseen that EFSA carry out such [safety] studies as the onus is on the applicant to demonstrate the safety of the GM product in question."

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), "Frequently Asked Questions on EFSA GMO Risk Assessment"., 15 May 2006, p. 7
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"Claims regarding the safety of these crops... are founded mostly on unpublished studies conducted by the crop developer."

William Freese and David Schubert, "Safety Testing and Regulation of Genetically Engineered Foods," Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews, Vol. 21, November 2004, pp. 299-324
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"One thing that surprised us is that U.S. regulators rely almost exclusively on information provided by the biotech crop developer, and those data are not published in journals or subjected to peer review... The picture that emerges from our study of U.S. regulation of GM foods is a rubber-stamp 'approval process' designed to increase public confidence in, but not ensure the safety of, genetically engineered foods."

Dr David Schubert of the Salk Institute commenting on a comprehensive, peer-reviewed study of federal regulation of GMOs he co-conducted, quoted in Brian Tokar, "Deficiencies in federal regulatory oversight of genetically engineered crops," Institute for Social Ecology Biotechnology Project, June 2006
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"It is astounding that the US Food and Drug Administration has not changed their stance on genetically modified food adopted in 1992... The policy is that genetically modified crops will receive the same consideration for potential health risks as any other new crop plant. This stance is taken despite good reasons to believe that specific risks may exist... Governments should never have allowed these products into the food chain without insisting on rigorous testing for effects on health."

Editorial in The Lancet, "Health risks of genetically modified foods" Volume 353, Number 9167, 29 May 1999
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"There is a criticism by many people that dossiers that are submitted to EFSA [the European Food Safety Authority] are only dossiers prepared by the companies. And so, obviously, the companies would present data that are more favourably disposed to their varieties and products. We have in the scientific literature a thing called publication bias - that literature with positive findings is more likely to be published than issues with negative findings... We probably need much more publicly-funded research."

Prof Patrick Wall, until 2008 the Chairman of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the EU Agency mandated by the European Commission to advise on the safety of genetically modified food and animal feed for the European Union, in an interview: "We cannot force-feed EU citizens with GM food", 2 December 2008
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"EFSA ignores scientific evidence that GM animal feed and food are dangerous, and continues to rely on secret dossiers with partial, selective, and biased 'advocacy science' submitted by the applicant companies - which cannot be fully examined by independent scientists for peer review."

European Union Parliament Petition No. 0813/2008: "The importance of impartiality within EFSA & the food safety rights of EU citizens". From Dr Brian John. Hosted by Kathy Sinnnott MEP (Ireland South).
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"This is confirmation of all our worst fears that the Government's GM policy is being driven by bad or fraudulent science. They are reliant on the industry that wants to sell these seeds to monitor the trials. This is insane, and criminally irresponsible. If data from one company has been falsified how do we know others have not been up to the same?"

Alan Simpson, UK Member of Parliament, quoted in Antony Barnett, "Revealed: GM firm faked test figures: Poor crop results were replaced by a forgery, Ministry's internal paper shows"., The Observer, April 16 2000
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"The U.S. government agencies have done exactly what big agribusiness has asked them to do and told them to do."

Dr Henry I. Miller, who was in charge of biotechnology issues at the US government's Food and Drug Administration, responsible for food safety, from 1979 to 1994, quoted in Kurt Eichenwald, Redesigning Nature, The New York Times, January 25 2001
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"Call me, we are in the 'dereg' business."

Vice-President George H. W. Bush, while on a tour of Monsanto, May 15 1987, offering help to Monsanto if it had problems getting its products through the regulatory system, as seen in the documentary, "The World According to Monsanto", Arte, 2008
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"The White House complied, working behind the scenes to help Monsanto -- long a political power with deep connections in Washington -- get the regulations that it wanted. It was an outcome that would be repeated, again and again, through three administrations. What Monsanto wished for from Washington, Monsanto -- and, by extension, the biotechnology industry -- got. Even longtime Washington hands said that the control this nascent industry exerted over its own regulatory destiny -- through the Environmental Protection Agency, the Agriculture Department and ultimately the Food and Drug Administration -- was astonishing."

Kurt Eichenwald, Redesigning Nature, The New York Times, January 25 2001
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"The person who oversaw its development [FDA policy on GM foods] was the FDA's Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Michael Taylor, whose position had been created especially for him in 1991. Prior to that, Taylor was an outside attorney for both Monsanto and the Food Biotechnology Council. After working at the FDA, he became Monsanto's vice president."

Institute for Responsible Technology, "State of the science on the health risks of GM foods"., June 2 2008
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"What has happened to the scientific elements of this document? Without a sound scientific base to rest on, this becomes a broad, general, What do I have to do to avoid trouble'-type document. It will look like and probably be just a political document... It reads very pro-industry, especially in the area of unintended effects."

FDA microbiologist Dr Louis Pribyl, after reviewing the latest rewrite of the FDA policy, quoted in Institute for Responsible Technology, "How the FDA promotes GM foods"., October 11 2007
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"And certainly when I became Secretary [of Agriculture], given the fact that I was in charge of the department regulating agriculture, I had a lot of pressure on me, not to push the [GM] issue too far, so to speak. But I would say that even when I opened my mouth in the Clinton admininistration I got slapped around a little bit by not only the industry, but also some of the people even in the administration. In fact I made a speech once saying that we needed to more thoughtfully think through the regulatory issues on GMOs and I had some people within the Clinton administration, particularly in the US trade area - they were very upset with me. They said 'How could you, in Agriculture, be questioning our regulatory regime?'"

Dan Glickman, former US Secretary of Agricuture, in the documentary "The World According To Monsanto", Arte, 2008
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"What I saw generically on the pro-biotech side was the attitude that the technology was good and that it was almost immoral to say that it wasn't good because it was going to solve the problems of the human race and feed the hungry and clothe the naked. And there was a lot of money that had been invested in this, and if you're against it, you're Luddites, you're stupid. There was rhetoric like that even here in this department. You felt like you were almost an alien, disloyal, by trying to present an open-minded view on some of the issues being raised. So I pretty much spouted the rhetoric that everybody else around here spouted; it was written into my speeches."

Dan Glickman, post-departure as US Secretary of Agricuture, quoted in Bill Lambrecht, "Outgoing Secretary Says Agency's Top Issue is Genetically Modified Food", St. Louis Post-Dispatch 25 January 2001
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"Now the one thing that's interesting is that on many of the [regulatory] panels in EFSA [the European Food Safety Authority], they are populated by experts who are comfortable with the technology. And so if you have a lot of molecular scientists who have been playing around with recombinant DNA technology [genetic engineering] since 1969, it's not a new technology... It's like, you know, you go to a motorbike convention and ask the motorbike riders 'do you think riding a motorbike is dangerous?' They say 'no', whereas other people would think they're half crazy! So that's an issue."

Prof Patrick Wall, until 2008 the Chairman of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the EU Agency mandated by the European Commission to advise on the safety of genetically modified food and animal feed for the European Union, in an interview: "We cannot force-feed EU citizens with GM food", 2 December 2008
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"One member [of the EFSA - European Food Safety Authority] has direct financial links with the biotech industry and others have indirect links... Two members have even appeared in promotional videos produced by the biotech industry... Several members of the Panel, including the chair Professor Kuiper, have been involved with the EU-funded ENTRANSFOOD project. The aim of this project was to agree [to] safety assessment, risk management and risk communication procedures that would 'facilitate market introduction of GMOs in Europe, and therefore bring the European industry in a competitive position.' Professor Kuiper, who coordinated the ENTRANSFOOD project, sat on a working group [for the project] that also included staff from Monsanto, Bayer CropScience and Syngenta."

Friends of the Earth Europe, "Throwing caution to the wind: the European Food Safety Authority and its work on genetically modified food and crops", November 2004