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by Slow Food USA Biodiversity Intern Regina Fitzsimmons

Do you want better oversight of GE Crops?
You have 5 days to tell the USDA what you think…

In the winter months of the Bush Administration, the former President allowed the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to weaken its oversight on genetically engineered (GE) crops.

The Center for Food Safety writes, “Instead of tightening controls to protect the public and environment from contamination and harm, what the USDA has offered further endangers your right to choose the foods you and your family eat and farmers’ rights to their chosen livelihoods.”

The proposed rules raise concerns for many: among them, the Center for Food Safety and 83 other farm, food, public interest and environmental organizations who previously wrote to our new Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, last March about oversight of GE regulations.

Some of the many regulation concerns include: proposed rules that will ensure more frequent GE contamination of organic and conventional crops and continued permission to the self-interested biotechnology organizations to make the decision about whether their GE crops should be regulated at all. What’s more, the USDA published these rules before releasing the full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)—a breach of law—resulting in an absence of required public review that would provide the USDA with informed regulatory recommendations.

In the past few days the Center for Food Safety has drafted a letter to the USDA and Slow Food USA has signed on. If you would like to submit a letter of your own, you can send this sample letter or use it to help compose a letter of your own. You still have 5 days to comment before the “comment period” closes.

For an interesting debate on the roots of GM opposition, the role of big agribusiness, and whether we’ve achieved real scientific consensus, click here.

Now, you might be saying: It sounds like there are problems surrounding GE, but I’m not completely convinced that GE is a bad idea. I think I need more information before I decide one way or the other. If I sign this form, am I saying that GE crops are bad?

No, you’re not. And if you’re confused or on the fence about GE, you’re not alone. By signing your name to the Center for Food Safety letter you are asking the government to follow the law and allow a public review of USDA’s GE regulations. You will be asking for a moratorium to be placed on commercial planting of new GE crops until new regulations of GE crops are implemented—regulations will be developed from the pool of collected information and recommendations from the public. In sum-up, you are asking for transparency—for all GE practices to be brought out in the open, and be subject to public opinion.