My white paper topic is focusing on the need for required labeling of GMO products. My government resource helped to outline the existing regulatory structure in order to better understand what is missing in the process.
This article entitled Restrictions on Genetically Modified Organisms: United States found on the Library of Congress website is a good introduction into the existing legislation surrounding the production, distribution, and labeling of GMOs. The article discusses that compared to other countries, the GMO laws in the US favor their development, as the US is the largest producer of GMO crops. The framework of this article is to outline the role that the three government organizations play in the legislation for GMOs: The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, The Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) plays a large role in regulating the planting, importation and transportation of GM plants under their Plant Protection Act. This is to ensure that no plants are being introduced into US agriculture that could be harmful to biodiversity or toxic to other species of plants. APHIS grants authorization in three ways: through notification and permitting processes or a determination of nonregulated status.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “regulates the safety of all human and animal food products in the US (other than meat, poultry, and eggs), as well as drugs and biological products”. The FDA’s regulation on food is what is most applicable to GMO regulation. In a 1992 policy statement, the FDA said that it treats foods with GMO components as they would treat conventionally bred plant products and assume that most foods derived from GMOs are “generally recognized as safe”.
Lastly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates GMO plants under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Redentcide Act (FIFRA) to ensure that plants that are genetically modified to produce an insecticide or pesticide are safe for the environment and use in food. The EPA also regulates GMOs under the Toxic Substance Control Act which authorizes it to control chemical substances that may present risk.
While this legislative and regulatory structure is in place to protect the environment and society from the harms of GMOs, none of these government groups require that labeling these products is required. It is clear that there is minimal regulation and the government is more in favor of the growth of the GMO industry. I found it interesting reading this article because most of the legislation in place was passed in the late 1980s when GMOs were first being developed which should be outdated by now. It is important to know the existing structure of regulation in order to know what is missing.