“Under a new two-year pilot program at the USDA, regulators are training the world’s biggest biotech firms, including Monsanto, BASF and Syngenta, to conduct environmental reviews of their own transgenic seed products as part of the government’s deregulation process.”
This is where I get torn between wanting less government interference and regulation – and acknowledging the danger(s) of allowing corporations free reign to do as they please without supervision. Some of the corporations involved in pressuring the USDA to lessen regulation on their industry have a long and nasty history of wrong-doings and harming the environment… so where do we draw the line between giving people freedom to create, build, invent or produce and protecting ourselves – and the planet – from the potential harm some corporations have caused?
EXCLUSIVE: Under Industry Pressure, USDA Works to Speed Approval of Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered Crops
This would eliminate a critical level of oversight for the production of GE crops. Regulators are also testing new cost-sharing agreements that allow biotech firms to help pay private contractors to prepare mandatory environmental statements on GE plants the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering deregulating.
The USDA launched the pilot project in April and, in November, the USDA announced vague plans to “streamline” the deregulation petition process for GE organisms. A USDA spokesperson said the streamlining effort is not part of the pilot project, but both efforts appear to address a backlog of pending GE crop deregulation petitions that has angered big biotech firms seeking to rollout new products.
Documents obtained by Truthout under a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request reveal that biotech companies, lawmakers and industry groups have put mounting pressure on the USDA in recent years to speed up the petition process, limit environmental impact assessments and approve more GE crops. One group went as far as sending USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack a timeline of GE soybean development that reads like a deregulation wish list. [Click here and here to download and read some of the documents released to Truthout.]