The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced Wednesday that genetically engineered (GE) glyphosate-resistant wheat plants, developed by biotech giant Monsanto, were recently found growing on an Oregon farm despite the fact that there are no GE wheat varieties approved for sale or for commercial production in the United States or elsewhere at this time. Should APHIS determine that this situation was the result of a violation of the Plant Protection Act (PPA), APHIS has the authority to seek penalties, including civil penalties up to $1,000,000 and has the authority to refer the matter for criminal prosecution, if appropriate.
The USDA claims, “The detection of this wheat variety does not pose a food safety concern.” The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) completed a voluntary consultation on the safety of food and feed derived from this GE glyphosate-resistant wheat variety in 2004. For the consultation, the developer provided information to FDA to support the safety of this wheat variety. FDA completed the voluntary consultation with no further questions concerning the safety of grain and forage derived from this wheat, meaning that this variety is as safe as non-GE wheat currently on the market.”
The problem with this statement is that the USDA did not independently test the GE wheat they just took Monsanto’s word that the product was safe. In 2004, Laura M. Tarantino, Ph.D., Director of the Office of Food Additive Safety wrote in the Biotechnology Consultation Agency Response Letter (BNF No. 000080) in reference to the GE wheat, “as you are aware, it is Monsanto’s continued responsibility to ensure that foods marketed by the firm are safe, wholesome, and in compliance with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements.”
So how did Monsanto ensure the GE wheat was safe? According to the FDA, “Monsanto concluded that their Roundup Ready® wheat and the foods and feed derived from it are as safe and nutritious as current commercial varieties of wheat and the comparable foods and feed derived from them. Monsanto has previously completed consultations for other Roundup Ready® crops which are also tolerant to glyphosate. These other crops include bioengineered soybean, canola, corn, and cotton (BNFs 01, 20, 71, and 86, respectively). Monsanto has concluded that Roundup Ready® wheat is not materially different in composition, safety, or any other relevant parameter from wheat now grown, marketed, and consumed. At this time, based on Monsanto’s data and information, the agency considers Monsanto’s consultation on Roundup Ready® wheat to be complete.”
How does Monsanto, a corporation driven by profits, in fact they are also the corporation that brought us Agent Orange, DDT, and PCBs get to introduce potentially devastating products into the food supply without independent safety verification? Massive lobbying power, would be the most logical conclusion. During the 2011-2012 period, Monsanto spent $11,100,000 on lobbying. In addition, they are also big political contributors, during 2011-2012, contributions were made to President Obama in the amount of $23,725 and Claire McCaskill received $24,025. Corrupt politics and backroom deals seem to be how the Monsanto Protection Act got snuck in anonymously to the Appropriations Bill. Corporations should not have a free pass to wreak havoc on the population and the environment, the people must be the ones to keep this unbridled power in check because it is becoming obvious the government is not concerned. To avoid GE ingredients developed by Monsanto and since the government refuses to require labeling of GE ingredients, buy certified organic or grow your own food.