Friday, September 11, 2009

EPA approves complex engineered crop behind closed doors

Union of Concerned Scientists
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the most complex genetically engineered (GE) crop ever to enter the U.S. food supply, without notifying the public or inviting public comment. SmartStax, a variety of corn containing eight new genes—six for insect resistance and two for herbicide tolerance—is significantly different from the three-gene corn varieties that the agency previously approved. Monsanto and Dow Chemical, the joint developers of SmartStax, expect the new variety to be grown on three to four million acres next year, the largest launch ever of a GE crop. The EPA excluded the public from the SmartStax decision process on the grounds that it had already approved other varieties containing the individual genes. The agency also bowed to industry pressure to lower safeguards against insect pests becoming resistant to the new genes. Read more from Bloomberg.
"We are disappointed that the new administration's first approval of a major new GE crop was done behind closed doors. SmartStax raises important risk issues such as the potential for insects to develop resistance to the new gene combination that should have been addressed in a transparent, participatory process." ~ Jane Rissler, Deputy Director/Senior Scientist

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