Did the USDA Just Deregulate All GMO Crops…Without Telling Anyone?
Has the U.S. Department of Agriculture just given Big Agra the green light on all genetically engineered crops? The USDA has asserted time and again that GMOs are completely safe, and that we should not be concerned about their growing prevalence in our society. Yet the USDA has been, and continues to be, secretive about the circumstances surrounding their approval of new GMO crops.
In a shady backdoor effort, late on the Friday before the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the USDA exempted a genetically engineered grass from regulation, a decision that some say has the potential to open the floodgates for the deregulation of all GMO crops. On July 1, the USDA released an innocuous-sounding press release titled “USDA Responds to Regulation Requests Regarding Kentucky Bluegrass,” which announced their decision not to regulate a RoundUp Ready strain of Kentucky bluegrass created by Scotts Miracle Gro. It’s a strain of grass genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate, Monsanto’s widely used herbicide better known as Roundup.
It’s not that this move is particularly surprising. In the last 6 months, the USDA has deregulated one GMO crop after another — alfalfa, sugar beets and corn. It’s the reasoning that the USDA gave for this particular decision that is raising alarms among conscious consumers, health advocates and environmentalists alike. It looks like the same logic can be used to deregulate just about any new genetically modified crop that Big Agra can come up with!
Up until the USDA decided to exempt GMO Kentucky bluegrass from regulation, the USDA was required to regulate all new GMO crops. As Tom Philpott of Mother Jones explains in a fantastic article, a law called the Plant Pest Act gave the USDA the power to restrict the introduction of any organisms that could harm other plants. GMO crops technically qualified as “plant pests” because the biotech industry uses DNA derived from plant viruses and other pathogens to engineer crops that possess certain genetic traits. Additionally, new GMO crops used to be classified as “noxious weeds.” The USDA had the authority to regulate any engineered crop that could “go rogue” and “become hard-to-control.”
But on July 1st, the USDA dismissed these regulatory hooks, despite a strong case for GMO Kentucky bluegrass being a potential noxious weed. To get around this, the USDA decided that it could avoid actually declaring the GMO bluegrass a noxious weed, simply by claiming that the risks posed by GMO and non-GMO bluegrass are “essentially the same.”
…Bluegrass has light pollen that can be carried for miles on the wind, meaning that genetically modified bluegrass can easily transfer its genes to established conventional bluegrass.
And like most grasses, bluegrass spreads rapidly. Anyone who has ever grown a garden can testify that it’s tough to get rid of unwanted turf grass. In fact, Scotts is also seeking deregulation of Roundup Ready bentgrass, another grass that has proven hard to control. In 2005, Scotts grew trial plots of its bentgrass in Oregon. It escaped the boundaries of the experimental plot and is still creating problems for homeowners miles away.
For homeowners, dealing with rogue Roundup Ready bluegrass may mean resorting to chemicals far more toxic than Roundup.
The ramifications of this are troubling indeed. If the USDA doesn’t regulate new GMO crops, then it has no obligation to perform environmental-impact analyses of GMO crops, leaving the door wide open for Big Agra to run wild with its genetically engineered plants.
If the USDA truly believes that GMOs are safe, why wouldn’t they make the approval of new GMO crops an open and honest process? They know that consumers and many scientists are concerned about the safety of GMOs entering our food supply, and surely they are aware of recent surveys, which have indicated that 96% of Americans polled want GMO foods to be labeled. So why don’t they take extra measures to reassure the public that GMOs are in fact harmless?
So What Can You Do?
1) Avoid GMOs! Vote with your dollars. As much as possible, avoid foods containing GMOs. Check out this useful shopping guide to learn more about how to avoid consuming GMO foods.
2) Boycott Scotts Miracle Gro. NaturalNews is spearheading a movement to boycott Scotts Miracle Gro until they announce that they will no longer persue GMO seeds. As Mike Adams so eloquently put it, “This company is on the verge of releasing GMO seeds across our front lawns and neighborhoods — a move that would soon be followed by the mass-spraying of RoundUp pesticides by all your ignorant neighbors who know nothing of the dangers of GMOs and glyphosate.”
You can join NaturalNews in sending complaints to Scotts, letting them know that you will stop buying their products until they discontinue their use of GMOs.
Click here to send Scotts an email. Then call at 888-270-3714.
You may also write to them at:
Scotts Help Center
14111 Scottslawn Rd.
Marysville, OH 43041
3) Help get the word out about the dangers of GMOs. Part of the reason that GMOs are becoming more and more prevalent in our society is the fact that many Americans simply aren’t aware of the science showing the dangers of GMOs. The Institute for Responsible Technology has an Action Tool Kit, which includes educational pamphlets, power point presentations, letters to restaurants and other useful materials. You can also support the GMO Film Project, an independent documentary in the works that will hopefully help to raise awareness of the issue.
Any other ideas? Please leave a comment below.
Article updated on: July 19th, 2011