FDA Will Only Monitor 'Frankenfoods'
For the last eight years, U.S. companies producing genetically-altered crops, so called "Frankenfoods," have followed a voluntary system of submitting research results to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But, the Clinton Administration has announced an initiative that will require biofood developers to meet regularly with the FDA who will publish the research and safety data on the Internet.
However, the new guidelines fail to address the safety checks being demanded by consumer and environmental groups. No specific labeling of genetically-altered foods, as already practiced in Japan and much of Europe, is required. In addition, no safety tests or monitoring of the long-term impact of biofoods on human health or the environment are required.
Jane E. Henney, MD, Commissioner of Food and Drugs is quoted in an FDA press release of May 3, 2000 as stating, "FDA's scientific review continues to show that all bioengineered foods sold here in the United States today are as safe as their non-bioengineered counterparts."
According to their press release, the FDA will assist manufacturers who wish to, "voluntarily label their foods being made with or without the use of bioengineered ingredients."
In the 1970s, scientists began to directly manipulate the DNA of crop plants and some animals. When they learned how to swap genes between two different plants and even between animals and plants, they broke the species barrier and today that may not be your daddy's potato drowning in sour cream.
In most cases, genetic-engineering has not resulted in bigger, better tasting or more nutritious food, but in crops that are easier, cheaper and more efficient for farmers to grow.
Genetically altered varieties of corn, cotton and potatoes now being grown actually produce their own insecticide.
Strains of soybean, corn, cotton and canola plants have been developed with resistance to Roundup, a popular weed killer, allowing farmers to control competing weeds during the crop's entire growing season.
By the middle of the 1970s, farmers had eagerly switched to these "super-seeds" and genetically altered corn and soybeans quietly made their way into the worldwide marketplace.
Since then, gene-spliced food research has mainly grown a crop of protests questioning the quality, nutritional value, safety and environmental impact of biofoods.
FDA to Strengthen Pre-market Review of Bioengineered Food
Official FDA press release from May 3, 2000.
Biotech Basics - Monsanto
Monsanto is a major worldwide player in the biofood industry. This site presents all about "genetic enhancement of agricultural products" from a manufacturer's standpoing.
Gene Altered Foods Gain Foes
Chicago Tribune - Nov. 25, 1999 - "Italy has jumped on the European bandwagon against genetically modified food. Producers of everything from potatoes to Parmesan cheese have started to label their products as 'GM-free.'"
"Trade tensions are on the rise between the US and Europe again. This time the dispute involves the export of genetically-modified (GM) agricultural products." By Global Business Guide Paul Bishop.
Pre-Market review of Biotechnolgy and Genetically Modified Foods
Nutrition Guide Rick Hall examines details of the FDA's new role in the biofood debate.
Environment, Ecology and GM Foods - Net Links
Genetically Modified (GM) foods have plenty of detractors in the UK. Guide to Royalty Stuart MacWatt offers this excellent list of links to information and articles on the issue.
Prince Charles Wins a Round
England's Prince Charles has long opposed GM (Genetically Modified) foods in the UK. Guide to Royalty Stuart MacWatt reports on Charles' efforts.
Bio Patents: The Controversy
Dr. Seed and his cloning project rekindled a heated debate, but there are other areas where biopatents and biotechnology has raised ethical concerns. From Inventors Guide Mary Bellis
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