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Stop the FDA From Approving Contamination of the Food Supply!

Action Alert from Cal GE Free

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Stop the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from Approving Contamination of the Food Supply with Untested Genetically Engineered (GE) Crops. Please send in your comments today!


On November 19, 2004, the FDA announced new draft guidelines to deal with the growing problem of GE plants contaminating food crops.

The guidelines would allow contamination of the American food supply with experimental material that escapes from GE crop test plots. Over 40,000 of these test plots have been authorized by the government on over 500,000 acres since 1987. The proposed policy sets out loose 'safety assessment' guidelines under which companies may voluntarily consult with the FDA to have their experimental biotech traits deemed "acceptable" as contaminants in food.

The proposed 'safety assessment' is based on paperwork and two inadequate tests that FDA estimates will take companies just 20 hours to complete. The review would NOT involve safety tests in animals, and it excludes testing for unintended effects caused by genetic engineering. It also sets NO LIMITS on the amount of contamination allowed in foods. While presented as a food safety measure, both FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford and Michael Phillips, vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, have acknowledged that these new rules would provide legal cover to companies whose novel crops contaminate the food supply.

Many of the genes spliced into these experimental GE crops are hidden from the public as trade secrets. Experiments we know of include crops engineered to survive dousing with chemical herbicides or produce their own insecticides. Others have sterile pollen or seeds, radically altered nutritional content for use as animal feed, or anti-fungal compounds that resemble food allergens.

Tell the FDA that it needs to devise rules to STOP contamination of the food supply with engineered traits, not find new ways to make it okay for companies to do so!

For more information, see:

Press release:

Briefing paper:

PLEASE SEND IN COMMENTS TODAY! Comments are due by January 24, 2005.

See below for a sample message.

Send e-mail to: [email protected]

Include "Docket No. 2004D-0369" in the subject line

Send written comments to:

FDA Commissioner, Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305) Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

Sample Message

RE: Docket No. 2004D-0369

Dear Commissioner Crawford,

I am writing to express my disappointment at the FDA's draft "Guidance for Industry: Recommendations for the Early Food Safety Evaluation of New Non-Pesticidal Proteins Produced by New Plant Varieties Intended for Food Use."

I am deeply concerned that these new guidelines are a step backward in strengthening public confidence in the regulation of genetically engineered foods. These new guidelines for genetically engineered crops still in testing wouldallow them to contaminate the nation's food supply with genetic material.

Companies are encouraged to voluntarily seek safety review of genetically engineered traits that could escape field test plots and enter the food supply. Such review could have the effect of exempting such contaminants from being declared food adulterants under existing Federal food safety laws. The developers of biotech crops still in the testing phase now have no incentive to contain genetic pollution from whatever compounds they are engineering into crop plants.

These guidelines also allow companies to voluntarily perform an abridged safety assessment of genetic material from biotech crops. This confidential, limited review would grant biotech crop manufacturers the legal cover to allow these engineered test crops to enter the American food supply prior to full government pre-market oversight and safety review. The proposed review involves no safety tests in animals, a standard method to test for toxicity. It also excludes testing for unintended effects caused by genetic engineering, and sets no limits for the amount of contamination of food allowed.

I urge you to reject this misconceived policy. The FDA should be devising rules and procedures to STOP contamination of the food supply with experimental transgenic proteins, not give rubber stamp approval to such contamination when it occurs.

Finally, I urge the FDA to replace its current non-rigorous"voluntary consultation" process with a mandatory, science-based review process designed to ensure food safety.