Aloha e Kakou,
I researched and cross referenced this information as best to my ability. By no means is it comprehensive in event or verifiability for the unprivileged investigator; however, as much data as could be extracted directly from official government websites, public databases and the websites of the biotech firms and lobbying organizations themselves, has been included. To thrive in a climate of severe disinformation and profit prioritization requires one to reconstruct context from a limited pool of accessible evidence that takes into account not only official stated policy but those persons (and their affiliations) whom society sanctions as the authors and shapers of such policy.
Disclosure of interest: I am a human that must eat. A trip to the grocer informs me directly that almost all packaged/ processed food contains wheat, corn or soy, which are now all primarily genetically altered crops. I have hence endeavored to grow as much of my own food as possible, and even then, it is still a nearly impossible feat to totally avoid GMOs. Thus, relegated to ingest them on occasion, I have embarked on a journey of inquiry as to their (un)nature, the purveyors of them, the process by which they were deemed “safe for human consumption”, the history and current policies of those firms that benefit from their proliferation, and verifiable scientific tests regarding their effect on both the external ecological environment as well as the internal biological environment. WHAT A RABBITHOLE…
The following is written in my own words, with the intention of presenting factual data as to the biased element that is determining food policy in the US, and, consequentially, globally.
Here is the US Regulatory Agencies Unified Biotechnology Website: http://usbiotechreg.epa.gov/usbiotechreg
From it you can download the original 1986 document titled: Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology
On page 7 of the document, under “Product Regulation”, it reads:
“The manufacture by the newer technologies of food, the development of new drugs, medical devices, biologics for humans and animals, and pesticides, will be reviewed by FDA, USDA and EPA in essentially the same manner for safety and efficacy as products obtained by other techniques.”
Dr. David T. Kingsbury (see article below from NY Times, 1986), who is listed in the document as the head agency contact and was one of the primary authors of the policy, guided the process away from comprehensive scientific review by ignoring the method of gene delivery (which uses viruses/ bacteria to penetrate the cell barrier and deliver foreign genetic material) and focusing on the products themselves.
This approach was reinforced with the so-called “principle of substantial equivalence” in 1991 by the trade lobby Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), spearheaded by former Monsanto attorney Michael Taylor, who was then appointed as the FDA’s first Deputy Commissioner for Policy (the position was newly created that year), who after his tenure at the FDA went on to become a vice-president of Monsanto (and is now back in government “serving” as the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods- a prime example of a political “revolving door”). The concept of “substantial equivalence” (originally proposed by the WHO) maintains that a novel food (for example, genetically modified foods) should be considered the same as and as safe as a conventional food if it demonstrates the same characteristics and composition as the conventional food. In terms of regulating biotech products, this policy might (in best case scenarios) go so far as to compare biochemical profiles of GMOs, however it fails to address the methodology by which the new genes are introduced.
For example, in the Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology, with reference to biotech industry livestock, it states:
“Products Subject to Review. FSIS anticipates that many food animals which are subject to the new techniques of modern biotechnology will not differ substantially in appearance, behavior, or general health from currently inspected cattle, sheep, swine, goats, equines, and poultry. They would be subject to the same inspection procedures and regulations as traditionally inspected food animals.“
The problem with this process of regulating biotech products under the same guidelines of conventional products is that it fails to account for the potential unknown and/or unintended effects of cell invasion, which occurs in nature only through selective evolutionary processes- not forced synthetic procedures utilizing unnatural delivery methods and vehicles. Transgenesis (the process of introducing an exogenous, or foreign, gene into a living organism) employs a broad range of techniques and technologies- including transduction (the employment of a virus such as E. Coli in the task of [forcibly] introducing a foreign gene into a host cell’s genome). Current regulations fail to require demonstration of a lack of collateral effects of such processes in not only the initial host (the crop) but also the secondary (factory farm livestock and humans) and consecutive (human) hosts. What are the short and long term effects of forced synthetic cell invasion? What are the effects of injecting bacteria and viruses into the cells of the plants and animals we eat? Will the frequent use of antibiotic-resistant marker genes in the process of cell invasion contribute to the already growing ineffectualness of antibiotics*? These and many other pertinent questions are not addressed by current government safety regulations. It is assumed that they are non-factors in the balancing of the equation between safety risk and perceived benefit. In fact, in certain cases a transgenic product may not even be subject to any compulsory review at all by the FDA: “Developers of Bt crops also consult with FDA… although this consultation is voluntary.”
Why? Because there has been, from the beginning of biotech food commerce, a revolving door between government office and private industry, frequented by lawyers, lobbyists and biotech firm employees and shareholders.
Here is a verifiable (though not comprehensive) list of those who have enacted influence toward the deregulation, propagandizing and proliferation of GMOs (I thoroughly cross-referenced each of these from public office bios, corporate directories, lobby member directories and both major and independent media outlets):
Michael Taylor- Monsanto lawyer (1981-1991)/ FDA’s first Deputy Commissioner for Policy/ Vice President for Public Policy at Monsanto/ FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods (2009-present)
Tom Vilsack- Former Iowa Governor/ named “Governor of the Year” by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO- is the biotech industry’s major trade lobby which represents such corporate giants as Aventis, Bayer, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta)/ founder and former chair of the Governor’s Biotechnology Partnership/ USDA Secretary of Agriculture (2009-present)
David T. Kingsbury- assistant director of the National Science Foundation (a historically strong advocate of applied agricultural biotechnology)/ appointed by President Reagan to head original US government biotech policy formation process
Ann Margaret Veneman- deputy undersecretary for international affairs and commodity programs of the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (1986)/ California’s Secretary of Food and Agriculture (1995-1999)/ USDA Secretary of Agriculture (2001-2005)/ served on the Board of Directors of Calgene (a Monsanto subsidiary)
Michael “Mickey” Kantor- US Trade Representative (1993-1997)/ US Secretary of Commerce (1996-1997)/ Board of Directors, Monsanto (1997-?)
Justice Clarence Thomas- Supreme Court Justice/ Monsanto lawyer- regulatory affairs (1976-1979)/ judge in the case “Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms” (he refused to recuse himself, brushing aside his obvious conflict of interest)
William Ruckelshaus- first head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (1970)/ Deputy US Attorney General/ EPA Administrator (1983-1985)/ Lawyer for the Coalition on Superfund (an organization formed by such Superfund polluters and their insurers as Monsanto, Du Pont, Union Carbide, etc. seeking to weaken the EPA Superfund law by absolving polluters of strict legal liability for their actions/ Board of Directors, Monsanto (1986-?)/ Director Ex Officio of the National Council on Science and the Environment/ Director for Center of Global Development
Linda Fisher- various roles at the US EPA: Deputy Administrator, Assistant Administrator – Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, Assistant Administrator – Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation, and Chief of Staff to the EPA Administrator/ Vice President of Government Affairs for Monsanto/ VP Safety, Health and Environment and Chief Sustainability Officer of Du Pont (present)
Michael Friedman- former acting commissioner of the FDA Department of Health and Human Services/ Senior VP for clinical affairs at G. D. Searle & Co. (a pharmaceutical division of Monsanto Corporation)
Luther Val Giddings- formerly of the Biotechnology Products Regulatory Division of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA/ served on the US delegation to the first meeting of the Open Ended Ad Hoc Working Group on a Biosafety Protocol/ VP for Food & Agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)
Gwendolyn King- Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for President Reagan/ Commissioner of the American Social Security Administration (1989-1992)/ Board of Directors, Monsanto (1991-present)/ Lockheed Martin: Ethics and Corporate Responsibility Committee Chair, and serves on its Board of Directors
George H. Poste- former member of the Health Board of the U.S. Department of Defense/ Board of Directors, Monsanto (2003-present)
Robert J. Stevens- served on President George W. Bush’s Commission to Examine the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry (2001-2002)/ Board of Directors, Monsanto (2002-present)/ Chairman of the Board and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation
Josh King- Director of Production for Presidential Events in the White House office of communications (1993-1997)/ Director of International Government Affairs for Monsanto
Clayton Keith Yeutter- US Trade Representative (1985-1989)/ USDA Secretary of Agriculture (1989-1991)/ Board of Directors of Mycogen Corporation (a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Corporation, a major biotech firm)
Lidia Watrud- senior researcher for Monsanto (1977-1984)/ manager of environmental microbiology and molecular biology for Monsanto (1984-1986)/ manager of commercial development of new technologies in the plant sciences department of Monsanto (1986-1990)/ research ecologist at the US EPA (2005-?)/ member of U.S. EPA’s Workgroups for Proposed and consecutive Final Rules on Microbial Pesticides and Pesticidal Plants/ a member of the National Science and Technology Council’s Research Subcommittee on Biotechnology for the 21st Century
Donald Rumsfeld- former US Secretary of Defense/ former President of G. D. Searle & Co. (a pharmaceutical division of Monsanto Corporation), during which time he pushed for the legalization of the proven toxic chemical sweetener Aspartame (now rebranded as AminoSweet)
John Ashcroft- US Senator (1995-2001)/ received largest campaign contribution from Monsanto during 2000 election/ US Attorney General (2001-2005)/ also pushed for the legalization of Aspartame
Dan Quayle- former US Vice President/ head of the Council on Competitiveness in 1992, quoted in press: “We will ensure that biotech products receive the same oversight as other products instead of being hampered by unnecessary regulation.”
Margaret Miller- former chemical laboratory supervisor for Monsanto/ FDA Deputy Director of Human Food Safety and Consultative Services, New Animal Drug Evaluation Office, Center for Veterinary Medicine
And the list goes on, and on…
Welcome to the current “food” supply: untested, unregulated, centralized, patented and manufactured by chemical weapons corporations.
The facts regarding the monopolization of food by a select few biotech corporations transcend a single realm of study. Their comprehensive revealing requires intensive investigation into biology, ecology, economics, politics, philosophy and social engineering concepts. Perhaps, in the absence of imminent and irrevocable alteration to nature, a casual exploration; but in the present situation, a task of urgency never before demanded of man.
Ua Mau ke ‘Ea o Ka ‘Aina i ka Pono… Life is perpetuated through a balanced relationship with the land.
PS I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend Michael Pollan’s NY Times piece entitled “Playing God in the Garden ” on GMOs, published back in 1998. A quote in the piece from Phil Angell, Monsanto’s then Director of Corporate Communications:
‘‘Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food,” he said. ”Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the F.D.A.’s job.”
*There are many effective alternatives to antibiotics that lack the lucrative attractiveness of patentability, and are thus ignored and even discredited by the well-monied pharmaceutical industry. However they represent yet another variable of import in the exploration of transgenic biotechnology.