Corrections to San Francisco Chronicle article

I wrote the following letter in response to an article on California’s Prop 37 written by Stacy Finz  in the San Francisco Chronicle; it was published in The Davis Enterprise on August 24, 2012.

First, there are currently no crops grown in the U.S. that have been “genetically engineered to make them more resistant to invasive weeds,” nor have there ever been. But, as reported in The New York Times May 3, 2010, since the dramatic increase in agricultural use of the herbicide glyphosate (the active ingredient in products like RoundUp) that has accompanied the commercialization of GE crops that tolerate that pesticide, we now have “superweeds” just like opponents of genetic engineering feared we would and warned us about 20 years ago when the first products of this new technology were being readied for the marketplace.

Which brings me to error No. 2 in the article. Contrary to the quote attributed to Bob Goldberg, bioengineered crops didn’t even exist 40 years ago and so nobody’s been testing them for anywhere near that long.  Genetic engineering of food crops began circa 1988.

Third, for the Food and Drug Administration, many scientists and medical organizations to have deemed all genetically engineered (GE) food safe is just silly. Any technology is only as safe as how it is used, each time it is used. This technology (crop genetic engineering), for example, is currently a mutagenic process that could result in GE plants that produce e.g. higher levels of a toxin or lower levels of a nutrient than normally would be found in the non-engineered plant; consequently, each GE product should be tested to determine whether it is safe to consume.

However, a loophole that would allow some GE food crops to avoid any regulation by the USDA recently was reported in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology (Sept. 8, 2011) and, depending on the GE crop, regulation by the EPA or the FDA isn’t required either. (“Regulation” at the latter agency consists of a “voluntary consultation” process for most GE foods.)

And so, in contrast to the erroneously reported “40 years of testing,” certain GE food products actually could get to market in the U.S. without any government oversight at all.

Vote “yes” on Prop 37.

This entry was posted in Biotechnology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Corrections to San Francisco Chronicle article

  1. Dr. Kelly Sutton says:

    cool!!! love it!!! K

    On Tue, Oct 9, 2012 at 9:05 PM, Biotech Sal

  2. Susanne Karlak says:

    Great article! Thanks for setting the facts straight.

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