First, let me preface this with a lot of the research I’ve done, dealt with the dark, ugly side of the FDA. There are some very wonderful and ethical people who work there that really believe they are working for the public good.
And sometimes there are.
The FDA started because of a little book by Upton Sinclair. In The Jungle, Sinclair exposed the hazards of the meat packing industry in Chicago. People didn’t so much care about folks dying on the job, but falling into the grinder and being served up on their dinner plates was just a step too far. To keep their appetites, the consumers went to the government and said their representatives had to help them out and tell folks that the food was safe to eat.
Voila. An early version of the FDA was born.
Fast forward to the Reagan era, and several seed companies with patents soon to expire came up with a brilliant way to add genes from one organism to another to create a new product that they could own in plant slavery forever (Okay, I’m not being snarky about the brilliance of this, it really is cool, the rest is in sarcasm font). Being against big government, Reagan set about stripping the FDA of people, brains, and power, while placing his associates with deep pockets in place to make things go. Streamlining he called it. (To be fair, Reagan didn’t start the practice of Cronyism that continues to this day.)
You see the seed companies had a little image problem. They had been caught in lies before and the old trust us campaign wasn’t selling as good as it used to. To be fair, the initial outreach seemed genuine. The old guard seemed to actually want to do good and rebuild a lost trust.
But there was a regime change in the 1990’s and with the call to streamline and eliminate big government oversight, the rules changed. It was deemed by politically appointed big-wigs in the FDA that genetically engineered foods weren’t any different that other foods, despite questions raised by the scientists who work for the FDA, despite the shortness of the study, despite missing data.
So what we ended up with is regulations from the early 1990s that haven’t kept up with current technology. (If you’re willing to risk you’re head exploding click here) Anything with pesticides inserted into it, the FDA points to the EPA and the EPA points right back, so nobody actually looks at it. The research to determine food safety is done by the producer, who can consult with the FDA (but isn’t required), and they don’t have to produce all the data because that’s proprietary and, um, there’s no peer review unless it’s done at a university where they sit on the panel and can decide what goes into the final paper (censorship). The FDA should be notified of any new crop 120 days before it hits the market. If the new product is a food crop, the ball gets bounced into the USDA to determine if it could hurt plant health (what?).
In other words, GMOs are a shell game that no one is overseeing, we just have to trust the seed companies not to put profit over people’s health.
In a moment of paranoia, I googled GMOs for some ‘independent’ good information. Of the 5 I found—three were from seed companies, one from a university that receives an endowment from the companies. The 5th had promise until I did a who is on the domain and found a PR company who has a seed company in their portfolio.
So I’ll leave you with this quote:
What good fortune for governments that the people don’t think – Adolph Hitler