[US] USDA Lacks Data, Oversight of Biotech Crops-Study

Andrew Gach unclewolf at olypen.com
Wed Jun 18 09:26:05 EDT 2003

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Agriculture Department should stop issuing
permits for field tests of new, genetically modified crops until it has
determined if they hurt human health or the environment, an activist group
said on Wednesday.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group said the USDA has "rubber stamped"
approvals for nearly 40,000 field tests on 482,226 acres of biotech crops
since 1987 without understanding if they cross-pollinate with other plants
and weeds or if insects could develop resistance to them.

"More and more field tests are going on and we are starting to see
significant errors and problems with the oversight as evident by some of
these contamination episodes," said Richard Caplan, who authored the group's
new study.

Field testing of biotech wheat -- which has not yet been commercialized --
has U.S. trading partners "very concerned," Caplan said. The USDA has
granted permits for more than 330 field tests of gene-spliced wheat
varieties, he said.

The USDA's Animal and Plant Inspection Service has rejected only 3.5 percent
of all permit applications since 1987, most for minor mistakes such as
paperwork errors, the study found.


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