Our food is plenty regulated

By From page A6 | November 02, 2012

Wow! I am really surprised to learn that Belinda Martineau and Mitt Romney have so much in common — this idea that saying something often enough and loud enough makes it fact even when it is far from the truth: Belinda’s involvement with the development of the FlavrSavr tomato.

At least 15 individuals at Calgene were involved with the science and regulatory activities associated with the project. We all received a bonus and the same letter from Roger Salquist congratulating us on our contributions. Belinda did a good job in the lab analyzing the tomato but had absolutely no involvement in the regulatory or labeling decisions. I know this for a fact because these decisions were made by Roger Salquist, Bill Hiatt and me.

Additionally, Belinda misrepresents the facts about regulatory oversight. Every genetically engineered crop commercially grown for food or feed in the United States has undergone extensive review by both the FDA and USDA or by these two agencies plus the EPA.

To imply that there is a lack of regulatory oversight is misleading and just not true. What Belinda could have accurately said is that the FDA process is a consultation and not mandatory; however, the level of scrutiny by the FDA is the same and the data submitted to the FDA in support of safety is no different than it would be under a mandatory approval process.

Every commercially grown food or feed crop has completed the USDA deregulation process. If you want a good read, go to the USDA biotechnology website and read the documents submitted in support of product safety. Yet, Belinda would have us believe that the danger is so great that more regulation is necessary.

If you are in favor of labeling genetically engineered foods based on a belief or a feeling, then go for it. If your decision on labeling is based on safety, then please consider the facts. Not mine or Belinda’s. Go to the FDA, USDA and EPA websites and consider the requirements for proving the safety of genetically engineered crops used as food or feed. They are extensive.

Don Emlay

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