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As the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) close the public comment period on proposed changes to how the government handles GMO oversight responsibilities, a coalition of consumers, farmers and environmental groups is asking federal regulators "to substantially strengthen their proposed rules to better protect farmers, the general public and the environment from harmful GE plants and risky GE animals."

"The haphazard and negligent regulation of agricultural biotechnology has been nothing short of a disaster for the public and the environment. While USDA should be protecting farmers and the environment, it has instead turned a blind eye to the harms that GE crops cause," said George Kimbrell, legal director at Center for Food Safety (CFS).

The statement from the groups says that "while USDA today has more authority to strengthen oversight, its proposed new rules would weaken it. Many GE organisms would be exempted from regulation altogether. Ongoing harms caused by pesticide-promoting GE crops would remain unaddressed. USDA would stop regulating risky GE plants engineered as 'biofactories' to produce experimental pharmaceutical and industrial compounds. Definitional loopholes would permit many novel GE crops to escape all but superficial review. Overall, the USDA’s proposed new rules abandon sound science in favor of promoting the interests of the biotechnology industry."

The coalition also argues that "the lack of regulations specific to GE animals allows the FDA to overlook a host of serious risks posed by the genetic manipulation of animals."
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