On September 21, 2009, Federal Judge Jeffrey White ruled that the government illegally approved the “Roundup-Ready” genetically modified, herbicide-resistant strain* of sugar beets without adequately considering the chance they will contaminate other beet crops.
ICCR Executive Director Laura Berry said, “This is a major vindication for the investors and members of ICCR that have alerted companies for years that the regulatory oversight system for genetically engineered foods is weak and does not protect food companies from potential liabilities. We know that food companies rely almost exclusively on the oversight of USDA, EPA and FDA, regarding genetically modified organism (GMO) products. It appears that food companies, and the public, are not being well served.”
A common misconception is that FDA “approval” is a safety assessment. The FDA, however, relies on safety data provided by the owner of the new genetically modified (GM) trait in “consultation” with the agency. The FDA’s approval letter to the applicant makes clear that all risk arising from the GM product remains with the applicant.
In March 2008, ICCR led a Web-based campaign targeting 63 leading U.S. restaurant, food, beverage and candy companies – including such household names as McDonald’s, Campbell Soup, Kellogg, Kraft Foods, Sara Lee, PepsiCo, Wendy’s and Hershey’s – urging them to weigh in against the planting of genetically modified sugar beets. More than 54,200 emails were sent to companies by consumers participating in the ICCR campaign. The genetically modified sugarbeet crop would be used to make the sugar contained in thousands of the most widely consumed food products in the U.S.
*Crops that are genetically modified to be “Roundup-Ready” and herbicide-resistant have been engineered with a gene that allows them to survive even when weed-killer chemicals are sprayed on fields. Genetically modified crops are often referred to as GMOs.