TELL THE USDA THEY MUST RESPONSIBLY REGULATE GENETICALLY MODIFIED (GM) MICROORGANISMS
BY MAY 21, 2023.
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While IRT believes that the only responsible way forward is to prevent the release of any GM microbes into the environment, we demand that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) must, at a minimum, assess the full range of GM microbes, wherever they are created and used, and implement regulations that match the enormous, and even existential risks associated with this technology.
Please consider using your voice to demand that the USDA responsibly regulates genetically modified (GM) microorganisms before the comment period* ends on May 21, 2023.
*A comment period for the USDA is a specific period during which the public can submit comments on proposed regulations, policies, or other actions of the USDA. This is a way for the public to provide feedback and voice their concerns or support for the proposed actions before they are finalized. The USDA is required by law to consider and respond to all comments received during the comment period.
Your name will be shared with members of the USDA to show the overwhelming number of Americans who demand immediate action to address the significant risks posed by this technology.
Summary of the Comment
Genetically modified (GM) microbes can wreak havoc. They may travel, mutate, and swap genes with other microbes, impacting microbial communities in unpredictable ways. Since microbiomes are essential for living systems, GM microbes may promote disease, damage, or collapse ecosystems, and put our food supply at risk.
Unless we act, millions of varieties will flood our ecosystem as a result of:
- Companies releasing GM microbes on millions of acres;
- CRISPR gene editing labs – now less than $2,000 – becoming increasingly accessible and promoted by schools and businesses; and
- Thousands of “synbio” production facilities that use GM bacteria, yeast, and algae producing products for food, medicine, and industry.
The USDA is mandated to regulate modified microorganisms that “can directly or indirectly injure, cause damage to, or cause disease in a plant or plant product.” Based on up-to-date research on gene flow and microbiomes, virtually all GM microbes fit this description.
The USDA, however, has narrowed its regulatory focus to just a tiny number of GM microbes, and even these are not subject to rigorous requirements. This version of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” endangers us all. It is well illustrated in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Draft Guide for Submitting Permit Applications for Microorganisms Developed Using Genetic Engineering.
- Ignores gene editing risks and the side effects from all methods of genetic engineering;
- Narrowly defines their definition of “plant pest;”
- Insists that risks only arise from GM microbes with inserted pathogen DNA;
- Pretends that millions of GM microbes released elsewhere will not threaten agriculture;
- Overlooks most of the potential impacts of horizontal gene transfer;
- Relies on unproven safety assumptions and insufficient data from companies; and
- Ignores some of the most compelling research on microbiomes and soil microbiology that demonstrate how important microbes are to a healthy food supply.
Watch the videos below to learn more about the dangers of gene editing.