Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Senator Chuck Schumer on Genetically Engineered Food

I just received an email from one of my senators, Chuck Schumer, in response to an email I sent him several months ago asking his stance on genetically engineered food. Can anyone translate?
Dear Mr. Endelman:

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about genetically engineered food. I agree that food safety laws should be able to respond to the possible consequences of genetically engineered crops, particularly those crops that contain antibiotic-resistant genes, viral promoters and foreign proteins never before consumed by humans.

Agriculture is being transformed by rapid advances in technology, and techniques to enhance the genetic makeup of agricultural plants and animals are constantly evolving. Producers are interested in the application of new technologies to improve productivity, consistency, and quality; to introduce new food, fiber, and medical products; and to protect the environment.

The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council produced a report assessing the food safety risks of consuming genetically engineered food. The report concluded that unexpected and unintended compositional changes arise with all forms of plant and animal genetic modification, but found that, so far, no genetically engineering related adverse human health effects have been documented. However, the report's authors cited "sizeable gaps" in the ability to identify compositional changes caused by all forms of genetic modification—whether genetically engineered or conventional—and their relevance for human health, and they recommended new approaches for assessing the safety of new foods both before and after they enter the market.

The U.S. food supply is among the safest in the world due to the hard work of government regulatory agencies and the precautions taken by the food industry. Our country’s track record of success does not mean, however, that now is a time to rest on our laurels. We must be vigilant in addressing food safety issues as they come, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to protect consumers from potentially harmful agricultural products.

Again, thank you for contacting me about this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me again if I can ever be of assistance to you on this or any other matter.


Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator


Anonymous said...

I think he is keeping as neutral as possible about it all so he doesn't upset anyone. I think a summary is: Yes, we need to watch the food supply but nothing bad has been documented so it is ok to have GMO food but we still have to watch out just in case.
Hope this helps :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Rob

Mckean is probably right, but here's my attempt at being charitable in a simplification/paraphrase:
1st para: food safety laws need to be workable. This I would take to mean that he's open to looking at bad consequences from GM food.

2nd para: the point of this is to show that GM doesn't have to = bad. Technological explorations are not just out there to help a company cut costs. They also do these other things, as he lists.

3rd para: either the report is fuzzy or his paraphrase of it is. The report concluded: 1) we don't have complete control of the consequences of GM food; 2) but, so far, no documentation of adverse health effects to humans exists from GM food; 3) we don't have a firm handle on what the compositional changes of food do to human health (changes due either to GM or traditional methods of cultivating food); so 4) new approaches to assess food safety are recommended.

4th para: this one's pretty clear: "USA! USA! USA! (but let's not get too comfortable)"

Mckean's right in general, but I thought I'd try to break it down specifically.

-Jon in SC (btw, Mckean is my wife! (and no, that's not the only reason I said she's right!))

humbletraveler said...

We are the mushroom generation, kept in the dark and fed bullshit. Gmo's will permeate our food supply.
If I buy anything even a toothbrush, I should have the right to know what it is made of.