My newly updated book, Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety, is just out from University of California Press. Half the book is about the politics of genetically modified (GM) foods. Politics explains these latest developments:
1. FDA awards GRAS status to Monsanto's Vistive Gold soybeans. These beans have been genetically modified to be lower in linolenic acid and, therefore, more resistant to oxidation. Does this refer to alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)? If so, this is an omega-3 fatty acid that gets converted in the body to the longer chain omega-3s, EPA and DHA. Don't we want more linolenic acid in our foods, not less? Or am I missing something here?
2. Friends of organics in Congress want USDA to continue the ban on Roundup Ready (RR) alfalfa. The courts recently ruled that this alfalfa, modified to resist Monsanto's Roundup pesticides, cannot be planted until USDA completes an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is required by law. According to the USDA's preliminary assessment of the impact, RR alfalfa will not adversely affect the environment. But more than 20,000 people wrote to say that they disagreed with the USDA's benign view.
A significant letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack points out that alfalfa is a major source of forage for dairy cows. If USDA allows GM alfalfa to be grown, it will contaminate conventional alfalfa grown organically (through pollen drift). If organic dairy producers cannot get uncontaminated organic alfalfa to feed their cows, they will not be able to get their milk certified as organic.