Dude, Where’s My Crop?
USDA failing to keep track of gene-mod crop experiments
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has failed to adequately monitor thousands of acres of experimental biotechnology crops, according to, um, itself. A two-year internal investigation yielded a report released quietly — that is to say, buried — in the days before Christmas. In it, the department’s inspector general said the USDA did not fully evaluate applications for genetically engineered plant trials, and then failed to ensure that the crops were destroyed after the trials. Apparently it didn’t even know where some experimental crop fields were located. The report says poor monitoring increases the chances that GM plants “will inadvertently persist in the environment before they are deemed safe to grow without regulation,” increasing the risk of biotech crops cross-pollinating with conventional crops — a particular worry for organic farmers, who charge a premium price to guarantee consumers foods free of genetic freakiness.