AGRIBUSINESS: Farm Groups Seek Better USDA Oversight of GMO Field Trials

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More than 150 farms and food, businesses and organizations including organic food representatives are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to strengthen its oversight of field trials of experimental, genetically modified crops.

The Organic Seed Alliance and Rural Advancement Foundation International said there are major weaknesses in the USDA’s oversight of these trials including how unauthorized crops are contained.  These groups said current U.S. policy includes neither mandatory contamination prevention measures nor an adequate system to monitor the success of contamination after trials.

USDA Spokeswoman Courtney Rowe said the USDA is reviewing the concerns and information that groups have shared and will respond in full in the near future.  The USDA told Reuters it has strengthened the oversight of biotech crop fuel trials, conducting nearly 700 inspections each year – up from nearly 500 in 2007.  The USDA said it has also improved training for monitoring compliance with test protocols.