Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

$3 Million Earmarked for 'Government-Controlled Propaganda Campaign to Convince Americans GMOs Are Safe'

Popular

The recently passed Congressional budget that averted government shutdown will allocate $3 million to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promote "the environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic and humanitarian impacts" of biotech crops and genetically modified (GMO) ingredients in food to consumers—many of whom are wary of the products.


While the specifics of the campaign are yet unclear, the measure calls for the "publication and distribution of science-based educational information."

According to the Washington Post, more than 50 agriculture and food industry groups said the funding is needed to counter "a tremendous amount of misinformation about agricultural biotechnology in the public domain."

But Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) opposed the measure, describing it as government-sponsored GMO propaganda.

"It is not the responsibility of the FDA to mount a government-controlled propaganda campaign to convince the American public that genetically modified foods are safe," Lowey said during a congressional hearing. "The FDA has to regulate the safety of our food supply and medical devices. They are not, nor should they be, in the pro-industry advertising business."

And as Andy Kimbrell, the executive director of the Center for Food Safety, noted, "Monsanto has plenty of money to advocate for GMOs ... Why do we need to use taxpayer dollars?"

The vast majority of scientists consider GMOs safe to eat, even though a sizable chunk, 39 percent, of U.S. consumers do not. However, GMO proponents say that's just an issue of communication.

"Clearly, communication of the benefits of biotechnology from the scientific community has not gone well, and this presents an opportunity to engage with the public in a more meaningful dialogue," Mark Rieger, the dean of the University of Delaware's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, told The Post. "We see it as a communication issue, not a political one."

Still, there are many social and environmental concerns over GMOs. Critics highlight the biotech industry's influence on politicians and policies via sizable campaign donations and lobbying.

The Post reported that Rep. Robert B. Aderholt (R-Ala.), the chair of the House agriculture appropriations subcommittee and defender of the GMO education funding, received $10,000 from agritech giant Monsanto in 2016.

"This is a really clear example of big ag influencing policy," said Dana Perls, the senior food and technology campaigner for Friends of the Earth. "The Trump administration is putting big ag before consumer desire and public health ... Consumers do not want this."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Heavy industry on the lower Mississippi helps to create dead zones. AJ Wallace on Unsplash.

Cutting out coal-burning and other sources of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from heavy industry, electricity production and traffic will reduce the size of the world's dead zones along coasts where all fish life is vanishing because of a lack of oxygen.

Read More Show Less

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has restricted the ability to gather in peaceful assembly, a Canadian company has moved forward with construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A gas flare from the Shell Chemical LP petroleum refinery illuminates the sky on August 21, 2019 in Norco, Louisiana. Drew Angerer / Getty Images.

Methane levels in the atmosphere experienced a dramatic rise in 2019, preliminary data released Sunday shows.

Read More Show Less
A retired West Virginia miner suffering from black lung visits a doctor for tests. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

In some states like West Virginia, coal mines have been classified as essential services and are staying open during the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the close quarters miners work in and the known risks to respiratory health put miners in harm's way during the spread of the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
Solar panel installations and a wind turbine at the Phu Lac wind farm in southern Vietnam's Binh Thuan province on April 23, 2019. MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP via Getty Images

Renewable energy made up almost three quarters of all new energy capacity added in 2019, data released Monday by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows.

Read More Show Less