At a workshop in Washington, D.C., July 17-18, the EPA restated that it seeks to regulate substances that plants produce to protect themselves against pests and diseases according to the definition of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodencide Act (FIFRA) section 2 (if they are "...intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest" or "...intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant").
The 11-society consortium, which issued a report in July 1996 called "Appropriate Oversight for Traits in Plants That Make Them Resistant to Pests," finds EPA's proposed policy "scientifically indefensible." All plants produce traits to protect themselves against pests and diseases, and in many cases, the mechanisms of resistance in plants are unknown, said Roger N. Beachy, Ph.D., of Scripps Research Institute. Regulating these traits would be like trying to regulate the human immune system without knowledge of the genetic information involved.
Since all plants are resistant to some pests, the term "plant-pesticide" implies that all plants contain pesticides and therefore, so does food made from plants, Beachy added. This implication will not serve American exporters well in trying to ship crops overseas, where many countries have sought to ban GMOs or called for mandatory labeling of them.
If the EPA's policy is finalized, "plant-pesticide" labeling will be
required for all GMOs regulated under FIFRA. According to the EPA's Nov. 23,
Contact: Angela Dansby
Institute of Food Technologists