SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Genetically modified corn that’s being grown along California’s Central Coast is being used in an experimental vaccine for hepatitis B.
But records obtained from the Department of Agriculture by Hearst newspapers reveal these experimental crops receive little oversight from the federal government.
The records depict rapidly expanding outdoor experimentation and industry-friendly oversight of those experiments.
“The government does do some inspections and some inspections of these crops but they don’t really tell us how much or how often they do that and the reality is that many of the violations end up coming from self-reporting from the companies as opposed to being found through its government inspections,” Greg Jaffe, director of the Biotechnology Project for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told KCBS.
Jaffe said that he believes that anything to do with modifying a food crop—even if it’s not intended for human consumption—should go through a Food and Drug Administration review.
“Although they might not intend it to be eaten, it might end up inadvertently in our food supply and we should know before we go planting this on a commercial scale that, in fact, if it does get into our food supply, it’s not harmful,” he said.
The mistakes that are known about have been few although it has been reported that some things have accidentally been planted in the wrong place; in some cases, restrictions have not been followed that would prevent the crop from persisting once the growing season is over.