D.U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is calling on her colleagues to support legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration more power to regulate the food industry and ban the sale of products with genetically modified ingredients.
The proposal would require FDA to take action against companies that are “unable to adequately test their genetically modified products for safety and efficacy,” the senator said Tuesday during a House Appropriations Committee hearing.
“We are all looking at this very closely,” Murray told reporters.
“I know there is a lot of talk about biotechnology, but this is not biotechnology in any sense.”
Murray said that while she supports genetically modified foods, the FDA’s power should be restricted to protect public health and safety.
“This is not a question of trying to regulate an industry or banning a company,” she said.
“The question is how can we protect consumers from unsafe products, how can our food be safe for them to eat and yet still protect the environment?”
Murray said the legislation could allow the FDA to impose stronger restrictions on GMO products, which she said are not as biodegradable as conventional crops.
The FDA has faced increasing criticism for its lack of action on GMO foods, including a ban on transgenic crops in the state of Vermont and a proposal to allow farmers to grow genetically modified plants in certain areas of the country.
In a recent letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Murray said, “The FDA has a responsibility to act quickly and decisively to protect the public health, and this legislation would help us do just that.”
“It’s really about a lot more than just food safety,” she added.
Murray’s legislation would allow the agency to regulate products that are modified in such a way as to make them “not biologically active” or “non-biodegradably,” but not necessarily safe.
“That means you can’t use a modified organism in your food and you can only use it in foods that are not made with genetic modification,” she told reporters, adding that the legislation would also “prohibit companies from marketing products that have been modified with biotechnology.”
In the past, the Senate has rejected bills that would have restricted FDA authority to regulate GMO products.
In May, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) said he would vote against Murray’s bill.
“As a farmer and as a member of Congress, I cannot support this legislation,” Craposaid at the time.
“It will not be good for the American farmer and it will not help the American taxpayer.
And, as I said, I do not support this.”