White House looks to update GMO standards

White House looks to update GMO standards
© Getty Images

In a push to produce a more transparent regulatory process, federal agencies will review their standards for genetically engineered food, plants and animals, the White House announced on Thursday. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will update their “Coordinated Framework,” the regulatory policy that governs bio-engineered products in the U.S., officials said.

ADVERTISEMENT

The regulations were last updated in 1992, and, “while the current regulatory system for biotechnology products effectively protects health and the environment, advances in science and technology since 1992 have been altering the product landscape,” four White House health and science advisers wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

In a memo to the agencies, the White House wrote that their rules for bio-engineered products had created “unnecessary costs and burdens associated with uncertainly about agency jurisdiction, lack of predictability of timeframes for review, and other processes.” 

The White House said the EPA, FDA and USDA should re-write the rules to both preserve public health protections and help companies navigate federal regulations.  

Last month, a group of business leaders and advocates called on President Obama to issue mandatory labeling rules for products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). 

They urged the White House to reject a push led by House Republicans to prevent the government from mandating the labels, something echoed by the Environmental Working Group on Thursday. 

"Reform of the badly outdated system for reviewing GMO crops and other products is long overdue," EWG senior vice president Scott Faber said in a statement. 

“Today's announcement confirms the need for more transparency in our food system and only further illustrates why mandatory GMO labeling is so necessary.”