Biotech Spends Half a Billion Pushing Engineered Animals
Over the last decade, top food and agriculture biotechnology firms and trade associations spent over half a billion dollars – $572 million – in campaign contributions and lobbying Congress in support of controversial industry projects like genetically engineered (GE) food animals, according to a new analysis by national consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch. Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions and lobbying expenditures by biotechnology interests more than doubled during this time.
“The public needs to know that despite their concerns with eating genetically engineered (GE) foods, there’s a powerful industry spending hundreds of millions to promote products like GE salmon,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch.
FDA labeling of AquaBounty salmon has been a hotly contested issue. Despite consumer concerns, the agency currently does not require it. According to an NPR article published earlier this week, a survey of more than 3,000 people (conducted for NPR by Thomson Reuters) revealed that 9 out of 10 people believe GE foods should be labeled. The majority said they would not eat a genetically engineered fish, labeled or not.
According to the analysis, food and agriculture biotechnology firms and trade associations have hired on as lobbyists at least 13 former members of Congress and over 300 former congressional and White House staffers through well-connected lobbying shops.
With regards to GE fish escapes, one Fish & Wildlife Service geneticist was quoted saying, "Maybe they [the FDA] should watch Jurassic Park."
“It seems the FDA is more interested in pandering to lobbyists than listening to the American public and the other federal agencies it is required by law to consult with,” Hauter said.
At least 30 House members and 13 senators have expressed concern with the FDA’s review process for GE salmon, with many calling for its outright prohibition.
Food & Water Watch Press Release