Pros And Cons Of Agricultural Genetic Modification Environmental Sciences Essay

During the twelvemonth 2001 to 2003, there were four companies named ProdiGene, Monsanto, Hawaii Agriculture Research Center and Garst seed who had planted genetically modified maize and sugar cane on certain locations in Hawaii. These harvests were genetically modified to bring forth workss which would incorporate endocrines, vaccinums or proteins which could be used to handle certain human diseases. These companies had licenses to works genetically modified sugar cane and maize from the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service ( APHIS ) to carry on limited field trials of these genetically engineered pharmaceutical bring forthing works assortments ( GEPPVs ) on Kauai, Maui, Molokai and Oahu in Hawaii. The purpose of these companies was to bring forth genetically modified maize or sugar cane to bring forth experimental vaccinums for the intervention of Human Immunodeficiency Virus ( HIV ) or for bring forthing cancer-fighting agents. The licenses of these companies have expired and they are non seting harvests since so. The instance was filed by Center for nutrient safety, Kahea, Friends of the Earth Inc. , and Pesticide Action Network North America, Plaintiffs against Mike Johanns, Secretary, USDA ; William T. Hawks, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs ; Bobby R. Acord, Deputy Administrator, USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Cindy Smith, Deputy Administrator, USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Biotechnology Regulatory Services Program, Defendants. Plaintiffs claimed that the Defendant had violated National Environmental Policy ( NEPA ) and the Endangered Species Act ( EPA ) [ 1 ] .

Key Issue

The cardinal issue in the instance is that USDA had illicitly approved field tests to bring forth drugs from genetically modified harvests such as maize and sugar cane. USDA had failed to see the effects to jeopardize species in Hawaii every bit good as the without sing any environmental reappraisal which falls under National Environmental Policy Act ( NEPA ) , Endangered species Act ( ESA ) and Plant Protection Act ( PPA ) [ 1 ] .

Endangered Species Act ( ESA )

The Endangered species act was introduced by the Congress in the twelvemonth 1973 in USA. The act was formed because many of the workss and animate beings were on the brink of going nonextant. The chief work of ESA is to protect the endangered species and the ecosystem on which they depend. ESA is administered by the Interior section ‘s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ( FWS ) and the Commerce Department ‘s National Marine Fisheries Service ( NMFS ) . FWS is responsible for tellurian and fresh H2O being whereas NMFS is concerned with marine wildlife [ 2 ] . One of the policies of the ESA Act ( 16 U.S.C.1531 ) is to guarantee that “ all the Federal sections and bureaus shall seek to conserve endangered species and threatened species. ” The ESA requires the undermentioned “ Each Federal Agency shall bespeak of the Secretary ( of the inside ) information whether any species which is listed or proposed to be listed ( as an endangered species or a threatened species ) may be present in the country of such proposed action. If the secretary advises, based on the best scientific and commercial information available, that such species possibly present, such bureau shall carry on a biological appraisal for the intent of placing any endangered species or threatened species which is likely to be affected by such action. ” ( 16.U.S.C 1536 ( degree Celsius ) ( 1 ) ; 50 C.F.R 402.12 ( degree Celsius ) ) . This means that whenever an bureau which decides to take “ action ” which means transporting out any new plan or activity, the peculiar bureau should take a list from either FWS or NMFS to happen out about the endangered species which are present in that peculiar geographic country. Besides, ( 450 F.3D at 457 ) ” if FWS determines that listed species may be present in the affected country, the bureau fixing to move must bring forth a ‘biological appraisal ‘ in conformity with the NEPA. If the biological appraisal concludes that listed species are in fact likely to be adversely affected, the bureau normally must come in ‘formal audience ‘ with FWS. “ [ 1 ] .

National Environmental Policy Act

The National Environmental Policy Act ( NEPA ) [ 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. ] was signed on January 1, 1970. The act states that “ each individual should bask a healthful environment and that each individual has a duty to lend to the saving and sweetening of the environment. ” It provides procedures for implementing the end of protecting, maintain and heightening the environment within the federal bureaus. NEPA besides holds all the federal bureaus responsible for their actions on the natural environment. ( 42 U.S.C.4332 ) .NEPA besides establishes the act on Council on Environmental Quality ( CEQ ) which has laid down certain ordinances which requires all bureaus to follow before moving on it ( 42 U.S.C4342 ; 40 C.F.R ) . “ The CEQ ordinances requires bureaus to fix an “ environmental appraisal ( EA ) ” and/or an “ environmental impact statement ( EIS ) ” before moving, except in limited fortunes. ( 40 C.F.R.1501.3,1501.4 ) . An EIS is a “ elaborate written statement as required by ” NEPA, and an EA is “ a concise public papers ” that an bureau prepares when make up one’s minding whether it needs to fix a more extended EIS. ” ( 40 C.F.R.1508.9, 1508.11 ) [ 1 ] .

The NEPA procedure evaluates the environmental effects which is undertaken by a federal bureau. There are 3 ways of analysing whether a peculiar project could impact the environment. They are:

“ Categorical exclusion finding ” – an undertaking possibly excluded from a elaborate environmental analysis as it does non hold a important impact on the environment [ 3 ] .

“ Preparation of an environmental assessment/finding of no important impact ( EA/FONSI ) ” – the federal bureau writes a study whether a peculiar project would hold any impact on the environment. If that is non the instance, the bureau issues “ a determination of no important impact ( FONSI ) . “ [ 3 ] .

“ Preparation of Environmental Impact Statement ( EIS ) ” – if the EA finds out that a peculiar project will impact the environment so an EIS is prepared which would give a elaborate rating of the action and the options.After a concluding EIS is prepared and one time the determination is taken, the federal bureau will do the record populace [ 3 ] .

Plant Protection Act ( PPA )

The works protection Act ( PPA ) ( 7 U.S.C.7701 et seq ) was formed in the twelvemonth 2000 in order to “ observe, control, eradicate and suppress works plagues and noxious weeds ” . The Secretary of Agriculture has the authorization to do official ordinances either to forestall the debut or the spread of works plagues. ( 7 U.S.C.7702 ( 16 ) ,7711 ( a ) ) [ 4 ] .

Administrative Procedure Act ( APA )

APA is the jurisprudence under which federal regulative organic structures such as FDA and EPA come under. The regulations and ordinances are created by APA which are necessary to be implemented and major legislative Acts of the Apostless such as the Food Drug and Cosmetic act, Clean Air Act or Occupational Health and Safety Act [ 5 ] .

Sequence of Events

The complainants had argued that APHIS broke the jurisprudence in publishing the licenses to the four companies – ProdiGene, Monsanto, HARC and Garst Seed to carry on field tests of GEPPVs in assorted locations in Hawaii. It was besides argued that that the consequence of the GE harvests could pollenate with bing nutrient harvests and thereby, can do the taint of the nutrient supply. It was besides argued by complainants that the animate beings which eat this maize would go bearers of experimental pharmaceutical merchandises which can do the spread of the experimental vaccinums, proteins and endocrines. It was put forth that APHIS had to measure the environmental impact of these genetically engineered harvests before the licenses were issued. APHIS nevertheless disagreed with the statements put forth by complainant and said that it had placed rigorous status on the licenses to guarantee that GM harvests ( maize and sugar cane ) would non pollute the environment. It was found in the administrative records that there were no findings or decisions made specifically sing “ categorical exclusions or exclusions to those exclusion for intent of following with NEPA. ” Besides, no records were found bespeaking that APHIS had considered that anything could impact the endangered or threatened species of Hawaii. On December 16,2002, the complainants had submitted a request on GEPPVs to APHIS saying “ Promulgate New GEPPV ordinances, Undertake a Programmatic EIS for GEPPVs, Change bing CBI and FOIA policies and ordinance, Create a publically available field trial misdemeanors database, and establish an immediate moratorium on certain plantings ” . On March 10,2003 APHIS had asked for public sentiment on its giving permission for field testing of genetically modified workss to bring forth pharmaceutical merchandises. The response received from people and organisation ( who chiefly opposed the construct of GEPPVs ) and sent it as a missive on April 17,2003 as a response to the request by complainants. The tribunal asked for a auxiliary briefing to happen out whether APHIS had done anything in reponse to Plaintiffs Petition. The briefing showed that it had ( 1 ) published a notice of purpose ( NOI ) in the federal registry on January 23, 2004 to “ fix an EIS in connexion with possible alterations to the ordinances sing the importing, interstate motion, and environmental release of certain genetically modified being ” ; ( 2 ) made a bill of exchange EIS which is presently being reviewed by USDA and other governmental bureaus and ( 3 ) it has put up many cyberspace pages giving information about GEPPVs allowing [ 1 ] .

Plaintiffs filed their ailment in November 2003 and their first amended ailment in February,2004. The Biotechnology Industry Organization ( BIO ) – a non-profit-making organisation which represents over 1000 biotechnology companies- filed a impression to step in in April 2004. The Magistrate justice Barry Kurren granted in portion and denied in portion BIO ‘s petition. The suspects had filed several impressions to disregard BIO ‘s intercession which the justice Ezra denied in written orders dated January 26,2005, March 2, 2005 and July 18, 2005. On August 1,2005 the Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint. The tribunal heard the statements of the Plaintiffs and the Defendants on July,7 2006. In the 2nd amended ailment, the complainants alleged that “ ( 1 ) APHIS violated NEPA and ESA in publishing the licenses to the four companies ( 2 ) APHIS violated NEPA and ESA in implementing its GEPPV plan ( 3 ) APHIS violated the PPA and the APA in neglecting to react to its request. “ [ 1 ] .

After more than two and a half old ages of hearing the statements between the two parties, the gesture sum-up was heard on July 7, 2006. The tribunal foremost examined the Plaintiffs ‘ claims that four licenses were issued to the companies violates ESA. The tribunal granted judgement in favour of the Plaintiffs. Second, the Plaintiffs claims against APHIS that it violated NEPA in publishing the licenses were discussed and the judgement was given in favour of the Plaintiffs. In the 3rd claim which said that APHIS violated NEPA and ESA in developing and implementing this GEPPV plan. Since, neither the Plaintiffs or the Defendants have put forth their statements clearly with regard to their claims. The tribunal had withheld hearing refering to this claim and had asked all the parties involved to organize a 15 page brief which would discourse the redresss which would be disposed for the order. These Jockey shortss were filed on August 17,2006. The antiphonal Jockey shortss were given by all the parties by grand 21,2006. The tribunal heard the statement on August 22, 2006. Finally, the tribunal examined Plaintiffs ‘ claims that APHIS acted “ randomly and freakishly ” in denying their first request which was given on December 16,2002. To this request the tribunal granted judgement in favour of the Defendants. Based on the hearings, the tribunal “ GRANTS IN PARTS and DENIES IN PART the Plaintiffs ‘ Motion for drumhead judgement and it GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the Defendants ‘ gesture for drumhead judgement. “ [ 1 ] .


The breach occurred because APHIS, USDA did non look into the affects that a genetically modified harvest could hold on the environment. AHIS had violated both the NEPA act and the ESA act. If things had gone incorrectly, transverse pollenation could hold taken topographic point between the GE maize and the non-GE maize which would hold resulted in the taint of nutrient supply. Furthermore, if animate beings which were already endangered or threatened species, would hold fed on the GE harvest they would hold been transporting the experimental pharmaceutical merchandises which could turn out fatal. the lone manner to forestall the breach is to do certain that the federal bureaus like USDA look farther into any new project. They should do certain that the licenses they issue do non impact the environment in any manner. Furthermore, if they are publishing a license in a zone where endangered species exist, the guidelines should be stricter and a eventuality program should be made in instance something goes incorrect. In my sentiment, genetically modified harvests should be grown in entire isolation where there is no possibility of any taint of non-genetically modified harvests. GM harvests should non be allowed to be grown in countries where there are endangered or threatened species.


USDA had given the licenses to four companies – Garst Seed, Monsanto, ProdiGene and Hawaii Agriculture Research Center- to works genetically modified maize and sugar cane on several locations in Hawaii. The companies had genetically engineered maize and sugar cane to bring forth workss which would incorporate endocrines, vaccinums or proteins which could be used to handle human diseases. Center for nutrient safety et Al. filed a request against Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services ( APHIS ) , United States Agriculture Department ( USDA ) that it had illicitly given licenses to these four companies without sing the danger affects of these harvests can hold on the Hawaii ecosystems particularly on the Hawaii ‘s 329 endangered and threatened species. APHIS was charged for go againsting both ESA and NEPA by the Plaintiffs [ 1 ] .

Besides, the pharmaceutical merchandises such as endocrines, vaccinums, and malignant neoplastic disease contending agents pose a danger to the human wellness every bit good as the environment. It may let go of unwanted substances into the air, H2O or dirt, taint of non-GE harvests may happen and it can even present menace to the economic support of conventional husbandmans, merely in instance taint of nutrient harvests occur. On July 7,2006 the tribunal heard the statements put Forth by both the parties. Judge Seabright of the Federal tribunal territory for the territory tribunal of Hawaii held that USDA had violated the ESA by non making even a individual probe about the danger the genetically modified harvests could hold done to the 329 endangered species in Hawaii. USDA was besides found guilty of go againsting with NEPA for allowing the licenses without carry oning even a individual environmental reappraisal. Judge Seabright said “ APHIS ‘s arrant neglect for this simple probe demand [ under the ESA ] , particularly given the extraordinary figure of endangered species and threatened workss and animate beings in Hawaii, constitutes an univocal misdemeanor of a clear congressional authorization. ” This instance was the first of all time tribunal opinion on the genetically engineered harvests, which stated that field testing of genetically engineered harvests is hazardous and the bureaus must follow with the bing environmental protection Torahs. The determination by the tribunal had made it clear that USDA has to see the impacts genetically engineered harvests can hold on the endangered species and on the environment [ 6 ] . I recommend that henceforth, any new project which involves the production of fresh harvests, should be done merely after reexamining all the impacts the harvest could hold on the environment or the ecosystem.