That said, why not make the agro businesses that make huge profits pay for unbiased testing in order to license the product?
The problem is that if they fund it, how do you ensure that the "third party" is unbiased?
And how likely are opponents of GMOs to consider it unbiased? I suspect that even if it did reduce the level of bias, you would hear as many people complaining that it can't be trusted. And perceptions may be as important as facts when it comes to getting the regulations changed.
...some pro-GMO person claims "Well our vitamin A rice".. but they neglect the "Terminating seeds" which reap huge profits for these companies.
There's a couple of things I'd like to point out:
1: If someone objects to all GMOs, they object to even the most beneficial ones. Vitamin A rice is a reasonable argument against those who want to ban GMOs. It's not a good argument against testing, but I've not seen it used that way myself.
2: If you are referring to the "terminator" traits where F2 is infertile rather than male-sterile lines, those have not been included in many seeds. In fact, the USDA currently does not list a deregulated corn or soybean terminator trait.
My understanding is that Monsanto had developed such a trait, which they intended to use to prevent accidental cross-pollination; but when people objected to it, they dropped it.
Male-sterile is quite different from the "terminator" trait; it prevents production of fertile pollen, so that a hybrid seed breeder does not need to hire people to go through the whole field and remove the male flowers from every plant that's supposed to be a female parent in the cross. It does not influence fertility of seeds.
But the reason for not saving and replanting seeds is that almost all seed is hybrid. This means that the second generation is likely to give you a level of variability that renders mechanized harvest impractical, as well as having lower productivity. And hand-harvesting corn is not something that pays off.
The FDA is swamped, sure. They don't need to be the testing company, they could be the gatekeepers for smaller independent companies to do testing. In other areas, like pharmaceuticals the cost of testing is assumed in the product. The same thing should be done with GMO foods, because the majority of the purposes are not altruistic but profit driven.
I did not mention cost as an issue because I'm well aware that there's quite a bit of testing in development of any crop.
I interned at Pioneer one summer collecting soil moisture measurements for drought stress trials, and they mentioned the scale of the testing.
A crop is usually tested for at least five years. Trials runs about $2000 per acre per year for corn, and there are always
several evaluations (resistance to pests, drought tolerance, nitrogen use efficiency, and so on) and they are replicated at 4-5 sites.
In pharmaceuticals, you still hear people claiming that there is bias, and once in a while you hear about trials that were tampered with.