I’ve been doing my best to keep CAIVN readers abreast of Monsanto’s activities and the legal sagas surrounding the chemical company’s genetically engineered crops such as corn, salmon, beets and alfalfa. These are products which I believe to be hazardous to human and environmental health. They also threaten to destabilize local and regional food economies. I suppose I was just too disheartened (that isn’t to say shocked) to report on last week’s announcement by the USDA that it has approved the planting of genetically modified alfalfa.
Roundup Ready Alfalfa has been in regulatory limbo for over four years. As of last Thursday, Monsanto’s first open-pollinated, genetically altered forage crop now has unrestricted access to the market. Barring a civil injunction, all the public can do is wait and see if government deregulation of GE alfalfa will result in the take down of the organic dairy industry and the endangerment of the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of farmers across the world (anti-gmo advocates worst fear).
There isn’t much more I can say on the topic outside of what is contained in the following excerpt of an open letter, authored by representatives from a coalition of farm and organic consumer associations, other than this: start your own garden, buy local and/or get to know the people and the processes that furnish you with food. There has never been a more important time to heed this advice, if not for any other reason than true peace of mind.
We stand united in opposition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to once again allow unlimited, nationwide commercial planting of Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa, despite the many risks to organic and conventional farmers.
Last spring more than 200,000 people submitted comments to the USDA highly critical of the substance and conclusions of its draft EIS on GE Alfalfa. Instead of responding to these comments and concerns, including expert comments from farmers, scientists, academics, conservationists, and food safety and consumer advocates, the USDA has chosen instead to listen to a handful of agricultural biotechnology companies.
USDA’s decision to allow unlimited, nationwide commercial planting of Monsanto’s GE Roundup Ready alfalfa without any restrictions flies in the face of the interests of conventional and organic farmers, preservation of the environment, and consumer choice. USDA has become a rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of American farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment.
The Center for Food Safety will be suing on this decision.
In the coming months, we will be seeing USDA proposals to allow unrestricted plantings of GE sugar beets, and GE corn and soy crops designed to resist toxic pesticides, such as 2-4D and Dicamba, highly toxic pesticides that pose a serious threat to our health and the environment. To win these critical and difficult battles, the entire organic community, and our allies in the conventional food and farming community, will have to work together.
Now is the time to unite in action. We need to work together to restore sanity to our food system, stop the deregulation of GE crops and join together against the forces that are seeking to silence hundreds of thousands of Americans.
As we move forward, we are united in opposing genetically engineered organisms in food production and believe that pressure to stop the proliferation of this contaminating technology must be focused on the White House and Congress. The companies responsible for this situation are the biotech companies whose GE technology causes genetic drift and environmental hazards that are not contained as the deregulation of genetically engineered alfalfa goes forward. The organic community stands together with consumer, farmer, environmental and business interests to ensure practices that are protective of health and the environment.
Joan Boykin, The Organic Center
Christine Bushway, Organic Trade Association
Jay Feldman, Beyond Pesticides
Michael Funk, United Natural Foods Inc (UNFI)
Elizabeth Henderson, NOFA Interstate Council
Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield Farm
Liana Hoodes, National Organic Coalition
Kristina Hubbard, Organic Seed Alliance
Faye Jones, Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service
Robby Kenner, Robert Kenner Films
Andrew Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety
Russell Libby, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners (MOFGA)
Ed Maltby, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA)
Robyn O’Brien, Allergy Kids
Keith Olcott, Equal Exchange
Michael Pollan, Author
Maria Rodale, Rodale Inc.
Eric Schlosser, Author
Robynn Schrader, National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA)
Corinne Shindelar, INFRA
George Siemon, Organic Valley
Michael Sligh, Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI)
Megan Westgate, Non-GMO Project
Maureen Wilmot, Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF)
Enid Wonnacott, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT)
Learn more here.