Posted by Lisa on January 20, 2011
Everything you thought you knew about organics is about to change. If the USDA and Monsanto get their way, organic integrity is about to go the way of the dinosaur.
Once again, the organic industry is under assault. This time the USDA is determined to let Monsanto ride roughshod over common sense environmental rules that would protect organic farmers from having their crops contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified (GMO) Roundup Ready seeds.
Last month, the USDA released its position on Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa, stating that the USDA would go ahead and allow GMO alfalfa to be planted in the U.S. despite the fact that is scientifically proven to contaminate organic alfalfa, a crop that organic dairy farmers and organic beef producers depend upon for feed. According to USDA organic standards, GMO crops are not allowed for animal feed.1
If organic and conventional alfalfa crops are allowed to be contaminated by GMO alfalfa, the organic dairy industry stands to lose more than $1.4 billion, as organic integrity is dependent upon GMO-free ingredients and feed.2
Click on the link below to tell Secretary Vilsack and President Obama that you refuse to accept genetic contamination of the organic industry. Tell him it’s time to stand up to Monsanto and the biotech industry. It’s vital that he hear from you today.
Coexistence and the Road to Continued Organic Contaminiation
In his most recent announcement, Vilsack hoped to be able to offer a “middle ground” on GMOs. The Obama administration’s bright idea calls for a new era of “coexistence” between the organic and biotech industries.
The "coexistence" model - one of the two proposed options - would create "geographic restrictions and isolation distances" between GMO and non-GMO alfalfa fields. The problem with "coexistence", is that it looks a lot like the past 15 years where organic and conventional farmers have been forced to go out of business or adopt GMOs because the technology is so flawed that it can’t be planted in one farmer's field and stay there.
No, GMO crops routinely contaminate other farmer’s fields — that is, genetically pollute other crops that don’t contain their patented genes. While prudent, non-corporate scientists have warned against the unknown long-term consequences of genetic contamination in nature caused by GMO seeds and crops, past administrations and USDA bureaucrats have gone ahead and recklessly approved these crops anyway.
Already the biotech industry is throwing a fit about this being a “dangerous precedent”, taken to mean that they could no longer fully dictate the terms of seed planting and approval. 3 But we need to let Secretary Vilsack and President Obama know that if they allow GMO alfalfa to be planted, from this point forward, the history books will write about the loss of the organic industry under Vilsack and Obama’s watch.
Click on the link below to tell Secretary Vilsack and President Obama that you’re outraged that they would needlessly put the organic industry, environment and future generations at risk in favor of corporate profits.
GMO Alfalfa Not Needed By Farmers, Not Worth the Risk
Unfortunately, rather than provide protection for the fastest growing and most profitable sector in agriculture, the Obama administration is needlessly putting the $26 billion organic industry at risk over a GMO crop that is not needed by farmers.
As a crop, genetically modified alfalfa is entirely unnecessary. Since alfalfa is a perennial grain, it has significantly less weed competition than annual crops where Roundup is normally used. Unlike corn, soybeans and other crops, alfalfa does not have persistent weed problems, therefore Monsanto’s and the biotech industry’s arguments for seeking approval of Roundup Ready alfalfa based on the need for weed control are completely without merit. It would appear that the only thing that Monsanto is seeking is another revenue stream for its failed line of Roundup Ready seeds.
Unfortunately, if Vilsack does go ahead with his decision to deregulate GMO alfalfa or opt for "coexistence", things are about to get a whole lot worse for farmers. Not only will the organic industry have to deal with massive genetic contamination, but farmers everywhere will have to figure out how to deal with the further spread of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready resistant superweeds which have already spread to at least 10 species of weeds and have infested millions of acres in 22 U.S. states since 2000.4
For farmers the rise in superweeds leads to an increased usage of herbicides, which not only contaminate our rivers and streams, but also decreases profits for farmers and creates unknown potential human health problems. Already, farmers across the U.S. are being forced to use 2 or even 3 toxic herbicides to keep superweeds at bay.
Click on the link below to tell Secretary Vilsack and President Obama to stand up for organic integrity and that organic farmers and consumers have a right to eat food that is not contaminated with Monsanto’s patented GMO genes!
Thank you for participating in food democracy, your action today may help save the organic industry.
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team
1. “USDA Announces Final Environmental Impact Statement for Genetically Engineered Alfalfa” United States Department of Agriculture, Press Release, December 16, 2010.
2. “DeFazio Wants Rules on Genetically Engineered Alfalfa”, Natural Resource Report, July 3, 2010.
3. “Biotech alfalfa restrictions would be ‘dangerous precedent’”, Dairy Herd Management, January 7, 2011.
4. “Farmers Cope With Roundup-Resistant Weeds”, The New York Times, May 3, 2010.