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A Declaration of Farmer and Citizen Rights in Regards to the Deregulation of Genetically Modified Alfalfa

Submitted by Food Democracy Now on January 28, 2011 - 3:55pm

Dear President Obama and Secretary Vilsack,

While gathered at the 31st Annual Ecological Farming Conference to celebrate the growth of the organic industry as a vital, mainstream segment in agriculture, we were greatly disappointed to learn of your decision to fully deregulate genetically modified (GMO) Roundup Ready alfalfa. This decision undermines opportunities for farmers in America, particularly in important export markets for conventional alfalfa and in the growing organic dairy industry. It also severely restricts the choice of farmers and 50 million U.S. consumers who every day exercise their right to consume food that is certified organic and free of GMOs, that are yet to be proven safe for human consumption and our common environment.

 

As farmers and leaders in the organic and sustainable agriculture community, we are profoundly concerned that the development and release of GMO crops have progressed rapidly, with inadequate oversight, scant public testing, and minimal public debate.

 

Collectively, we stand united in the firm belief that it is incumbent upon our nation’s regulatory agencies to put independent, peer-reviewed science over the vested financial interests of corporations who have shown a consistent disregard for our nation’s laws, sound scientific theory, the livelihoods of family farmers, and the health and well-being of our citizens and the environment.

 

As members of the fastest growing and most profitable segment in agriculture today, we are deeply disappointed that the Obama administration has refused to protect the livelihoods of conventional and organic family farmers from the loss of a main livestock forage.

 

According to university scientists, the deregulation of GMO Roundup Ready alfalfa could lead to the genetic contamination of all conventional and organic alfalfa within five years. As a result of this decision, organic and non-GMO farmers have lost another vital tool in their toolbox to expand into highly profitable domestic and foreign markets, eliminating important market opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers at a time when they can least afford it.

 

The approval of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa is yet another example of the agricultural biotechnology industry forcing an entirely unnecessary product onto the market not for farmer benefit, but simply to improve their bottom-line.

 

As any farmer worth their salt will tell you, alfalfa - a perennial legume - does not suffer from the same weed pressures as other crops, such as corn, soybeans, cotton and canola and that is why ninety-three percent of the alfalfa hay in the U.S. does not use any herbicides. In addition, by approving GMO alfalfa, the Obama administration has further weakened production agriculture since the increased use of herbicides will only lead to an increase of glyphosate-resistant superweeds, which have been called “the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen,” by Andrew Wargo III, the president of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts as reported in TheNew York Times on May 3, 2010.

 

Last year, when the National Academy of Sciences released the report, Toward Sustainable Agriculture Systems for the 21st Century, it concluded that in order to meet the urgent demands of U.S. agriculture with regard to climate change, energy and water shortages and a rising population, “national agricultural policies and research programs should look beyond focusing only on low costs and high production and adopt a holistic perspective to farming that encompasses multiple end goals.”

 

In order to protect the biological integrity of our nation’s seeds and the organic industry, we call upon you as President to immediately rescind the recent of approval of GMO alfalfa and instruct the Secretary of Agriculture to implement a moratorium on the further approval of genetically engineered crops until the issues over the science, contamination and labeling are more transparently reviewed. In addition, we call for a further review of all scientific evidence regarding GMO alfalfa and independent testing on the long-term effects of all GMO crops on human health and the environment.

 

In approving GMO alfalfa, the Obama administration has undermined the most vibrant sector in agriculture today, placing an unfair tax on the rights of America’s farmers to grow food that is protected from genetic contamination. The USDA’s decision was ill informed, wantonly ignoring the basic biological principles of pollination and good agricultural practices.

 

We now join with previous generations, from the Founders of our Constitution to those who fought to free our nation from prejudice during the long battle for civil rights, in a renewed struggle to defend the livelihoods of family farmers and our basic right as citizens to choose the type of food that we want to grow and consume.

 

As such, we call for an immediate revocation of the decision to fully deregulate Roundup Ready alfalfa and to create a biotechnology regulatory process that effectively and democratically investigates the impact of this unproven technology on human health, the environment and farmers’ long-term ability to meet the challenges of 21st century agriculture.

 

Respectfully, 

 

 

Ecological Farming Association

Food Democracy Now!

Center for Food Safety

Straus Family Creamery

Organic Farming Research Foundation

Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)

National Young Farmers Coalition

Californians for GE-Free Agriculture

National Organic Coalition

California State Grange

Lundberg Family Farms

Swanton Berry Farms

The Greenhorns

Food & Water Watch

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center

National Center for Appropriate Technology

Nature’s Path Foods

California Climate & Agriculture Network

Jacobs Farms-Del Cabo

Credo Action

Lewis Family Farm

 

Amigo Cantisano & Jenifer Bliss

Organic Ag Advisers

Heaven & Earth Farms

San Juan, CA

 

Thomas Wittman

Board President

Ecological Farming Association

 

Gabriel Howearth

Founder, Seeds of Change

Buena Fortuna

 

Michael Pollan

San Francisco, CA

 

Blackie Foundation,

Point Reyes Station, CA

 

Wildfire Hearts Hands Feet,

Carmel, CA

 

Diane Dempster, President

Tilth Producer’s of Washington

 

Benjamin Watson

Board Member

Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity

 

Larry Jacobs

President

Jacobs Farm / Del Cabo, Inc.

 

Nanda Coleman (aka: Betty Beekeeper)

Beekeeper/food eater

San Jose, CA

 

Shirley Ward

Farm and Garden Manager

Esalen Instutute

Big Sur, CA

 

Diane Del Signore

Executive Director

Community Alliance with Family Farmers

Davis, CA

 

Jo Ann Baumgartner

Director

Wild Farm Alliance

 

Robin Seydel

La Montanita Coop

Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Gallup, New Mexico

 

Ron Whitehurst

Pest Control Adviser, Co-Owner

Rincon-Vitova Insectaries, Inc.

Ventura, CA

 

Jan Dietrick

Executive Director

Dietrick Institute for Applied Insect Ecology

Ventura, CA

 

While G

Karen Salinger

Sales Manager/Owner

Veritable Vegetable

San Francisco, CA

 

Rick Williams

Harmony Farm Supply and Nursery

Sebastapol, CA

 

David Little

Little Organic Farm

Petaluma, CA

 

Jim Reichardt

Sonoma County Poultry

Petaluma, CA

 

Jill Adams

Crescent Moon Farm

Santa Rosa, CA

 

Sam Earnshaw

Community Alliance with Family Farmers

Watsonville, CA

 

Tammy Pierson

Veggielation Community Farm

San Jose, CA

 

Virginia M. Salkowski

R-evolution Gardens

Nehalem, OR

 

Zoe Hitchner

CASFA

Santa Cruz, CA

 

Elizabeth Koltai

Amy’s Farm

Ontario, CA

 

Ed Cohen

Earthly Edibles Family Farm

Korbel, CA

 

Eryun Smith

The Abundant Table Farm Project

Oxnard, CA

 

Sarah Nolan

South Central Farmers

Bakersfield, CA

 

David DeLaPaz

Of the Peace Foundations

 

Sarah Domke

Green String Farm

Petamluma, CA

 

J.T. Rehbock

Continential Bioregional Congress CBC IX

San Francisco, CA

 

Hana Rehbock

Linfield, OR

 

Sandy Lewis

Lewis Family Farm

Essex, New York

 

Anna Marie Carter

Dag Falck

Julie Fallon

Colleen Cabot

James R. Churchill

Ian S. Wilson

Moira Burke

Cynthia Maglaras

Nickulas Maglaras

Alisha Strater

Margaret Liebman

Leah Taylor

Sharon Setty

Lauren Scott

Mary Dixon

Tom Dixon

Anna Vinitsky

Jeff Boesch

Christina Jensen Augustine

Lee W. Miller

Sandra Ward

Ken Kimes

Jay Mtikman

Janet Bryer

Max Bryerbass

Wendy Krupnich

Lisa Bunin

Joey Smith

Ariane Lotti

Sara Mcdonald

Cary Schlussl

Stephanie Rawlings

Todd Champagne

Lane Selman

Patricia Becker

Theresa Lyngso

Joe Dickson

Doug Gosling

Mike Adams

Lou Preston

Ariana Gehrig

Stacy Shutts

Annie Helens

Julie Zabel

Tammy Kleen

Pamela Callagher

Eric Cardenas

Lisa Masteller Parker

Maggie Preston

Jennifer Reichardt

Misga Nuyttens

Alannag Kull

Anie Hehner

Katharine Sontag

Ariana Milmar

Brooke Budner

Julie Zabel

Alexandra Lyon

Rick Christianson

Peter Ruddod

Rachael Richardson

Robert DuBois

David Hernick

Leah Sonkfur

Bu Nygrens

Deborah Suppres

Susan Ditz

Jean Hays Gunn

Alice Dorr

Jim Cochran

Annie Main

Jennifer Snder

Thao Pham

Thea Maria Carlson

Laura McKissack

Robin Boyle

Michael Lipert

Jane Sooby

Klara East

David East

Laura Cainthers

Karen Davis-Brown

Paul Cheatham

Milana PeBenito

Phineas Ellis

Robin Mitchell

Howdy Goudey

Gayle Ross

Shawn Seufert

Mark Baxter

Sara Cogan

Erica Walz

Arty May

Susan Kauffman

Joann Baumgatr

E. Eric Winders

Alison Malisa

Leah Atwood

Maria Reynolds

John Baer

Sue Dern

Arinna Grittani

Loren Luyendyk

Paula Manalo

Pal Unkenhill

Sandy Rintuul

Neena McNair

Justin Valone

David Perkins

Michael Davis

Sean Culman

Sara Gaucher

Doron Comerihart

Patrick Archie

Udi Lazimy

Bob Scowcroft

Francisco Preston

Jenna Hines

Beth Seufert

Molly Bloom

Rawley Johnson

Scott Washkowiak

Thomas Cameron

Ruthanne Jahoda

Mark Calhoun

Janell Lundgren

Cameron Frisbee

Sky DeMuro

Ian Wilson

Anne Hamersky

Anna Smith Clark

Eric Humel

Batra Kagan

Alison Cebulla

Alise Echele

Henry W. Art

David Apple

Melinda Lundgren

 

 

 

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