You might have heard a new term floating around the Internet – “Coexistence”- an idyllic term to promote the fantasy of GMO and non-GMO crops living in harmony side by side. But Monsanto and the USDA’s new “coexistence” plan is a road to extinction for America’s organic farmers. And if approved, it will mean the end of organic food as we know it.
Right now the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working with biotech lobbyists to finalize a plan so Monsanto’s GMO crops can contaminate organic and non-GMO farmers’ crops at will. Even worse, the USDA’s new plan could force these farmers to pay for crop “contamination insurance” to protect themselves against unwanted contamination by Monsanto’s patented genetically engineered genes.
This is outrageous and must be stopped.
Take a stand, don’t let Monsanto and the USDA contaminate organic foods! Force Monsanto and GMO patent holders to pay for genetic contamination of farmers’ crops by their patented GMOs! Every voice counts.
When Monsanto says “coexistence”, what they really mean is: “We will contaminate organics”.
The new policy recommendations are the result of a special industry-controlled panel instigated by Secretary Vilsack in 2011 that sought to find “cooperation” between stakeholders to find a “solution” for the contamination of organic and non-GMO crops by genetically engineered pollen from neighboring fields.
GMO seeds have been widely adopted in the 5 main commodity crops, with more than 90% adoption rates of genetically engineering in corn, soy, cotton, sugar beets, canola and GMO alfalfa. Therefore, the genetic contamination of neighboring farmers’ fields planted with organic and non-GMO crops is virtually guaranteed. Now, as new GMO crops are being approved, it’s only a matter of time before other organic crops are contaminated too.
Coexistence is a farce. No organic food is immune from GMO contamination.
Despite claims by Monsanto and the USDA, nobody can overrule the laws of biology and dictate how plants reproduce. Patented GMO pollen is spread by wind, insects, birds and animals and no matter how much Monsanto denies it, their GMO crops will contaminate and destroy the integrity of farmers’ organic and non-GMO crops.
This policy would circumvent legal victories won in court, as in the case of organic farmer Steve Marsh in Australia and the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association vs Monsanto here in the U.S. In response, Secretary Vilsack created the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture, known as AC21.
At Secretary Vilsack’s request, the AC21 sought to find “types of compensation mechanisms” that “would be appropriate to address economic losses by farmers in which the value of their crops is reduced by unintended presence of genetically engineered (GE) material(s).” Tragically, AC21 was dominated by pro-GMO industry lobbyists, who hijacked the agenda to protect the biotech industry.
Contamination Compensation is on the Back of Organic Farmers, Intentional Destruction of Organic Market
Rather than force the patent holders of genetically engineered crops to compensate organic and non-GMO farmers when their fields are contaminated by Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Chemical and Syngenta’s patented genes, the USDA’s AC21 recommendations shift the entire cost of contamination to organic and non-GMO crop farmers.
Even worse, if the current AC21 plan is adopted, it could exempt biotech seed and chemical giants, Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta, from any future legal liability or financial compensation to organic and non-GMO farmers whose crops become contaminated.
By supporting the USDA’s new “coexistence” plan, farmers may have to forfeit their right to file future claims of economic injury and damages against Monsanto. That’s because new “coexistence” rules could impose mandatory arbitration that would prohibit farmers from taking Monsanto to court over GMO contamination. Forever.
Contamination is inevitable. In fact, it’s part of Monsanto’s business plan.
While the USDA claims that it has “unequivocal” support for all forms of agriculture and its policies will be based on “science-based stewardship”, the truth is that Monsanto and the USDA know it’s impossible to control “gene flow” once a GMO crop is approved.
Major economic consequences for America’s farmers that have already resulted from significant contamination events, including StarLink corn and LibertyLink rice, which cost American farmers and businesses nearly $2 billion. Yet Monsanto and the biotech industry demand the unfettered right to keep contaminating organic crops and sadly, the USDA is once again helping to make this abdication of liability possible.
The fact is, contamination has been a part of the biotech industry’s GMO strategy from the beginning. In 2001, biotech industry consultant Don Westfall told the Toronto Star:
"The hope of the industry is that over time the market is so flooded
that there's nothing you can do about it. You just sort of surrender."
In case you missed it, that You is organic farmers and the American public!
Don’t let Monsanto and the biotech industry get away with contaminating organics! Tsell the Secretary Vilsack and the USDA, it’s time to end the farce of coexistence and pay organic farmers for contamination of their crops! Every voice counts!
Remember, a threat to organic farmers anywhere, is a threat to organic farmers everywhere!
Thanks again for participating in food democracy!
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team
1. “Agricultural Coexistence: Fostering Collaboration and Communication”, USDA APHIS, November 6, 2013
2. “Enhancing Coexistence: A Report of the AC21 to the Secretary of Agriculture”,
3. “GMO Agricultural ‘Coexistence’ Rule COEXISTENCE ≠ GMO CONTAMINATION PREVENTION”, Environmental Food and Justice, February 9, 2014