Tell the USDA that you care about GMO contamination of organic food. The USDA believes that there is “no consumer evidence” that we care about genetically engineered food intermixing and contaminating organic food. They are about to deregulate GE alfalfa without any limitations or protections for farmers or the environment.

This, despite the recent report by Nielsen, Co. that 'GMO-free' is the fastest-growing health and wellness claim among store brands, with sales of these items up 67 percent in 2009 to $60.2 million. [2] As usual, the USDA ignores these statistics.

Some background information: The USDA released its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Monsanto's GE Roundup Ready Alfalfa on December 14, 2009, and a 60-day comment period is now open until February 16, 2010. [1] This is the first time the USDA has done this type of analysis for any GE crop. Therefore, the final decision will have broad implications for all GE crops.

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It is clear that the USDA has not taken the concerns of non-GE alfalfa farmers, organic dairies, or consumers seriously. Instead the USDA has completely dismissed the fact that GE contamination will threaten export and domestic markets and organic dairy products.

USDA also claims that consumers will not reject GE contamination of organic alfalfa if the contamination is unintentional or if the transgenic material (genetically modified) is not transmitted to the end product, despite the fact that more than 75% of consumers believe that they are purchasing products without GE ingredients when they buy organic.

The Center for Food Safety has found that contamination has already occurred in the fields of several Western states.

The USDA predicts that the approval of GE alfalfa would damage family farms and organic markets, yet doesn’t even consider any limitations or protections against this scenario. Small, family farmers are the backbone and future of American agriculture and must be protected.

Organic agriculture provides many benefits to society: healthy foods for consumers, economic opportunities for family farmers and urban and rural communities, and a farming system that improves the quality of the environment. However, the continued vitality of this sector is imperiled by the complete absence of measures to protect organic production systems from GE contamination and subsequent environmental, consumer, and economic losses.

One positive thing to report is that thousands of organic and natural food products are enrolled in the Non-GMO Project's Product Verification Program (PVP), the nation’s first system designed to scientifically test whether a product has met a set of defined standards for the presence of GMOs.

Tell the USDA That You DO Care About Genetic Contamination of Organic Crops and Food!

  2. Sustainable Food News February 5, 2010