Sugar beets likely to be the next untested and unregulated GMO crop

GMO sugar beets are likely to be the next untested and unregulated GMO crop. Unless stopped by a pending federal lawsuit. Farmers are planning to plant the Monsanto GMO sugar beets in Boulder Colorado (Boulder is home to many of the nation's organic and natural foods companies). The following is from a Natural Foods Merchandiser June 10, 2009 article:

"I've long been opposed to GMO and this is in my back yard," Boulder resident Mary Rogers said. "When you're talking about GMO, you're talking about something that can have far-reaching consequences. I'm wondering if we're opening a Pandora's Box."

Kevin Golden, staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety — one of several organizations suing the USDA over the Roundup Ready Sugarbeets — says Boulder residents are right to worry.

"Cross pollination is a major danger," he said. "Report after report shows that using genetically engineered seeds and plants results in contamination. We can't stop biology from doing what it does and spreading. It's inevitable."

If Boulder County allows growers to plant Roundup Ready Sugarbeets, Golden said the farmers will likely end up using more Roundup as weeds become resistant to the herbicide. Similar to human viruses that morph to resist the overuse of antibiotics, so shall weeds learn to resist Roundup, some experts have warned.

Organic seed producer Frank Morton of Philomath, Ore., claims GMOs can harm not only his crops, but his reputation. Even a small amount of GMO content would cost a batch of seeds its organic certification.

To learn more about GMOs and the dangers they pose please check out our GMO information stands at each of our stores.

Thanks for reading. Mark Fergusson

The Non-GMO Project

Starting this fall, a “Non-GMO Project Verified” logo will begin appearing on products in stores, for the first time giving shoppers an informed choice about whether or not to consume GMOs. The logo is backed by North America’s first consensus-based Standard for GMO avoidance, as well as its only independent, 3rd party Product Verification Program. All of this is the result of years of work by dedicated retailers, producers, farmers, and other stakeholders, collaborating through the Non-GMO Project.

The following material from their website https://www.nongmoproject.org/ gives more information about the Non-GMO Project:

Do Americans want non-GMO foods and supplements?

Polls consistently show that a significant majority of North Americans would like to be able to tell if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs (a 2008 CBS News Poll found that 87% of consumers wanted GMOs labeled). And, according to a recent CBS/New York Times poll, 53% of consumers said they would not buy food that has been genetically modified. The Non-GMO Project’s seal for verified products will, for the first time, give the public an opportunity to make an informed choice when it comes to GMOs.

How common are GMOs?

According to the USDA, in 2007, 91% of soy, 87% of cotton, and 73% of corn grown in the U.S. were GMO. Starting in 2008, virtually all of the U.S. sugar beet crop is GMO, and it is estimated that over 75% of canola grown is GMO. There are also commercially produced GM varieties of squash and Hawaiian Papaya. As a result, it is estimated that GMOs are now present in more than 80% of packaged products in the average U.S. or Canadian grocery store.

Where does the Non-GMO Project come in?

The Non-GMO Project is an initiative of the North American organic and natural product industry to create a standardized definition of non-GMO and a 3rd party verification program to assess product compliance with this Standard. The Project’s Product Verification Program is entirely voluntary, and participants are companies who see the value of offering their customers a verified non-GMO choice. Many of the individuals and business leading the way with the Project are the same ones responsible for creating the original organic standards.

GMO trees pose new threat to the environment!

The biotechnology firm ArborGen has asked the USDA for permission to conduct 29 field trials of genetically engineered "cold tolerant" eucalyptus trees in the U.S. For the first time in history, this massive experiment, which is on the verge of being green-lighted, will literally be using nature as the laboratory to test more than 260,000 genetically engineered trees. Scientists across the U.S. are voicing concerns over this proposal.


Learn more about GMO trees

Monsanto subject to a ban on planting GMO Roundup Ready alfalfa

In a victory for all those concerned about the dangers that GMOs pose the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Wednesday upheld a ban on all planting of genetically engineered Roundup Ready alfalfa.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service failed to conduct an environmental-impact study before Monsanto, the makers of Roundup Ready Alfalfa, released its product to the marketplace. The ban is now firmly in place until the APHIS finishes a full EIS, which could take months.

Maui County Council to Vote on GMO Taro

This Thursday, July 16, the Maui County Council is scheduled to vote on a bill to protect taro from genetic modification. Maui residents should contact their council member to ask them to vote in favor of protecting taro. The following is from KAHEA's, The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, email dated July 9, 2009:

Last month, the Maui County Council heard two days of public testimony on the proposal to protect taro from genetic modification. Maui taro farmers were out in force and gave excellent testimony in defense of Haloa. Of course, corporations like Monsanto, Dow Chemical, and Syngenta have also been making their rounds to Council members, trying to erode support for natural taro in order to safeguard their corporate profits. The pressure from the corporations is immense and the threat of a bill in the legislature that could undo county-protections is growing. That's why Maui taro farmers are asking for help to convince County Council members stand strong, support natural taro, and uphold truly local decision-making.

Please take just a minute to make phone calls today:

  • Mike Molina (Haiku, Paia, Makawao) 270-5507
  • Gladys Baisa (Kula, Pukalani, Ulupalakua) 270-7939
  • Joe Pontanilla (Kahului) 270-5501
  • Jo Anne Johnson (West Maui) 270-5504
  • Danny Mateo (Molokai) 270-7678
  • Sol Kaho'ohalahala (Lanai) 270-7768
  • Bill Medeiros (East Maui) 270-7246
  • Wayne Nishiki (South Maui) 270-7108
  • Michael Victorino (Wailuku, Waihee, Waikapu) 270-7760

Ask them to support Bill 09-100 and help protect taro from genetic modification.

Council members are expected to make a key decision in this process by July 16th, so please, please, please call them today. Your phone call could help to extend the shield of protection for taro to one more county.

GMO revolving door continues

In other recent news the GMO FDA Monsanto revolving door continues as a former vice president of public policy at Monsanto (that job title is Orwellian corporate speak for making sure the government puts up no barriers for GMOs) to a high level position at the FDA. The guys who make the GMOs are the guys supposedly regulating them. That sure makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Not!

The following is from a Natural Foods Merchandiser article:

Michael Taylor, a former vice president of public policy at Monsanto Company, is the new senior advisor for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He will advise Margaret A. Hamburg, commissioner of food and drugs.

Taylor joined the FDA earlier this month. He will oversee planning and implementation of food safety reform at FDA, said George Strait, assistant commissioner of public affairs for the administration. The hiring marks a return to the FDA for Taylor, who worked for the FDA from 1976 to 1981 as a staff lawyer and executive assistant, and again from 1991 to 1994 as deputy commissioner for policy. Taylor also served as the administrator for U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service from 1994 to 1996.

"He was selected because of his great expertise and experience in food safety issues," Strait said. "He will be reporting directly to the commissioner as her special assistant on all food and food safety. It is a new position, created because the commissioner sees food safety as one of her highest priorities."

But some activists see Taylor's hiring as trouble.

"We're not happy to hear the news of Michael Taylor getting the (job), not only because of his well-known GMO revolving door issues that don't please us at all, but also, we have some differences of opinion in terms of government and food inspection," said Patty Lovera of Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer organization.

GMO foods possibly to be sold in UK supermarkets

Photo: Farm Field with No-GMO

The major GMO companies are achieving success in their campaign to spread GMO foods all over the world. According to an article in the UK Telegraph today, "Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Co-Op, Somerfield and the budget chain Aldi have met with civil servants to discuss their problems in finding traditional food supplies." A report on the meetings noted: "Retailers were concerned that they may not be able to maintain their current non-GM sources of supply as producers increasingly adopt GM technology around the world."

The problem is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the UK retailers to find non GMO foods at reasonable prices because USA and Brazilian farmers are using GMO crops especially corn and soya beans.

According to the article public opposition to GMOs in the UK, "appears to be waning; according to a document jointly produced by the Food Standards Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs only 6 per cent of consumers are concerned when asked to respond spontaneously, compared to 20 per cent in December 2003."

Once GMOs become accepted in the UK it seems inevitable that the battle against them will be lost and they will be sold all over Europe.

URGENT! Tell the USDA you don't want GMO's by Feb. 16

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.

Go to this website to take action http://ga3.org/campaign/alfalfaEIS/35e6ik64hjebbw7t?

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!

Footnotes: 
  1. http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org
  2. https://www.nongmoproject.org/ Sustainable Food News February 5, 2010

A Suggestion for Evaluating GMO Technology: "Dangerous Until Proven Safe."

The Supreme Court began hearing arguments yesterday appealing a 2006 ruling in favor of Northern California organic alfalfa growers. In Monsanto Co vs Geertson Seed Farms, Phillip Geertson and other producers of organic alfalfa argued that nearby production of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa threatened to cross-contaminate their crops. This will be the first case involving GMO crops accepted by the Supreme Court.

In making their case against Monsanto, Geertson cited statutes from the National Environmental Policy Act that was adopted by Congress to “attain the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment without degradation, risk to health and safety, or other undesirable and unintended consequences.” Unfortunately, since it’s passage in 1969, the Supreme Court has defeated all thirteen challenges brought against corporations that relied on NEPA.

Part of Monsanto’s case relies on the argument that the “irreparable harm” allegedly caused by its Roundup Ready crops is solely economic and not environmental, thus it is not covered by NEPA.

Their argument struck me as fundamentally unsound, based in the false distinction between environmental and ecological harm. While Monsanto sees the world as a collection of exploitable resources, organic farmers understand that a healthy economy relies on a healthy environment.

“Sustainability” is not just a hippy buzzword, or passing fad. It is, by definition, a necessity for the continuation of life on earth. This common sense reality is cleverly illustrated in a two-minute video, produced by the Natural Step: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFCNCQleCuk.

Industry advocates, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute, Croplife America and the National Association of Home Builders, filed a brief requesting that “the Court should make clear once and for all that a court must find likely irreparable harm before issuing an injunction."

Congress clearly stated that activities that presented a “risk to health and safety” could be challenged. GMO technology is largely untested, and where it has been tested the results are not encouraging. In 1969, Congress could not have predicted the technologies we would be evaluating forty years later. But in their wisdom, they left the wording broad and sympathetic to the well being of the general population. GM technology clearly presents a risk to the health and safety, not only of those who knowingly consume GM foods, but even those who consume produce grown in the vicinity of GM foods. While industry advocates are hoping the Supreme Court will find genetically modified organisms “innocent until proven guilty,” I believe the intention of Congress was to consider untested technology of this magnitude “dangerous until proven safe.”

Urgent! Petition to Stop the Censorship of GMO labeling

From the Seeds of Deception website:

"Please send this URGENT message to US Government leaders to protect your right to know which foods are made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Send an email today to the Secretaries of State (Clinton), Agriculture (Vilsack), and Health and Human Services (Sebelius).

They must stop US negotiators at an international (Codex) conference from May 3-7, from pushing an agenda that could make it difficult for anyone, anywhere in the world to label foods as genetically modified (GM) food—or even make non-GMO claims on their product’s label.

The US is taking the ridiculous and unscientific position that GMOs are not different from conventional foods, claiming labels that say GMO or non-GMO are misleading.

If they succeed at the meeting, the US may then file lawsuits through the World Trade Organization against any country that implements mandatory labeling of GMOs, or even allows non-GMO claims on packages."

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