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.

USDA accepting comments on GE crop regulations

In the waning months of the Bush Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a proposal to completely overhaul its regulation of genetically engineered crops, significantly weakening its oversight. The proposed rules would virtually ensure that contamination of organic and conventional crops will become even more frequent, and even excuses the Agency from taking any action to remedy such contamination. The rules would continue to allow the dangerous practice of producing drugs and industrial chemicals in food crops grown in the open environment, and in many cases even allow the biotechnology industry to decide whether their GE crops are regulated at all.


Over four years ago, USDA promised stricter oversight of genetically engineered crops; unfortunately, improvements considered early on have vanished and the regulations have instead become weaker. The proposed rule now has even more gaping holes than the regulations it is replacing, and creates a few new ones as well, resulting in more public exposure to untested and unlabeled genetically engineered foods. Instead of tightening controls to protect the public and the environment from contamination and harm, what USDA has offered further endangers your right to choose the foods you and your family eat and farmers’ right to their chosen livelihoods.


To make matters worse, USDA published the rules before publishing the full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), as required by law, and in the absence of public review of the data needed to make regulatory recommendations. Clearly, there is something wrong with this picture. We are calling on the Obama Administration to reject the irresponsible Bush “anything goes” biotech policy, and to put in place rules that will create real change in the regulation and oversight of GE crops. And we are requesting a moratorium on commercial planting of any new GE crops until such comprehensive regulations are in place.


The comment period has been extended to June 29, 2009. Please send your comment to USDA today – the Agency is listening, let’s demand better oversight of GE crops to protect citizens, farmers, wildlife, and the environment!


Read the full article


June 29, 2009, is this coming Monday, so please take action now.

Purity of federal 'organic' label at risk

The purity of federal 'Organic' label is questioned in a Washington Post article by Kimberly Kindy and Lyndsey Layton.

Three years ago, U.S. Department of Agriculture employees determined that synthetic additives in organic baby formula violated federal standards and should be banned from a product carrying the federal organic label. Today the same additives, purported to boost brainpower and vision, can be found in 90 percent of organic baby formula.

The government's turnaround, from prohibition to permission, came after a USDA program manager was lobbied by the formula makers and overruled her staff. That decision and others by a handful of USDA employees, along with an advisory board's approval of a growing list of non-organic ingredients, have helped numerous companies win a coveted green-and-white "USDA Organic" seal on an array of products.

Learn more about USDA Organic Standards

This kind of big business manipulation, if unchecked, will result in the 'organic' label losing its credibility. The organic industry was built on integrity and relies on credibility with consumers, if the label says 'organic' then it should be organic. The USDA organic program was launched and supported by the industry in order to get federal government oversight to prevent a patchwork of different rules in different states and to ensure the integrity of the term 'organic'. Unfortunately, the downside of the USDA control over the label is what we are seeing here, the ability of big business and government officials to water down the meaning and integrity of organic. This is a major concern for us, and an issue we take seriously.

Mark Fergusson

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.

Oh oh, Monsanto working with Dole to "improve vegetables"

I sense big trouble ahead. Monsanto and Dole are teaming up to "improve" our vegetables. While Monsanto says this won't include genetic engineering others are sceptical (now I wonder why that is?). The following is from a Natural Foods Merchandiser article:

In a new collaboration between the Monsanto Company and Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc., plant breeding will be used to enhance the look, aroma, texture and taste of certain vegetables, but some natural food advocates say such "tinkering" is not necessary.

The five-year collaboration will focus on broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and spinach. The breeding is also expected to improve the vegetables' nutritional value, according to the companies.

"I'm skeptical," said Bill Freese, science and policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety. "Especially with spinach and broccoli, they are already chock-full with nutrients. We don't need to tinker with them to make them more nutritious. What we need is more diverse diets."

Monsanto spokeswoman Riddhi Trivedi-St. Clair said no genetic engineering will be used in this collaboration between Dole and Monsanto, the makers of RoundUp, who also develop genetically-engineered crops to resist the herbicide.

"This collaboration is based on development through breeding, as opposed to genetic modification. It's very basic. Farmers have done it for centuries," she said. "There may be biotechnology with vegetables, eventually, but this collaboration won't have any genetic engineering."

Read the full article

The bit "There may be biotechnology with vegetables, eventually" should have us all very worried. Bioengineering generally includes implanting genes across species, e.g. scientists have worked on tomates with genes from pigs.

Mark Fergusson

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.

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