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: Tell USDA That You Care About GE Contamination of Organic Food!

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  • vitalenergetics@aol.com
    Tell USDA That You Care About GE Contamination of Organic Food! Dear Devin, In 2006, the Center for Food Safety(CFS) sued the Department of Agriculture (USDA)
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 14, 2010
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      Tell USDA That You Care About GE Contamination of Organic Food!
      Dear Devin,
      In 2006, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) sued the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its illegal approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa.  The federal courts sided with CFS and banned GE alfalfa until the USDA fully analyzed the impacts of the plant on the environment, farmers, and the public in a rigorous analysis known as an environmental impact statement (or EIS). 
      USDA released its draft EIS on December 14, 2009.  A 60-day comment period is now open until February 16, 2010.  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.
      CFS has begun analyzing the EIS and it is clear that the USDA has not taken the concerns of non-GE alfalfa farmers, organic dairies, or consumers seriously.  USDA’s preliminary determination is to once again deregulate GE alfalfa without any limitations or protections for farmers or the environment. Instead USDA has completely dismissed the fact that contamination will threaten export and domestic markets and organic meat and dairy products.  And, incredibly, USDA is claiming that there is no evidence that consumers care about such GE contamination of organic!
      USDA also claims that consumers will not reject GE contamination of organic alfalfa if the contamination is unintentional or if the transgenic material is not transmitted to the end milk or meat product, despite the fact that more than 75% of consumers believe that they are purchasing products without GE ingredients when they buy organic.
      USDA claims that Monsanto’s seed contracts require measures sufficient to prevent genetic contamination, and that there is no evidence to the contrary. But in the lawsuit requiring this document, the Court found that contamination had already occurred in the fields of several Western states with these same business-as-usual practices in place!
      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.
      Tell USDA That You DO Care About Genetic Contamination of Organic Crops and Food!


      Send a letter to the following decision maker(s):
      Docket No. APHIS-2007-0044
      Below is the sample letter:
      Subject: Docket No. APHIS-2007-0044
      Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],
      Docket No. APHIS-2007-0044, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238

      In USDA's Environmental Impact Statement (Docket No. APHIS-2007-0044) on genetically engineered alfalfa, USDA claims that there is no evidence that consumers care about contamination to organic alfalfa and alfalfa-derived foods from Monsanto's GE Roundup Ready alfalfa. As an organic consumer, I can tell you that I DO care.
      Prohibition of genetic engineering (GE) is a fundamental tenet of the Organic Standard. In fact, the organic rule's failure to exclude GE from its first version was one of the main reasons why 275,000 people like me filed public comments in 1997, at the time the largest outpouring of public participation in the history of U.S. administrative procedure. Consumers care deeply about organic integrity, and GE is fundamentally not organic. Polls show that more than 75% of consumers believe that they are purchasing products without GE ingredients when they buy organic.

      USDA also claims that consumers will not reject GE contamination of organic alfalfa if the contamination is unintentional or if the transgenic material is not transmitted to the end milk or meat product. The Organic Standard requires that livestock feed for animals used for meat, milk, eggs, and other animal products is 100 percent organic. As the Court found in the lawsuit that required this EIS, to "farmers and consumers organic means not genetically engineered, even if the farmer did not intend for his crop to be so engineered." Whether or not the end product is impacted is not the issue. Farmers' fundamental right to sow the crop of their choice is eliminated when it is contaminated with transgenes, and so is the public's ability to support meaningful organic food and feed production. Consumers like me will reject GE contamination of organic by any means or at any stage of sustainable food production.

      USDA claims that Monsanto's seed contracts require measures sufficient to prevent GE contamination, and that there is no evidence to the contrary. In the lawsuit requiring this document, the Court found that contamination had already occurred in the fields of several Western states with these same business-as-usual practices in place! In general, where other GE crops were approved without restriction, contamination of organic and conventional seeds and crops is widespread and has been documented around the world. A recent report documented 39 cases in 2007 and more than 200 in the last decade. The EIS itself acknowledges that GE contamination may happen and includes studies that honey bees can cross-pollinate at distances over 6 miles, and Alkali bees at 4-5 miles, much further than any distances under Monsanto's "best practices."

      As a consumer, I care about the contamination of organic foods and crops, and I expect USDA to do everything the agency can to protect organic farmers and consumers. The organic industry 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 contamination and subsequent environmental, consumer, and economic losses. USDA must include in its decision adequate protections against this grave harm.
      Sincerely,

      Devin Richards

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      February 15, 2010

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