Struggles to keep our food system focused on health over financial gain continue as we witness potential deregulation of Genetically Engineered (GE) alfalfa. Organic Valley is trying to prevent this deregulation, taking a lead with the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and other organizations.
In 2006, the Center for Food Safety stopped trials of GE alfalfa through a lawsuit based on the absence of an adequate Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). However, the USDA has now produced an EIS; therefore, it is in the hands of the public to fight this potential deregulation. There is a 60-day comment period ending February 16th. I am providing a link to the CFS action alert and strongly encourage you to comment.
CFS's 2006 lawsuit represented the first case to successfully use potential pollution of organic as a basis to stop GE seed trials - a major accomplishment. However, the case is now being appealed in the Supreme Court by the Monsanto camp. We are active in opposing that appeal, but unfortunately, given the history and make-up of the Court, it is hard to be hopeful.
Proposing that GE food can prevent a potential food crisis is nothing but a PR sales pitch by corporations and their think-tank fronts, motivated by financial gain. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in agriculture are the ultimate scam, led by the Monsanto camp and, disgracefully, supported by our universities, with many profiting public researchers moonlighting in biotech start-ups. In response, The Organic Center has released a great report which debunks the myth that GE seed allows for the use of fewer poisonous pesticides.
The release of GMOs into our food system reflects the continued failure of the "risk assessment" system that is used by the FDA, USDA and EPA. They continue to allow the release of new technologies into the environment based on a "lack of solid data of harm." It takes years to know if a new product is harmful, yet we release them and live with the consequences later. This terrible system is the opposite of the Precautionary Principle, which says these new technologies are not to be released due to the unknown risk--we do not want to be lab rats!
The advent of GMOs dates back to a little known Supreme Court decision (5 in favor and 4 against) in 1980 that opened Pandoraís Box by allowing the patenting of genes and new life forms. In hindsight, it is amazing these shifts happened quietly without public debate, despite such major implications for society. Now, the law is so stretched that corporations can patent nature. Just imagine being able to patent a white oak tree! How did we get here?
What value do GE seeds bring? Technologies like GE seed are mere crutches allowing us to continue bad practices, such as continued chemical cropping that leads to pollution of our soils, water and bodies, not to mention the loss of soil and biodiversity. We don't need more crutches for a broken system; what we need is a real paradigm shift in agriculture. We need a food system based on the well-being of the consumer, farmer and the environment.
People must speak out against this violation of nature. Tom Saunders, a founding influence of CROPP Cooperative, spoke of the sacredness of genes and the dangers in allowing gene patenting for financial gain. Discourse like this should be happening all over the public, from churches to food co-ops, before the proverbial "cat is out of the bag."
Organic Sense speaks clearly: We don't need GMO technologies; we want to honor the laws of nature. Adverse health effects from GMOs are starting to show up. Critically, we must oppose this technology for the sake of organic farmers and demand GMO labeling on our foods for the sake of our health. Identifying food that is not polluted by GMOs is difficult without labeling. This is one of the reasons I sit on the board of the Non-GMO Project and provide financial support.
Organic is a community advocating for wholeness. Conversely, GE technology represents the ultimate in reductionist thinking. Organic is a viable, sustainable food system, while GMOs are about financial gain through patents. Please take time to send in comments opposing the deregulation of GE alfalfa before the February 16 deadline. Thanks for listening.