Organic Sense

GMO Farce

by George L. Siemon  on February 09, 2010

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.

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Molly from from Prairie Farm, WI on April 13, 2010 at 10:34:03 PM
Thanks for continuing to fight against GMOs!
Molly from from Prairie Farm, WI on April 13, 2010 at 10:27:11 PM
Thank you so much for continuing the fight against GMOs. There are so many reasons that deregulation is dangerous for our future. I wish there was more being said in mainstream media about this. The problem is that the importance of diversity is an abstract idea that some people don't seem to understand.

On a positive note, a recent report released by the National Research Council raises concerns about GE alfalfa among other GE plants. I read about it here:
Maybe the environmental concerns will be taken into account when they make their decision.
Joyce from from Atlanta, GA on March 3, 2010 at 03:32:39 PM
Stop the craziness. No GE Alfalfa. Monsanto is all about the almighty $$$$$.
Myra from from Orlando, Florida on March 3, 2010 at 01:53:12 PM
Please do not deregulate GE Alfalfa. Monsanto has already destroyed corn and soy with GE seed. I do not want to eat GMO foods.
Valarie from from Wilderville, Oregon on March 3, 2010 at 01:08:16 PM
Here's what I wrote to the link to the USDA:
Get it together and do what you were hired to do. Stop GMO glyphosate-tolerant alfalfa. Evidence has already been discovered that the travesty caused by this genetically modified organism wreaks havoc with organically and even conventionally raised alfalfa , as well as other plants and animals. We are already struggling with literally hundreds of environmental problems caused by rich profit seekers as well as ignorant groups who have unleashed unstoppable catastrophes. Since there is ample evidence on the serious harm caused by these GMOs, do your job and stand up for the preservation of safe food as well as for those of us who strive to provide a safe environment for future generations.
Irwin Lyle Shattuck from from Westby WI on February 17, 2010 at 01:44:54 PM
As a former employee of Monsanto I know that there bottom line is 30% ROI and they do not care how they get it.
Aaron from from La Crosse,+WI on February 11, 2010 at 04:04:30 PM
I saw a very misleading Monsanto television advertisement recently. They are definitely sinking money into fooling the public about what their intentions are, in my opinion.
Anne from on February 10, 2010 at 04:11:20 PM
Dear Mr. Siemon:

A majority of Americans voted for this Administration because of their pledge for better environmental oversight and protection? This doesn't seem to be the case in light of what you report and recent events. If this is allowed, it presents an additional blight on organic food options

Years ago, many people fought for the ďright to know" by asking the FDA to label foods containing GMOs. The outcome of that effort demonstrated how GMO proponents were able to stonewall FDA labeling of foods containing GMOs. Labeling is permitted in other countries, why not here?

We have witnessed the results of (rBGH) Bovine Growth Hormones in dairy cows, transgenics, antibiotic implants, and sundry cross breeding attempts. Still the process continues because few people are aware of the situation.

Organically grown foods and organically fed livestock offer an option. Now that may be lost. Public awareness is crucial. Why arenít CFS, Organic Valley, and other like-minded organizations doing more to get the message out via TV, radio, print, and the news media? Itís amazing how many people are not aware. Isnít it time to talk to the media.

A concerned citizen and colleagues.
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