The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced plans to allow commercial planting of Forage Genetics International’s (FGI) Glyphosate-Tolerant Alfalfa genetically engineered to tolerate St. Louis-based Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide without any federal requirements to prevent contamination of the rest of alfalfa seed and plantings. The genetically engineered technology is licensed exclusively to the seed maker FGI by Monsanto. The expected impact of this decision is far reaching, particularly to organic farmers.
“This creates a perplexing situation when the market calls for a supply of crops free of genetic engineering. The organic standards prohibit the use of genetic engineering, and consumers will not tolerate the accidental presence of genetic engineered materials in organic products yet GE crops continue to proliferate unchecked,” said Christine Bushway, Executive Director and CEO of the Organic Trade Association (OTA).
The Center for Food Safety criticized the announcement today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it will once again allow unlimited, nation-wide commercial planting of Monsanto’s genetically-engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa, despite the many risks to organic and conventional farmers USDA acknowledged in its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). On a call today with stakeholders, Secretary Vilsack reiterated the concerns surrounding purity and access to non-GE seed, yet the Agency’s decision still places the entire burden for preventing contamination on non-GE farmers, with no protections for food producers, consumers and exporters.
This afternoon, my farmed-salmon research and trip prep were rudely interrupted by an unexpected regulation-related announcement: the USDA has decided to approve the use genetically modified alfalfa without any restriction.
The decision marks a sharp reversal: USDA chief Tom Vilsack had hinted strongly that he would place geographic restrictions on the growing of GMO alfalfa, to protect organic alfalfa growers from the threat of GMO contamination. He even floated a fancy name for the policy: "coexistence," as in GMO crops and organic crops all just getting along. Even such a relatively mild restrictive policy would have broken with the longstanding USDA practice of giving GMOs a free pass.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Thursday that he would authorize the unrestricted commercial cultivation of genetically modified alfalfa, setting aside a controversial compromise that had generated stiff opposition.
In making the decision, Mr. Vilsack pulled back from a novel proposal that would have restricted the growing of genetically engineered alfalfa to protect organic farmers from so-called biotech contamination. That proposal drew criticism at a recent Congressional hearing and in public forums where Mr. Vilsack outlined the option.
The following article reveals the devastating and unprecedented impact that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide is having on the health of our soil, plants, animals, and human population. On top of this perfect storm, the USDA now wants to approve Roundup Ready alfalfa, which will exacerbate this calamity.
If these standards come into force, they could set American children on a healthier eating track that could last a lifetime. The proposed rule, issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the newly-passed Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, could also save billions of dollars in future health care costs.
Putting this plan into action seems like a no-brainer, but its expense, which USDA estimates at almost $7 billion over five years, is a major stumbling block. Nearly half of that cost would go to put more fresh produce on school breakfast and lunch menus.
One of the most detailed of its kind, the article characterizes the extent of organic horticulture production around the world. The findings reflect dramatic increases in the global industry and outline which countries are growing what horticultural crops organically.
Granatstein said the piece helps to paint a detailed picture of organic food production around the globe. ““The data availability and detail improves every year. But we still have major organic producers such as China and India that provide no details on their crops. If they did report, our numbers might change considerably in some cases,” he said.
Vending machines that dispense snacks such as organic yogurt and granola bars, gluten-free snacks and fresh fruit will be rolling into schools, fitness clubs and office buildings. Often they will be replacing machines that have been around since the 1970s dispensing sugary sodas and snacks stuffed with trans-fats, high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.
Multiple chemicals, including some banned since the 1970s and others used in items such as nonstick cookware, furniture, processed foods and beauty products, were found in the blood and urine of pregnant U.S. women, according to a UCSF study being released today.
Organic milk brands were found to be more consistent in their nutritional value, while non-organic brands were quite variable, the study found
The European Union-funded study analysed 22 brands sold in supermarkets and found that organic milk had lower levels of harmful saturated fats and more beneficial fatty acids than conventional milk.