Herbicide-loving alfalfa and sugar beets, Monsanto's new GMOs (genetically modified organisms), have been blocked by the courts because Bush's USDA failed to consider their environmental impacts, including whether they would contaminate organic crops. Obama's USDA has a plan to get Monsanto's new GMOs out of the courts and into the fields. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, former biotech governor of the year, calls the plan "coexistence." The Organic Consumers Association calls it "contamination" and we say, "Hell no! No new GMOs!" The USDA is currently accepting public comments on an Environment Impact Statement that would be the basis for the commercialization of Monsanto's "RoundUp Ready" GMO alfalfa, the first-ever genetically engineered perennial. The USDA should put a hold on the agricultural use of genetically modified organisms until health and environmental safety can be assured. Thus far, regulation of agricultural GMOs has been so lax that instances of contamination and environmental destruction are the norm rather than the exception. Examples include:
- Monsanto's Bt corn toxins active in ecosystems where they are deadly to aquatic species
- Non-approved varieties of GMO canola established wild populations in North Dakota
- Numerous weeds have developed herbicide resistance since the introduction of GMO crops
- Pesticide compounds from GMO crops found in non-GMO crops and products
- Consumers eating GMO foods that have not been adequately tested for their health impacts, without their knowledge or consent
What would it take for the USDA to adequately protect traditional farming, the environment and consumers from the harms of genetically modified organisms used in agriculture?
- Establishment of a fully distinct and separate USDA public cultivar and breeds Institute to ensure that farmers have elite public cultivar and breeding choices that are not genetically modified and that germplasm collections are free of GMO contamination.
- Creation of a Contamination Compensation Fund in FSA or RMA funded by GMO patent holders and based upon their strict liability. This would provide immediate assistance to all farmers and other supply chain participants contaminated by GMOs, pending further necessary remedies of law and equity. Such a Fund would establish costs associated with the prevention of GMO commingling and contamination from seed to table and would include both perpetual type costs as well as identity preserved price differential costs for organic and other non-GMO.
- Ongoing GM crop regulation, including the complete elimination of deregulated GM crop status; including prior deregulations and on-going oversight and public evaluations of compliance and enforcement.
- Comprehensive, independent, longitudinal studies on the health impacts of eating GMOs and on the environmental and socio-economic impacts of release prior to GM crop approvals.
- Prohibition on the growing of GM crops that are deemed too promiscuous to prevent GMO Contamination.
- Mitigation of food security risks associated with the concentration of any sector of our food system in the hands of a few companies or with the use of one food production technology or patented seeds or genotypes to the near exclusion of all others.
- Institution of an immediate labeling protocol for all GM crops, products, and ingredients in close collaboration with other agencies as required.
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