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Islander
12-22-10, 11:29 PM
United States Department of Agriculture, Dec 16, 2010
The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the availability of the final environmental impact statement (EIS) that evaluates the potential environmental effects of deregulating alfalfa genetically engineered (GE) to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, which is known commercially as Roundup. This GE alfalfa is commonly referred to as Roundup Ready (RR) alfalfa.

"Our goal with the EIS, first and foremost, is to recognize and consider the many concerns that we have heard from all segments of agriculture," said Secretary Vilsack. "We are equally committed to finding solutions that support not only the developers and users of biotechnology products, but growers who rely on purity in the non-genetically engineered seed supply."

USDA considered three alternatives during the preparation of the final EIS: 1) to maintain the RR alfalfa's status as a regulated article; 2) to deregulate RR alfalfa; or 3) to deregulate RR alfalfa with geographic restrictions and isolation distances for the production of RR alfalfa. USDA has thoroughly analyzed the potential environmental impacts of the proposed alternatives and has listed two preferred options: deregulation as one option and the other deregulation accompanied by a combination of isolation distances and geographic restrictions on the production of GE alfalfa seed and, in some locations, hay.

By listing both options as preferred, USDA has considered plant pest issues as well as broader environmental and economic issues related to the coexistence between genetically engineered, non-genetically engineered, and organic alfalfa production.

USDA maintains that biotechnology holds great promise for agriculture here in the United States, and around the world. There's absolutely no doubt of the safety of the many products USDA's regulatory system has approved. The examination of these issues through the EIS process, however, highlighted some of the challenges USDA faces in the area of biotechnology regulation as it aims to meet the expectations of its diverse stakeholders.

"We have seen rapid adoption of biotechnology in agriculture, along with the rise of organic and non-genetically engineered sectors over the last several decades," Vilsack said. "While the growth in all these areas is great for agriculture, it has also led, at times, to conflict or, at best, an uneasy coexistence between the different ways of growing crops. We need to address these challenges and develop a sensible path forward for strengthening coexistence of all segments of agriculture in our country. All are vital and a part of rural America's success. All should be able to thrive together."

Vilsack said that USDA will use this opportunity to begin a conversation on how to move forward and find strategies for strengthening coexistence. "We will partner with all those who want to roll up their sleeves and work with us and each other to find common sense solutions to today's challenges. And we will do so openly and transparently."

It is important to note that the EIS USDA is releasing today is not a decision document. It is an analysis of the impacts of the various alternatives with regard to their potential environmental and related economic impacts. The final EIS will be available for public review for at least 30 days before USDA will publish a record of decision on how it will proceed.

APHIS will be submitting the EIS to the Environmental Protection Agency for publication in the Federal Register, and USDA anticipates that EPA will publish a notice that the final EIS on RR alfalfa is available for public review in the Federal Register on December 23, 2010. A copy of the EIS provided to EPA can be reviewed at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/biotechnology/downloads/alfalfa... (http://www.aphis.usda.gov/biotechnology/downloads/alfalfa/gt_alfalfa%20_feis.pdf).

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22241.cfm

Islander
12-22-10, 11:31 PM
USDA Recommends "Coexistence" with Monsanto: We Say Hell No! by Ronnie Cummins


By Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association, Dec 22, 2010

"If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it." - Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, quoted in the Kansas City Star, March 7, 1994

"Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job." - Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications, quoted in the New York Times, October 25, 1998

After 16 years of non-stop biotech bullying and force-feeding Genetically Engineered or Modified (GE or GM) crops to farm animals and "Frankenfoods" to unwitting consumers, Monsanto has a big problem, or rather several big problems. A growing number of published scientific studies indicate that GE foods pose serious human health threats. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) recently stated that "Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food," including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM advises consumers to avoid GM foods. Before the FDA arbitrarily decided to allow Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into food products in 1994, FDA scientists had repeatedly warned that GM foods can set off serious, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged long-term safety studies, but were ignored. http://www.responsibletechnology.org (http://www.responsibletechnology.org/)

Federal judges are finally starting to acknowledge what organic farmers and consumers have said all along: uncontrollable and unpredictable GMO crops such as alfalfa and sugar beets spread their mutant genes onto organic farms and into non-GMO varieties and plant relatives, and should be halted. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22173.cfm (http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22173.cfm)

An appeals court recently ruled that consumers have the right to know whether the dairy products they are purchasing are derived from cows injected with Monsanto's (now Elanco's) controversial recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), linked to serious animal health problems and increased cancer risk for humans.

Monsanto's Roundup, the agro-toxic companion herbicide for millions of acres of GM soybeans, corn, cotton, alfalfa, canola, and sugar beets, is losing market share. Its overuse has spawned a new generation of superweeds that can only be killed with super-toxic herbicides such as 2,4, D and paraquat. Moreover, patented "Roundup Ready" crops require massive amounts of climate destabilizing nitrate fertilizer. Compounding Monsanto's damage to the environment and climate, rampant Roundup use is literally killing the soil, destroying essential soil microorganisms, degrading the living soil's ability to capture and sequester CO2, and spreading deadly plant diseases. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_21039.cfm

In just one year, Monsanto has moved from being Forbes' "Company of the Year" to the Worst Stock of the Year. The Biotech Bully of St. Louis has become one of the most hated corporations on Earth. http://www.organicconsumers.org/monlink.cfm

Monsanto and their agro-toxic allies are now turning to Obama's pro-biotech USDA for assistance. They want the organic community to stop suing them and boycotting their products. They want food activists and the OCA to mute our criticisms and stop tarnishing the image of their brands, their seeds, and companies. They want us to resign ourselves to the fact that one-third of U.S. croplands, and one-tenth of global cultivated acreage, are already contaminated with GMOs. That's why Monsanto recently hired the notorious mercenary firm, Blackwater, to spy on us. That's why Monsanto has teamed up with the Gates Foundation to bribe government officials and scientists and spread GMOs throughout Africa and the developing world. That's why the biotech bullies and the Farm Bureau have joined hands with the Obama Administration to preach their new doctrine of "coexistence."

"Coexistence" or Cooptation?

The Agriculture Department is dutifully drafting a comprehensive "coexistence policy" that supposedly will diffuse tensions between conventional (chemical but non-GMO), biotech, and organic farmers. Earlier this week industry and Administration officials met in Washington, D.C. to talk about coexistence. Even though the Organic Consumers Association tried to get into the meeting, we were told we weren't welcome. The powers that be claim that the OCA doesn't meet their criteria of being "stakeholders." The unifying theme in these closed-door meetings is apparently that Monsanto and the other biotech companies will set aside a "compensation" fund to reimburse organic farmers whose crops or fields get contaminated. That way we'll all be happy. Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, Dow, and Dupont will continue planting their hazardous crops and force-feeding animals and consumers with GMOs. Organic farmers and companies willing to cooperate will get a little compensation or "hush money." But of course our response to Monsanto and the USDA's plan, as you might have guessed, is hell no!

There can be no such thing as "coexistence" with a reckless and monopolistic industry that harms human health, destroys biodiversity, damages the environment, tortures and poisons animals, destabilizes the climate, and economically devastates the world's 1.5 billion seed-saving small farmers. Enough talk of coexistence. We need a new regime that empowers consumers, small farmers, and the organic community. We need a new set of rules, based on "truth-in-labeling" and the "precautionary principle" - consumer and farmer-friendly regulations that are basically already in place in the European Union - so that "we the people" can regain control over Monsanto, indentured politicians, and the presently out-of-control technology of genetic engineering.

Truth-in-Labeling: Monsanto and the Biotech Industry's Greatest Fear

In practical terms coexistence between GMOs and organics in the European Union, the largest agricultural market in the world, is a non-issue. Why? Because there are almost no GMO crops under cultivation, nor consumer food products on supermarket shelves, in the EU, period. And why is this? There are almost no GMOs in Europe, because under EU law, as demanded by consumers, all foods containing GMOs or GMO ingredients must be labeled. Consumers have the freedom to choose or not to consume GMOs, while farmers, food processors, and retailers have (at least legally) the right to lace foods with GMOs, as long as they are labeled. Of course consumers, for the most part, do not want to consume GM Frankenfoods. European farmers and food companies, even junk food purveyors like McDonald's and Wal-Mart, understand quite well the axiom expressed by the Monsanto executive at the beginning of this article: "If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it."

The biotech industry and Food Inc. are acutely aware of the fact that North American consumers, like their European counterparts, are wary and suspicious of GMO foods. Even without a PhD, consumers understand you don't want to be part of an involuntary food safety experiment. You don't want your food safety or environmental sustainability decisions to be made by profit-at-any-cost chemical companies like Monsanto, Dow, or Dupont-the same people who brought you toxic pesticides, Agent Orange, PCBs, and now global warming. Industry leaders are acutely aware of the fact that every single industry or government poll over the last 16 years has shown that 85-95% of American consumers want mandatory labels on GMO foods. Why? So that we can avoid buying them. GMO foods have absolutely no benefits for consumers or the environment, only hazards. This is why Monsanto and their friends in the Bush, Clinton, and Obama administrations have prevented consumer GMO truth-in-labeling laws from getting a public discussion in Congress, much less allowing such legislation to be put up for a vote. Obama (and Hilary Clinton) campaign operatives in 2008 claimed that Obama supported mandatory labels for GMOs, but we haven't heard a word from the White House on this topic since Inauguration Day.

Although Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Democrat, Ohio) introduces a bill in every Congress calling for mandatory labeling and safety testing for GMOs, don't hold your breath for Congress to take a stand for truth-in-labeling and consumers' right to know what's in their food. Especially since the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the so-called "Citizens United" case gave big corporations and billionaires the right to spend unlimited amounts of money (and remain anonymous, as they do so) to buy elections, our chances of passing federal GMO labeling laws against the wishes of Monsanto and Food Inc. are all but non-existent.

Therefore we need to shift our focus and go local. We've got to concentrate our forces where our leverage and power lie, in the marketplace, at the retail level; pressuring retail food stores to voluntarily label their products; while on the legislative front we must organize a broad coalition to pass mandatory GMO (and CAFO) labeling laws, at the city, county, and state levels.

Millions Against Monsanto: Launching a Nationwide Truth-in-Labeling Campaign, Starting with Local City Council Ordinances or Ballot Initiatives

Early in 2011 the Organic Consumers Association, joined by our consumer, farmer, environmental, and labor allies, plans to launch a nationwide campaign to stop Monsanto and the Biotech Bullies from force-feeding unlabeled GMOs to animals and humans. Utilizing scientific data, legal precedent, and consumer power the OCA and our local coalitions will educate and mobilize at the grassroots level to pressure retailers to implement "truth-in-labeling" practices; while simultaneously organizing a critical mass to pass mandatory local and state truth-in-labeling ordinances or ballot initiatives similar to labeling laws already in effect for country of origin, irradiated food, allergens, and carcinogens. If local government bodies refuse to take action, wherever possible we will gather petition signatures and place these truth-in-labeling initiatives directly on the ballot in 2011 or 2012. Stay tuned for details, but please send an email to: information@organicconsumers.org if you're interesting in helping organize a truth-in-labeling campaign in your local community. Millions Against Monsanto. Power to the people! __________________________________________________ _________________

Ronnie Cummins is the International Director of the Organic Consumers Association (http://www.organicconsumers.org/).

Islander
12-22-10, 11:34 PM
From: "Organic Consumers Association<oca@mail.democracyinaction.org>
Stop GMO Contamination of Organic!

Monsanto can't plant its new herbicide-resistant GM alfalfa because the courts say the Bush Administration's approval of the crop was illegal. Bush's USDA failed to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement. Obama's USDA is trying to help Monsanto get its seeds out of the courts and into the fields by making slight adjustments to "business as usual." They've produced an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that finally acknowledges the problem of GMO contamination for organic and other non-GM crops, and proposes ways to prevent this, including geographical restrictions and buffer zones for GM alfalfa seed and hay production. These limits on GM alfalfa production would be the first significant regulation of GMO crops. Corn, soy, cotton, and canola are currently grown without any restrictions and there's nothing to stop organic varieties of these crops from being contaminated. In this respect, the Obama USDA's proposal is a positive step forward, but it doesn't go far enough to protect farmers or consumers.
First, it assumes that GM alfalfa is safe for farm animals to consume, that GM alfalfa sprouts are safe to eat, that humans can be safely exposed to modified alfalfa genes in milk and meat, and that herbicide-resistant alfalfa is safe for the environment. But the USDA hasn't researched the safety of GM alfalfa, even though it is widely known that GM foods are more likely to trigger allergies; that GM foods are less nutritious; often toxic to lab and farm animals; and capable of contaminating human digestive bacteria. The USDA is also overlooking evidence that herbicide-resistant crops destroy soil, reduce soil capacity to sequester greenhouse gases, make crops more vulnerable to disease, increase herbicide use, and spawn super-weeds that turn farmers to herbicides that are even more dangerous than RoundUp.
Second, while the EIS suggests ways to prevent contamination, it doesn't say what the remedy will be when the geographical restrictions and buffer zones fail to protect organic and other non-GM farmers from contamination. In the past, Monsanto has successfully sued contaminated farmers, claiming they stole Monsanto's patented GMO traits. The USDA must make clear that Monsanto would be strictly liable for contamination.
Finally, the EIS doesn't consider the right of consumers to choose whether or not to eat GM food. The USDA must require mandatory GM labels. This is also the only way to track the public health damage of GMOs in the food supply. If the USDA won't safety-test GM foods then at least they can inform consumers of how to avoid them and monitor the collateral damage to people who eat GMOs.
Please write to the USDA to tell them what you think of their new Environmental Impact Statement before the comment period ends on January 23, 2011.
Take Action (http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=TW3LESGRFFhcoQik7r0p6N425oAeDeso)

Betsy
12-23-10, 09:53 AM
I have this nightmare that the USDA will finally figure out that yes, GMOs are bad for us and should be banned - and it will be too late because all of agriculture in the country will be contaminated. What are they going to do then?

And this business about not having the right to eat pure unadulterated food! :aaargh: