Let’s really put the pressure on! Let the USDA and your senators and representative know there’s a steep political price for this decision, which if left unchanged, will have devastating consequences for organic agriculture.
On January 27, the US Department of Agriculture reached a decision on genetically engineered Roundup Ready® alfalfa, having reached the end of the review period for the environmental impact statement (EIS). Out of the three possible options—regulation, partial deregulation, and complete deregulation—the USDA chose the worst possible option: full non-regulated status.
This was unexpected news, as the USDA had been hinting that it would partially deregulate. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack previously suggested that the agency would “pursue compromise.”
There is evidence that the USDA was subjected to intense lobbying by Monsanto at the last minute, and possible collusion with Monsanto by the White House. According to Food Safety News, “Sources familiar with the negotiations at the USDA…believe the White House asked Vilsack to drop proposed regulations so the Administration would appear more friendly to business.”
Deregulation is dangerous. Without regulation, GM alfalfa will encroach on non-GM alfalfa, irretrievably contaminating it. There have already been over 200 episodes of transgenic contamination, costing farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales. If genetically engineered crops spread, the word “organic” will be virtually meaningless, affecting crops, the cattle who eat the alfalfa, and consumers who eat both.
Moreover, Roundup Ready® alfalfa will substantially increase herbicide use. The USDA’s own data shows that just 7% of alfalfa acres are currently treated with herbicides. USDA’s projections in the EIS show that substantial adoption of Roundup Ready®increases in herbicide use of up to 23 million pounds per year. alfalfa would trigger
Where do we go from here? We have to take our stand right here, with GMO alfalfa, because it cannot be contained. It will contaminate other crops. We believe a multi-pronged approach has the best chance of overturning this disastrous decision:
- The Center for Food Safety has announced it will file a lawsuit against the USDA over the decision, and ANH-USA will try to become a co-plaintiff in that suit.
- We need to blanket Congress with protests, asking senators and representatives and oversight committees to review the deregulation decision. We want to mount a massive grassroots campaign to show Congress that there is a steep political price to be paid for supporting genetically engineered organisms, especially alfalfa which cannot be contained. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) have issued a statement condemning the USDA decision, so we are not alone in our desire to see this reversed.
- And we need to put pressure on the USDA and the Obama administration. They need to understand how angry American citizens are, and why we feel so betrayed. It is time for crony capitalism to end.
In 1781, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”
Our Action Alert will take you to a letter you can send to the decision-makers: your president, your senators, your representative, and the USDA. Please take what we’ve written and add your own thoughts. Pour out your thoughts and make your voice heard. Show them we will not allow the government to poison us and our children with frankenfoods. Please contact them today!
TO SEND YOUR MESSAGE TO THE PRESIDENT,