UPDATE 02/18/10: The comment period has been extended until March 3, 2010 You still have time to have your voice and opinions heard! The easiest way to send your comments to the USDA is on the True Food Project's Take Action website.----------------------------------------------------The U.S. Department of Agriculture is currently considering whether or not to approve the use of genetically engineered (GE) Roundup-Ready alfalfa. Their report says you don't care about GMOs in organics. Comments are due to them by February 16th, so read on to hear how you can help. (Or go directly to the True Food Project's Take Action website.)
As part of the approval process, they are required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a detailed analysis of how the crop will affect the environment, organic and conventional farmers, farm animals, and the public. They've released their EIS on GE alfalfa, and here's how the True Food Network at The Center for Food Safety summarized the issue in a recent Action Alert:
“In 2006, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) sued the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its illegal approval of Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa. The federal courts sided with CFS and banned GE alfalfa until the USDA fully analyzed the impacts of the plant on the environment, farmers, and the public in a rigorous analysis known as an environmental impact statement (or EIS). USDA released its draft EIS on December 14, 2009. A 60-day comment period is now open until February 16, 2010. This is the first time the USDA has done this type of analysis for any GE crop. Therefore, the final decision will have broad implications for all GE crops.”
That Environmental Impact Statement, unfortunately, contains a number of questionable statements and conclusions. The part of the EIS that worries us the most is the claim that buyers of organic foods don't care if those products are contaminated with GMOs (genetically modified, or genetically engineered, organisms). We know that nothing could be further from the truth, and that a huge number of our shoppers care deeply about avoiding GMOs in the foods they buy. We've gone to great lengths to keep GMOs out of organic foods and, through our work with The Non-GMO Project, have helped advance North America's first standards and verification program for Non-GMO foods. We are intent on preserving our ability to provide non-GMO options for our shoppers. Every newly-approved GMO crop erodes our ability to provide non-GMO food, and leads to contamination of organic and non-GMO crops, due to pollen drift and other forms of contamination.What can YOU do?The True Food Project has set up a Take Action website to help you easily submit your comments to the USDA. These are due by February 16th so take the time to do it now. Please use the CFS's form letter as a guide and personalize it as you see fit - let the USDA know exactly why you're concerned about this issue, what you think about GMOs in your food, and what you think they should do with the approval of GE alfalfa.In our own comments to the USDA, we emphasized a few key facts:
Organic and natural foods consumers do care about the presence of GMOs in their food. In fact, avoiding genetically engineered ingredients is one of the key reasons that shoppers seek out organic foods.
The contamination of organic and non-GE crops by GE material has presented a huge burden for our company and our industry.
The unchecked proliferation of GE crops will directly harm organic producers and the integrity of the organic label.
The approval of GE alfalfa would do more harm than previously approved GE crops, since alfalfa is a perennial crop.
Everyone has their own opinion about GMOs; please tell your story to the USDA via the True Food Project action campaign by February 16th. We'd love to read what you think in the comment section below, but make sure you send your comments to the USDA first!