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Organic Consumers Association

No Free Pass for New Genetically Engineered Crops!

  • Stop USDA's Plans to Let Biotech Companies Like Monsanto Police Themselves

In April, we asked organic activists to take action to stop an outrageous US Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposal for the biotech industry to police itself. Despite the opposition of 10,000 Organic Consumers Association members, the USDA is going forward with the controversial deregulation, which allows companies like Monsanto to decide whether their genetically engineered crops pose environmental risks.

And if this wasn't bad enough, this month, things got much, much worse. For the first time ever, the USDA announced that it was waiving its regulatory authority over a new genetically engineered lawn grass made by Scotts Miracle-Gro, letting the company start selling the Franken-grass without any review of how it might effect human health, the environment, or organic farmers whose pastures will be contaminated. Essentially, the USDA has created a new class of genetically engineered plants, animals and animal drugs that get a free pass through any government regulation or review.

Up until now, genetically engineered crops have been regulated as "plant pests" because plant pathogens like viruses and bacteria are used in the genetic engineering process. Because Scott's genetically engineered "RoundUp Ready" grass was created without using bacteria that could cause disease in plants, the USDA says it can't be regulated as a plant pest.

With this decision, the USDA has opened the farm gate to any genetically engineered crop now under development that does not use viral material. That's a loophole the biotech industry could use to contaminate the entire food supply. This is very dangerous territory, we need stronger safeguards against GE crops, not a slippery slope towards total deregulation.

Because Scott's new, gene-altered lawn grass is "RoundUp Ready", we will all be exposed to more of Monsanto's toxic pesticide, which is linked to birth defects and cancer. Plus, the reasoning used to give the RoundUp Ready grass a free pass will be used by companies like Monsanto to get future genetically engineered crops into the food supply without any public input or government review.

Scott's grass is genetically engineered to resist Monsanto's RoundUp herbicide, so lawns can be heavily sprayed with RoundUp, killing the weeds, but sparing the mutant grass. This will mean a drastic increase in the use of the pesticide in neighborhoods, parks, schoolyards and golf courses, increasing the public's exposure to a toxin that causes "endocrine disruption, damage to DNA, reproductive and developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity, and cancer, as well as birth defects." (If exposure to RoundUp concerns you, avoid foods made with RoundUp Crops: corn, soy, cottonseed, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa, including meat, milk and eggs from animals fed these crops.)

A Free Pass for New Genetically Engineered Crops

We need government regulations like those in Europe, which require independent and rigorous scientific review of the potential impact on the environment and human health of releasing new, artificially manipulated DNA into nature and the food supply. The U.S. statutes that exist now are woefully inadequate.

Monsanto spokespersons and biotech industry reps are claiming they won't try this with food, arguing that genetically engineered food crops would not be accepted by the market without government approval. Don't be so sure. Genetically engineered foods don't have to be labeled, so there's nothing stopping new Frankenfoods from being secretly injected into the food supply.

Scotts needs to be punished in the marketplace with a consumer boycott of all Scotts, Miracle-Gro, Ormocote, Ortho and RoundUp (yes, Scotts markets RoundUp!) products!


But most of all, we need your support for a multi-state, multi-year campaign to win ballot initiatives and legislation that would make labels on genetically engineered foods mandatory.


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