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Coexistence with Monsanto: Hell No!

#256, December 22, 2010

In this issue:


Quote of the Week

USDA Secretary Vilsack on "Uneasy Coexistence" of Organic and GMOs

"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. 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."

-USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, December 16, 2010

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Essay of the Week

Coexistence with Monsanto: Hell No! by Ronnie Cummins

"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.'"

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Holiday Fundraising Appeal: Help OCA Mobilize Millions Against Monsanto

GMO and organic crops cannot "coexist." Organic crops will inevitably be contaminated with Monsanto's GMOs. We need your support to continue our three-pronged campaign to protect organics from GMOs. If you support a moratorium on new GMOs, strict liability for GMO contamination of organic crops, and mandatory labels for all GMO foods, please support our Millions Against Monsanto campaign.

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Three Steps Necessary to Stop GMO Contamination of Organics

  1. No new GMOs! The federal government doesn't safety-test new GMOs to see whether they're safe to eat, whether they'll cause problems on the farm, or whether they'll harm the environment. Unless GMOs are proven safe, they shouldn't be approved.
  2. Strict liability! Who should pay when organic crops are contaminated with GMOs? Or when a GMO food triggers an allergy? Or when farm workers and their families are made sick by the herbicides GMO crops require? Or when farmers lose crops because Monsanto's crops and herbicides have destroyed their soil, left their plants vulnerable to disease, and spawned herbicide-resistant super-weeds. Monsanto the polluter should pay! The biotech and chemical companies should pay for the harms their products cause, not the consumer, the taxpayer, the farm worker or the farmer!
  3. Truth-in-Labeling! Consumers can't make informed decisions on what to eat until all foods containing GMOs are properly labeled. Allergies, illnesses and the long-term public health impacts attributable to GMOs will be impossible to track until GMO foods are labeled and we know who's eating them. Help the OCA stop new GMOs, make GMO labels mandatory, and make Monsanto pay for GMO contamination.

Help the OCA stop new GMOs, make GMO labels mandatory, and make Monsanto pay for GMO contamination.

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Alert of the Week

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.

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Video of the Week

The Secret Life of Beef

How does eating feedlot beef contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions that are threatening to turn climate change into climate catastrophe? How does industrial meat production impact our soil, air and water? Watch the Secret Life of Beef to find out why you should boycott Food Inc.'s industrial beef.

Watch Now


Little Bytes

Consumers Less Likely to Trust So-Called 'Natural' Product Label Claims

FDA Trying Voluntary Restrictions on Antibiotics

Destruction of GM Sugar Beet Crops Delayed Following Appeal by Monsanto

House Passes Final Food Safety Bill

Turning Agriculture from Problem to Solution



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