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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

One of the nation’s senior soil scientists alerted the federal government to a newly discovered organism that may have the potential to cause infertility and spontaneous abortion in farm animals, raising significant concerns about human health.  Dr. Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University, believes the appearance and prevalence of the unnamed organism may be related to the nation’s over reliance on the weed killer known as Roundup and/or to something about the genetically engineered Roundup-Ready crops. In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the professor called on the federal government to immediately stop deregulation of roundup ready crops, particularly roundup ready alfalfa.

Read the full text of the letter.

 

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Despite nearly 400,000 comments in opposition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to announce its approval of genetically engineered (GE) salmon any day nowTo make matters worse, FDA argues that these GE salmon don’t even need to be labeled!

In response to FDA’s imminent approval, Congress is taking action. Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) recently introduced bipartisan legislation in Congress that would ban GE fish (Bill# S. 230/H.R. 521) and require mandatory labeling for consumers if approved (Bill# S. 229/H.R. 520).

Please send your email to Congress in support of these important bills!

The legislation has been endorsed by 64 consumer, worker, religious and environmental groups, along with commercial, recreational and subsistence fisheries associations, food businesses and retailers—including the Center for Food Safety, Ocean Conservancy, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development, the Alaska Trollers Association, Food and Water Watch, the National Cooperative Grocers Association and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations among others—who know that the approval of GE salmon would represent a serious threat to the survival of native salmon populations, many of which have already suffered severe declines related to salmon farms and other man-made impacts. Wild Atlantic salmon are already on the Endangered Species List in the U.S.; approving these GE Atlantic salmon could be the final blow to these wild stocks. Additionally, the human health impacts of eating GE fish are entirely unknown. If GE salmon are approved, these fish must be labeled so people can make informed choices.

Please write your U.S. Senators and Representative and urge them to protect fishers, consumers and the environment by co-sponsoring S. 230/H.R. 521 and S. 229/H.R. 520!

 

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WASHINGTON, DC – North America’s largest consumer advocacy organization, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), which represents over 850,000 consumers, announced last month a new campaign to oppose the name change of the fair trade certifier TransFair USA to “Fair Trade USA”. TransFair has applied for the new name to be trademarked, along with the term “Fair Trade Certified”. As the certifier that works with major brands such as Starbucks and Ben & Jerry’s, it is in effect an attempt to legally claim, as an exclusive brand, a term that encompasses a broad movement that extends far beyond the work of TransFair.

“Since our campaign began two weeks ago, more than 9,900 conscious consumers across the United States have sent letters to TransFair USA opposing their name change to ‘Fair Trade USA,” says OCA Executive Director Ronnie Cummins. “TransFair’s response pitifully claims that the new name is ‘popular’ even as they get strong evidence of a revolt by consumer stakeholders that see the new name as yet another step by TransFair to co-opt and corporatize the Fair Trade movement.”

Read more and sign the petition.

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The Obama Administration’s FDA seems bent on letting the biotech industry get their genetically modified salmon into ocean factory farms that are already spreading filth and disease. The FDA knows that GMO salmon are less nutritious, more likely to cause cancer or trigger allergies, and have a higher rate of deformities than normal fish. Rep. Young’s bill, H.R.521, would prevent the FDA from approving dangerous GMO fish.
If the Obama Administration’s FDA won’t protect consumers, we need Congress to take action. Please ask your Member of Congress to cosponsor H.R.521 today.

Learn more and take action.

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Unbelievably, over the past 12 days the Obama administration has approved not one, but two of Monsanto’s Round Up Ready genetically modified (GMO) crops. On Thursday January 27th, the USDA made the decision, under the directive of the White House, to fully deregulate Roundup Ready alfalfa, followed by the partial deregulation of Roundup Ready sugar beets this past Friday, opening the door for the planting of both of these GMO crops this spring.1

Together, these decisions send a clear signal that the Obama administration has abandoned all objectivity and scientific scrutiny when it comes to regulating biotech crops and has adopted a policy of rapid approval in order to overcome growing public outrage and concern about the harmful effects that Monsanto’s monopoly power has on family farmers, American citizens, our common environment and our democracy.

We need to continue to stand up to this influence in the halls of power of the United States. If you haven’t signed this letter telling Obama to rescind the decision for deregulation of GMO crops, now is the time. Tell President Obama it’s time to put family farmers, our food security and America’s citizens over Monsanto’s bottom line.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/338?akid=296.51381.M1G5Au&t=7

In their first decision, the full deregulation of GMO alfalfa, the Obama administration and the USDA ignored more than 200,000 citizen comments against approval during the public comment period in the Spring of 2010, including more than 56,000 comments from Food Democracy Now! members. Recently, in the week prior to the USDA’s approval, more than 100,000 Food Democracy Now! members demanded that President Obama and Secretary Vilsack reject Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa, and more than 2,000 of you made calls directly to the White House on the day of the decision. Despite the strong objections of citizens and the warnings of scientists, the administration opted to “plow ahead” on the planting of GMO alfalfa.2

As many of you may be aware, the Obama decision on Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa has caused some controversy within the organic and sustainable community. However, with last Friday’s decision to partially deregulate GMO sugar beets, it has become clear that we must unite in the common purpose of defeating Monsanto and their continued efforts to take over our food supply.

Last week we sent out a letter drafted by dozens of farmers and activists at the EcoFarm conference, calling for unity and a reversal of the deregulation decision – more than 32,000 Food Democracy Now! members have signed it so far. If you’ve already signed it, there’s no need to sign it again, but please forward to it to at least 3 of your friends and tell them it’s serious — and urgent.

Sign the letter to President Obama and Secretary Vilsack.


 

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A week ago, the USDA shocked the organic-farming community by “fully deregulating” genetically modified alfalfa, after acknowledgingthat organic farmers had legitimate concerns about the move and hinting they’d be taken into account.

On Friday, the agency didn’t simply skulk away from its own words in an apparent attempt to appease the agrichemical industry. This time, it defied a court order banning the planting of GM sugar beets until a proper study of their environmental impact can be done. The USDA announced that it would allow farmers to begin planting Monsanto’s Roundup Ready sugar beets — genetically tweaked to withstand copious lashings of Monsanto’s herbicide — even though the environmental impact study has yet to be completed, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“The USDA decision is the second big victory for the crop-biotechnology industry in a week,” theJournal noted.

Sugar beets provide about half of the sugar consumed in the United States — and Monsanto controls 95 percent of the sugar beet seed market with its Roundup Ready genes. The company’s stranglehold over the beet market demonstrates its insidious market power. When a federal judge demanded in August 2010 that farmers stop planting Monsanto’s GM beet seeds pending an impact study, farmersquickly found out that virtually no non-GM seed was available. Between 2005, when the USDA first greenlighted GM beets, and 2010, Monsanto had essentially driven all competition out of the market.

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The pro-biotech web site “Truth About Trade & Technology” published an article written by a farmer named Noel Kjesbo, who is a sugar beet producer in the Red River Valley (North Dakota and Minnesota – he doesn’t say specifically which state he farms). Noel was responding to the lawsuit brought by OSA and others against USDA-APHIS for the improper deregulation of a Roundup Ready sugar beet. Noel accused Organic Seed Alliance and the co-plaintiffs of being ”fraudulent”, “dishonest”, “selfish”,  and of using “misleading names”. He believes that we are using “global terrorism and food scares” to cause anxiety around food safety, and specifically the safety of genetically modified foods. While we at OSA do have concerns about the human and environmental health impacts of industrial biotech agriculture, we also have concerns about the impact of biotech crops on organic farmers freedom to operate – their ability to produce organic food with integrity and compete in the marketplace .

The following was a response written by Frank Morton – farmer, plant breeder, and owner of Wild Garden Seeds in Philomath, Oregon:

As a farmer, seedsman, plant breeder, member of the Isolation Pinning Rules Committee of Oregon’s Willamette Valley Specialty Seeds Association, and director on the boards of both Organic Seed Alliance and the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, I want to offer agricultural perspective on the deregulation and planting of genetically engineered Roundup Ready sugar beets.

Read the rest of this article.

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