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Archive for the ‘Organic Foods’ Category

Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) released an extensive report last weekend at the Organicology conference in Portland, Oregon, that serves as the first comprehensive analysis of the challenges and opportunities in building the organic seed sector.

The report, titled State of Organic Seed: Advancing the Viability and Integrity of Organic Seed Systems, is an ongoing project to monitor the status of organic seed systems in the United States. The USDA National Organic Program requires the use of organically produced seed when commercially available. However, the organic seed sector was almost nonexistent when the organic program began, and has not caught up to meet the demand for organic seed. This gap could expand given the continued growth of the organic industry.State of Organic Seed provides evidence that organic seed systems are developing. Farmers report increased attempts to source organic seed and more pressure from certifiers to do so. Public research in organic plant breeding has increased slightly, with investments from both the public and private sector.

Still, challenges and needs loom large for expanding organic seed systems.

“The lack of organically bred and produced seed is a barrier to the growth and ongoing success of organic farming,” says lead author Matthew Dillon. “Seed is the critical first link in organic production, and provides farmers the genetic tools to confront day-to-day challenges in the field.”

The report is available for free download at www.seedalliance.org.

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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.

Read the rest of this article.

 

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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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After nearly five years of legal and regulatory battles, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has fully deregulated Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa that is genetically modified (GM) to be resistant to Roundup herbicide.

The decision squashed a proposed compromise between the biotech industry and its opponents that would have placed geographic restrictions on Roundup Ready alfalfa to prevent organic and traditional alfalfa from being contaminated by herbicide sprays and transgenes spread by cross-pollination and other factors.

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Last week President Obama and Secretary Vilsack approved Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa despite overwhelming public protest. This move fundamentally undermines the organic industry, especially organic meat and dairy. In approving GMO alfalfa the Obama administration has caved to Monsanto and made it harder for family farmers to make a living and for consumers wanting to eat safe, healthy foods.

This decision is a devastating blow to our democracy and the basic rights of farmers to choose how they want to grow food on their land and protect the rights of consumers who are increasingly buying organic and sustainably grown food for its positive health and environmental impacts. Please join us in telling President Obama that you’re deeply disappointed in his decision and want a ban on GMO alfalfa.

 

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The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well. True coexistence is a must.”   –  Whole Foods Market, Jan. 21, 2011

In the wake of a 12-year battle to keep Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation’s 25,000 organic farms and ranches, America’s organic consumers and producers are facing betrayal. A self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods MarketOrganic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, has decided it’s time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of GE crops, such as Monsanto’s controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for “coexistence” with Monsanto and USDA biotech cheerleader Tom Vilsack.

Read the rest of this article including petitions.

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