Call the White House

This article was originally published in February 2011

President Obama is the only person with authority to override a pending decision affecting organic integrity. The Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, has rejected from further consideration a complete ban of genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa. Instead he says he’ll choose one of two other options identified by USDA for “coexistence” of organic and GE crops:

  • Allow GE alfalfa with no regulations
  • Allow GE alfalfa with geographic restrictions and isolation distances

Alfalfa isn’t a food that people eat directly but it’s the foundation for organic dairy and meat. USDA’s ultimate decision, likely to be announced by the time you read this, will affect regulations for all GE crops.

The announcement came in USDA’s final environmental impact statement on the impact of deregulating GE alfalfa, released just before Christmas. Vilsack called organic and biotech stakeholders to a 3 1/2 hour meeting in Washington D.C. to discuss terms for “coexistence” and gave them 30 days to present their interests and needs. Non-organic, conventional alfalfa farmers who oppose GE alfalfa are at the center of the talks.

The organic industry is united in opposing unconditional deregulation. We contend that any meaningful policy on preventing contamination must involve mandatory labels on GE crops and ingredients, and assign liability for economic harm to the owners of GE traits. Many of us maintain there’s no realistic “coexistence” with an industry that harms human health, hurts animals, destroys biodiversity, pollutes the soil, and sues independent, seed-saving farmers.

Please, call the White House and tell President Obama to reject approval of GE alfalfa and adopt a moratorium. Tell him that science does not support USDA’s proposed measures to prevent GE contamination.

Tell the President that denying approval of GE alfalfa and establishing a moratorium are the only way to protect farmers, consumers and the environment. Tell him we have a right to eat dairy, meat and eggs from livestock that consume non-GE crops.

Call the White House 202-456-1111 or fax 202-456-2461. Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern time.

Also in this issue

Organic farmers are the new rock stars

A cultural shift is underway in the world of farming, and not a moment too soon. Increasing numbers of young growers are gathering together to share skills, knowledge and resources in order to make it possible for new generations of farmers to overcome a huge range of obstacles.

Creating change through chocolate

The organic and fair labor/fair trade seals on chocolate offer customers a level of confidence that environmental stewardship and human rights are respected in the making of a product. We’re fortunate to have such systems in place that authenticate the integrity of our foods.

Letters to the editor, February 2011

Milk, Whole grain bakery?, Extruded cereal grains, and more