Marshall, CA – February 4, 2011 – As an organic farmer, I protest the USDA’s recent decision to approve the unregulated planting of genetically modified alfalfa. This is a ruling that seriously jeopardizes the integrity of the organic food chain, and could cause irreparable harm to organic farmers by ruining our ability to supply organic dairy foods to customers. I believe that allowing genetically modified alfalfa to be planted deprives consumers of their right to be certain that they are feeding organic foods to their families.
Straus Family Creamery is a sustainable operation, proudly employing 62 local workers and supporting four local, family-owned, organic dairy farms. Straus Family Creamery provides consumers with certified organic, Non-GMO Project Verified dairy products they can trust.
Alfalfa is an essential feed for dairy cows and is the fourth most-planted crop in the nation. A perennial crop pollinated by bees, alfalfa is especially prone to contamination through cross-pollination. Because bees routinely fly up to five miles from their hives to pollinate plants, it is impossible for farmers to prevent contamination of organic or conventional alfalfa crops from genetically modified pollen.
The decision to deregulate GM alfalfa hurts both organic and conventional farmers who choose not to use genetically modified organism technologies. Alfalfa’s anchor at the base of the dairy supply chain puts the entire organic food chain in peril: Contaminated alfalfa leads to contaminated milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, as well as any other products containing dairy ingredients.
Organic consumers have little tolerance for genetically modified foods. Polls show that one major reason consumers buy organic foods is to avoid GM ingredients. More than 75% of consumers believe they are purchasing products without GM ingredients when they buy organic foods. Families who care about feeding their children healthy foods and health-conscious Americans of all ages are working hard to improve their diets. Farmers and consumers will suffer when GM alfalfa is planted.
In 2006, Straus Family Creamery became the first organic dairy to voluntarily test organic cattle feed. Some feed corn sold to our dairy farm as organic was contaminated by GMOs, not through the fault of organic farmers. The livelihoods of all organic farmers, as well as suppliers, producers and retailers in the organic industry have been put at risk by unregulated GMOs. Our own testing program led to Straus Family Creamery becoming the first and only dairy company to achieve Non-GMO Project Verification for all of our products. This allows us to carry the Non-GMO Project Seal on our packaging and provides consumers with additional assurance that they are not consuming GMOs.
Since 2006, along with the Center for Food Safety and other advocates for organic integrity, we’ve been fighting in court against approval of GM alfalfa. This latest USDA decision is a serious blow to both farmers and consumers. The Center for Food Safety plans to take this issue back to the courts and Straus Family Creamery will support them in this fight. In the meantime, we will be calling on our customers and all consumers to join us in protest.
Straus Family Creamery has always stood for the integrity of the organic label. We depend on it. Our customers depend on it. We believe Americans deserve quality products from farmers committed to safe and healthy food.
About Straus Family Creamery
Straus Family Creamery, the nation’s first and only Non-GMO Project Verified dairy brand, strives to consistently provide the highest quality, best tasting, organic milk, yogurt, butter and ice cream made with minimal processing and wholesome ingredients. Straus Family Creamery makes business decisions based upon environmental and ecological considerations, which support the philosophy of sustainable, organic family farming, for the health and well being of the company, its producers, employees and the community at large.