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.
Dear President Obama and Secretary Vilsack,
While gathered at the 31st Annual Ecological Farming Conference to celebrate the growth of the organic industry as a vital, mainstream segment in agriculture, we were greatly disappointed to learn of your decision to fully deregulate genetically modified (GMO) Roundup Ready alfalfa. This decision undermines opportunities for farmers in America, particularly in important export markets for conventional alfalfa and in the growing organic dairy industry. It also severely restricts the choice of farmers and 50 million U.S. consumers who every day exercise their right to consume food that is certified organic and free of GMOs, that are yet to be proven safe for human consumption and our common environment.
As farmers and leaders in the organic and sustainable agriculture community, we are profoundly concerned that the development and release of GMO crops have progressed rapidly, with inadequate oversight, scant public testing, and minimal public debate.
Collectively, we stand united in the firm belief that it is incumbent upon our nation’s regulatory agencies to put independent, peer-reviewed science over the vested financial interests of corporations who have shown a consistent disregard for our nation’s laws, sound scientific theory, the livelihoods of family farmers, and the health and well-being of our citizens and the environment.
As members of the fastest growing and most profitable segment in agriculture today, we are deeply disappointed that the Obama administration has refused to protect the livelihoods of conventional and organic family farmers from the loss of a main livestock forage.
According to university scientists, the deregulation of GMO Roundup Ready alfalfa could lead to the genetic contamination of all conventional and organic alfalfa within five years. As a result of this decision, organic and non-GMO farmers have lost another vital tool in their toolbox to expand into highly profitable domestic and foreign markets, eliminating important market opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers at a time when they can least afford it.
The approval of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa is yet another example of the agricultural biotechnology industry forcing an entirely unnecessary product onto the market not for farmer benefit, but simply to improve their bottom-line.
As any farmer worth their salt will tell you, alfalfa – a perennial legume – does not suffer from the same weed pressures as other crops, such as corn, soybeans, cotton and canola and that is why ninety-three percent of the alfalfa hay in the U.S. does not use any herbicides. In addition, by approving GMO alfalfa, the Obama administration has further weakened production agriculture since the increased use of herbicides will only lead to an increase of glyphosate-resistant superweeds, which have been called “the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen,” by Andrew Wargo III, the president of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts as reported in TheNew York Times on May 3, 2010.
Last year, when the National Academy of Sciences released the report, Toward Sustainable Agriculture Systems for the 21st Century, it concluded that in order to meet the urgent demands of U.S. agriculture with regard to climate change, energy and water shortages and a rising population, “national agricultural policies and research programs should look beyond focusing only on low costs and high production and adopt a holistic perspective to farming that encompasses multiple end goals.”
In order to protect the biological integrity of our nation’s seeds and the organic industry, we call upon you as President to immediately rescind the recent of approval of GMO alfalfa and instruct the Secretary of Agriculture to implement a moratorium on the further approval of genetically engineered crops until the issues over the science, contamination and labeling are more transparently reviewed. In addition, we call for a further review of all scientific evidence regarding GMO alfalfa and independent testing on the long-term effects of all GMO crops on human health and the environment.
In approving GMO alfalfa, the Obama administration has undermined the most vibrant sector in agriculture today, placing an unfair tax on the rights of America’s farmers to grow food that is protected from genetic contamination. The USDA’s decision was ill informed, wantonly ignoring the basic biological principles of pollination and good agricultural practices.
We now join with previous generations, from the Founders of our Constitution to those who fought to free our nation from prejudice during the long battle for civil rights, in a renewed struggle to defend the livelihoods of family farmers and our basic right as citizens to choose the type of food that we want to grow and consume.
As such, we call for an immediate revocation of the decision to fully deregulate Roundup Ready alfalfa and to create a biotechnology regulatory process that effectively and democratically investigates the impact of this unproven technology on human health, the environment and farmers’ long-term ability to meet the challenges of 21st century agriculture.
Ecological Farming Association
Food Democracy Now!
Center for Food Safety
Straus Family Creamery
Organic Farming Research Foundation
Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)
National Young Farmers Coalition
Californians for GE-Free Agriculture
National Organic Coalition
California State Grange
Lundberg Family Farms
Swanton Berry Farms
Food & Water Watch
Occidental Arts and Ecology Center
National Center for Appropriate Technology
Nature’s Path Foods
California Climate & Agriculture Network
Jacobs Farms-Del Cabo
Amigo Cantisano & Jenifer Bliss, Organic Ag Advisers, Heaven & Earth Farms San Juan, CA
Thomas Wittman, Board President Ecological Farming Association
Gabriel Howearth, Founder, Seeds of Change, Buena Fortuna
Michael Pollan, San Francisco, CA
Blackie Foundation, Point Reyes Station, CA
Wildfire Hearts Hands Feet, Carmel, CA
Diane Dempster, President, Tilth Producer’s of Washington
Benjamin Watson, Board Member, Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity
Larry Jacobs, President, Jacobs Farm / Del Cabo, Inc.
Nanda Coleman (aka: Betty Beekeeper), Beekeeper/food eater, San Jose, CA
Shirley Ward, Farm and Garden Manager, Esalen Instutute, Big Sur, CA
Diane Del Signore, Executive Director, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Davis, CA
Jo Ann Baumgartner, Director, Wild Farm Alliance
Robin Seydel, La Montanita Coop Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Gallup, New Mexico
Ron Whitehurst, Pest Control Adviser, Co-Owner Rincon-Vitova Insectaries, Inc. Ventura, CA
Jan Dietrick, Executive Director, Dietrick Institute for Applied Insect Ecology Ventura, CA
While G, Karen Salinger, Sales Manager/Owner, Veritable Vegetable, San Francisco, CA
Rick Williams, Harmony Farm Supply and Nursery, Sebastapol, CA
David Little, Little Organic Farm, Petaluma, CA
Jim Reichardt, Sonoma County Poultry, Petaluma, CA
Jill Adams, Crescent Moon Farm, Santa Rosa, CA
Sam Earnshaw, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Watsonville, CA
Tammy Pierson, Veggielation Community Farm, San Jose, CA
Virginia M. Salkowski, R-evolution Gardens, Nehalem, OR
Zoe Hitchner, CASFA, Santa Cruz, CA
Elizabeth Koltai, Amy’s Farm, Ontario, CA
Ed Cohen, Earthly Edibles Family Farm, Korbel, CA
Eryun Smith, The Abundant Table Farm Project, Oxnard, CA
Sarah Nolan, South Central Farmers, Bakersfield, CA
David DeLaPaz, Of the Peace Foundations
Sarah Domke, Green String Farm, Petamluma, CA
J.T. Rehbock, Continential Bioregional Congress CBC IX, San Francisco, CA
Hana Rehbock, Linfield, OR
Sandy Lewis, Lewis Family Farm, Essex, New York
Anna Marie Carter
James R. Churchill
Ian S. Wilson
Christina Jensen Augustine
Lee W. Miller
Lisa Masteller Parker
Jean Hays Gunn
Thea Maria Carlson
E. Eric Winders
Anna Smith Clark
Henry W. Art