Just days ago, the USDA announced that it had once again approved Monsanto’s GE alfalfa for commercial sale and planting, despite a prior government ban and public outcry.
Now, it seems that rather than fight for the purity of the organic ingredients they claim to cherish, Whole Foods, Stonyfield Farms, and Organic Valley have all bought into the USDA’s false claim that GE and non-GE alfalfa can coexist without contamination.
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 (Counter Punch).
Alfalfa is a key component in feed for organically-raised animals. The USDA has failed to show how it will prevent GE alfalfa from contaminating organic and non-GE alfalfa crops. Without this guarantee, the integrity of thousands of organic products will be jeopardized.
According to Don Huber PhD., emeritus professor at Purdue University, the commercialization of genetically engineered alfalfa could result in the contamination of organic and conventional alfalfa within five years. Such contamination threatens organic markets and diminishes non-contaminated, non-GE seed options for organic producers.
On its blog, “The Whole Story,” Whole Foods informs its readers that the government has two options:
1) fully deregulate GE alfalfa OR
2) conditionally deregulate it by placing certain rules and restrictions on growing GE alfalfa that would minimize or limit contamination of non-GE crops
The blog then states, “This second ‘coexistence’ option is what we are rallying for even though we continue to have reservations about GE crops.”
Gary Hirshberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farms made a similar concession on his company blog, stating: “our best chance at preserving the future of organic agriculture is to fight for every protection available under the “coexistence” approach.”
George Siemon, CEO of Organic Valley, followed suit on his company’s press page, saying, “We will keep engaging and challenging the USDA in a true and meaningful conversation about coexistence and protection of non-GMO farming.”
What?! That’s it? The nation’s biggest purveyors of supposedly all-organic food are conceding the fight against GE alfalfa just like that?
Instead of using their buying power to protect organic growers, these CEOs seem to have forgotten the third and ONLY option for protecting organic companies and consumers–UPHOLDING THE BAN ON MONSANTO’S GE ALFALFA IN ANY SCENARIO!
In just five short years the organic labels that these companies claim to value so highly could be rendered essentially meaningless.
It’s not too late for the USDA to deny the approval of GE alfalfa, even if it is the underdog choice. Express your support for this option by signing the petition to the USDA, Congress and President Obama.
Image Credit: Flickr - Tim Psych