FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2011
Kristina Hubbard, Director of Advocacy, (406) 493-6965, firstname.lastname@example.org
USDA Deregulates Roundup Ready Alfalfa:
OSA Calls Decision a Threat to Organic Seed Integrity
Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its decision to fully deregulate Roundup Ready alfalfa, a variety genetically engineered (GE) to survive applications of Roundup herbicide. Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) denounces the agency’s decision as a failure to take seriously threats to the integrity and expansion of organic seed.
Although Secretary Vilsack outlined additional steps his department will take to ensure “the availability of high quality seed,” the most meaningful steps toward ensuring fairness and organic integrity are conspicuously absent from this decision.
The decision is especially disappointing considering USDA acknowledges that GE material moves into fields and markets where it is not allowed or wanted. OSA believes the agency missed an opportunity to establish a comprehensive framework for overseeing GE crops and to protect the organic industry. Such a framework is long overdue.
Today’s decision means the organic community will continue to bear the burden of contamination prevention. Furthermore, USDA provided no plan for mitigation and compensation when contamination prevention fails, a mechanism necessary for supporting continued growth in the organic sector.
“Organic producers need those who own, promote, and profit from GE seed to be held responsible for contamination,” says Kristina Hubbard of Organic Seed Alliance. “We believe a federal mechanism to protect and compensate farmers harmed by the unwanted presence of GE seed technology is prudent.”
It is impossible to overstate the importance of alfalfa, a forage crop, to the growing demand of organic dairy and other food products. Alfalfa also plays a crucial role as a rotation crop in ecological farming systems. Today’s decision therefore casts doubt over the future integrity of organic production systems.
Last year more than 200,000 public comments poured into USDA in response to the draft Environmental Impact Statement, most of which rejected the commercialization of GE alfalfa.
OSA is a plaintiff in two cases involving Roundup Ready sugar beets. Secretary Vilsack announced today that his department plans to make a statement about its proposal to partially deregulate the GE variety as soon as next week.
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