Monday, January 31, 2011

USDA’s Recent Decision to Completely Deregulate Monsanto: A Major Blow for Organic Farmers

Like most of you, we are extremely disappointed and disheartened by the USDA’s decision for complete deregulation of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa. We had hoped that the voices of the hundreds of thousands of consumers who commented on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] would result in a different outcome. Nonetheless, we will continue to support better protections for organic farmers and ultimately, our owners.

We encourage you to contact the White House and state legislators with feedback on the USDA's decision. You can still have your voices heard. Click here to contact President Obama. You can also support the work of other grass roots organizations involved in this issue, such as Center for Food Safety, Food and Water Watch and the NCGA among others. However, we have also heard some calls for boycotting of organics in protest to the USDA's decision.

We cannot support this position for many reasons; chiefly that we simply do not have enough facts as to what parties were involved in this decision, and what their position was behind closed doors (click here for Organic Valley’s response, and click here for StonyField’s response.) Secondly, we can point to a glimmer of silver-lining—the USDA has committed to studying methods to prevent cross pollination and securing and preserving non-GE alfalfa seeds.

The message we would like to send our owners is that it is more important than ever to support the farmers and processors who bring us organics. It is only through continued growth and increased market power that we can have a greater impact in Washington. The USDA’s decision means that the work of organic farmers and others in the industry will be more challenging than ever. We want them to know that Co-opportunity and its owners will continue to work on their behalf. Now is the time for us to demonstrate our shared commitment to organic. Now is the time to support organic farmers.

For more perspective and resources on this decision, please find the links below:

USDA release - includes Q&A link and link to: USDA actions to support continued dialogue and constructive coexistence in U.S. agriculture

Food and Water Watch Action Alert

Organic Trade Association

An Organic Valley farmer talks about GE Alfalfa

National Organic Coalition
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