There is a very important decision about to take place in Washington D.C. that could literally destroy the organic dairy industry. And it has to do with genetically-engineered alfalfa.
Within the next few days, the USDA is set to announce its policy regarding GE-alfalfa. Why should we care about this?
1) Despite the fact that organic alfalfa is something that most of us never buy at the supermarket, organic alfalfa is what is fed to cows to make organic milk.
2) Once planted, GE-alfalfa contaminates nearby organic farms that grow organic alfalfa. The organic farmers will then lose their organic certification, even though they have done absolutely nothing wrong, because their alfalfa will have been tested as genetically-engineered. Those fields will be gone forever.
The economic consequences to the consumer and organic dairy farmer will be devastating. There will be very little organic milk to choose from. Whatever is available will be very, very expensive.
Also, organic many, many dairies will be completely wiped out.
The CROPP Cooperative processes and markets organic dairy and meat products for 941 producers in 28 states under the “Organic Valley” brand, which in 2007 had annual sales of $333 million and a growth rate of 38% between 2005-2007. George Siemans, CROPP Cooperative CEO, has stated that if GE-alfalfa results in the contamination of certified organic alfalfa stands or seed stock, it will devastate the organic farmers who market their milk as organic.
Albert Straus of the Straus Family Creamery in Marshall California has stated that contamination of alfalfa forage would result in the widespread loss of organic and non-GE certifications and have a devastating impact on organic dairy producers and their ability to acquire organic forage.
The USDA is considering 3 options
1) To not deregulate GE-alfalfa and prohibit commercial planting
2) To fully deregulate and allow planting everywhere without restrictions
3) To deregulate with geographic restrictions and isolation distances, among other measures
In its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the USDA acknowledges for the first time that GE contamination of organic and conventionally grown crops presents a huge problem in the U.S.
Yet, the EIS fell very short in proving that GE-alfalfa is safe for the environment or that it will afford all farmers their fair share of the US agricultural economy. The analysis relied on defective studies, obsolete data, and flawed assumptions, among other deficiencies.
USDA Secretary Vilsack has a big decision to make regarding which of the three to adopt. He is getting tremendous pressure from the Biotechnology Industry Association and the House Agricultural Committee, both of whom want complete deregulation so GE-alfalfa can be planted with absolutely no restriction. This would obliterate organic.
The chairman of the House Agricultural Committee, Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), told Secretary Vilsack today that GE-alfalfa must be deregulated, and the need for the deregulation process to be streamlined. He said that the USDA and FDA have proven that the product is safe, and the barriers to full deregulation should be dropped.
GE-crops are not safe by any means. They:
Please take action and send this e-mail form to President Obama and Secretary Vilsack to put a moratorium on all GE-alfalfa. Thank you very much.
By way, has President Obama come out and tried to protect organic? Not one peep.