National Organic Coalition calling for action against genetically engineered foods and GMOs impact on organics

Last night, I received the below letter from Laurie with Moore Farms and Friends, the CSA that my friends and I subscribe to. The National Organic Coalition is fighting for organic farmers everywhere to encourage the government to put into place regulations that protect organic crops. Essentially, so many industrial farms use genetically modified organisms (GMO) and genetically engineered (GE) seed and crops, that cross-pollination into organic crops is virtually an inevitability unless safeguards are put into place. This threatens the purity of our food supply at the most basic level.

GMO contamination of Organic seed and food is quite possibly the most dangerous threat we face. In the U.S. there are virtually no controls, tracking or protection against GMO contamination.

When we visited Italian farms for the first time the farmers were very concerned about our lack of controls regarding GMO. They can lose their entire crop if they test higher than 9% contamination during the growing season, at harvest or when the sell their crops. Consequently their awareness of GMO is very high, as it is in many other countries with consumers as well. Already there are is no Soy in the U.S. that is not contaminated and much of the corn grown here is also GMO. Because so much of these grains are grown for industrial use and animal feed it’s very easy to overlook the serious situation.

I believe that our government listens to consumers on these issues when often they will not listen to farmers: our eaters are the ones who need to speak up and say NO to GMOs!

National Organic Coalition banner

What do we do now? Start by going online and reading the letter from The National Organic Coalition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and APHIS by clicking here. Then sign the petition by 5 p.m. eastern time by Friday, June 26, 2009 by emailing Liana Hoodes (liana@hvc.rr.com) with your:

Name:_________________; Email: ____________
Farm and/or Business name: _________, City, State: ___________
Individuals may sign on as well.

Even if you don’t sign the petition, I would highly suggest reading the letter for the great information it contains! Below is an excerpt from the letter:

The public’s trust in the integrity of the organic label is essential to the continued vitality of the organic foods industry. The organic community earns that trust by strict adherence to the letter and the spirit of the National Organic Standards (NOS), which, among other requirements, prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides and genetically engineered seeds. The National Organic Program’s prohibition on use of GE seeds was the outcome of massive public opposition to preliminary rules that would have permitted them, a strong sign of the importance of this issue to organic consumers.i  More than 75% of consumers believe that they are purchasing products without GE ingredients when they buy organic.

Through no fault of their own, however, organic farmers and food companies are finding it increasingly difficult to meet their customers’ demands and expectations for produce that is free of GE contaminants.  This is due to the widespread cultivation of GE crops in the complete absence of any regulation to prevent/mitigate their cross-pollination or admixture with organic crops.  The result– pervasive contamination of the organic/non-GE food, feed and seed supply with GE materials– threatens to undermine trust in the integrity of the organic label and cause lasting harm to this vibrant industry.  Indeed, there is already ample evidence of harm.

Contamination of organic and conventional seeds and crops is widespread and has been documented around the world.  A recent report documented 39 cases in 2007 and more than 200 in the last decade. The harms incurred by organic farmers and food companies from transgenic contamination are myriad, and include: lost markets, lost sales, lower prices, negative publicity, withdrawal of organic certification, expensive testing and prevention measures, and product recalls.

Read the rest of the letter here!

About the National Organics Coalition:

The National Organic Coalition (NOC) is a national alliance of organizations working to provide a “Washington voice” for farmers, ranchers, environmentalists, consumers and progressive industry members involved in organic agriculture.

NOC seeks to work cooperatively with, and add value to, existing organic and sustainable agriculture organizations, networks and coalitions to ensure a united voice for organic integrity.

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