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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Contamination' Category


02
Mar

Partial Victory as Hershey’s Announces Move Away from GMO Ingredients

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2015) Amid growing consumer backlash, Hershey’s has announced first steps toward moving to non-genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in its chocolate. The news comes in response to tens of thousands of Facebook posts, emails, and telephone calls from consumers who took part in a campaign calling on Hershey’s to move to non-GE ingredients led by GMO Inside. In a statement released February 18, Hershey’s said that it will “transition some of its most popular chocolate brands, including Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolates and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars to simpler ingredients.” Last week, Hershey’s confirmed with GMO Inside that as part of its commitment to simpler ingredients, its two iconic products will be non-GE by the end of the year, however the company did not respond to the request to source its sugar organically. “We congratulate Hershey’s on this important move and great first step. As one of the leading chocolate companies in the U.S., this commitment will help move the rest of the companies in this sector,” said Nicole McCann, Green America Food Campaigns Director, “Hershey’s joins General Mills, Unilever, Post Foods, and other leading companies in responding to consumer demand to make at least some of its […]

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25
Feb

Scientists Challenge Industry Consensus that GE Foods Are ‘Safe’

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2015) The biotechnology industry behind genetically engineered (GE) foods have for years touted that their technology is safe, dismissing any attempts to challenge their science or regulate their material. However, 300 scientists, physicians and scholars assert there is no scientific consensus on the safety of GE foods and find that claims of safety are an “artificial construct that has been falsely perpetuated” through various forums and media. The statement, published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe and entitled, “No scientific consensus on GMO safety,” cites a concerted effort by GE seed developers and some scientists, commentators and journalists to construct the claim that there is a “scientific consensus” on GE safety, and that debate on the topic is “over.” According to the 13-page statement, 300 independent scientists and researchers felt compelled to develop a document that offered a balanced account of the current state of dissent in this field, based on published evidence in the scientific literature, for both the interested public and the wider science community. They find that a claim of safety “”¦is misleading and misrepresents or outright ignores the currently available scientific evidence and the broad diversity of scientific opinions among scientists on […]

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23
Feb

House Panel Rejects Hawai’i Bill to Impose Pesticide Buffer Zones

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2015) A Hawaii state House agriculture committee rejected a bill Thursday that sought to impose buffer zones for large agricultural companies that spray restricted-use pesticides near schools and other sensitive areas. The proposal, House Bill 1514, introduced by Rep. Chris Lea, stemmed from concerns about  the impact of genetically-engineered (GE) farming and its inherent dependency on increasing  pesticide use. The measure sought  to require companies’  disclosure of the pesticides used and the volume of use. The bill had strong support from the Hawaii chapter of the national nonprofit Center for Food Safety (CFS), as well as a strong backing from neighbor island residents. Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island have all passed laws recently to regulate the seed industry, but a federal  district  court judge  has ruled  that Hawaii counties do not have that power. Industry has been especially effective in obstructing the bill. CFS’ Hawaii director, Ashley Lukens, said after Thursday’s hearing that she was frustrated by the limited amount of time advocates were given to testify. “It was clear from the very beginning that the hearing was intended to allow the industry to reiterate their talking points,” she said. Not surprisingly, companies (like Monsanto) […]

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19
Feb

USDA Approves GE Apple that Won’t Brown

(Beyond Pesticides, February 19, 2015) Last week, regulators at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved a genetically engineered (GE) apple that does not brown after slicing or bruising. The “Arctic” apple, produced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, is engineered using a novel technique called RNA interference (RNAi). In the case of this GE apple, RNAi technology has been used to silence the genes that produce polyphenol oxidase (PPO), the enzymes responsible for the browning that results after an apple has been bruised. Government approval of this method of genetic engineering is raises serious concerns because of considerable uncertainty regarding the unintended effects of this technology. These concerns are compounded by the agrochemical industry’s future interests in using RNAi technology to control crop pests. So far, USDA has approved commercial use of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious “Arctic” apples, and the company plans to produce Gala and Fuji cultivars in the future. Beyond the questionable utility of an apple that does not brown, are the health and economic risks associated with the apple’s commercial production and use. Some opposing the GE apple have dubbed it the “botox apple” as it can give apples  the appearance of being fresh long after […]

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13
Feb

EPA Sued for Violating Endangered Species Act with Allowance of New 2,4-D/Roundup Pesticide

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2015) With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA)  nod to the pesticide industry on expanded uses of the herbicides 2,4-D and glyphosate, environmental groups are charging that the agency violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Repeating a pattern of putting the environment in harm’s way through violations of  federal endangered species  law, a lawsuit filed Friday  documents   EPA’s  failure to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regarding the impact of the herbicide on two endangered species —the whooping crane and the Indiana bat— with the recent approval of Dow AgroSciences’ herbicide, Enlist Duo, for use on genetically engineered (GE) crops in six midwestern states. Enlist Duo is an herbicide that incorporates a mix of  glyphosate  and a new formulation of  2,4-D, intended for use on GE Enlist Duo-tolerant corn and soybean crops. Approved for use on GE corn and soybeans that are engineered to withstand repeated applications of the herbicide, the creation of 2,4-D-tolerant crops and EPA’s approval of Enlist Duo is the result of an overuse of glyphosate, an ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. The misuse resulted in an infestation of glyphosate-resistant super weeds which can now be legally combatted with the […]

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04
Feb

Maui Decision Not to Defend GE Moratorium Disappoints Activists

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2015)    In the face of a challenge from the chemical industry, Hawaii’s Maui County will not defend a moratorium on genetically engineered (GE) farming that was passed by county voters last fall. Seeking to have the moratorium thrown out, industry giants Monsanto, Dow-owned Agrigenetics and others sued Maui days after the measure was passed.   It was expected that the county would defend the law in the courts, but to the disappointment of many, attorneys for Maui County filed a single sentence brief with the court, stating that it “is taking no position.” In November 2014, Maui residents passed a ballot initiative prohibiting the growth, testing or cultivation of GE crops in Maui County until an environmental and public health study can show that the planting operations are safe for the community. Now residents and local groups supporting the new law are expressing outrage and disappointment over the decision by Maui County to disregard its duty to defend a law passed by its citizens, despite earlier assurances that county will implement the moratorium. Maui County spokesman Rod Antone said that the outrage from activists groups is misplaced. In December, the court allowed the local group, […]

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13
Jan

Monsanto Once Again Developing Herbicide Resistant Wheat

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2015) Over a decade after consumer opposition halted multinational agrichemical business Monsanto’s plans to develop genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-resistant wheat, the company is trying again. This time, Monsanto’s goal is to create wheat that is resistant to three different herbicides; glyphosate, glufosinate, and dicamba. Although over 90% of corn, soybean, and cotton grown in the United States are GE, no GE wheat is currently allowed to be planted. In 2013, a farmer in Oregon discovered the presence of Monsanto’s original Roundup-Ready wheat, developed to be resistant to glyphosate, in his field despite the company’s plans to abandon the strain and claims to have destroyed the crop  a decade earlier. The company had restarted extensive field trials back in 2011. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) determined that the contamination was an “isolated incident.” It was unable to determine exactly how the wheat came to grow in the Oregon farmer’s field. However, shortly after the agency closed its investigation, another farmer in Montana detected the GE strain in his wheat fields. The recurrence of this incident reveals the contamination event not to be an isolated incident. It instead demonstrates the threat that these crops […]

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05
Jan

Hawai’i Council to Appeal Court Ruling that Strikes Down GE Restrictions

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2015) Hawai’i County plans to appeal a federal judge’s ruling invalidating a 2013 county law restricting genetically engineered (GE) crops on the island. The County Council voted 5-4 in December to appeal the ruling after the judge ruled last November that Hawai’i County cannot enforce a law restricting genetically engineered crops because it is preempted by state law. The ruling follows a similar federal court decision in August 2014 that overrules a Kauai ordinance requiring annual reporting of genetically engineered organisms. U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren’s order is similar to his earlier decision invalidating Kauai County’s law on pesticides and GE crops. Judge Kurren invalidated the county law, Hawai`i County Ordinance 13-121, in a Nov. 27, 2014 order, saying state law preempts county law on the issue. He said lawmakers intended the state to have broad oversight of agricultural issues in Hawai’i. The November 2014 decision concludes that state “preemption” of the county ordinance is implied by state plant laws, despite the fact none of them mention GE crops or were intended to regulate them. The court refused a request to send the state law question to the Hawai’i Supreme Court  for a  decision. Finally, the […]

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01
Oct

Another Field Contaminated with Unapproved GE Wheat

(Beyond Pesticides, October 1, 2014) Just after announcing a close to its investigation into the illegal presence of genetically engineered (GE) wheat in Oregon, finding it to be an “isolated  incident,”  the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened a new investigation into another incident of unauthorized release of  GE wheat, this time  detected in Montana. This new report highlights the contamination threat that these materials pose to farmers and the environment, as well as the government’s failure to recognize the pervasive and persistent nature of GE contamination. According to USDA, on July 14, 2014 it was notified that suspected GE wheat had been discovered growing at the Montana State University’s Southern Agricultural Research Center (SARC) in Huntley, Montana, where Monsanto and researchers grew GE wheat as part of field trials between 2000 and 2003. Testing of the samples by a USDA laboratory confirmed that the wheat is genetically engineered to resist Roundup. The agency states that its ongoing investigation is focusing on why GE wheat was found growing at the research facility location. Currently, GE wheat has not been deregulated by USDA, unlike several other GE crops (corn, soybean, sugarbeets). This means that any experimental use of GE wheat must […]

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12
Jun

Monarch Butterfly Decline Linked to GE Crops and Shrinking Habitat

(Beyond Pesticides, June 12, 2014) According to a new study in the Journal of Animal Ecology, the deficiency of milkweed plants due to the rapid spread of genetically engineered (GE) crops is one of the primary reasons for the decline in monarch butterflies. The widespread adoption of GE agriculture and the ever growing use of herbicides is contributing extensively to the loss of milkweed covered areas, which is the butterfly’s main food source and the only place where they lay their eggs. This study adds weight to previous reports linking GE crops, as well as climate change, to the decline of butterfly populations, which are at their lowest in two decades. Monarch butterflies make their way from the U.S. and Canada, usually arriving in Mexico around the beginning of November, clustering by the thousands in the boughs of fir trees. Although the same trip occurs every year, no individual butterfly makes it twice, as the butterfly’s life span is too short. How the migration route lives on in the butterflies’ collective memory is an enduring scientific mystery. Researchers note that to compensate for the continued loss of habitat, refuges of milkweed must be set up to provide a source of […]

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29
May

Australian Organic Farmer Loses GE Contamination Suit

(Beyond Pesticides, May 29, 2014) The global fight to establish better protections from genetic contamination caused  by genetically engineered (GE) crops suffered a legal setback in Australia this week. A ruling of the Supreme Court of Western Australia  found that farmer Steve March could not seek compensation after losing his organic certification as a result of a neighbor’s GE crops contaminating his organic crops. Mr. Marsh filed the lawsuit against Michael Baxter, a neighboring GE canola seed farmer, alleging that  he had suffered economic damage because of his organic decertification. The decertification had been brought on by the confirmed presence of GE canola plants and seeds on his property and Australia’s zero-tolerance organic standard concerning GE contamination on organic lands. Mr. Baxter  began farming GE canola just a few years before and was the likely source of the contamination. Argued before the court earlier this year, the litigants as well as environmental and organic advocates across the globe had anxiously awaited the court’s decision. Supporters of the suit hoped it might advance much-needed protections against the economically devastating and oft uncontrolled invasion of GE crops on organic and non-GE lands. Opponents of the suit claim it would have burdened GE […]

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23
May

Oregon Counties Ban Planting of Genetically Engineered Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, May 23, 2014) Residents in two Oregon counties, Jackson and Josephine, voted to ban the cultivation, production, and distribution of genetically engineered (GE) crops within the counties’ borders Tuesday.  The Jackson County measure 15-119, passed with 66 percent of the vote, while Josephine County passed with 58 percent. As noted by Reuters, the newly approved measures mandate that people “harvest, destroy or remove all genetically engineered plants” no later than 12 months after the ordinances go into effect. This is great news for farmers of organic and non-genetically engineered crops, who constantly struggle with the threat of GE contamination. Though there are less than 120,000 registered voters in Jackson County, the measure gained national attention due to the fact that opponents raised over $830,000 to advertise againstthe measure, with over 97% of the funding coming in from outside of the county, including over $450,000 from biotech giant Monsanto and five other corporations to defeat the initiative. For comparison, the previous county spending record on a ballot initiative was $111,000. “We fought the most powerful and influential chemical companies in the world and we won,” Elise Higley, a Jackson County farmer and representative from  Our Family Farms Coalition told […]

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16
Apr

Public Interest Groups Intervene to Defend Kauai’s GE Law

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2014) The U.S. District Court of Hawaii granted a Motion to Intervene jointly presented by Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Earthjustice on behalf of several community non-profit groups. The order allows the groups to participate in a lawsuit filed by Syngenta and other pesticide companies challenging Kauai’s County Ordinance 960, which  establishes a  county program to monitor pesticide use and genetically engineered (GE) crops. The federal order allows the groups to defend the County of Kauai’s 2013 pesticide disclosure law against the pesticide companies’ legal challenge. The non-profit groups intervening include Center for Food Safety, Surfrider Foundation, Pesticide Action Network North America, and Ka Makani Ho”˜opono. Ordinance 960 (formerly known as Bill 2491) provides residents of Kauai public access to information related to the application of pesticides used in experimental and commercial agricultural operations within the County of Kauai. It also affords County residents and their environment greater protection from and information about potential pesticide drift and the impact of growing experimental GE crops on Kauai. The Kauai County Council voted to enact Ordinance 960 in November 2013, overriding the Mayor’s veto. The Ordinance 960 is set to take effect in August. Local leaders crafted […]

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10
Mar

Survey Finds GE Contamination of Organic Farms

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2014) New data finds that organic farmers are growing increasingly concerned with genetically engineered (GE) crops cross-pollinating and contaminating their fields. This contamination can lead to serious economic losses for organic farmers and has created tension between neighbors. The data comes at a critical time as USDA is advancing the notion that “coexistence” between GE and non-GE growers  presents no problems for the  organic market.  USDA has been widely criticized in organic circles because its decisions to deregulate numerous GE crops  place  the burden of reducing contamination on non-GE growers. A survey,released by Food and Water Watch and Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM), finds that a third of U.S. organic farmers have experienced GE contamination in their fields due to the nearby use of GE crops, while over half of these growers have had loads of grain rejected because of unwitting GE contamination. These rejections can lead to big income losses for farmers, with a  median cost of approximately $2,500 per year, according to the  survey. Additionally,  several farmers report annual losses of over $20,000 due to the need to establish buffer zones, while limit the threat of contamination from their neighbors by taking […]

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27
Feb

Petition Seeks Nationwide Refuge Ban of GE Crops and Neonicotinoid Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2014) Beyond Pesticides joined Center for Food Safety (CFS), Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), and Center for Biological Diversityearlier this week in filing a formal petition for rulemaking with the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI). The petition demands that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the DOI bureau tasked with managing and regulating the system of National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) across this country, establish better protections for wildlife and their habitat by prohibiting the use of genetically engineered (GE) crops and neonicotinoid pesticides in NWRs as well as other necessary policy changes. The petition asserts that the allowed cultivation of GE crops and use of neonicotinoid pesticides on lands designated as NWRs violates not only the purpose and protective standards of the National Wildlife Refuge Act (NWRA), which seeks to conserve, manage and restore fish wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats for the present and future generations, but also threatens endangered species by resulting in destruction of critical habitat protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Specifically, pollen from GE crops drift and contaminate related wild plants and natural crops. There is also the problem that GE crops are overwhelmingly engineered for […]

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03
Feb

Organic Farmers Look to New Resource to Avoid GE Contamination

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2014) Prompted by the prolific threat of contamination of organic agriculture by genetically engineered crops, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) recently published a comprehensive guide to help  organic seed growers maintain the integrity of organic seed. The publication comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to limit the ability of farmers to legally defend themselves against genetic drift in a landmark federal lawsuit OSGATA et al. vs. Monsanto. The publication, entitled Protecting Organic Seed Integrity, provides organic farmers, seed handlers, and seed companies an array of resources they can employ to maintain organic integrity through crop specific, scale-appropriate strategies. In addition, the handbook provides guidance on testing protocols for crops that are particularly risky, that is, crops with GE counterparts that are approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including corn, soy, cotton, alfalfa, canola, sugar beets, and squash. “The risk to organic farmers by GE contamination is real,” said Maine organic seed farmer, Jim Gerritsen, OSGATA President. “Organic farmers continue to be failed by the government. This new handbook is an important tool for farmers to protect themselves and the organic seed supply.” With widespread planting of genetically engineered crops, […]

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15
Jan

Supreme Court Denies Family Farmers the Right to Self-Defense from Monsanto Suits

(Beyond Pesticides, January 15, 2013) The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision on Monday  in the landmark federal lawsuit Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto, limiting the ability of farmers to protect themselves from genetic drift. An earlier Appeals Court decision in the case acknowledged genetic drift as inevitable and evoked a public  commitment from Monsanto that it would not sue farmers faced with contamination of crops containing “trace amounts” of the company’s patented genes.  In the past, Monsanto has claimed that farmers were responsible and liable for its genetic property being found on land farmed by farmers who did not pay to cultivate the company’s genetically engineered crop. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal and reinstate the suit, denying farmers the right to argue their case in court and gain greater protection from potential abuse by the agrichemical and genetic engineering giant, Monsanto. Additionally, the high court decision dashes the hopes of family farmers who sought the opportunity to prove in court Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed patents are invalid. The case, originally filed on behalf of several plaintiffs on March 29, 2011, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, challenges […]

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09
Dec

The Decline of Turtle Doves Tied to Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, December 9, 2013) Unless regulators take action,  one of the gifts in the lyrics to “Twelve Days of Christmas,” the turtle dove,  may  become extinct. The dove has experienced major population decline in England over the past 20 years, due in significant part to the destruction of  turtle dove habitat and food sources from  increasing herbicide use in English agriculture. Other species, such as Monarch butterflies and other pollinators around the world, are also experiencing similar loses of habitat and food sources through an increase in herbicide use. These increasing rates of population decline in wild species underscore the problem that chemical-intensive agriculture plays in the degradation of natural habitats. According to a spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, “The turtle dove is the fastest declining bird in the country [England] and within ten years we could lose this icon of the British countryside completely.” Turtle doves in the United Kingdom are found in just a few areas of Southern England and migrate during the winter toward Africa. Turtle doves are obligate granivors, feeding predominantly on seeds of certain arable weeds form farm countryside, such as fumitory, clover and vetch. However, increased herbicide use […]

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26
Nov

Close Results on GE Labeling in Washington State Raises Public Awareness of the Trouble with Modified Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, November 25, 2013) With nearly all the votes counted for Washington State’s Initiative 522, results show the measure defeated by a razor thin margin. After somber reports on Election Day had the measure trailing by 11%, supporters of I-522 urged patience as ballots continued to stream in (Washington runs an all-mail voting system). The race tightened up significantly, but ultimately succumbed to a 49%Y-51%N margin. Despite the results, Washington State’s initiative made incredible progress at raising awareness of the adverse health and environmental impacts associated with genetically engineered (GE) agriculture. A number of factors also worked against the Yes campaign during the final weeks leading up to Election Day, including an enormous influx of money from agrichemical companies and food manufacturers, which financed an advertising blitz claiming the initiative would raise the cost of food. The placement of the measure on an “off-year” election also drove down voter turnout. Yeson522 co-chair Trudy Bialic explains, “There was lower than expected voter turnout this year. Despite being outspent 3-to-1, we are projecting winning 49% of the vote. We are disappointed with the results, but the polling is clear that Washingtonians support labeling and believe they have a right to know. […]

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17
Oct

Community Concerns Lead to Landmark Pesticide Protections in Kauai County

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2013) Early yesterday morning, the Kauai County (Hawaii) Council ended a grueling 19-hour session by approving new protections from pesticides and genetically engineered (GE) crops in a 6 to 1 vote on Bill 2491. After enduring years of pesticide abuse from agrichemical giants Syngenta, Dow, DuPont Pioneer, and BASF, the residents of Kauai will finally receive simple protections they and future generations on the “Garden Isle” deserve. The legislation is a major victory for the local community, which engaged in numerous non-violent rallies and demonstrations urging the council to “Pass the Bill!” Local leaders crafted Bill 2491 in response to public outcry from residents, many of whom live, work, or have children that go to school near agricultural fields leased by chemical corporations. “The people in my community have asked for help,” said Kauai County Councilmember Gary Hooser. “People are concerned.” Many in the community assert that the passage of Bill 2491 is only the beginning of local efforts to reign in excesses and abuses of agrichemical companies operating on the island. While some of the more stringent measures in the bill were removed at a previous Committee meeting earlier this month, other aspects of the […]

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07
Oct

Oregon Passes Bill to Limit GE Oversight

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2013) A controversial agriculture bill that would bar counties in Oregon from regulating genetically engineered (GE) crops has passed in the state legislature to the dismay of many organic and environmental groups. Senate Bill 863 also includes an emergency clause, which would allow the bill to go into effect immediately, precluding opponents from referring the bill to voters. The Oregon Senate passed S.B. 863 17-12 last week after three-days of a special session to debate a controversial five-bill package. S.B. 863 declares that “regulation of agricultural seed, flower seed, nursery seed and vegetable seed and products of agricultural seed, flower seed, nursery seed and vegetable seed be reserved to the state, thereby preempting   local governments from adopting any of their own GE policies.” The bill precludes efforts in Benton and Lane counties to restrict GE agriculture, but excludes Jackson County, which already has a GE ban up for vote. This GE bill is part of a package of five bills aimed at giving schools more money, freezing college tuition, and reining in escalating costs of the public pension system. Environmental groups and local food activists are upset that the provision sailed through the state’s legislature. […]

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25
Sep

USDA Refuses to Investigate GE Alfalfa Contamination

(Beyond Pesticides, September 25, 2013) Five days after genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa was confirmed to have contaminated non-GE alfalfa in Washington State, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it would not investigate the incident. Conventional and organic farmers have long been concerned with the economic impacts of GE adulteration, and this incident represents the latest in a long string of contamination events that have brought a global spotlight on the United States’ loose regulatory structure for these controversial crops. GE alfalfa is engineered by Monsanto to be resistant to glyphosate, or “Roundup Ready,” and is the first engineered perennial crop. The contamination could either be a result of cross-pollination or direct contamination of purchased seed. Cross- contamination is highly likely as alfalfa is pollinated by bees that can fly and cross-pollinate between fields and wild sources miles apart. According to a December 2011 report by Stephanie Greene, a Ph.D. geneticist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), after Roundup Ready alfalfa was first deregulated in 2005 industry testing of conventional seed lots found levels of contamination as high as  two percent. USDA claims the contamination is a “commercial issue” and should be addressed by the marketplace and not the […]

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23
Aug

Groups Call on USDA to Improve Oversight of GE Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2013) Beyond Pesticides, along with upwards of 150 U.S. farm and food businesses and organizations, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calling on the department to strengthen their oversight of field trials of experimental, genetically engineered (GE) crops. The letter comes in response to the USDA’s announcement in May 2013, that unapproved GE wheat developed by Monsanto was discovered in a farmer’s field in eastern Oregon. GE material drifts  and contaminates non-GE   and organic fields, economically crippling these farmers. The letter, which was addressed to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, is supported by food and farming organizations calling for tighter regulations and oversight of GE crops, particularly for experimental field trials. “Current U.S. policy includes neither mandatory contamination prevention measures nor an adequate system for monitoring the success of containment following trials,” charged the Organic Seed Alliance and the Rural Advancement Foundation International in a recent press release. Many of these farmers and members of these groups require this oversight to protect their very livelihoods. “Annually, we use over 10 million pounds of organic wheat,” said Steve Crider, government and industry liaison for Amy’s Kitchen. “Therefore, the integrity of non-GMO wheat is […]

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