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Protesters March Worldwide Against Monsanto

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, May 29, 2013) Last weekend across the world thousands of protesters rallied in dozens of cities against industry giant Monsanto and its genetically engineered (GE) products. “March Against Monsanto,” a coordinated day of action and protest, was held in 52 countries and 436 cities, including Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, even after Congress voted against allowing states to require labeling of GE foods. The organizers of the May 25 rally call for labeling of GE foods and further scientific research on the health effects of GE foods. Demonstrators hoped to raise awareness of the issue and waved signs that read “Real Food 4 Real People” and “Label GMOs, It’s Our Right to Know.” They also urge supporters to “vote with their dollar” by buying only organic products and boycotting Monsanto-owned companies. Protesters in the U.S. urged opposition to the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act” which takes away the authority of federal courts to halt the sale or production of GE crops, undermining the courts’ ability to protect farmers and the environment from potentially hazardous GE crops. “We’re marching to raise awareness,” said Dorothy Muehlmann, 30, of Corona, who organized the L.A. march with help from groups such as Occupy […]

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Supreme Court Finds Farmer in Violation of Monsanto’s GE Seed Patent

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, May 15, 2013) The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that farmers cannot replant patented genetically engineered (GE) seed as it violates licensing agreements. This means that farmers must pay industry giants like Monsanto for seed each growing season, sealing the agribusiness giant’s quest to  fundamentally  alter  the nature  of farming. This ruling is a blow to farmers who have been persecuted by Monsanto for ”˜trespassing’ on patent rights due to saving seed. The case, Bowman v. Monsanto, is a patent case which argues that Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman infringed on Monsanto’s GE soybean patent rights by purchasing from a third-party seed supplier instead of Monsanto, and benefited from successive harvests of the GE crop. Monsanto said Mr. Bowman’s plantings violated the company’s patent agreement that farmers are required to sign when they purchase GE seed. First, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed and told Mr. Bowman to pay nearly $85,000 in damages. Mr. Bowman appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which handed down its decision on Monday. The Center for Food Safety (CFS), which filed a brief on behalf of Mr. Bowman, put forward a legal framework to the court to safeguard […]

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Court Rules GMOs OK On Wildlife Refuges

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, October 22, 2012) A lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) practice of permitting genetically engineered (GE) crops on wildlife refuges was dismissed by a U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The suit filed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the Center for Food Safety (CFS), and Beyond Pesticides, charged that FWS unlawfully entered into cooperative farming agreements and approved planting of GE crops in 54 national wildlife refuges in various states without the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and in violation of FWS policy. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C. rejected the plaintiff’s arguments, ruling that the “agency’s actions were not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which oversees 150 million acres of refuges, allowed farmers to plant GE corn and soybeans on a limited basis in eight Midwestern states. The plaintiffs — Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Cornucopia Institute — claimed the decision violated environmental law. Farming has long been used on national wildlife refuges for multiple purposes like habitat restoration, which […]

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Increased Pesticide Use and Resistant Weeds -The Troubling Legacy of GE Crops

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2012) A study published this week by Washington State University’s research professor Charles Benbrook, PhD, finds that the use of herbicides in the production of three genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops -cotton, soybeans and corn- has actually increased, contrary to industry claims that the technology would reduce pesticide applications. While Dr. Benbrook’s analysis is the first peer-reviewed, published estimate of the impacts of genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-tolerant crops on pesticide use, scientists have been raising the alarm over the mounting numbers of herbicide resistant weeds. This herbicide resistance finding, which contradicts chemical industry claims, is based on an exhaustive analysis of publicly available data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service. In the study, “Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. — the first sixteen years,” which appears in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe, Dr. Benbrook writes that the emergence and spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds is strongly correlated with the upward trajectory in herbicide use. Marketed as Roundup and other trade names, glyphosate is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide used to kill weeds. Approximately 95 percent of soybean and cotton acres, and over 85 percent of corn, are planted to […]

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Controversial New Study Reports GM Corn Can Cause Cancer

Friday, September 21st, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2012) A new French study reports that rats fed a diet of Roundup-tolerant genetically modified (GM) corn had an increased risk of developing tumors, suffering organ damage and dying prematurely. The study is the first animal feeding trial studying the lifetime effects of exposure to Roundup tolerant GM corn and has prompted the European Food Safety Authority to look into the study’s results. However, it is also being criticized by some other scientists who said the methodology was flawed and that other research had not found similar problems. The study, “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize,” which is being published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, was led by Gilles-Eric SĂ©ralini, PhD, at the University of Caen in France. The study followed 200 rats for two years, the life-span of the rat, but far longer than the typical 90-day feeding studies used in regulatory assessments and subsequent approval of GM crops. The rats were fed different amounts of NK603 corn developed by Monsanto to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup. In some cases, the corn had been sprayed in the field with Roundup. Other rats were given […]

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USDA Gives Final Approval to GE Sugar Beets

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2012) The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced this week that it is formally deregulating a line of sugar beets genetically engineered (GE) to resist applications of the herbicide glyphosate. Developed by chemical and seed giant Monsanto Co., the new sugar beets, referred to as “Roundup Ready” (RR), were found by APHIS to not present a risk of becoming a plant pest risk and that they will and are not likely to cause a significant environmental impact. Environmental and public interest advocates, however, point to the fact that the proliferation of glyphosate-tolerant crops has already led to increased pesticide resistance among weeds, and increased pesticide use. The planting of engineered sugar beets brings with it the risk of genetic drift and cross contamination of pollen into non-GE and organic fields growing sugar beets or other related crops, such as table beets, spinach, swiss chard, and quinoa. APHIS originally deregulated RR sugar beets in 2005. A coalition of environmental groups and organic seed companies, led by the Center for Food Safety, challenged the USDA approval in 2008. It argued that GE sugar beets would contaminate organic and non-GE farmers of […]

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Take Action – Tell USDA to Deny Dow’s 2,4-D Tolerant GMO Corn

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2012) Dow Chemical has asked USDA for approval of genetically engineered (GE) corn, modified to be tolerant to the highly toxic 2,4-D herbicide, which is contaminated with dioxin and linked to cancer, birth defects and more. We know from experience that herbicide-tolerant crops are a bad idea. They increase toxic pesticide use, contaminate organic and non-GE farms, and contribute to herbicide-resistance. In fact, Dow introduced a new GE corn variety because weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup, the previous chemical of choice for herbicide-tolerant plants. However, solving herbicide resistance with a new, more toxic chemical is like using gasoline to put out a fire. It will cause even more damage to health and the environment, and in a few years, the pesticide industry will be marketing their next “solution” to the growing resistance problem. Read Beyond Pesticides full comments to USDA for Dow’s petition to approve 2-4,D-resistant GE corn. Tell USDA to stop this toxic experiment and deny Dow’s petition for 2,4-D tolerant corn. Sign your organization or business onto Beyond Pesticides’ comments or submit comments directly to the USDA docket. The deadline to sign on is Friday, April 27 at noon. Background: In a radio […]

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USDA Deregulates Monsanto’s Drought Resistant Corn, Opens Comment Period on 2,4-D Resistant Corn

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2012) Just as everyone was getting ready for the holidays, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved yet another genetically modified seed by Monsanto, a drought-tolerant variety of corn, MON87460. In addition to its announcement approving Monsanto’s newest GE corn variety, USDA also opened a 60-day public comment period for two additional petitions — one for Monsanto’s GE soybean containing higher levels of an omega-3 fatty acid, that does not naturally occur in soybeans, and the other from Dow AgroSciences for corn that has been genetically engineered to resist the poisonous herbicide 2,4-D. “In 2012 the USDA is proposing approving a new GE corn variety that is resistant to a different toxic herbicide, escalating the toxic treadmill in chemical-dependent agriculture,” said Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides. “This is nothing more than a band-aid solution to a serious problem, and will only give rise to more superweeds, more herbicide pollution in our environment, more herbicide poisoning, while likely leading to the need for even more toxic herbicides a couple of years down the line. This foolish circle has to end,” he added. [To listen to a radio interview on 2,4-D by Jay Feldman click here.] […]

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EPA Seeks Information on Resistance in Genetically Engineered Plants

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, December 2, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has opened a pesticide docket for information and reviews relevant to insect resistance management for plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs) -plants engineered through biotechnology to express pesticidal properties. The agency intends to collect public information on insect resistance management and monitoring for genetically engineered (GE) PIPs after expressing concern that efforts to tackle resistance issues need to be “more proactive” and effective in light of “severe” and rapidly growing insect resistance to GE crops. According to EPA’s Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division, the agency is reviewing insect resistance management assessments submitted by registrants in accordance with the ongoing terms and conditions of their registered PIP products. PIPs are genetically engineered to incorporate pesticidal properties in plant genes in order to ward off insects that prey on the plants. PIPs are registered as a pesticidal product under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Many GE plants such as corn, cotton and others include Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a bacterium with insecticidal properties whose genes have been incorporated into the plant’s own genetic material. However, recent reports have shown that these PIPs are spawning “superbugs” that have become resistant to this technology. […]

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New Report Highlights GMOs’ False Promises and Failed Technologies

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, October 26, 2011) A new report highlights scientific research and empirical experiences around the globe that demonstrate the failure of genetically modified (GM) seeds and crops to deliver on their advertised promises to increase yields, reduce pesticide usage, and tolerate drought with “climate ready” traits. A Global Citizens Report on the State of GMOs, “The GMO Emperor has no Clothes,” states that the on-the-ground experience in many countries discloses that GM technology has failed on all fronts, contrary to industry claims. The examples from around the globe include the financial burden borne by farmers. The report describes the cultivation of GM cotton in South Africa where the majority of farmers growing GM cotton are now in debt due to the high costs of seed, chemical, and other farm inputs. The Global Citizens Report confirms that such experiences are repeated in many countries and regions. The stories of Indian farmer indebtedness and increased suicides further emphasize the tragic costs of failed GM technology and its promises. The prevalence of Roundup Ready GM crops has led to the increases of Roundup resistant weeds in the environment. Farmers and agronomists throughout the world are alarmed by the growing epidemic of “superweeds” […]

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Tell USDA To Deny Deregulation of GE “Roundup Ready” Sugar Beets

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, October 18, 2011) The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently announced the availability of a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) that evaluates the potential environmental effects of deregulating (commercializing) sugar beets genetically engineered (GE) to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, commonly referred to as Roundup Ready (RR) sugar beets. APHIS considered three alternatives in the draft EIS: deny the petition seeking a determination of nonregulated status (prohibit commercial planting), make a determination of nonregulated status (allow commercial planting), or extend the partial deregulation of RR sugar beets for the root crop, with mandatory conditions and restrictions. Comments will be accepted until December 13, 2011. APHIS originally deregulated RR sugar beets in 2005. A coalition of environmental groups and organic seed companies, led by the Center for Food Safety, challenged the USDA approval in 2008. It argued that GE sugar beets would contaminate organic and non-GE farmers of related crops, such as table beets and chard, as well as increase pesticide impacts on the environment and worsen the current Roundup-resistant “superweeds” epidemic in U.S. agriculture. In September 2009, Judge Jeffrey S. White in the federal district court in San Francisco agreed, […]

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Monsanto GM Corn Falls Prey to Bug It Was Suppose to Thwart, Threatening Organic

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2011) Widely grown corn plants that Monsanto Co. genetically modified to thwart a voracious bug are falling prey to that very pest in Iowa cornfields, the first time a major Midwest scourge has developed resistance to a genetically modified crop. The discovery raises concerns that the biotech crops are spawning “superbugs” and calls into question EPA’s allowance of so-called plant incorporated protectants (PIPs). Fields planted in Monsanto’s Bt corn in some areas of the Midwest are showing damage from the corn rootworm””the very species targeted by Monsanto’s engineered trait. Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann, PhD has discovered that western corn rootworms in four Iowa fields have evolved and can resist the pesticide built into Monsanto’s genetically altered corn seeds. The scientist said the cases were isolated, but he did not know how widespread the problem could become. Farmers in Illinois are also seeing severe rootworm damage in fields planted in Monsanto’s Bt corn. In 2010, Monsanto acknowledged that in industrial-agriculture regions of India, where Monsanto’s Bt cotton is a dominant crop, the cotton-attacking bollworm had developed resistance. “These are isolated cases, and it isn’t clear how widespread the problem will become,” said Dr. Gassmann in […]

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Roundup May Be Damaging Soil and Reducing Yields, Says USDA

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2011) A US Department of Agriculture (USDA) official speaking at an agricultural conference said that the heavy use of Roundup, an herbicide manufactured by Monsanto and used heavily on “Roundup Ready” genetically engineered (GE) crops, appears to be causing harmful changes in soil and potentially hindering yields of crops that farmers are cultivating. Reuters reported that Robert Kremer, PhD, a microbiologist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, told the audience at the August 12, 2011 conference sponsored by the Organization for Competitive Markets that repeated use of the herbicide glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup herbicide, impacts the root structure of plants, and 15 years of research indicates that the chemical could be causing fungal root disease. Dr. Kremer first warned us about his research and questioned the government’s response last year. “This could be something quite big. We might be setting up a huge problem,” Dr. Kremer told Reuters last year. “Science is not being considered in policy setting and deregulation. This research is important. We need to be vigilant.” Monsanto created “Roundup Ready” crops to withstand its Roundup herbicide (with the active ingredient glyphosate). Growing previous Roundup Ready crops such as soy, cotton, and […]

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Groups Sue to Halt GE Crops on Southeastern National Wildlife Refuges

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, August 16, 2011) A lawsuit filed in federal court against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) seeks to end cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops on twenty-five national wildlife refuges across the U.S. Southeast. The suit is the latest step in a campaign to banish GE crops from all refuges. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on August 12, 2011 by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the Center for Food Safety (CFS), and Beyond Pesticides, the federal suit charges that FWS unlawfully entered into cooperative farming agreements and approved planting of GE crops in eight states without the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and in violation of FWS policy. This is the third in a series of lawsuits filed by CFS and PEER challenging FWS’s practice of permitting GE crops on wildlife refuges. In 2009 and 2010, the groups successfully challenged approval of GE plantings on two wildlife refuges in Delaware — Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge — which forced FWS to end GE planting in the entire 12-state Northeastern region. National wildlife refuges have allowed farming for decades despite […]

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“Super-Weeds” on the Rise Due to Spread of Genetically Engineered Crops

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, August 4, 2011) At least 21 different species of weeds are found to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, commonly sold as Roundup and used across thousands of acres of “RoundUp Ready” genetically engineered (GE) crops, according to a series of studies in the current issue of Weed Science. Palmer amaranth, one of the weeds discussed in the journal, can reduce yields of cotton by more than 50 percent if there is a density of at least 10 of these weeds per row. Fifty-two counties in the state of Georgia had infestations of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth last year. Studies confirm that the weed, which also competes with soybean, corn, grain sorghum and peanut crops, is also resistant to the herbicide phrithiobac in addition to glyphosate. Over-application and over-reliance by farmers on glyphosate to solve all of their weed problems has led to the proliferation of so-called “super weeds,” which have evolved to survive the treatments through repeated exposure. The most common species which have evolved these traits include pigweed (palmer amaranth), mare’s tail, and ryegrass. The spread of resistance is what has led farmers to increasingly rely on more toxic alternative mixtures, including weed killers like atrazine. There […]

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U.S. House Proposes Ban on Genetically Engineered Salmon

Friday, June 17th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2011) The U.S. House of Representatives this week approved a measure that would bar the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from allowing genetically engineered (GE) salmon to be freely bought and sold. The measure was added as an amendment to the 2012 agriculture and food safety funding bill by U.S. Representative Don Young (R-AK). Representative Young introduced the amendment out of concern that the altered species would compete with the wild salmon in the Pacific waters off of his state and cause economic losses for Alaskan fishermen. Technically speaking, the amendment would not actually legally prohibit the approval of the animal, but rather simply bars the agency from spending any money in order to approve the application for the controversial fish. The vote, which took place on Wednesday, allowed the measure to be amended to the original appropriations bill, which still remains under consideration by the House. The full package must still be approved by a full House vote and sent to the Senate. There has been no indication from Senators on which way the upper chamber will vote on the measure. Whichever way the issue turns, it will be highly significant for future regulation of […]

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Despite Industry Claims, Herbicide Use Fails to Decline with GE Crops

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, June 3, 2011) According to the 2010 Agricultural Chemical Use Report released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), use of the herbicide glyphosate, associated with genetically engineered (GE) crops, has dramatically increased over the last several years, while the use of other even more toxic chemicals such as atrazine has not declined. Contrary to common claims from chemical manufacturers and proponents of GE technology that the proliferation of herbicide tolerant GE crops would result in lower pesticide use rates, the data show that overall use of pesticides has remained relatively steady, while glyphosate use has skyrocketed to more than double the amount used just five years ago. The 2010 Agricultural Chemical Use Report shows that, in the states surveyed, 57 million pounds of glyphosate were applied last year on corn fields. Ten years prior, in 2000, this number was only 4.4 million pounds, and in 2005, it was still less than half of current numbers at 23 million pounds. Intense corn growing regions have experienced an even greater increase in glyphosate applications. Glyphosate use in the state of Nebraska increased by more than five times in just seven years, going […]

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Court of Appeals Dismisses Monsanto’s Appeal, Requires EIS for GE Sugar Beets

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, May 24, 2011) Last Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a summary order upholding a landmark legal decision requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before approving the planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops. The decision upholds previous court rulings in favor of farmers and conservation advocates in a case on the future commercial uses of GE sugar beets, engineered to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. “Today’s order cements a critical legal benchmark in the battle for meaningful oversight of biotech crops and food,” said Center for Food Safety (CFS) attorney George Kimbrell. “Because of this case, there will be public disclosure and debate on the harmful impacts of these pesticide-promoting crops, as well as legal protections for farmers threatened by contamination.” CFS, Organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and the Sierra Club, represented by CFS and Earthjustice, challenged the USDA approval in 2008. They argued that GE sugar beets would contaminate organic and non-GE farmers of related crops, such as table beets and chard, as well as increase pesticide impacts on the environment and worsen the current Roundup-resistant “superweeds” epidemic in U.S. agriculture. […]

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Groups Sue To Stop USDA’s Deregulation of Genetically Engineered Alfalfa

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2011) Last Friday, attorneys for the Center for Food Safety (CFS), Beyond Pesticides, Earthjustice, and farm and environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), arguing that the agency’s recent unrestricted approval of genetically engineered (GE), “Roundup Ready” alfalfa is unlawful. In January, USDA announced plans to fully deregulate GE alfalfa seed, despite contamination risks it poses to both organic and conventional farmers. With the full deregulation of GE alfalfa underway, USDA estimates that up to 23 million more pounds of toxic herbicides will be released into the environment each year. This year has seen a series of decisions by USDA to allow the unrestricted cultivation of genetically engineered crops, and just last month a federal appeals court decided to reverse a federal order to destroy GE sugar beet seedlings. Most GE crops are engineered to be immune to the herbicide glyphosate, which Monsanto markets as Roundup. Currently, USDA data show that 93% of all the alfalfa planted by farmers in the U.S. is grown without the use of any herbicides. The decision to fully deregulate GE alfalfa fails to take several scientifically-validated environmental concerns, such as the indiscriminate nature of GE […]

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USDA Deregulates Genetically Engineered Alfalfa and Groups Pledge To Sue, While Interior Pulls GE Crops from Northeast Refuges

Friday, January 28th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2011) Environmental and public interest groups are extremely disappointed with the announcement late Thursday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to fully deregulate genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa seed, despite the risks it poses to both organic and conventional farmers. Among those upset with the announcement are the cosponsors of the original Organic Foods Productions Act, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who have weighed in with their criticism of USDA’s decision. This decision follows the agency’s completion of the court-mandated environmental impact statement (EIS) for GE alfalfa. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack called for “coexistence” among GE, organic and conventional non-GE farmers, despite the clear recognition in the EIS that GE contamination of organic and conventionally grown crops presents a huge problem. The EIS also fails to take into account the documented increase in herbicide-resistant “super weeds” that is requiring the use of highly toxic herbicide cocktails for weed control on conventional farms. Likewise, USDA has not shown that contamination-free coexistence with deregulated GE alfalfa is likely or possible. “We’re disappointed with USDA’s decision and we will be back in court representing the interest of farmers, preservation of the environment, and […]

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Take Action – Tell the President and USDA: Do Not Approve GE Alfalfa

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, January 20, 2011) Beyond Pesticides and the National Organic Coalition (NOC) are encouraging their members to contact President Obama and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and tell them not to approve (or not deregulate) Monsanto’s “RoundUp Ready,” genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa, which contributes to genetic drift, superweeds, and the use of a hazardous herbicide glyphosate. In December, USDA completed its environmental impact statement (EIS) of GE alfalfa. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has rejected the option to prohibit the planting (and continuing to regulate) GE Alfalfa, despite the clear recognition in the EIS that that GE contamination of organic and conventionally grown crops presents a huge problem. USDA released its 2,400 page EIS as required by a 2007 Federal District Court decision and upheld by both 2009 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and June 2010 U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The litigation was led by the Center for Food Safety, and joined by Beyond Pesticides, and other groups, including conventional and organic seed companies and producers. Three alternatives are considered during the preparation of the final EIS: 1) to maintain the RR alfalfa’s status as a regulated article; 2) to deregulate RR alfalfa; or 3) to deregulate RR […]

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USDA Considers Future of Genetically Engineered Crops, Groups Call for Ban

Friday, December 17th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, December 17, 2010) Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack disappointed organic farmers and consumers, as well as environmentalists when he announced December 16, 2010 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture was considering “deregulating” a genetically engineered crop that is tied to genetic drift, superweeds, and the use of a hazardous pesticide -Monsanto’s genetically-engineered (GE) Roundup (glyphosate) Ready (RR) alfalfa. The Department released a 2,400 page Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as required by a 2007 Federal District Court decision and upheld by both 2009 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and June 2010 U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The litigation was led by the Center for Food Safety, and joined by Beyond Pesticides, and other groups, including organic seed companies and producers. A broad coalition of groups has previously called for USDA to deny approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered, Roundup Ready alfalfa (GE alfalfa). In March, more than 200,000 people submitted comments to USDA critiquing the substance and conclusions of its Draft EIS on GE Alfalfa. In addition, more than 300 public interest organizations, farmers, dairies, retailers and organic food producers from the U.S. and Canada delivered a critical letter to USDA. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), […]

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FDA Considers Approval of Genetically Engineered Salmon

Monday, August 30th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, August 30, 2010) AquaBounty Technologies Inc.. a small biotechnology firm based in Waltham, Massachusetts, is seeking FDA approval for a genetically engineered salmon, hoping to do for aquaculture what biotech giants such as Monsanto have done for agronomy. Currently, the vast majority of US soybeans, corn, and cotton are genetically engineered, but this would be the first commercially available genetically engineered food animal. While AquaBounty argues their fish will help feed the world, many are leery of “frankenfish” being introduced into the food supply. If the proliferation of genetically engineered crops in the U.S. is any indication, the introduction of genetically engineered animals into the food supply will fail to produce an increase in yield. AquaBounty has invested $50 million over 14 years to develop AquAdvantage Fish. AquAdvantage Salmon (AAS) unlike conventional salmon grows year around reaching market weight in 18 months instead of 36, and consuming 25% less food over its lifetime. The variety was developed by inserting part of a gene from an Ocean Pout, an eel-like fish, into the growth gene of a Chinook salmon. The blended genetic material is then injected into the fertilized egg of a North Atlantic salmon. According to AquaBounty CEO […]

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