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Article posted Jun 02 2010, 6:25 PM Category: Brave New World Source: Huffington Post Print

Obama USDA Poised to Take Away Our Right to GMO-Free Food

Ronnie Cummins

Don't believe Monsanto's green-washing. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), aren't meant to feed the world or survive the evermore frequent droughts and floods brought on by global warming - they're designed to sell Monsanto's herbicide Roundup and the patented "Roundup Ready" genes now spliced into millions of acres of corn, cotton, soy, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa. A 2009 study showed that, in 13 years, Roundup Ready crops increased herbicide use by 383 million pounds.

During the Bush administration, the movement to stop GMOs was making progress. Reflecting public concern over GMOs, in 2007, a Federal court ruled that the Bush USDA's approval of Roundup Ready alfalfa violated the law because it failed to analyze risks such as the contamination of conventional and organic alfalfa and the development of "super-weeds." The court banned the planting of GM alfalfa until USDA completed a rigorous analysis of these impacts. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals twice affirmed the national ban on Roundup Ready alfalfa planting, but Monsanto is appealing. They're taking organic alfalfa farmers all the way to the Supreme Court!

Barack Obama, despite promising us "change we can believe in," is unfortunately turning out to be just as pro-GMO as the preceding Bush and Clinton administrations, packing the USDA and other government bureaucracies with Monsanto men and biotech cheerleaders such as former Iowa Governor, Tom Vilsack, named "Biotech Governor of the Year" in 2001, now serving as USDA Secretary. Vilsack, notorious for flying around in a Monsanto company jet during one of his previous election campaigns, is now busy trying to get the court-ordered ban on Roundup Ready alfalfa lifted by issuing a new draft environmental impact statement (EIS) that denies or downplays the obvious environmental and human health hazards of GM alfalfa.

Alfalfa is the fourth most widely grown crop in the U.S. and a key source of dairy forage and hay. The first perennial crop to be genetically engineered, GM alfalfa can regenerate itself from its root-stock. It is open-pollinated by bees, which can cross-pollinate at distances of several miles, spreading Monsanto's patented, foreign DNA to non-GMO and organic crops. Widespread GMO-contamination of organic alfalfa is inevitable if the Obama Administration successfully distorts science and ignores public opinion and allows Monsanto's GM Roundup Ready alfalfa to be planted across the U.S.

Mounting evidence shows damage to animals and humans from unlabeled and untested Frankenfoods. Consumers who ingest GM alfalfa are likely risking their health; since even the USDA's EIS admits that, "acute toxicity in mice was observed."

According to the EIS, consumers who ingest foods with residues of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide may experience "general and non-specific signs of toxicity from subchronic and chronic exposure to glyphosate includ[ing] changes in liver weight, blood chemistry (may suggest mild liver toxicity), liver pathology, and weight of the pituitary gland."

The EIS warns that, "Based on upper estimates of exposure ... infants consuming fruit and all age groups consuming vegetables may be at risk of adverse effects associated with acute exposure to glyphosate [the active ingredient in Roundup] residues."

Consuming milk and meat from animals fed crops that are genetically engineered is also risky. In Europe, where farmer and consumer rejection has kept GMO crop acreage to a bare minimum, massive quantities of GMO-tainted animal feed is imported from the U.S. and a survey of 60 samples of 12 different milk brands sold in stores in Italy demonstrated the presence of GM maize sequences in 15 (25%) and of GM soybean sequences in 7 samples (11.7%).

Most consumers, especially organic consumers, are determined to avoid Roundup Ready alfalfa, and meat and dairy products derived from animals ingesting Roundup Ready alfalfa, but according to the EIS, we don't have that right because, "At the present time, there is no policy regarding the unintended presence of GE (genetically engineered) material in organic products or food, consistent with the fact that the NOP (National Organic Program) is a process-based program for certifying a farm or production system as organic, and not a product-based program that tests or certifies individual products as organic."

We must stop the Obama administration from taking away our right to grow and consume organic and GMO-free food. The "change we believe in" is a healthy and sustainable future based upon organic food and farming and a green economy.





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