Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Supreme Court Rules 7-1 GMO Alfalfa Is "Regulated Item" - Planting of Genetically Modified Alfalfa Still Illegal - Monsanto Spins That as Victory.

Information from an editorial by the Center for Food Safety's Andew Kimbrell 6/21/10:
It should be no surprise that Monsanto's PR machine is working hard to spin the truth in this morning's decision in the first-ever Supreme Court case on genetically engineered crops (Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms).
The Supreme Court ruled that an injunction against planting was unnecessary since, under lower courts' rulings, Roundup Ready Alfalfa became a regulated item and illegal to plant. In other words, the injunction was "overkill' because The Center for Food Safety's victory in lower federal court determined that USDA violated the National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental laws when it approved Roundup Ready alfalfa. The court felt that voiding the USDA's decision to make the crop legally available for sale was enough.

The journal Sustainable Business News also makes the same points in their story, here .

Dave Murphy of Food Democracy Now, quoted in Food Safety news, states: "Reports in the mainstream media have been wildly misleading. This ruling is a serious defeat for Monsanto. Not only is it still illegal to sell or plant GMO alfalfa until the USDA issues guidance, but the Supreme Court also ruled that 'environmental harm' now includes genetic contamination, something that could undermine biotech crops in future court cases.
The issue is still very much alive and now lands on Vilsack's desk at the USDA," said Murphy, in an email to Food Safety News. "Make no mistake about it, the future of organics is at stake."

The article goes on to state:
"The agency [USDA] issued a brief statement after the ruling yesterday: "APHIS [Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the USDA] is carefully reviewing the Supreme Court ruling before making decisions about its next regulatory actions related to the deregulation of Roundup Ready alfalfa."

The Washington Post, in a short paragraph covering the ruling, buries the lead:
"On Monday, the Supreme Court: Lifted a nationwide ban on the planting of genetically engineered alfalfa seeds, despite claims that they might harm the environment. In a 7 to 1 vote, the court reversed a federal appeals court ruling that prohibited Monsanto from selling alfalfa seeds that are resistant to the popular weed killer Roundup. The Department of Agriculture still needs to authorize use of the seeds before they can be planted on a wide scale. Justice Stephen G. Breyer took no part in the case.
The case is Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms."
Of interest on this case - As stated above, Justice Stephen Breyer recused himself, as his brother ruled in the original lower court decision of 2007 on this case.
Clarence Thomas, however, who became a corporate lawyer in the pesticide and agriculture division of the Monsanto Company three years out of law school, not only decided he could rule on this case, but also wrote the majority opinion in a past case, J. E. M. Ag Supply, Inc. v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International - for which Monsanto was one of the largest beneficiaries.

As the Organic Consumers Association says: Fox, meet henhouse.

What can you do?
Contact the USDA. Let them know that you know genetically modified alfalfa is not safe to plant. Cross contamination from GE crops is unavoidable, and the livelihood of organic alfalfa farmers and health of livestock and consumers is directly threatened by the sale and planting of this product.
Besides the direct documented health risks to animals and humans posed by GMO crops such as this alfalfa, heavier pesticide and herbicide needed to battle the "super-pests" and "super-weeds" created when these seeds are used has been shown to be inevitable.

They say "build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door".
Food crops, unadulterated, have evolved to perfectly suit human and animal need, but food crops left as they are can't be patented.

So - if you're a corporation, and you can't build a better mousetrap, the best way to rake in profits is to convince the world you have.

That's what marketing, PR and spin is all about, and it's the high-stakes game these chem/ag/biotech giants are working with their hoped-for GMO moneymakers.

Once again, family farmers - and the rest of us - who are supposed to turn our hard-earned money over to these corporations in order to plant this stuff, eat this stuff, buy pharmaceuticals from these same companies to be cured of health damage caused by this stuff, pay for environmental cleanup resulting from heavier chemical use on this stuff (chemicals also produced by these same companies) - are left holding the bag.

Contact the USDA at (202) 720-2791 0r 202-720-3631 (USDA head Tom Vilsack) today. Please read Organic Valley's take on this issue, here. Dairies and milk are directly affected by these decisions.
To contact our local Senators:

Talking Point Suggestions

  • Let the USDA know that you do care about GE contamination of organic crops and food
  • Tell USDA that you will reject GE-contaminated alfalfa and alfalfa-derived foods
  • If GE alfalfa is deregulated, widespread GE contamination of non-GM and organic alfalfa is inevitable.
  • Organic alfalfa is a critical component for organic farming and feed.
  • Remind USDA it's their job to protect Organic farmers, and all farmers who choose to grow non-GE crops.
  • GE alfalfa would significantly increase pesticide use and thereby harm human health and the environment.
  • Harm to small and organic farmers is significant.
  • USDA should extend the comment period.
Short sighted corporate profiteering at the expense of our country's family farms, farmland, and livestock and human health, should not continue to be the wave of the future. And we sure as heck know that these corporations don't create jobs. Use of these products reduces the number of farmers - and manufacturing jobs for these products is outsourced or given to the lowest paid workers to keep corporate profits up. With proper regulation, corporations can be a positive force, so we need adequate regulation.
Otherwise, as we see in the current Gulf corporate originated disaster, cleanup jobs picking up the environmental mess left behind may end up being the only game in town.