Today, attorneys for the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Earthjustice 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 was unlawful. The GE crop is engineered to be immune to the herbicide glyphosate, which Monsanto markets as Roundup. USDA data show that 93 percent of all the alfalfa planted by farmers in the U.S. is grown without the use of any herbicides. With the full deregulation of GE alfalfa, USDA estimates that up to 23 million more pounds of toxic herbicides will be released into the environment each year. Read more
Last Friday, the USDA announced the partial deregulation of genetically modified sugar beets, defying a court order to complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in advance of a decision. This move follows on the heels of the full deregulation late last month of genetically modified (GM) alfalfa, the fourth most common row crop in the United States, which is most often used as feed for cattle.
If you eat beef, or take milk and sugar in your coffee (and even if you don’t), here is why you should care: The move could put organic foods at risk for contamination and make it more expensive. Read more
Government regulation of corporate practices has apparently been much on President Obama’s mind lately. He recent penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed vowing to review federal regulations to make sure they weren’t too onerous on business. In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, he illustrated his concern about the complexity of federal regulation by pointing out that two different agencies regulate wild salmon. “And when it’s smoked, I understand it gets really complicated,” he added. Ha, ha.
In other words, Obama is trying to establish himself as an eminently reasonable, pro-business sort of president — you know, not the sort of fellow who would let things like the Wall Street banking meltdown, the Upper Big Branch coal-mine disaster, the BP oil spill, or any other notorious lapse in government oversight stand in the way of the business of doing business.
Obama’s instantly famous “salmon joke” has me looking into how the government regulates salmon farms — those vast factory-style pens concentrated mostly off the coast of Washington state. I’m not done with research and won’t be until next week, as I’m preparing for a trip tomorrow to California to speak at the Edible Communities conference in Santa Barbara. The initial results of my research: government oversight of salmon farms consists mainly of encouraging them to produce as much salmon as possible.
This afternoon, my farmed-salmon research and trip prep were rudely interrupted by an unexpected regulation-related announcement: the USDA has decided to approve the use genetically modified alfalfa without any restriction. Read more
The sustainable agriculture world is abuzz today with news of the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding an earlier lawsuit, brought by alfalfa farmers, that sought to stop any planting of Monsanto’s genetically engineered Roundup Ready alfalfa seed. While the press coverage heralds the ruling as a decisive victory for Monsanto, a close reading shows that, in fact, it’s a fairly significant win for opponents of biotech crops. Read more
The Center for Food Safety today celebrated the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Monsanto v. Geerston Farms, the first genetically modified crop case ever brought before the Supreme Court. Although the High Court decision reverses parts of the lower courts’ rulings, the judgment holds that a vacatur bars the planting of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Alfalfa until and unless future deregulation occurs. It is a victory for the Center for Food Safety and the Farmers and Consumers it represents. Read more