Looking forward to 2011 and beyond, our mission to support the ethical development and stewardship of seed remains critical. The urgency of our work is echoed in the voices of farmers concerned about their right to save seed; evidenced in farmers’ requests for training in seed production; and expressed by the organic food industry and eaters who demand food that is free of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.
This past year, our advocacy efforts were validated by the judicial system. Federal District Judge White ruled that GE sugar beet production must cease pending a full review of environmental and economic impacts, citing the risk of cross-contamination with organic and other non-GE crops. When the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowed GE sugar beet plantings following this ruling, Judge White ordered the crops be destroyed. These legal victories call on our regulatory agencies to honor organic integrity.
Our efforts are also validated by larger investments in our work. Increased support from private foundations and organizations, like Newman’s Own, Organic Valley’s Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools, and our local Food Co-op and Jefferson County Farmers Market, has been vital to our success this year. We are also seeing plant breeding prioritized in public organic agricultural initiatives, resulting in long-term funding for projects like the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC). And Seed Matters, an initiative recently launched by the Clif Bar Family Foundation, is providing a platform for the organic industry to invest in OSA and two effective partners – Organic Farming Research Foundation and the Center for Food Safety – in developing and protecting seed as a natural resource.
As OSA’s Executive Director, I’m heartened by the enthusiasm from farmers, scientists and other agricultural organizations to collaborate in moving organic seed forward. Perhaps the most tangible evidence of our good work this year is found in the field. OSA is a leader in the online eOrganic/ eXtension.org seeds and breeding communities, collaborating nationally to breed crops for organic farmers and establish networks for farmers and researchers to share information about variety performance in organic systems. Our field trials are ongoing and focus on a range of vegetables (including winter hardy crops), cover crops, and small grains. Trial results provide farmers the information they need to choose organic seed varieties appropriate for their crop challenges.
We’re proud of our work to establish regional and national networks for farmers to share information, infrastructure and resources. This work is making a difference at the farm level, both regionally and nationally.
The value of your support cannot be overstated. Your donation provides a foundation for our work and allows us to respond to needs as they arise, be it responding to national agricultural policy or providing mentorship for farmers on seed production. Thank you for your continued support.
Micaela Colley, Executive Director