This letter is re-printed with permission by the CEO of Organically Grown Company in Clackamas, Oregon, the largest wholesaler of organic produce in the Pacific Northwest.
Dear President Obama:
Secretary Vilsack’s decision to deregulate GE alfalfa represents a serious step backwards for American agriculture.
As a food industry professional and director of a state food bank that provides emergency food relief, I believe that American food policy should be guided by common sense principles, such as:
1. Resiliency: How can we mitigate the impact of unplanned catastrophes to prevent food supply disruptions?
2. Stewardship: How can we protect natural resources to sustain future generations of Americans?
3. Economic opportunity: How can we reduce artificial barriers to success for new and established growers?
I believe the deregulation of GE alfalfa violates all three of these principles.
The advent of transgenic crops has resulted in the disappearance of traditional breeding programs and germplasm diversity. The patenting of traits, in turn, has resulted in agricultural seeds moving from the public domain to the private domain. Is it in the public’s interest to make its survival dependent upon the benevolence of a few companies that retain ownership of these patents?
Agricultural practices need to emulate natural systems, not annihilate them. To do otherwise invites unintended consequences such as Roundup resistant weeds and contaminated organic seed stocks courtesy of pollen drift.
The median age of farmers in Oregon is around 57 years old. There are many barriers to entry for young farmers. Most who enter the farming profession in this state start small with the intention of expanding in incremental steps. They don’t have the time and means to engage in litigation with seed companies over seed contamination. This is a real issue in the Willamette Valley thanks to the introduction of GE sugar beets in the valley.
Please direct the Secretary to reconsider this decision. Thank you.
Josh Hinerfeld CEO Organically Grown Company