Thursday, July 22, 2010

Letter From Oregon Congressman, Peter Defazio

The following is a copy of the letter Congressman, Peter Defazio of Oregon wrote to the mother of one of our friends about the concerns about genetically engineered foods. Please take a moment to write to him and thank him. He is looking out for Oregon as well as the rest of us.

Dear Ms. Allen: Thank you for contacting me with concerns about genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa. I completely agree with you and appreciate you writing on this issue. You will be happy to know that I recently wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack, in which Senator Leahy (D-VT) and 56 of my colleagues joined me in asking that USDA ... See Moreprohibit the use of GE alfalfa. I have long stood up against GE products, particularly during the creation of the national standards for the National Organic Program, which I helped establish. There are numerous reasons to believe that GE contamination will occur among non-GE alfalfa crops and result in significant economic harm to the alfalfa seed and hay export markets and to the organic and conventional dairy industries. Alfalfa seed growers are particularly at risk, and the Pacific Northwest grows more alfalfa seed than anywhere in the country. USDA's recent draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for GE alfalfa concluded that deregulation of GE alfalfa would have "no significant impact". However, the public comment period of USDA's DEIS received more than 200,000 comments, most of which argued that the USDA findings were grossly inaccurate. Alfalfa is the main feed for dairy cows, so deregulated GE alfalfa that contaminates conventional alfalfa would tremendously impact the dairy industry, especially organic dairy industry which is approximately a $1.4 billion industry. American consumers today expect the USDA certified organic seal to represent products free of GE contamination. If the USDA organic seal no longer represents a GE-free product because of unintended contamination, the integrity of the entire organic industry will be compromised. Furthermore, if farmers are unable to source adequate organic feed and forage, they will not be able to produce organic milk.It is important to point out that concerns with GE alfalfa contamination are not just related to the organic industry. Conventional alfalfa growers rely heavily on the export market and have real reason to worry about those markets drying up if GE alfalfa is deregulated. According to the Foreign Agriculture Service at USDA, conventional alfalfa producers could lose at least $197 million in alfalfa seed and forage exports as a result of GE alfalfa deregulation. The largest alfalfa export markets are to GE sensitive countries, which have restrictions against importing GE contaminated crops. Further, Roundup is often used to kill stands between growing seasons, and Roundup tolerant seeds would lead to conventional growers using larger quantities of more expensive pesticides. You can be sure that I will continue to stand up for the organic industry. I appreciate you contacting me and I encourage you to be in touch in the future.

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