Blast from the Past #3 4/24/11
Open letter to the Saguache County Commissioners:
As you may have heard, the federal government has approved the use of Genetically Modified Alfalfa in the USA with no restrictions. It appears the USDA has caved in to corporate pressure from the likes of Monsanto who will profit from the sale of these seeds as well as from the sale of the herbicide Roundup. This transpired despite overwhelming public comment against the approval of a crop that has the ability to cross pollinate with non-GMO alfalfa over large distances potentially contaminating farmers crops. It is possible that these modified genes could spread across the entire country, virtually eliminating organic and non-GMO farming of alfalfa, the countries 4th largest crop. Alfalfa, unlike other GMO crops grows wild in ditches and roadsides enabling the mutant genes to spread unchecked.
What many do not know is that in a lawsuit claiming damages due to GMO contamination the burden of proof is on the farmer (claimant), making compensation much harder to obtain and for most, financially impossible. Monsanto and other large corporations are standing behind those that use their products in lawsuits around the world. Family farmers have no chance against the bio-tech behemoths.
Another disturbing trend is that many weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup, causing producers to use more of this herbicide and eventually resorting to other more harmful chemicals. Current studies indicate that 11 million acres in the USA are showing resistance to Roundup. In Roundup Ready corn, producers are finding that the plants do not have the resistance that the older varieties had to other problems such as insects & pathogens. Alarmingly, GMO pollen may be contributing to a decline in the bee population that we all depend on for the production of most fruits, nuts and other foods. Why are we taking this risk?
While the First Lady grows an organic garden on the grounds of the White House, her husband’s administration approves GMO crops for mass consumption. I understand that the First Family eats organic food on a regular basis. Do they know something the general public should know?
What can be done? I think that the San Luis Valley could be a safe haven for non-GMO crops creating a significant marketing niche for farmers here. Our mountainous ecosystem provides a barrier to contamination from GMO crops in the lowlands. This could allow us to produce clean alfalfa for sale to organic dairies around the country. It’s also likely that conventional milk producers will eventually choose to offer products that claim to be GMO free, just as they have with Bovine Growth Hormone and antibiotics.
Additionally, the San Luis Valley could be a source for clean seed for organic producers who may not be able to find seeds that meets organic production standards due to GMO contamination.
It is likely that some in the valley might want to plant the new GMO alfalfa seed. However, this valley is home to a large community of organic farmers who could lose their livelihood if their crops become contaminated with GM alfalfa. I propose that the Saguache County Commissioners declare the county GMO free. Then take it another step, approaching the other counties in the valley to join us. This has the potential to be a significant economic boost for the valley well worth considering.
I am interested in what others think. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sincerely, Thomas D. McCracken