UPDATE: Gary has posted a new blog in light of the recent USDA decision – please read: The Organic Community Must Come Out Swinging at the Right Opponents

Alfalfa Cow

Dear Stonyfield Friend,

I am writing today with great urgency.

If you care about being able to choose organic foods, please take a moment to read this brief note. We each need to get a message to our congressperson right away.

Within the next few days, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will announce its policy on genetically-engineered (GE) alfalfa. There are lots of reasons to be concerned about GE crops including compelling evidence that these crops lead to herbicide-resistant super-weeds and require the use of more toxic herbicides. But the biggest potential problem posed by GE alfalfa is the likely contamination of organic alfalfa, which is used as feed by most organic dairies.

The USDA is now considering whether to approve full deregulation, giving biotech a green light to use GE-alfalfa without any restrictions OR de-regulation with restrictions through a policy of “coexistence” which would mandate the protection of organic.

While we have worked hard alongside fellow organic agriculture supporters to ban GE production completely, it is clear that, faced with these choices, our best chance at preserving the future of organic agriculture is to fight for every protection available under the “coexistence” approach.

We believe that Coexistence makes sense, provided three essential conditions are met:
• the protection of seed purity for all farmers, including organic, so we maintain variety and avoid massive mono-culture;
• compensation by the patent holder to the farmer for any losses related to the contamination of his crop; and
• public oversight by the USDA as it has the authority to protect all US agriculture.

If you agree that consumers deserve to be able to choose to buy organic foods free of GE contamination, your voice is needed today. We are joining with the National Cooperative Grocers Association and others to ask that you take this step:

Please ask your Congressperson to contact House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas to express support for Secretary Vilsack’s coexistence option. To find your Congressperson, visit: http://www.house.gov/zip/ZIP2Rep.html

You can also email the USDA about this issue at: biotechquery@aphis.usda.gov and you can reach the White House at 202.456.1111.

Let’s make our voices heard in Washington to protect consumer choice, and organic and non-GMO farmers and markets.

Gary Hirshberg

P.S. If you want to read more about this critical issue, go to http://strongertogether.coop/from-the-source/we-support-an-organic-future/