The United States Department of Agriculture frequently opens up issues for public comment. Rarely, however, do many people speak up on any considerable scale. Now they are asking for your input on the issue of “coexistence” or the communication between the government and farmers. While not exactly the right issue, their request for your input is a great opportunity to let the USDA know what you think about GMO as it relates to farmers and contamination.
The Cornucopia Institute, an organization that supports “economic justice for the family-scale farming community—partnered with consumers—backing ecologically produced local, organic, and authentic food,” is campaigning for the general public to get involved in the USDA’s invitation for comments.
Last November, the USDA published their request for comments on how agricultural “coexistence” could be strengthened in the U.S. Specifically, they are looking for your answers to more than a dozen questions (which can be found here). But as the Cornucopia Institute points out, by focusing solely on coexistence, the USDA is “skirting the most important question at hand,” which they say is, “How can (GMO) contamination be prevented?”
A little odd, since the USDA already considers GMO contamination completely normal.
Communication between farmers will not stop GMO contamination. The makers of seeds containing GMO technology should be held responsible for the effects of these seeds and the federal government should set up the legal framework to regulate it. In a perfect world, GMOs would have to be banned altogether to prevent the inevitable contamination that stems from ‘coexistence’ between GMO and non-GMO crops.
To that end, we are joining with the Cornucopia Institute in asking for your help.
You can submit your own views to the USDA by using their online comment form, located here. While taking the time to read through their questions and formulating your own comments will have the most impact, the Cornucopia Institute has offered a language in a sample letter, found here.
The sample letter includes, among other things:
“The USDA seeks input on questions of education and outreach, but that is surely putting the cart before the horse. You cannot educate when you do not have a clear message around the issues brought up in the AC21 document: (1) compensation, (2) stewardship, (3) education and outreach, (4) research and (5) seed quality. You must establish clear guidelines around these issues before you begin to “educate, collaborate, and conduct outreach.” Voluntary solutions on these issues are insufficient; that is what we have today and it is clearly not working.”
As Anthony Gucciardi reported in a special message to newsletter subscribers recently, we hold the power to change the food system. But change will only come when we take advantage of this power. Now is your chance to tell the government how you feel about GMO contamination and the lack of regulation and accountability of seed producers.
Act quickly, as the opportunity to submit comments ends on March 4.