Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:00 AM
Board sends letter to Vilsack calling current policies 'insufficient'
By STEVE BROWN
The National Organic Standards Board has unanimously endorsed a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack calling for better protection of organic crops from GMOs.
The letter, signed by NOSB chairman Barry Flamm, called USDA's actions on genetically modified plants so far "insufficient."
"Unsolicited public comments at many NOSB meetings ... have illustrated the extreme concern about the impact that continued deregulation of new genetically engineered crops has had on our community of organic farmers, handlers and consumers," NOSB members said in the letter. The board, meeting in Albuquerque, N.M., has formed an ad hoc committee on GMOs.
The committee said it will examine all the areas where GMO contamination poses a threat to organics.
"We see the potential of contamination by genetically engineered crops as a critical issue for organic agricultural producers and the consumers of their products," the group said in the letter. "We feel the developers of the GMO technology should share the burden that organic farmers now assume in mitigating the gene flow between farms and should compensate organic farmers for genetic drift."
Laura Batcha, executive vice president of the Organic Trade Association, said, "OTA supported, in its public comment, the letter and the work plan of the GMO ad hoc committee."
Gwendolyn Wyard, associate director of Organic Standards and Industry Outreach at OTA, said, "The continued health and growth of the organic industry require that our supply chain not be compromised."