Monday, June 28, 2010

Update of GMOs in D.C.

Today I have been reading Anna Lappe's Diet for a Hot Planet - yes, it's a kind of sequel to her mother's 40 year old seminal book - and thinking especially about her chapter on greenwashing by food and agrochemical companies.

This reminded me that I wanted to write a bit about this June's Supreme Court decision regarding GMO's. It's been spun every which way.

The good news would seem to be that the ban on planting Round-up Ready alfalfa stands, at least for now. The ruling seems to recognize that transgenic contamination has the potential to be harmful to organic and conventional farmers. The original suit was about organic alfalfa. Clearly if organic alfalfa back crosses with genetically engineered alfalfa, it is no longer certifiable as organic, nor is the milk from cows that eat that feed. US alfalfa is sold around the globe - and, of course, many other countries have more restrictions on GMO's than we do. And gene flow is real - even the Supreme Court thinks so.

The decision also seems to leave the door open for other challenges to GMO contamination - but only after the damage is done.

Apparently Monsanto was all over the media with it's spin, that it had won the case and would have have Round-Up Ready alfalfa seed ready to go this fall. But the USDA's hope is to get the environmental impact statements done in time for selling and sewing of seed in spring 2011 - if there are no further legal challenges - which given the fact that the Center for Food Safety and other concerned groups are all over it, seems pretty unlikely.

As I look at Monsanto's web site, it seems their approach to the ruling has been under what Lappe suggests is strategy #2 - Spin the Story. Statements from execs are long on buzzwords, value-laden words and phrases, and very short on facts.

But here's one fact I can't resist sharing: Justice Breyer recused himself on the ruling because his brother was involved in the original case here in the 9th circuit. Justice Thomas, formerly employed by Monsanto, did not.

You can read a fuller balanced treatment on Grist:

I must say reviewing the spin and some of the blogging on this issue makes me wonder why I am adding to the hash and rehash of comment!

On a related issue: if you are concerned about labeling of foods containing GMO's, you can learn where your women and men in the Congress stand here:

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