Tell the USDA: No More Field Trials of Unapproved GMO Crops!
It's official. An Oregon farmer has found an unapproved, illegal variety of wheat, genetically engineered by Monsanto to withstand the company's toxic RoundUp herbicide, growing on his property. The rogue GMO (genetically modified organism) wheat was discovered a full eight years after Monsanto’s last known field trials in the state. The discovery is proof that GMO crops, legal or otherwise, have the potential to contaminate conventional non-GMO and organic crops. It also raises the question: How many other unknown instances of contamination have occurred but have not yet been discovered? Especially with Monsanto conducting hundreds of field trials of GMO crops in the U.S.?
Please sign the petition below to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack demanding an immediate moratorium on all field trials of genetically engineered crops, including wheat.
The variety of illegal wheat discovered in Oregon was field-tested in 16 states, including Oregon, from 1998 through 2005. According to a Bloomberg report, Monsanto is still doing field tests of GMO wheat today, in North Dakota and Hawaii, though the company has tried to portray its wheat program as having been closed out nine years ago.
Sec. Vilsack should start today by recalling the rest of Monsanto's GMO wheat: 150 acres in Hawaii and 300 acres in North Dakota. Then, once he gets Monsanto's wheat under control, Sec. Vilsack should turn his attention to the hundreds of other GMO field trials, any one of which could create the next contamination crisis.
According to USDA's biotechnology database, there are hundreds of GMO field trials in every region of the country. The USDA is testing GMO grapefruits and oranges in Florida. Cornell University in California is testing GMO grapes.
But here’s what’s really disturbing: Monsanto is testing (according to the USDA database) dicamba-tolerant GMO soybeans in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. Why would Monsanto need to test a single variety of GE soybeans in 30 states? Before it’s been approved for human consumption? Could the biotech giant be trying to contaminate the food supply with unapproved GMOs?
It wouldn't be the first time. As the film The World According to Monsanto documents, intentional contamination occurred in Paraguay, where illegal Roundup Ready seeds were smuggled in before GMOs were approved. Roberto Franco, Paraguay's Deputy Agriculture Ministry, tactfully admits in the documentary: "It is possible that [Monsanto], let's say, promoted its varieties and its seeds" before they were approved. "We had to authorize GMO seeds because they had already entered our country in an, let's say, unorthodox way."
But GMO contamination doesn’t seem to be high on Vilsack’s worry list. In 2002, a corn crop engineered by ProdiGene to produce a vaccine for pigs, contaminated 500,000 bushels of soybeans, grown the following season in the same field. This after a previous incident in Iowa, where the USDA ordered ProdiGene to pay for the burning of 155 acres of conventional corn presumed contaminated by ProdiGene plants. ProdiGene eventually went out of business, but not before it received a $6 million investment from the Governors Biotechnology Partnership, chaired by then-Iowa-Governor Vilsack. In reaction to suggestions that pharma crops should be kept away from food crops, Vilsack argued that "we should not overreact and hamstring this industry."
If Sec. Vilsack isn’t concerned about contaminating this country’s food supply, perhaps he cares about the economic consequences of contaminating non-GMO and organic crops in the U.S.? The U.S. exported about $8.1 billion worth of American wheat in 2012, according to the New York Times. About 90 percent of Oregon’s wheat crop is exported. But immediately after the news broke about the GM wheat contamination, Japan and South Korea put U.S. wheat purchases on hold. The European Union and Taiwan are weighing the possibility of testing U.S wheat before allowing further imports.
Monsanto’s GMO wheat has not been approved anywhere in the world, in large part because no other country wants it. Now, it’s on the loose in the U.S.
Please sign the petition to Sec. Vilsack and add your comments.