Author Topic: USDA Seeks Comments on 'Coexistence'  (Read 3422 times)

Offline Cedar

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USDA Seeks Comments on 'Coexistence'
« on: April 06, 2015, 06:00:59 PM »
I have been to the Organic Seed Alliance Conference held at Oregon State University every two years. It is a worldwide phenomenal organization, which overwhelmed the beejeebies out of me when I attended as I thought it was a 'local Oregon thing' when I went.

I got this in my email today... I had to cut and paste as I did not see any other way to get the word out.

Comments are due THIS FRIDAY, April 10, 2015==========================================================================

Action Alert
USDA Seeks Comments on 'Coexistence'
Pollen, seed, and plants don't stay put in agriculture. That's why contamination by genetically engineered (GE) crops, or GMOs, is increasingly a problem for farmers who don't grow these products and for the seed and food markets they serve. These operations are losing sales and shoulder expensive testing and prevention strategies.
Why should those at risk shoulder the burden alone?
USDA is accepting public comments following an invitation-only workshop last month on "coexistence." We watched the event from afar and were disturbed by biased presentations that celebrated GE crops, criticized organic agriculture, and ignored the most important issues at hand, including how to prevent the problem. We believe the USDA must do more to prevent contamination.

Comments are due THIS FRIDAY, April 10, 2015
What should I say in my comments? Join us in telling the USDA that:
  • This comment period is too short. Planting season is underway, and we need a 60-day extension to ensure that farmers and others interested in the coexistence discussion have ample time to provide comments.
  • The coexistence workshop held in March was a lost opportunity for productive discussion and strategy. Because this event failed to achieve its objective, this comment period is that much more important. The USDA needs broad feedback on its activities related to coexistence, especially from those who weren't invited to the March meeting but are impacted by proposed activities.
  • The agency should develop stronger GMO regulations that ensure shared responsibility for contamination prevention. The USDA is beginning the process of updating regulations that govern its oversight of GE crops.
    http://seedalliance.org/usda-ditches-gmo-regulations-what-it-means
    Updated regulations should mandate prevention practices on the part of owners and users of GE crops, establish a fair compensation mechanism for those harmed by contamination events, and address the broader economic and environmental issues related to GMOs.

***** Submit comments electronically at this link *****
http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=APHIS-2013-0047-4184
Submit comments by mail to:
Docket No. APHIS-2013-0047, Regulatory Analysis and Development,
PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

Background
The USDA is implementing recommendations provided by its Advisory Committee on Biotechnology for 21st Century Agriculture (AC21). These recommendations were published in 2012 and fell far short for protecting farmers. While we support some of these efforts, as discussed in our last comments, they fail to include robust regulatory improvements for preventing contamination to begin with and placing responsibility where it belongs: with the patent holders. The USDA would like feedback on its activities already underway http://www.aphis.usda.gov/stakeholders/downloads/coexistence-what-weve-done.pdf and new proposed activities http://www.aphis.usda.gov/stakeholders/downloads/coexistence-what-we-are-working-on.pdf

You can view webcasts from the workshop held March 12-13, 2015, here:
Day 1 http://mediasite.online.ncsu.edu/online/Play/68e5233e5ef0427c9f6d0c0aef8b3c151d
and Day 2 http://mediasite.online.ncsu.edu/online/Play/604cf39f19954cf3b569226d50b7911a1d

Other Talking Points
USDA cannot rely solely on communication and outreach to farmers -- this isn't enough to prevent contamination. USDA proposes to increase education, collaboration, and outreach on the topic of coexistence. Communication between neighboring farmers is a good thing, but communication alone is not a viable solution to preventing and dealing with contamination. The last thing we need is to pit farmers against each other when communication and prevention fails.

USDA should establish mandatory measures that prevent GE contamination. Voluntary solutions to contamination are insufficient -- it's what we have now and it isn't working. USDA must mandate best practices to prevent GE contamination by farmers who use GE seed and require concrete contamination prevention measures on their farms to supplement those already used by organic and other non-GMO producers. It costs more money to clean up contamination than it does to prevent it.

USDA should level the playing field. The burden of preventing contamination is currently on organic and other non-GMO operations. Responsibility must be tied to ownership. Those who patent, promote, and profit from GE products should be responsible for preventing contamination and covering damage in cases where prevention fails.

USDA should establish a fair compensation proposal. The patent holder should be responsible for segregation and traceability, from seed to plate. They should be held responsible for the economic and market harm their products cause.

USDA should more fully analyze environmental and economic implications of GE contamination and the implications of managing GE crops. These are also of critical importance to the ideas underpinning "coexistence" -- how one system of agriculture can directly and indirectly impact the viability of the other.

===========================================================================

Cedar

Offline r_w

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Re: USDA Seeks Comments on 'Coexistence'
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2015, 06:33:32 PM »
Ugh. 


Offline Prodigy

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Re: USDA Seeks Comments on 'Coexistence'
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2015, 10:16:17 AM »
Comment submitted.  I have a hard time believing any comments will carry any weight what so ever, but what else can we do?

Offline Cedar

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Re: USDA Seeks Comments on 'Coexistence'
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2015, 10:38:04 AM »
Comment submitted.  I have a hard time believing any comments will carry any weight what so ever, but what else can we do?

That was kinda my thinking.. but hey.. is it like the lottery? You can't win unless you buy a ticket?

Cedar