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Organic giants Whole Foods, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield accused of compromising on GMOs

Friday, February 11, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: GMOs, Whole Foods, health news

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(NaturalNews) Some of the nation's largest and most widely known producers and retailers of natural and organic products have decided to push for a compromise with the Monsanto-influenced U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the issue of genetically-modified organisms (GMO). In the wake of the recent decision by the Obama administration to carelessly deregulate genetically-modified (GM) alfalfa, Whole Foods Market and several other companies, including Organic Valley and Stonyfield, have expressed support for what they call "coexistence" between organics and GMOs.

On January 20, 2011, Whole Foods issued a public letter on its blog expressing opposition to the deregulation of GM alfalfa over contamination and safety issued that remain unaddressed. But because the USDA refused to properly evaluate the evidence against GM alfalfa and rightfully ban the crop, Whole Foods took what it saw as the next best option and came out in support of a "coexistence" plan involving partial deregulation. The company argues that partial deregulation will at least place some restrictions on the cultivation and use of GM alfalfa. But will coexistence offer a viable option for preserving the integrity of organic and conventional non-GMO crops and livestock? All available evidence points to a solid NO.

Alfalfa, which is a primary food source for dairy cows and beef cattle, is a highly-volatile perennial plant. Unlike other GM crops currently being cultivated, alfalfa is an open-pollinated crop, which means birds, bees, and other insects freely pollinate it in an uncontrolled way. Its seeds and pollen can be spread far and wide all year long, which cause every future generation of alfalfa to have differing genetic traits. So once an alfalfa plant is cultivated, whether natural or GM, there really is no stopping either its proliferation or its mutating effect on both nearby plants and future plantings of new alfalfa.

The long-term result of GM alfalfa cultivation is eventually the contamination of all non-GM and organic varieties of practically any and all crop varieties with which it comes into contact. And as these other crops become contaminated, the entire human and animal food supply will eventually become tainted with GM materials, including organic and non-GM crops and animals. In other words, there is no such thing as a coexistence plan because everything will eventually end up becoming contaminated with GM traits.

GM alfalfa is useless and will only cause more problems for agriculture

As mentioned in a previous NaturalNews article on the issue, GM alfalfa is completely unnecessary in the first place. More than 90 percent of the conventional varieties currently grown in the U.S. require absolutely no pesticides or herbicides, according to . They thrive just fine without any chemical or genetic interventions (http://www.naturalnews.com/031196_GE_alfalfa...). But in the interests of expanding its control over the food supply as well as its profit margins, Monsanto has pushed, and now succeeded, in getting GM alfalfa approved. And it seems to have hoodwinked a few large organic giants to play the negotiation game rather than pursue legal action against the approval.

Whole Foods has repeatedly stated that it continues to support truth-in-labeling efforts that encourage transparency with GMOs, and it has also routinely taken a stance against GMOs in general. And these efforts are commendable. But the retailer still continues to sell many "natural" product brands that contain GMO ingredients. And while its store-brand line of "365 Everyday Value Products" is part of the Non-GMO Project, a noteworthy effort at sourcing clean, GMO-free food, the retailer does not require other products in its stores that contain GMO ingredients to be labeled.

Whole Foods is now urging its patrons to call Congress, the USDA, and the White House, to demand support for a coexistence plan. Though better than nothing, this plan of action, as previously mentioned, will do nothing to prevent the widespread contamination of non-GM and organic crops. If GM alfalfa is allowed to "coexist" with other crops, there will eventually be no distinction between organic, non-GM, and GM crops, because every crop will become contaminated with GMOs. This is why citizens must continue to fight GM alfalfa period.

The Organic Consumer Association (OCA) is calling on the public to pressure not only Whole Foods, but also other retailers like Trader Joe's, and even conventional grocers like Wal-Mart and Safeway, to implement voluntary "truth-in-labeling" practices that require any products sold in their stores that contain GMOs to be labeled. If Whole Foods really wants to show its opposition to GMOs, it will either require GMO labeling, or it will outlaw every products from its store that contains them.

The public can also continue to put pressure on Congress, the USDA, and the White House, to reverse its decision and outlaw GM alfalfa.

To contact Congress, visit:
http://www.house.gov/zip/ZIP2Rep.html
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_inform...

To contact the USDA, email:
biotechquery@aphis.usda.gov

To contact the White House, call:
(202) 456-1111

Sources for this story include:

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/art...

http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2011/01/urg...

http://www.cornucopia.org/2011/01/stop-genet...

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