Thursday, April 21, 2011

No more certified organic beef and dairy products?

Istock photo
 This weekend, I heard a rumor from one of my farmer's market vendors that companies selling organic beef and dairy products are no longer allowed to be certified organic.  I was suspicious, but about two days later I read an article in "Taste For Life" magazine about the release of genetically modified alfalfa and it's potential effects. I put the two together and here's what I found out...

In January, the Obama Administration made the decision to approve the unrestricted cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa. This means GE alfalfa can be planted without any government requirements to prevent contamination of organic and non-GE crops. Since alfalfa is pollinated by far-ranging bees, it is very vulnerable to cross contamination. Scientists are saying that controlling the contamination will not be possible, therefore the release of this food crop is a huge threat to our organic food system and it's farmers.

What exactly is GE alfalfa?
Monsanto, a biotech company that makes GM foods and seeds, has been engineering our major food crops so they will tolerate their powerful weed killers. So when sprayed, the weeds die, but the crop doesn't. Some of their GM foods, like corn, even have the pesticides and herbicides built into the food itself. These foods have not been proven safe and several countries, including the entire European Union, Australia, Japan, and Canada, have significant restrictions or have banned GE foods altogether. So why not the US? According to an article in The Huffington Post, "the USDA has become a rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of american farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment." It's all about $$$.  Many farmers now grow or source seed abroad to avoid cross-pollination from Monsanto crops.
Find out more about the whole corrupt system by watching this movie (for free) or check out my review of The Future of Food here.

How does this relate to cows?
Alfalfa, which is now open to contamination, is used primarily as cattle feed so any milk or beef coming from these animals is unable to be 100% certified organic (organic food cannot be certified as such if it contains any genetically engineered parts).

Want to tell our government what you think?

For learn more about GM foods there's a great article here including a reference section at the end that includes many scientific studies. You can also check out The NON GMO Project.

I haven't heard any official word about certified organic beef and dairy products being obsolete, but I'll keep you posted. By the way, the Center for Food Safety does have plans to file a lawsuit to fight the USDA's decision to deregulate genetically modified alfalfa. Go get 'em guys!