Alliance for Natural Health
Tue, 15 Feb 2011 21:12 UTC
Last Friday, the US Department of Agriculture announced it would deregulate a type of industrial corn genetically engineered to produce an enzyme that speeds the breakdown of starch into sugar, which would increase efficiency in making ethanol. The agency concluded the crop does not pose a plant risk.
For once, natural health advocates are voicing the same concerns as the corn industry. The Center for Food Safety says that bio-fuel corn "will inevitably contaminate food-grade corn, and could well trigger substantial rejection in our corn export markets, hurting farmers."
Five major US trade associations whose member companies process and export corn and corn products agree. They say the product - if inadvertently commingled with general commodity corn at even very low levels - will have significant adverse effects on food product quality and performance.
Fears about the genetic contamination of corn echo concerns about Monsanto's mutant alfalfa - that it will likely destroy organic alfalfa altogether because the crop is so invasive and its seeds are so easily spread by the wind. The danger of contamination of non-genetically altered species is extremely high, despite half-hearted attempts at "usage guidelines." Organic alfalfa, in turn, is essential for organic meat production.
In an article at TruthOut, reporter Mike Ludwig noted that House Committee on Agriculture members pressed Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to fully deregulate Roundup Ready alfalfa and reject the proposal to geographically isolate it from traditional alfalfa. Upon learning that the USDA had fully deregulated the genetically engineered grain, committee chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) said, "I am pleased that USDA used sound science and respected the limit of its statutory authority to make this decision."
Monsanto was one of the top contributors to Lucas's campaign committee in 2010. A political action committee and individuals associated with Monsanto donated $11,000 to his campaign last year, and Lucas has received $1,247,844 from the agribusiness industry during his political career, according to watchdog site OpenSecrets.org. Lucas was elected chairman of the Agriculture Committee in December.
Deregulation of genetically engineered alfalfa, sugarbeets, and now bio-fuel corn - what's next? We must overturn these disastrous decisions. If you have not done so already, please see our recent Action Alert on alfalfa, which now includes both bio-fuel corn and sugarbeets, and send your message to Congress and to President Obama today!