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From Bill Duesing

bill duesing

GMO/GE News, Action Alerts and Encouraging Stories

 

This week HB 6519, An Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Food made it out of the Connecticut Legislature's Public Health Committee with a vote of 23 to 4.  Congratulations to the co-sponsors and the committee.  It took an awful lot of organizing to get the bill this far.  

 

Our colleagues at GMOFree CT, including many CT NOFA members, were involved all along the way. Click here to learn more and see action alerts. Check out the busy GMO event calendar. Every week there are four or five panels, film showings or gatherings to spread the word about GMOs and the need for labeling. I've been on two panels in just the last week.

 

Action Alerts

It is going to take even more effort to get the bill approved in the House and Senate and then signed by the Governor. Currently the coalition is requesting that you call Governor Malloy and ask him to be a leader on this issue, to proudly help our state make history by being the first, of the 37 states now working on labeling, to require it on genetically engineered food. Call Gov. Malloy at (860) 566-4840 and ask him to lead on HB 6519.  See more on the gmofreect site.

 

You should also talk to your state Representative and Senator to let them know how you feel about the issue. Our friends in the legislature say that is the most productive and important thing you can do. 

 

It is really wonderful that this is not a partisan issue. Labeling has strong supporters and co-sponsors in both parties.

 

HB 6527, An Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Baby Food, was previously passed out of the kids committee.  They are both worth supporting, but the broader HB 6519 would likely render the Baby Food bill unnecessary. 

 

If you live in Rosa DeLauro's Congressional District, largely New Haven County, please see the action alert here. You can work with our partners at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to encourage funding for conservation programs in 2014.

 

Lastly, there are big changes coming in food safety regulations. Please see this helpful post from our friends at PASA, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. It deserves the attention of all growers during this comment period.

 

Keep up to date on a bill's progress

If you want to keep up with these labeling bills as they move through the Connecticut process, click here. There you can search for bills by number and you can set up an alert for a bill so that you get an email when its status changes, a vote is taken or an amendment is added. You can also see all the testimony submitted for the public hearing. Note that the Department of Agriculture repeats the biotech promises of several decades ago about fewer pesticides, more yield and drought resistance. It shows just how out of touch the department is with the more pesticides, more serious problems and lower yields that are the reality with GMO use.

 

Corporate Power

One of the worries that comes up about the Labeling Bill is that the state will be sued by the biotech industry if it requires labels on GMOs. The industry, and especially Monsanto, does have lots of power and a great willingness to sue almost everyone.  But it may take a court case to establish that their right to remain silent does not trump our right to know.  Otherwise they always win. A number of the bill's sponsors say bring it on, if that is what it takes.

 

Are we going to let a few corporations control our government? Unfortunately the biotech rider, AKA "Monsanto Protection Act" points to the problem we have in Washington. Slipped into a must-pass bill, the rider basically exempts the biotech industry from abiding by a court decision.  Read more here in an interview with the one organic farmer in the Senate.  He tried to stop the rider.  In this article, Monsanto and Industrial Meat show who's boss. "Big Ag flexes Muscles." 

 

Here's a thoughtful piece from Mark Bittman about why GMOs need protection.

 

About the same time the "Monsanto Protection Act" was passing, the ETC Group issued a report about the extreme concentration of control in the global seed and agrochemical sectors.  Over half of each sector is controlled by just three firms.  Together the six firms control over 59% of seeds and over 76% of agrochemicals. They are all dedicated to genetic engineering and pesticides.  

  

Several other recent stories point to problems with the genetic engineering approach. Science daily points to the problems with crops that produce several internal pesticides: Multi-toxic Biotech crops are not silver bullets.

Michael Hart talks about the problems for farmers.

Beyond GMOs; It is the Pesticides too

New evidence points to the widely used neonicotinoid pesticides as responsible for bee deaths. We just began to understand that engineered Bt crops produce one or more insect killing toxins in each cell of the plant. Now we learn that most crops are treated with this systemic pesticide which is also throughout the crop. They are infusing our food with pesticides. 

 

We also learned that two-thirds of pesticides got flawed EPA approval.

 

It is time we end the dominance of the Chemical/Genetic Engineering Agro-Industrial Complex.

 

It is likely past time to call out the dominant corn monocultures that are so destructive of the environment and health. Here's a start

 

Encouraging News

On a positive note, we learned that organically grown food provides clear benefits to fruit flies. "Flies raised on diets made from organically grown produce had greater fertility and longevity. On certain food sources, greater activity and greater stress resistance was additionally observed, suggesting that organic food bestows positive effects on fly health." As CT NOFA's work and that of our members and partners accumulates over the years we begin to see the wonderful texture of an agro-ecological food system. 

 

This story features Joe Listro, a community farmer who is also a CT NOFA Journeyperson farmer and trained for several years at the Community Farm of Simsbury's Incubator Farm Program which we helped start.  He also learned a lot about farm based education as an educator at Urban Oaks Organic Farm.

 

Fresh New London is a community farm that does great agriculture and food system work with youth. They have been inspiring presenters at several of our conferences.  The recent News from FRESH carried stories from three of their young members who attended our winter conference.

 

We've been collecting information for the 2013-2014 CT NOFA Farm and Food Guide. There is an especially large group of new listings this year.  It is so exciting to see so many new farms. Just their names provide inspiration and hope for a delicious future: Bright Yellow Farm, Grace's Hill Farm, Little Portion Acres, Potrepka Farm, Creative Living Community of CT, Grow Hartford CSA, Melrose Place Farm and Gardens, Serafina Says Farm, Town Farm, Back Forty Farm, RoJo Farm, New Mercies Farm, Stone Fire Farm, Millstone Farm, Gilbertie's Herb Gardens, Colgan Farm, Wakeman Town Farm, High Hill Orchard Company, CCC Farm Stand and Market, Sweet Sage Bakery, Longmeadow Farm, Tom's Country Farm, Wind Hill Community Farm and Learning Center, Ambler Farm, Sepe Farm, 46 Deep Hollow and Holmeslea Gardens.

 

I wish you all a wonderful spring and a very productive growing season. 

 

I appreciate hearing your questions and comments.