One of the problems with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is that they're difficult to contain. When pollen containing altered genes travels in the wind or on the bodies of pollinators like birds and bees, there's little we can do to stop it from spreading. What's worse, the companies who "own" those genes take no responsibility for the damage caused by their contamination.
The contamination of crops by neighboring GMO crop fields presents a huge problem for farmers, eaters and our environment:
- For organic farmers, who have made expensive investments to grow without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, GMO contamination can undermine their farming practices and cost them the premium price they receive for their crops.
- Conventional non-GMO farmers, meanwhile, have seen their crops rejected in global export markets as a result of GMO contamination.
- For eaters, GMO contamination is a critical concern for the integrity of our food supply and our right to know and choose what we feed ourselves and our families.
- For our environment, GMO contamination threatens biodiversity and ecosystem health.
Farmers whose crops have been contaminated not only stand to lose income, they're at risk of being sued for patent infringement by biotech companies. 145 farmers have been sued by Monsanto, for instance, for patent infringement.
We have an historic opportunity to fundamentally change how our government regulates GMO technology and to hold biotech companies accountable. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting public comments on recommendations concerning agricultural "coexistence" — or how GMO and non-GMO crops can grow side by side, without threatening the other. But make no mistake, until the USDA protects non-GMO farmers and concerned consumers from contamination, there can be no "coexistence."
- Fully investigate the state of contamination in our seed and food supply.
- Regulate GMOs based on their potential for economic harm as well as safety — as existing law allows — reform USDA's weak framework for regulating GMOs.
- Prevent GMO contamination now by issuing mandatory contamination prevention measures.
- Make biotech pay for contamination: Non-GMO farmers deserve fair compensation when contamination occurs and should not be forced to purchase additional crop insurance to protect themselves.
- Address the broader economic and environmental costs related to "coexistence"
We have until March 4th to raise our voices for farmers, eaters and a better food system. Take action now!