USDA panel gets altered-crops pay plan

For the life of me I can’t understand why we pander to the organic scammers. Are we to compensate snake oil salesmen if beneficial products are mixed with fakes? Not a good idea? Neither is pandering to the “accidental is better” crowd, whether they are the perpetrators of the fraud or simply the food superstitious who have been duped.

One of the funniest things I’ve seen recently was the promotion of “organic wheat – no GMOs!” I’ve got news for you, guys. Depending on the type of wheat it has 2 or 3 complete genomes of other grasses combined. Now that’s genetic modification.

Meanwhile, in California:

California voters this fall will decide a ballot measure that would require labeling of foods containing genetically engineered material. But the Department of Agriculture is already tied in knots over how to deal with the contamination of organic and conventional foods by biotech crops.

On Monday, a USDA advisory panel will consider a draft plan to compensate farmers whose crops have been contaminated by pollen, seeds or other stray genetically engineered material. The meeting is expected to be contentious, pitting the biotechnology and organic industries against each other.

The draft report acknowledged the difficulty of preventing such material from accidentally entering the food supply and concerns that the purity of traditional seeds may be threatened.

It also cited fears on both sides that official action to address contamination could send a signal to U.S. consumers and export markets in Europe, Japan and elsewhere that the purity and even safety of U.S. crops are suspect.

An official who was not authorized to speak for the record described the current stalemate as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Known as AC21, the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture consists of representatives from across agriculture. Its current incarnation was created by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to appease critics after his decision in January 2011 to approve genetically engineered alfalfa, a plant that can spread easily.

Genetically engineered crops are also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Genetic engineering entails the insertion or deletion of genes, often from different species, into a plant to produce a desired trait. Up to now the chief traits are resistance to insects and herbicides.

SF Chronicle

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2 responses to “USDA panel gets altered-crops pay plan

  1. Interesting that many of the nations that used to import food from the US no longer do because of the GMO technology. They feel there are reasons to check it out before having their citizens ingest it.There are pros and cons to both sides…but recently I went to a farm that uses herbicides and he expressed how difficult it was to get rid of the Timothy grass; in fact, the weed seemed to be winning…it was modifying to adapt to the round-up applications.

    • That is the case in some regions, sadly the result of greenie fear-mongering, mostly. As for resistance, yep, that is always the result of selection pressure (we nicked the roundup tolerance gene from weeds in the first place).

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