Photo: kumasawa, Flickr
In the bubbling debate between genetically modified foods and organic ones, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack reportedly called for a truce in an open letter released just before the clocks struck 2011. Agricultural resolution? Not so easy, Tom.
"Complexity surrounds American agriculture today," he begins. True. By the end of 2010, federal courts had barred use of Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa, even though planting continued while the USDA kept working on its Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] on the genetically engineered (GE) crop, which it completed two weeks prior to Vilsack's letter. A federal court in San Francisco ordered removal of a test plot of GE sugar beets. And the Food and Drug Administration remained indecisive over approval of GE salmon, the would-be first genetically engineered animal, which may or may not be labeled.
Vilsack doesn't appear to be pro or con for either but believes the two can cohabit. "As a regulatory agency, sound science and decisions based on this science are our priority, and science strongly supports the safety of GE alfalfa," he writes.
All you pro-organics who just felt a scrunch in your brow, follow this next line: "But agricultural issues are always complex and rarely lend themselves to simple solutions. Therefore, we have an obligation to carefully consider USDA's 2,300-page EIS, which acknowledges the potential of cross-fertilization to non-GE alfalfa."
A non-GE farmer can hope.