Vilsack Seeks Biotech Compromise

“Complexity surrounds American agriculture today. With the recent announcement of USDA’s final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa and the subsequent meeting to bring together diverse stakeholders for a dialogue, USDA has taken decisive steps toward looking at possible approaches to alfalfa production coexistence that are reasonable and practical,” ag secretary Tom Vilsack wrote in an open letter to stakeholders on Dec. 30.

“These actions have generated tremendous interest in USDA’s and my intentions regarding our ability to objectively regulate GE agricultural products and whether we are focused enough on science. I have tremendous confidence in our existing regulatory system and no doubts about the safety of the products this system has approved and will continue to approve. As a regulatory agency, sound science and decisions based on this science are our priority, and science strongly supports the safety of GE alfalfa. 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 from GE alfalfa — a significant concern for farmers who produce for non-GE markets at home and abroad.”

“The rapid adoption of GE crops has clashed with the rapid expansion of demand for organic and other non-GE products. This clash led to litigation and uncertainty. Such litigation will potentially lead to the courts deciding who gets to farm their way and who will be prevented from doing so.”

Click here to view full letter.

What’s your take on Vilsack’s letter? Leave a comment below.

Leave a Reply

3 comments on “Vilsack Seeks Biotech Compromise

  1. This idiot just wrecked the U.S. biotech regulatory system by disregarding science and calling activists in to negotiate terms of deregulation. He has no regulatory authority to do this and is causing all kinds of harm This will CAUSE more lawsuits and will undermine our position with foreign trading partners. This also makes a mockery of the White House position on science-based regulation.

  2. Now check this out:

    US farm minister takes a leaf out of Jairam Ramesh’s books

    Invites activists, biotech critics to shape decision on GM alfalfa.

    G. Chandrashekhar

    Mumbai, Dec. 31

    If you didn’t believe that the world was integrating or that proximity between the US and India was genuine, you would be surprised at what the real world has to offer. What happened in India early in 2010 is happening in the US now.

    And most interestingly, Mr Tom Vilsack, US Agriculture Secretary, has learnt a trick or two from our own Environment Minister, Mr Jairam Ramesh.

    It may be recalled Mr Ramesh went around the country holding public meetings to gauge the mood in the context of clearance granted to genetically-modified (Bt) brinjal by the Government’s own Genetic Engineering Approval Committee.

    In the US, when genetically modified (GM) alfalfa has come up for clearance, the USDA chief has attempted something similar – a non-science approach as many call – by inviting activists and biotech critics to shape the agency’s regulatory decision on a biotech product.

    The Agriculture Secretary’s decision flies in the face of ‘sound science’ that the US policy stands for; and can not only undermine scientific research, but also potentially politicise a system that is supposed to be based on science, many believe.

    According to news reports, the USDA environmental review judged GM alfalfa (called Roundup Ready) as substantially equivalent to other varieties. No special conditions were marked for regulators.

    But, instead of allowing the product into the market after it passed all the regulatory procedure, the USDA has called biotech critics to suggest ways in which the product might be commercialised ‘with conditions’.

    In respect of modified crops, while Europe favoured the ‘precautionary principle’, the US has always stood for ‘sound science’.

    The stand of sound science is at risk of getting diluted, it is feared. A newspaper report pointed that according to people who attended a recent meeting, the USDA Secretary told the assembled groups that science itself is subjective, and that he could have three different groups bring him three different supposedly scientific opinions.

    The root cause of the unfolding scenario seems to be the stand-off between growers of organic crops and growers using technology seeds.

    What’s currently going on in the US sounds much like the Indian drama with science clearly receding into the background and possibly populism taking centre-stage.

    In a telling comment, the Wall Street Journal said, “While it may not be one of the major biotech crops, alfalfa is a regulatory test that could open the gate for similarly politically driven negotiations on non-organic crops from sugar beets to soyabeans.

    If non-science criteria are introduced as considerations for allowing the sale of biotech crops, the effect would be disastrous for the USDA’s regulatory reputation. We hope Secretary Vilsack makes his decision based on science, not politics.”

  3. When are farmers going to realize that whether or not to farm with bio-tech is not their choice?? It simply is not their right to choose how to farm.

Seed/Biotech Stories
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Delivers Two New Winter Wheat Varieties To Eastern Corn Belt
August 6, 2014
Adding to its portfolio of AgriPro brand wheat varieties, Syngenta introduces SY 007 and SY 474 soft red winter wheat varieties. Read More
Seed/BiotechWater Optimized Seed Flowing Freely
April 1, 2014
As the demand for ag to diminish its water use while maintaining high yields and crop quality increases, three companies are leading the movement to grow more with less water. Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer Applies For Seed Treatment That Protects Against Sudden Death Syndrome
February 26, 2014
If approved, ILeVO seed treatment would be the first product to provide breakthrough protection for soybean seedlings from the soil borne pathogen Fusarium virguliforme, the fungus that causes SDS. Read More
Seed/BiotechSeed Still Central
November 1, 2013
Advancing genetics continue to make seed the crop variable that calls the shots for the season. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires South Dakota Retailer
April 2, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Agribusiness Division, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed Read More
CropLife 100The McGregor Co. Closes Smith-Kem Acquisition
April 2, 2015
The McGregor Co. — ranked No. 16 on the CropLife 100 list of largest U.S. ag retailers — has completed Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Latest News
Town & Country Co-op Smithville, OH 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certified
StewardshipThree Town & Country Co-op Facilities Certified In …
May 6, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that Town & Country Co-op’s facilities located in Loudonville, Smithville, and Sullivan, Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Plant Food Adds New Territory Manager
May 6, 2015
Monty’s Plant Food Co., a leader in natural soil enhancement and plant  fertility products, has hired Paul Miles as a Read More
InsecticidesVestaron’s Bioinsecticide Now Registered For Use On Mor…
May 6, 2015
Vestaron has received expanded EPA registration for its biological insect control products. These innovative bioinsecticides, which are derived from newly Read More
Sunrise Cooperative Norwalk Agronomy
StewardshipSunrise Cooperative Facilities All Certified In 4R Nutr…
May 5, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that all four of Sunrise Cooperative Inc.’s agronomy branches, located in Attica, Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Scientist Named 2015 National Inventors Hall O…
May 5, 2015
The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) announced its 2015 class of inductees. Among the 14 honored is scientist Mary-Dell Read More
Eric SfiligojIARC Glyphosate Report: A Closer Look At ‘Probabl…
May 5, 2015
By now, you’ve probably run across a story or two (probably closer to 100) detailing the ongoing controversy over the Read More
Syngenta
Eric SfiligojWill Monsanto And Syngenta Combine This Time?
May 4, 2015
Under the heading of “never say never,” it sounds as if crop protection/seed giants Monsanto Co. and Syngenta are once Read More
Dr. Bryan Young, Southern Illinois University, shows tour attendees a female Palmer amaranth plant.
Crop InputsPurdue Weed Scientist Publishes Weed Resistance White P…
May 4, 2015
Resistant weeds, the appropriate use of herbicides and integrated weed management strategies are highlighted topics in the new white paper, Read More
Industry NewsMonsanto-Syngenta Mega-Merger Would Drive More Deals
May 4, 2015
A combination of Monsanto Co. and Syngenta AG would set the stage for even more mergers and acquisitions, reports Brooke Read More
InsecticidesAgrian Announces New California Feature
May 4, 2015
Agrian announced today that it has developed a feature within its recommendation writing program that will support the California Department Read More
Storage Tanks at Nachurs
FertilizerNachurs Alpine Solutions: Liquid Fertilizer With Precis…
May 4, 2015
When it comes to fertilizer options in 2015 and beyond, ag retailers are taking a long, hard look at liquid. Read More
West Central Sac City growers
StewardshipIowa Lawsuit Challenges Ag’s Water Quality Efforts
May 3, 2015
Nutrient problems in west-central Iowa’s water supply made national headlines in March when the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) filed Read More
Tim Hassinger Dow AgroSciences President and CEO
Crop InputsDow AgroSciences: Always About Agriculture
May 2, 2015
When you consider their respective backgrounds, it’s little wonder why Dow AgroSciences and new President/CEO Tim Hassinger ended up together. Read More
Nozzle spray close-up
AdjuvantsSpray Drift Enters More Complex Era
May 1, 2015
Off-target movement of crop protection products has been a problem for decades. The issue got more contentious when glyphosate-tolerant crops Read More
Crop InputsTop 10 Twitter Pics For #Plant15
April 30, 2015
Growers and ag retailers are working feverishly to plant this year’s crop. Fortunately, many of them still have time to Read More
ManagementIowa Retailer Sticks Up For Agriculture and New Spray D…
April 30, 2015
Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about how one Iowa ag retailer is working to defend agricultural practices and an Read More
Dow AgroSciences Logo wall
Seed/BiotechNew Soybean Trait Agreement To Use Dow AgroSciencesR…
April 30, 2015
Dow AgroSciences LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Co., Arcadia Biosciences, Inc. and Bioceres, S.A. have formed an agreement Read More
Confluence of St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers in Minnesota
StewardshipAgricultural Runoff Among Causes Of Water Quality Issue…
April 30, 2015
A new report released April 29 by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency provides additional evidence that agricultural and urban runoff Read More