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

dicamba, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend
Crop InputsASA: No Dicamba On Roundup Ready 2 Xtend In 2016
May 16, 2016
While Roundup Ready 2 Xtend (RR2X) are tolerant to dicamba and glyphosate herbicides, no dicamba herbicides will be approved for Read More
Crop InputsGMO Pipeline Features Consumer Targeted Modifications
April 15, 2016
The newly approved GMO Simplot Innate potato, developed to produce lower amounts of the harmful-yet-natural chemical acrylamide, resist bruising, and Read More
Crop InputsReuters: Chinese GMO Seed Espionage Making Iowa Farmers Uneasy
April 12, 2016
Tim Burrack, a northern Iowa farmer in his 44th growing season, has taken to keeping a wary eye out for Read More
Peanut field
FungicidesArysta LifeScience Receives EPA Approval Of Fungicide Seed Treatment
April 5, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced it received approval from the EPA of RANCONA V PD, a broad-spectrum fungicide dust Read More
Trending Articles
Monsanto Luling Plant
Crop InputsReport: Bayer Eyeing Monsanto For Possible Mega-Merger
May 16, 2016
Bayer AG is exploring a potential bid for U.S. competitor Monsanto Co. in a deal that would create the world’s Read More
Aerial Drone
Precision AgA Deeper Dive Into The Future Of Precision Ag
May 9, 2016
For about two decades now, through the good and the bad times, the ups and the downs inherent in agriculture, Read More
Palmer amaranth in soybean stubble
HerbicidesWSSA: Billions In Potential Economic Losses From Uncontrolled Weeds
May 4, 2016
What losses would corn and soybean growers experience if they were forced to eliminate herbicides and other control techniques from Read More
Eric SfiligojReasons For Hope In Commodity Prices
May 2, 2016
For many months now, the doomsayers have ruled the day in agriculture. Too much supply with too little demand would Read More
Eric SfiligojMissing The Family Ties In Agriculture
April 25, 2016
By its nature, the agriculture market is cyclical. Up and down cycles come and go with a regular pattern. For Read More
HerbicidesHerbicide Resistance In Waterhemp Continues To Grow
April 22, 2016
Twenty-five years ago, waterhemp was virtually unknown to Illinois farmers. Today, the broadleaf weed blankets corn and soybean fields across Read More
Latest News
Dry and Liquid Plant
CropLife 100CropLife 100 Map
May 24, 2016
The new CropLife 100 map shows the locations of each of the headquarters of the 2015 CropLife 100 retailers. The interactive Read More
Southern States Cooperative
Corn Field
Industry NewsTiger-Sul Names Veteran Account Manager To Lead Central…
May 23, 2016
With the continuing growth of the sulphur bentonite and precision crop nutrient industry, global agriculture firm H.J. Baker has announced that Read More
Bayer sign
Industry NewsReuters: Bayer Defies Critics With $62 Billion Monsanto…
May 23, 2016
German drugs and crop chemicals group Bayer has offered to buy U.S. seeds company Monsanto for $62 billion in cash, Read More
Eric SfiligojPity The Monsanto Haters
May 23, 2016
An old saying goes thus: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Given current events, there Read More
Industry NewsCompass Minerals Hires Industry Veteran To Lead Plant N…
May 19, 2016
Compass Minerals has hired plant nutrition industry veteran Vatren Jurin to steer the company’s portfolio expansion into specialty liquid micronutrient Read More
ASMARK Retailers LIVE! Tour 2016 Group shot The Andersons
CropLife 100The Andersons Rejects Unsolicited Proposal From HC2
May 19, 2016
The Andersons, Inc. has announced that its Board of Directors has rejected two non-binding, highly conditional, unsolicited proposals from HC2 Read More
glyphosate
Crop InputsWHO: Glyphosate ‘Unlikely’ To Cause Cancer
May 16, 2016
Via Reuters.com reporter Kate Kelland: The weed-killing pesticide glyphosate, made by Monsanto and widely used in agriculture and by gardeners, Read More
dicamba, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend
Crop InputsASA: No Dicamba On Roundup Ready 2 Xtend In 2016
May 16, 2016
While Roundup Ready 2 Xtend (RR2X) are tolerant to dicamba and glyphosate herbicides, no dicamba herbicides will be approved for Read More
CPP, glyphosate, dicamba, atrazine,
Crop InputsReport: Congress Pressing EPA On Glyphosate Review Hand…
May 16, 2016
Via Reuters.com reporter P.J. Huffstutter: U.S. lawmakers have asked EPA to explain why it published – and then withdrew – Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Crop InputsReport: Bayer Eyeing Monsanto For Possible Mega-Merger
May 16, 2016
Bayer AG is exploring a potential bid for U.S. competitor Monsanto Co. in a deal that would create the world’s Read More
ManagementAsmark Institute Tour Observations
May 12, 2016
Special Guest CropLife Field Editor Matthew Grassi discusses his week-long visit with 45 ag retailers as part of the Asmark Read More
MicronutrientsCompass Minerals Expands Trial Work For Wolf Trax Innov…
May 12, 2016
Fertilizer manufacturer Compass Minerals continues to expand the evaluation program for its Wolf Trax micronutrient fertilizer products, according to a Read More
Young Corn Closeup
Industry NewsArysta Adds To Marketing Team
May 12, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the addition of David Davies to its marketing team. As marketing manager, Davies will Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Crop InputsSyngenta Launches New Biological Seed Treatment
May 12, 2016
Syngenta has announced the launch of the EPIVIO brand family, a range of new biostimulants which address abiotic stresses through seed Read More
Crop Inputs2013 West Texas Tragedy Ruled A ‘Criminal ActR…
May 11, 2016
A 2013 fertilizer plant blast in West, TX, that killed 15 people and injured 160 others was caused by a Read More
Crop InputsLariat Partners Invests In Willowood USA
May 11, 2016
Lariat Partners, a Denver-based private equity firm, has made a significant investment in Willowood USA, a leading manufacturer of generic Read More
Anhydrous Ammonia tanks
LegislationARA: OSHA Announces PSM Formal Rulemaking Intentions
May 11, 2016
In separate communications earlier this week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced plans to conduct formal rulemaking to Read More