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Farmers dump GMO corn to protest U.S. promotion of biotechnology

(Tuesday, June 24, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- From a news release.

Contact: George Naylor (515) 571-6691
Walt Kessler (209) 327-2039
Katherine Ozer (202) 421-4544
Bill Wenzel (608) 444-0292

SACRAMENTO, CALIF., June 23, 2003 Family farmers from throughout the United States dumped genetically modified (GMO) corn Monday at the World Conference on Agricultural Science and Technology to expose the distortions and lies being perpetuated by the Bush Administration and the biotechnology industry in the promotion of genetically engineered (GE) seeds and foods.

“Family farmers have suffered significant economic losses from the use of GE products,” said Walter Kessler, California dairy farmer and Vice-President of the Family Farm Defenders, “but the truth about GE crops and their impacts on family farmers is being buried in the slick multi-million dollar public relations campaign being waged by the biotechnology industry and promoted by the USDA, primary sponsors of this conference.”

The biotechnology industry and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials continually tout the economic benefits to farmers that result from using GE products despite independent scientific research that these crops are more expensive to produce. Furthermore, in the case of herbicide tolerant seed varieties, (i.e. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready brands) independent research results show significantly lower yields than comparable non-GE varieties. Scientific evidence based on USDA statistics also runs counter to biotechnology industry claims that pesticide use in herbicide tolerant varieties is lower than in non-GE systems.

“We are here to stand in solidarity with farmers, consumers and governments throughout the world who do not want to raise, eat or import food that has been contaminated through genetic engineering,” said George Naylor, Iowa corn and soybean farmer and President of the National Family Farm Coalition. “There are legitimate concerns relating to the impact of genetic engineering on food and the environment. Every nation should have the right to adopt a food production system that is in the best interests of their farmers, their citizens and their country.”

The United States recently filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) to force the European Union (EU) to accept GE crops and food products. The EU has a regulatory system based on the “precautionary principle.” Bioengineered products must be proven safe before being allowed into commercial production and the EU has taken the position that GE crops and food products have not met that standard. As a result the EU has imposed a defacto moratorium on the approval of new GE crops until a comprehensive regulatory can be put into place.

The U.S. challenge is based on the proposition that no scientific evidence exists that GE foods are harmful despite the fact that the regulatory system in this country does not require independent research on the environmental and health impacts of GE crops.

U.S. patent law also provides loopholes to biotechnology companies to avoid disclosure of negative environmental and public health impacts by claiming violation of intellectual property rights and confidential business information.

“The filing of the WTO complaint just before this conference being attended by the agricultural ministers of 120 countries is no coincidence,” says S’ra DeSantis, Vermont organic producer. “The U.S. is sending a clear message to the agricultural ministers around the world that you either come along with us on biotechnology or we will use our economic might to jam GE crops and products down your throats,” adds DeSantis. “That use of economic blackmail is absolutely despicable.”

Corporate agribusiness threatens the food sovereignty and security of all nations. “The Bush Administration’s farm, food and trade policy has failed our nation’s family farmers and has been used to dump low price commodities and GE contaminated food throughout the world,” concluded Naylor.