Brian's Latest Blog Post: Letter to the USDA on Coexistence

March 6, 2014

The Honorable Thomas Vilsack, Secretary
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20250

March 4, 2014

Re: Docket No. APHIS-2013-0047

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) is one of our nation’s largest member-based, sustainable farming organizations, with about 6,000 mostly farmer members located primarily throughout Pennsylvania and across the Mid-Atlantic region. Our mission is to promote profitable farms that produce healthy food for all people while respecting the natural environment. In keeping with this mission, we wish to express our grave concerns regarding the issue of “Enhancing Coexistence” as framed by the Report of the AC21 Committee in 2012.

For the more detailed substance of our comments, we will merely refer to those being submitted by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and endorse those for your consideration, since supporting the process of assembling those comments has been where the bulk of PASA’s time on this issue was spent. However, we also have several brief comments to make for the sake of emphasis, as follows:

  • PASA feels very strongly that a crop insurance model is not the appropriate path for USDA to follow in compensating for the effects of genetic drift and contamination on organic and sustainable farms that are otherwise free of genetically engineered (GE) seeds and other materials. Apparently, the AC21 Committee agrees with us on this, since the individual comments contained in the 2012 report indicate significant and consistent displeasure for this approach, even if for varying reasons. Compensation does need to happen, but through a fund developed from a surcharge on the seeds, chemicals and technology fees associated with GE farming techniques. It would be unprecedented and frankly unethical to expect a damaged farm to bear the cost of defending itself against aggressive technology doing harm with no offsetting benefits to the aggrieved party.

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