Public influence and participation is a critical part in advocating for a sustainable food system that serves people and planet. We’ve seen firsthand how public support for smart policies that protect our environment, create economic opportunities for farmers and make our food production more sustainable makes a difference. Learn more about how you can support our work and make your voice be heard on big issues.
Current Take Action Opportunities
Comments on Genetic Engineering Crop Coexistence to USDA (May 11, 2015)
Genetic contamination of seed and products is a top concern in the organic and non-GE farming and food sectors, presenting formidable challenges due to the way genetically engineered crops perpetuate and spread through the environment.
Oregon Tilth has submitted public comments on issues and proposals regarding agricultural coexistence. We emphasize the importance of the USDA’s continued focus on the issues surrounding genetically engineered (GE) crops and potential contamination of non-GE crops, and its work to further define existing challenges and propose strategies and solutions.
Key talking points for consideration:
- Organic and non-GE farmers deserve the right of non-contamination.
We believe that much of the discussion regarding coexistence and contamination avoidance focuses attention on prevention strategies to “fence out” GE crops through testing and monitoring of preventative efforts. Test results are not long-term solutions; they cannot protect hardworking people against losses and disadvantages when prevention strategies fail. Developers and users of GE crops must also be instructed to adopt proactive strategies designed to contain, or “fence in,” crop genetics that pose a risk to their neighbors’ crops and markets.
- Organic and non-GE farmers deserve restitution for GE contamination losses.
This is not about placing blame or pointing fingers, but rather about supporting non-GE farmers who are proactive and still get contaminated. Those who take all the necessary steps should not incur losses for contamination that occurs outside of their control.
- Mandatory federal policy on GE crops protects all sectors of U.S. agriculture.
We must ensure consistency and avoid a “patchwork approach” of practices designed to mitigate risks of GE contamination. The status quo, voluntary approach increases uncertainty and inconsistency, both of which elevate the risks farmers face.
Expand Public Funding for Sustainable Agriculture
The USDA depends on public volunteer participation to serve on different panels that help prioritize projects up for public funds. As a grant reviewer – relevant subject expertise is necessary to be considered for service – you can help ensure sustainable agriculture projects that yield high-impact results help support change in our food system. In addition, reviewers with expertise on organic and sustainable food production draw attention to the importance our collective work on these issues.
Protection for Pollinators from Harmful Neonic Pesticides
The Center for Food Safety is leading efforts to follow up on a Presidential Memorandum from the summer of 2014 that outlined a plan to “promote the health of honey bees and the pollinators” with a federal task force. More than 100 agricultural crops in the United States are dependent on pollinators for successful growth and harvest. Organic agriculture continues to lead the way on creating safe habitats for pollinator species, but more needs to be done to protect these incredible creatures and our food system.