News Release - September 04, 2001
Green Party Sees Enormous Risks to the Environment, Public Health and Small Farms in the Genetic Engineering of Crops.
Keep Genetic Engineering in the lab, say Greens, who warn of the power of 'free trade' authorities to impose genetically modified foods and enforce patents on genetic material on unwilling nations.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Green Party of the United States calls the increasing use of genetically engineered crops a looming disaster for public health, for the right to know about what we eat, for environmental stability and safety, and for policies supporting sustainable agriculture to enable farmers to compete and sell crops in the global market place.
"Farmers become victims of international trade
promotion sanctioned by a U.S. Congress that appears willing to subvert
laws of national governments to those of unelected, unaccountable
international trade organizations," said Nancy Allen, media
co-coordinator of the Green Party and a farmer in Maine. "The rush
to approve such decisions shows a regulatory process dominated by global
agricultural and biotechnological corporations. Congress and the White
House are greasing the wheels, thanks to powerful lobbies and campaign
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has already approved Terminator seeds, allowing D&PL to modify plants genetically in order to produce sterile seeds, preventing farmers from re-using harvested seed and compelling their dependence on D&PL, which has publicly declared its intention to commercialize Terminator seeds. The USDA and its Advisory Committee on Agricultural Biotechnology (founded by the Clinton Administration), in licensing the Terminator Seed technology to D&PL, ignored objections from civil society, international agricultural research institutes, and United Nations bodies.
"Greens call such licenses corporate welfare at the expense of small and family-owned farms, civil liberties, and biological safety and stability," said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumer Association and the Biodemocracy Campaign.
Green Party - Page 2
Canadian scientists have found evidence that genetically modified crops have begun to spread far and wide from where they've been planted, spawning 'superweeds' and interbreeding with crops from neighboring farms. Organic farms are at greatest risk, since mixing with genetically modified crops would cancel their claim to organic status. A Wall Street Journal study published on April 5 found that16 out of 20 food products with labels indicating no genetic modification contained evidence of genetic material used to modify plants.
According to a quote by food industry consultant Don Westfall in the Toronto Star on January 9, 2001, "The hope of the industry is that over time the market is so flooded [with genetically engineered organisms] that there's nothing you can do about it." Westfall, who supports the development of genetically modified foods, is vice-president of Promar International, a consulting company based in a Washington, D.C. suburb.
The Environmental Protection Agency is currently considering a proposal to allow corn to be genetically engineered to produce an insecticide (the Bt toxin, one of a family of related molecules produced by a soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis). This poses enormous risks: threats to the butterfly population (including the Monarch and the Karner Blue); possible allergic reactions to the toxin; contamination of organic crops; and evolution of Bt resistant strains of insects, who will not be affected by biodegradable Bt spray used by organic farmers.
Greens all over the world have spoken out against the genetic engineering of crops and corporate patents on genetic information and cell lines. Greens and environmental activists in New Zealand have declared August 31 "GE Free Day" and are demanding that genetic engineering be "kept in the lab" in reaction to a Royal Commission into Genetic Modification report recommending that open field trials begin.
"When George W. Bush took office, Steve Forbes predicted that 'we're going to get as much as we can as fast as we can,'" noted Nancy Allen. "With the coming vote in Congress on so-called 'fast track' trade, Forbes' boast appears to be on target. This is especially true when we consider the link between promotion of genetically engineered foods and the passage of trade deals."