Rehaka Balu, writing in the April 17, 1998 edition of the Wall Street Journal,
reports that Monsanto Corporation has formally requested that the USDA delay
for three years the allowance of genetically engineered crops in the National
Monsanto, in a formal Comment to USDA, said that the delay would allow for
further formal discussion and education while both Bio-Tech and the definition
of organic continue to evolve.
In response to Monsanto's decision to delay, Steve Sprinkel, of the Texas
Organic Growers Association, said that he was "guardedly optimistic, and while
grateful that the company wants to wait, is concerned that this strategy may
dissipate US concern over Genetically Manipulated ( GM) agriculture and
Ms. Balu of the WSJ noted that :" Many consumer and organic-farming advocates
contend that organic means that the crop and the growing conditions should be
naturally occurring, and thus genetically altered crops shouldn't be
Mr. Sprinkel, speaking from Austin, Texas, said that the broadly based
introduction of Genetically Manipulated crops, particularly soy, in
conventional agriculture indicates that the use of the term " natural" itself
should disappear from any agricultural product labeling other than that
reflecting that they are certified organically produced or tested under
competent analysis to assure that they are free of GM contamination."
" There is absolutely no way that language and meaning can be manipulated to
change our perception of what occurrs naturally. Cross-species DNA transfer,
utilizing viral and bacterial vectors as agents in a laboratory does not mimic
in any way a natural process."
Pioneer Hi-Bred, one of Monsanto's chief rivals in the white-hot competition
in BioTech, and the American Seed Trade Association, continue to favor
the inclusion of genetically manipulated agricultural products in the USDA
National Organic Program.
" We thought that this issue above all would be the most difficult to resolve,
and I am surprised frankly, that the world's leader in this technology wants
to back off at this time," Sprinkel said.
" One reason for my concern is that international attention is now focused at
the very highest levels in the private and public sectors on the future of
Genetically Manipulated agriculture. Large retail and distribution companies
in the United Kingdom, and the UK Minister of Food himself, have openly
questioned the scientific review of this new technology. A national referendum
on GM in Switzerland is now planned within one month's time. I very much fear
that organic consumers will rest now that this major, but not final, battle
has been won. We need to be extremely grateful, and to applaud the
international community for rising to the occasion over US, and ultimately
International Organic Standards. But there is also every reason to remain
vigilant and continue to educate and share information to effect much greater
cognition among the public on the environmental, economic and health issues
concerning Biotechnology. This is defintely not the end, but perhaps a new
Texas Organic Growers Association
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