Obama urged to halt "huge experiment"

PRESS RELEASE: Sierra Club and OCA urge President Obama to halt a huge experiment
April 15 2009

*Laurel Hopwood, Chair, Sierra Club Genetic Engineering Action Team <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
*Neil Carman, Ph.D., scientific advisor to Sierra Club GEAT 512-472-1767
*Ronnie Cummins, Director, Organic Consumers Association 218-226-4164

The Sierra Club and the Organic Consumers Association call on President Obama to halt a huge experiment on the ecosystem and its inhabitants

In light of the recent ruling by U.S.D.A. Secretary Tom Vilsack to approve the release of inadequately tested genetically engineered sugar beets into the ecosystem, Sierra Club today sent a letter to President Obama calling for a change from the previous administration. The Sierra Club has submitted numerous extensive science-based comments to the U.S.D.A. regarding the release of genetically manipulated (GM) crops, only to have these critical issues fall on deaf ears at the USDA.

Laurel Hopwood, Chair of Sierra Club's Genetic Engineering Action Team, explains, "This past decade we are seeing new releases into the environment that we have never before seen on this planet. Genetic engineering involves the artificial transfer of genes from one organism into another, made by crashing through the protective species barrier. These new life forms are spreading their GM traits on a massive scale, an event unprecedented in the 3.8 billion year history of life on this planet."

Neil Carman, Ph.D., scientific advisor for Sierra Club's Genetic Engineering Action Team, explains, "The ecosystem is not a dumping ground for untested GM crops. Mandatory environmental impact statements must be performed for every ecosystem into which any new GM crop is to be introduced, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. To the dismay of the American public, the U.S.D.A. continues to fail to prepare Environmental Impact Statements."

The Organic Consumers Association agrees that the risks posed by the current trajectory of genetic engineering in the fields of agriculture are profound. Ronnie Cummins, Director of the Organic Consumers Association laments, "Pollen blowing in the wind or carried by pollinator species transfer genetically engineered traits to organic crops, posing enormous dilemmas for organic farmers."

Cummins adds, "The American people aren't the only guinea pigs in this huge, untested experiment. Mr. Vilsack intends to play GM promoter when he leads a delegation to the upcoming G8 meeting at talks to reduce world hunger. Gene technologies will destroy the diversity and the sustainable agricultural systems that farmers have developed for millennia and will thus undermine the capacity for those in developing countries to feed themselves."

Until rigorous research is conducted to identify and address the long term impacts of GMOs, such organisms should not be released into the environment. Sierra Club, with 1.3 million members and supporters, and the Organic Consumer Association, with 850,000 network members, urge President Obama to keep his word to protect the land and food for the people of the world.

Sierra Club's letter to President Obama: