The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Neil Carman, Ph.D., scientific advisor to Sierra Club GEAT 512-472-1767
Ronnie Cummins, Director, Organic Consumers Association  218-226-4164

Sierra Club and the Organic Consumers Association Call on President Obama to Halt GM Sugar Beets


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

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:

The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our 3.8 million members and supporters to defend everyone's right to a healthy world.

(415) 977-5500