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News ::
7 GMO Field Trials Conducted in MA
19 Jun 2001
Since 1987 there have been 29,000 field tests of genetically engineered crops in the U.S. A report released by the Safe Foods Campaign and GE Food Alert last week reveals that little to no ecological safety testing was conducted during the field trials.
2. USDA Approved Field Trials of Genetically Engineered Crops Fail to Protect Farmers and the Environment
A report on the USDA's Permitting Process for Genetically Engineered Crop Field trials released last week found that little to no ecological testing has been conducted since the start of the process in 1987. Independent reviews of data collected during the field trials shows that little is known about how genetically engineered organisms interact in the environments in which they are released.

Already farmers and researchers are beginning to witness ecological damage resulting from the release of genetically engineered organisms. These include the creation of superweeds via cross-pollination in canola fields across Canada, and unintended harm to non-target species such as monarch butterflies and ladybugs.

"If I have learned anything as a farmer, it is that our environment is incredibly complex, and that we know little about it," observed Sue Andersen, an organic farmer from Westboro, MA.

Besides posing risks to the environment, these field tests also pose threats to farmers who have no way of knowing if neighboring fields are serving as field trial locations for genetically engineered crops. Currently, all field trial locations are kept secret and some cases so are numbers of acres that have been planted with experimental genetically engineered crops. "Good neighbors communicate when one does something which may affect the other. In refusing to reveal what genetic modifications are being tested where, the biotech industry is violating a simple standard of common decency," noted Jack Kitteridge, a certified organic farmer in Barre, MA and co-coordinator of MA NOFA.

In Massachusetts there have been seven field trials since 1987. Four involved genetically engineered corn, one potato and one bentgrass (used on golf courses). The estimated total acreage in MA is 55.6 acres, however numbers could be greater. The largest number of field trial permits have been granted in Hawaii, one of the United State's most sensitive regions of biological diversity.

But Andersen notes that while the federal government may not be doing anything to protect the environment or farmers from contamination by genetically engineered crops, there are opportunities for Massachusetts to stop the "rush to use genetically engineered crops." There are three bills before the Massachusetts legislature this year, one of which calls for a five year planting moratorium on all genetically engineered crops in MA. Hearings on H. 2207 were held in April by the Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture. The bill is still in committee and thus open for public comment.

To download the report visit: www.gefoodalert.com and click on press room.

For more information about Massachusetts legislation call the Safe Foods Campaign at 617-338-8131.
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