The Future of Biotechnology Regulations Begins with You

Hand Holding Black PenThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is hosting a series of webinars to collect feedback on specific questions (see below) to inform how products of agricultural biotechnology – i.e., genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – should be regulated. Each of the following webinars will be the same, and are scheduled at the following times:

Wednesday, May 6, 6-9 pm EDT

Tuesday, May 12, 5-8 pm EDT

Wednesday, May 20, 4-7 pm EDT

Can’t make any of the webinars? You can provide written comments through June 22, 2015, at this link.

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Deadline for ‘Coexistence’ Comments: MONDAY (May 11)

 

Hand Holding Black PenWhy should those at risk of GMO contamination shoulder the burden of prevention, testing, and losses alone?

The USDA is accepting public comments following an invitation-only workshop on “coexistence.” We watched the event from afar and were disappointed by the imbalance in participation and presentations, where there was clear bias toward the interests of the biotech industry. Furthermore, the most important issues at hand were absent from the conversation, including how to prevent the problem of contamination to begin with.

Comments are due May 11, 2015

Submit comments electronically at this link. Submit comments by mail to: Docket No. APHIS-2013-0047, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

The agency is seeking comments on the workshop it held and activities underway in response to recommendations provided by the agency’s Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21).

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New Organic Carrot Gallery Helps Farmers, Researchers

20150302_161026The Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture (CIOA) project launched an online tool this month to help farmers find new and existing varieties — and varieties in the works — of carrots, especially carrots of novel colors. The new gallery is the first of its kind and includes over 30 carrot varieties and advanced selections included in CIOA. Gallery users can search material by color, disease resistance, shape, flavor, length, origin, top size, and commercial availability. Also included are images of each carrot — both the full root and a cross-section showing the core. The gallery will be updated to include links to project trial results.

Take a tour of the new gallery in the CIOA webinar hosted last month by eOrganic. In addition to the gallery tour, members of the CIOA research team present results from the first three years of the project. In particular, advancements in breeding under organic conditions for nematode resistance and for beneficial relationships with soil microorganisms. Continue reading

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UPDATED: USDA Extends ‘Coexistence’ Comment Period

Hand Holding Black PenThe new comment deadline is May 11, 2015.

Pollen, seed, and plants don’t stay put in agriculture. That’s why contamination by genetically engineered (GE) crops, or GMOs, is a problem for farmers who don’t grow these crops and for the seed and food markets they serve. These operations shoulder testing and prevention costs, and sometimes lose sales.

Why should those at risk shoulder the burden alone?

USDA is accepting public comments following an invitation-only workshop last month on “coexistence.” We watched the event from afar and were disturbed by biased presentations that celebrated GE crops, criticized organic agriculture, and ignored the most important issues at hand, including how to prevent the problem. We believe the USDA must do more to prevent contamination.

Comments are due May 11, 2015

Join us in telling the USDA that:

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Expanding Spring Palates through Participatory Breeding

OSA's Castelfranco-type chicory. This chicory trial is part of a participatory plant breeding project with Organically Grown Company and regional farmers.

OSA’s Castelfranco-type chicory. This chicory trial is part of a participatory plant breeding project with Organically Grown Company and regional farmers.

Local food can be scarce in early spring in the Northwest, but thanks to support from two specialty crop block grants administered by the Washington State Department of Agriculture and Oregon Department of Agriculture, OSA is increasing the diversity of our spring palate.

In partnership with Oregon State University and Washington State University, we are breeding, trialing, and tasting chicories, purple sprouting broccoli, winter storage cabbage, and storage onions. Last week we harvested purple sprouting broccoli and chicories in Oregon, and held a taste test with local farmers and breeding partner Organically Grown Company (OGC). Chicories varied widely in sweetness, bitterness, and texture. The purple sprouting broccoli were evaluated for sweetness, spiciness, and tenderness, as well as the brilliant purple color exhibited by the buds and stems.

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