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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GMO Labeling at a Glance

CA-logo-mainU.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), have re-introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, legislation that would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clearly label GE ingredients. Polls show that more than 90% of Americans support labeling. Furthermore, 64 countries already require it. Meanwhile, competing legislation dubbed the “DARK” act — Denying Americans the Right-to-Know” — was also re-introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) to block any federal or state action requiring labeling of GE food, which, among other bad precedents, would reverse state labeling successes. In 2011, the Center for Food Safety submitted a federal petition to the FDA to label GE food. The FDA has yet to respond to the petition, despite receiving more than 1.4 million comments supporting the petition.

Do you support labeling? Tell your members of Congress today.

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Spring Newsletter: Breaking New Ground

Mic with buckwheat at Nash's-Sam in backgroundSpring has arrived, and our staff is busy breaking new ground at a research farm in Chimacum, Washington. This operation centralizes much of our research, education, and seed production in the region. We’ll be hosting volunteer work parties every Friday beginning this week. If you’re in the area, please join us! In return you’ll receive some hands-on instruction in organic plant breeding, variety trials, and seed saving.

Organic Seed Alliance continues to break ground in other ways, too. Read the full spring newsletter here to learn more.

Happy sowing!

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OSA’s ‘Abundant Bloomsdale’ Spinach Hits Marketplace

AB spinach 2

‘Abundant Bloomsdale’ spinach is deeply savoyed with beneficial agronomic and nutritional qualities

Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) is proud to announce the release of a new spinach variety called ‘Abundant Bloomsdale’. The name is a tribute to OSA’s predecessor, Abundant Life Seed Foundation.

“Our newest commercial release exemplifies Organic Seed Alliance’s approach to participatory plant breeding,” says Micaela Colley, executive director of Organic Seed Alliance. “OSA’s plant breeders worked collaboratively with eight farms on the Olympic Peninsula to develop an exceptional variety for organic farmers.”

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