GMO USDA Lawsuit Filed By Food Safety Group Over Missing Documents

The Center for Food Safety is suing the USDA over missing documents related to potential GMO dangers. The genetically modified food related lawsuit filed earlier this week demands that the federal government hand over any documents or reports which could incriminate the United States Department of Agriculture.

The GMO lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. The Center for Food Safety legal filing maintains that political pressure exerted against the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve GMO alfalfa. The USDA lawsuit seeks the turning over of nearly 2,000 documents from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – APHIS. The missing documents allegedly explain why the federal agency reversed its decision to deny genetically modified corps, specifically Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready Alfalfa.

Center for Food Safety Director Andrew Kimbrell had this to say in the GMO USDA lawsuit filing:

“USDA determined Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa posed significant environmental and economics harms and initially proposed placing restrictions on it. Yet the agency went ahead and granted full unrestricted approval one month later. Did the White House intervene? Did Monsanto pressure the agency? The fact is we don’t know, and unless the court orders USDA to hand over these documents we may never know.”

The USDA APHIS branch reversed its GMO crop decision in favor of biotech giant Monsanto in January, 2011. The Center for Food Safety and similar advocacy groups believe that the federal agency ignored data which proved GMO alfalfa was bad for consumers, farmers, and the environment.

Center for Food Saferty attorney Sylvia Wu had this to say about the GMO alfalfa reversal:

“APHIS’s sudden change of heart on the approval of Roundup Ready alfalfa has led to the contamination of organic and conventional alfalfa to the detriment of US farmers, and threatens the health of our environment and the survival of sensitive species. The public deserves an explanation from the agency. APHIS cannot be allowed to disregard the public’s right to access governmental records guaranteed by the Freedom of Information Act.”

A Washington state farmer who found unwanted genetically modified alfalfa on his land is speaking out, saying he wants to protect other farmers. Joseph Peila is coming forward the same time as a legal petition was filed to force a federal government investigation into the matter.

“What happened on my farm shows that USDA is not looking out for farmers like me,” he said. “To start, (the Department of Agriculture) needs to find out how this contamination happened; then they must do everything in their power to stop it from happening again.”

The Center for Food Safety filed the petition with the Department of Agriculture on behalf of Joseph and Michelle Peila. The conventional alfalfa grown on their farm was not accepted for export this year after testing confirmed the presence of Monsanto GMO alfalfa in the crop.

The petition demands that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) thoroughly investigate how the genetically modified alfalfa wound up in the field and take necessary regulatory action based on the findings. The presence of genetically engineered crops in a field where none was planted appears to directly contradict the USDA’s official position on the possibility of GMO cross-contamination.

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