Genetically Modified Crops Continue to be Controversial

All Sides with Ann Fisher
1/14/15

Ohio farmers have now joined a nationwide lawsuit against a Swiss agriculture company for selling genetically modified corn before it was approved by China, a major corn importer. Ann explores the larger issue of genetically engineered crops, the concerns over health and environmental risks, and the role they play in feeding the world with guests:

  • Ellen Deason, professor at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
  • Doug Gurian-Sherman, Director of Sustainable Agriculture at the Center for Food Safety, and Featured Keynote Speaker at OEFFA’s 36th Annual Conference on Sunday, February 15
  • Douglas Southgate, professor in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics at The Ohio State University

Listen to the hour long conversation here.

Award-Winning Journalist to Keynote Ohio’s Largest Food and Farm Conference: Alan Guebert to Discuss Future of Farming

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 7, 2015
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Contact:
Renee Hunt, Program Director—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
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Award-winning agriculture journalist Alan Guebert will be a featured keynote speaker at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 36th annual conference, Sustainable Agriculture: Renewing Ohio’s Heart and Soil, on Saturday, February 14 in Granville, Ohio (Licking County).

“For more than 20 years, Alan has had his finger on the pulse of American agriculture, offering keen insights into the politics, money, and technology behind our nation’s food and farm system,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.
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Guebert will speak as part of the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, an event which draws more than 1,200 attendees from across Ohio and the country.
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In his Saturday, February 14 keynote address presented by Northstar Café, “Farming’s Future Faces: Shaping the Course of Our Food System,” Guebert will explore the ways in which science, technology, and big business have changed farming over the last 50 years—from the introduction of synthetic nitrogen and genetic engineering, to the rise of large grocery chains that have replaced small corner shops—and what the next 25 years may have in store.
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In a December radio interview, Guebert told Ag Today in Central Ohio, “It’s all going to change because it always changes… Every 25 years or so, something really big comes along and changes everything in agriculture.”His keynote will explore why the future of farming will require us to focus on public policy and private muscle to ensure the tools, resources, and knowledge we use today and tomorrow are intelligent, sustainable, and profitable.
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On Saturday, February 14 at 10:35 a.m., Guebert will also lead a one hour workshop, “Should We Have an Organic Check-Off Program?” This moderated debate will explore both sides of a proposed organic check-off program.

Guebert, an award-winning freelance agricultural journalist and expert who was raised on a 720 acre dairy farm in southern Illinois, began the syndicated agriculture column “The Farm and Food File” in 1993. It now appears weekly in more than 70 newspapers throughout the U.S. and Canada.
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Throughout his career, Guebert has won numerous awards and accolades for his magazine and newspaper work. In 1997, the American Agricultural Editors’ Association honored him with its highest awards, Writer of the Year and Master Writer.
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Guebert has been described as “one of America’s finest writers on the workings and the politics of our food system” by Eric Schlosser and “a rare gift to farmers and non-farmers alike since he provides down-home wisdom that helps us all make sense of the important, but often misunderstood food and farm issues” by Fred Kirschenmann.
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He has worked as a writer and senior editor at Professional Farmers of America and Successful Farming magazine and contributing editor at Farm Journal magazine.His new book, The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey: Memories from the Farm of My Youth, will be published by the University of Illinois Press in spring 2015.
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In addition to Guebert, this year’s conference will feature respected scientist and biotechnology expert Dr. Doug Gurian Sherman as keynote speaker on Sunday, February 15; nearly 100 educational workshops; three in-depth pre-conference workshops on Friday, February 13; a trade show; activities for children and teens; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment.
The OEFFA conference will be held at Granville High School, 248 New Burg St. in Granville. For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2015. Past conferences have sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment.
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Our Sponsors
Northstar Café, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, OSU College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, UNFI, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Greenacres Foundation, Jorgensen Farms, Mustard Seed Market and Café, Natural Awakenings Central Ohio, Cincinnati, and Toledo, Organic Valley, Snowville Creamery, Albert Lea Seed Company, Eban Bakehouse, Edible Cleveland, Edible Ohio Valley, Green BEAN Delivery, Green Field Farms, Lucky Cat Bakery, Metro Cuisine, Raisin Rack Natural Food Market, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, Swainway Urban Farm, Whole Foods Market, Advancing Eco-Agriculture, Andelain Fields, C-TEC of Licking County, Casa Nueva, Columbus Culinary Institute, Curly Tail Organic Farm, DNO Produce, Eden Foods, Kevin Morgan Studio, King Family Farm, Law Office of David G. Cox, Luna Burger, Northridge Organic Farm, Ohio Environmental Council, OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Sustainable Poultry Network, WQTT Ag Today Central Ohio, Bad Dog Acres, Bexley Natural Market, Bluebird Farm, Carriage House Farm, Glass Rooster Cannery, Hartzler Dairy Farm, The Hills Market, Krazy Kraut, Lucky’s Market, Marshy Meadows Farm, Middlefield Original Cheese, Nourse Farms, Schmidt Family Farms, Stutzman Farms, Wayward Seed Farm
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Press Passes and Media Inquiries
OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend conference and pre-conference events. We can also help members of the press schedule interviews with keynote speakers and workshop presenters. To arrange an interview, request a press pass, or for other media inquiries, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org.

Our Ohio Special: GMOs Parts 1-2

Our Ohio
12/13/14-12/20/14

In 1994, a tomato was the first FDA approved, genetically modified food. Today GMOs are big business. About 90 percent of all cotton, corn, and soybean crops are genetically modified. So, what are the purported benefits and concerns of GMOs? Host Dave Russell is joined by OEFFA’s Amalie Lipstreu, two farmers, and a representative from Monsanto for this engaging discussion.

Watch Part 1:

Watch Part 2:

Ohioans Can Rub Elbows with Sustainable Farming Experts

Ohio Public News Service
12/17/14
COLUMBUS, Ohio – It’s a chance to rub elbows with sustainable farmers, growers and experts in Ohio. Registration is open for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s 36th annual conference, to be held in February.

This year’s theme is “Sustainable Agriculture: Renewing Ohio’s Heart and Soil,” said Lauren Ketcham, communications manager for OEFFA. How people care for the soil, she said, is connected to the quality of their food and water, how future generations are fed and who will be raising that food.

“Soil health is at the very core of sustainable agriculture,” Ketcham said, “but by building the connections between eaters and farmers, we’re also renewing the heart of our community-based food systems.”

More than 1,200 people from Ohio and beyond are expected to attend the event, including experienced growers, backyard gardeners and local food enthusiasts. The conference will be held Friday through Sunday, Feb. 13-15, in Granville.

The event features close to 100 workshops on a range of topics – from sustainable farming and gardening, to cooking and business management. Ketcham said the presenters include farmers sharing their practical wisdom, as well as researchers, business and community leaders.

“We really bring the best and brightest from Ohio and around the country,” she said, “and try to offer a nice balance between academic and research perspectives and tried-and-true field techniques direct from the mouths of farmers.”

With word of mouth, Ketcham said, the conference has grown each year. Many people leave feeling inspired and energized to start a new season or project, she said, “whether that’s because they’ve attended a workshop that’s really enlightened them on something, or they’ve made a personal connection with a presenter or fellow attendee that’s built a bridge for them and their business.”

Ketcham said they also will have children’s activities, a teen conference and musical entertainment, so families are encouraged to attend.

More information is online at oeffa.org.

Last Minute Budget Makes Long-Term Mistakes: Press Statement by Amalie Lipstreu

Contact:
Amalie Lipstreu, Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, amalie@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org

“A new spending bill unveiled by Congress this week removes critical resources for voluntary conservation programs that help farmers with the work of protecting our natural resources. Hundreds of millions of dollars are stripped from programs highly utilized by farmers including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program.

This move will cut funding which the 2014 Farm Bill made mandatory. It is a backdoor approach to de-fund agricultural programs by those putting together the budget bill.  When environmental regulation is opposed, voluntary approaches to address environmental concerns are held up as the solution. The commitment to improving agriculture and the environment is called into question when those measures are undercut.

The EQIP program is an important tool for farmers implementing measures to address natural resource concerns, like toxic algae affecting Ohio’s waterways such as Lake Erie and Grand Lake St. Marys. Nationally more than1.5 million acres were planted with cover crops between 2009 and 2012 as a result of the EQIP program, helping to reduce nutrient runoff.

The demand for EQIP technical assistance and resources already exceeds the funding allocated to Ohio. Further reductions in funding are a disincentive to conservation.

The new spending bill also includes a detrimental anti-farmer provision that would create an unfair marketplace for meat and poultry producers. It removes protection from retaliation when they use their first amendment rights, denies them the right to a jury trial, and even denies them the right to know how the prices they receive are calculated. This should not be part of any legislation in a free market economy.

As lawmakers hurriedly craft a deal to prevent government shutdown, sustainable agriculture and the rights of family farmers should not be sacrificed.”

Renewing Ohio’s Heart and Soil: Online Registration Now Open for Ohio’s Largest Sustainable Food and Farm Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 4, 2014

Contact:
Renee Hunt, Program Director—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org

Registration is now open for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 36th annual conference, Sustainable Agriculture: Renewing Ohio’s Heart and Soil. Pre-conference intensives will be held on Friday, February 13 and the conference will take place Saturday, February 14 and Sunday, February 15, 2015 at the Granville Middle and High schools in Granville, Ohio (Licking County).

As the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, more than 1,200 attendees from across Ohio and the U.S will come together to enjoy keynote sessions with Doug Gurian-Sherman and Alan Guebert; nearly 100 educational workshops; three pre-conference intensives; a trade show; locally-sourced and organic from-scratch meals, and more.

“How we care of our soil has everything to do with the well-being of our food and water, how we feed ourselves in the future, and who will be raising our food ,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt. “Soil health is at the core of sustainable agriculture, but by building connections between eaters and farmers we are also renewing the heart of our community-based food systems.”

Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman is Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Senior Scientist at the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C. He is the founding co-director and former science director for the biotechnology project at the Center for Science and the Public Interest and formerly served as senior scientist in the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). He is a widely cited expert on biotechnology and sustainable agriculture, and author of dozens of articles, papers, and reports, including the landmark UCS report Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops.

Alan Guebert is an award-winning freelance agricultural journalist who was raised on a 720 acre dairy farm in southern Illinois. He began the syndicated agriculture column “The Farm and Food File” in 1993 and it now appears weekly in more than 70 newspapers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Guebert has won numerous awards and accolades for his magazine and newspaper work. In 1997, the American Agricultural Editors’ Association named him Writer of the Year and Master Writer.

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The conference will offer nearly 100 beginner, intermediate, and advanced workshops across eighteen tracks, covering a range of topics including sustainable farming, gardening, homesteading, cooking, livestock and poultry production, business management, food and farm policy, research, and more.
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“OEFFA’s conference offers something for everybody. Whether you’re an experienced grower, backyard gardener, or local food enthusiast, this conference has workshops for you,” said Hunt.
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The conference will also feature three pre-conference intensives from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, February 13 in Granville.
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The first, Principles of Regenerative Agriculture, will be led by John Kempf of Advancing Eco-Agriculture. Participants will learn the principles which support regenerative farming systems and how to produce disease- and pest-resistant crops.
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The second, Slow Poultry: Sustainable Poultry Production, will be led by Jim Adkins of the Sustainable Poultry Network, and focus on effective and profitable strategies for sustainable poultry production.
  
The third, Udder Health and Mastitis Control in Organic Dairies, will provide organic dairy producers with information about practical management and mastitis control practices to improve milk quality and farm profitability. The intensive will be led by veterinarians Dr. Päivi Rajala-Schultz and Dr. Luciana da Costa from the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Organic Valley Cooperative staff veterinarian Dr. Guy Jodarski.
The conference will also feature:
  • Saturday evening entertainment, including a performance by The Back Porch Swing Band and a film screening of GMO OMG presented by Chipotle Mexican Grill;
  • A trade show featuring dozens of businesses, non-profits, and government agencies offering an array of food, books, farm and garden products, tools, information, and services;
  • A kid’s conference with engaging activities for children ages 6-12;
  • A playroom for young children;
  • A teen conference where teenagers ages 12-15 can create their own personal weekend schedule;
  • A raffle, book table, book signings, and much more.
For more information about the conference, or to register, click here. Past conferences have sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment.
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Our Sponsors
Northstar Café, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, OSU College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, UNFI Foundation, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Greenacres Foundation, Jorgensen Farms, Mustard Seed Market and Café, Organic Valley, Snowville Creamery, Albert Lea Seed Company, Eban Bakehouse, Edible Cleveland, Edible Ohio Valley, Green BEAN Delivery, Green Field Farms, Lucky Cat Bakery, Metro Cuisine, Raisin Rack Natural Food Market, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, Swainway Urban Farm, Whole Foods Market, Andelain Fields, C-TEC of Licking County, Casa Nueva, Columbus Culinary Institute, Curly Tail Organic Farm, DNO Produce, Eden Foods, Kevin Morgan Studio, King Family Farm, Law Office of David G. Cox, Luna Burger, Northridge Organic Farm, Ohio Environmental Council, WQTT Ag Today Central Ohio, Bad Dog Acres, Bexley Natural Market, Bluebird Farm, Carriage House Farm, Fedco Seeds, Glass Rooster Cannery, Hartzler Dairy Farm, The Hills Market, Krazy Kraut, Lucky’s Market, Marshy Meadows Farm, Middlefield Original Cheese, Nourse Farms, Schmidt Family Farms, Stutzman Farms, Wayward Seed Farm
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About OEFFA
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a state-wide, grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters working together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

Press Passes and Media Inquiries
OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend conference and pre-conference events. We can also help members of the press schedule interviews with keynote speakers and workshop presenters. To arrange an interview, request a press pass, or for other media inquiries, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org.

Free Information Session About New Oil and Gas Pipelines in Ohio

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: Thursday, November 13, 2014
Contact: Amalie Lipstreu, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, policy@oeffa.org

What: The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) presents a free information session, “Who’s In Charge? 70,000 Miles of Proposed Pipelines in Ohio.”

Why: Due to the growth of fracking, more than 70,000 miles of new oil and gas pipelines are being proposed in the state. Companies are asking landowners to sign easements so they can build pipelines, and more land is also being purchased, or acquired through easements, for compressors and processing facilities.

“While we’re still coping with how to protect our communities from fracking, landowners and farmers are now bracing for the next unwanted fracking activity—miles and miles of new high pressure pipeline to move fracked gas across our state,” said Christine Hughes, owner and operator of the Village Bakery and Della Zona in Athens, and one of the event’s organizers. “What we don’t know about pipelines could hurt us.”

Farmers, landowners, neighbors, and communities need to understand the environmental and financial risks.

Join OEFFA, Ted Auch, Program Coordinator for FracTracker Alliance; Nathan Johnson, Attorney with the Ohio Environmental Council; food business entrepreneur Christine Hughes, and others to learn about:
-New proposed pipelines in Ohio
-How state and federal agencies regulate pipelines
-Impacts to landowners, organic farmers, and farmland
-Eminent domain and your rights as a landowner
-When you need to speak to an attorney

This event is co-sponsored by Ohio University Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics (IAPE). Director Alyssa Bernstein will provide an introduction and facilitate the discussion.

When: Thursday, November 20, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: Ohio University, Porter Hall Room 105, Athens, Ohio

Who: OEFFA is a statewide, grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters working together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to http://policy.oeffa.org/fracking.

IAPE works to promote well-informed, critical reflection about climate change and economic, social, and environmental sustainability in relation to human rights and justice at local, national, and global levels. For more information, go to http://ohio.edu/appliedethics.

FDA Responds to Farmer Concerns, Releases Revised Draft Food Safety Rules

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Columbus, OH—Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued revised proposed food safety regulations for farmers and food businesses under the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA). The FDA is inviting a new round of public comments to respond to the revised language.
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“The FDA is to be commended for listening to farmers and the public and for realizing that a second draft was necessary,” said Amalie Lipstreu, Policy Program Coordinator for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA). “This is the first major overhaul of food safety rules in 75 years. It is critical the FDA gets it right by setting regulations that protect consumers, but do not put small farmers and processors out of business.”

The original regulations, issued in fall 2013, contained several requirements that would jeopardize sustainable and organic farmers, discourage growth of local food systems, and negatively impact the conservation of natural resources. In response, OEFFA and other state and national groups mobilized more than 18,000 farmers, consumers, and food businesses to submit comments to the FDA.

“Based on our initial review, there are some encouraging improvements. For example, the FDA has clarified that activities that happen on a farm—like packing and holding produce—should be treated the same whether the produce was grown on that farm or a neighboring farm. This is important for community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, aggregating produce from multiple farms,” said Lipstreu.

“We also are encouraged by the FDA’s reconsideration of the criteria used to determine farm size and eligibility for certain exemptions. Basing farm size on sales of covered produce, rather than total sales, is incredibly important for diversified farming operations.

“However, the FDA’s revised proposals regarding water and manure standards for produce farms will require a closer look. OEFFA and our partners will be undertaking a thorough review of the revised language in the weeks ahead to make sure that sustainable and organic farmer concerns are represented. We will continue work to ensure that the rules are finalized and implemented in a way that supports a flexible, scale- and supply-chain appropriate framework that supports the growth and success of a more sustainable food and agriculture system,” concluded Lipstreu.

The official public comment period will begin Monday, September 29. Farmers, organizations, and the public are encouraged to submit feedback during the 75 day public comment period. The revised draft rules are available at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection under the Food and Drug Administration section.

Contact:
Amalie Lipstreu, Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, amalie@oeffa.org
Eric Pawlowski, Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 209, eric@oeffa.org

USDA Approves More GE Crops, Chemical Treadmill Continues

Statement by Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator

September 19, 2014
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Contact:
Amalie Lipstreu, Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, amalie@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
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“This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a decision to fully deregulate Dow Chemical’s Enlist corn and soybeans. These seeds are genetically engineered (GE) to withstand the Enlist Duo herbicide, which is a blend of 2,4-D and glyphosate,  not yet been approved by the Environmental Protect Agency (EPA).

In the same way that the overuse of antibiotics has created antibiotic-resistant super germs, the pervasive use of Roundup Ready crops and Roundup has created superweeds resistant to glyphosate, including pigweed, horseweed, and giant ragweed. According to Dow, resistant weeds have more than doubled since 2009 and infest approximately 70 million acres of U.S. farmland.

Now, Dow claims these new crops are the solution to this weed resistance. But they are simply the beginning of a new superweed problem, setting the stage for still more superweeds resistant to both glyphosate and 2,4-D. We must stop this dangerous chemical treadmill.

This decision flies in the face of the vast majority of consumers who have serious concerns about GE crops. And with good reason. GE crops encourage the use of ever more toxic herbicides on our farmland and threaten our environment, public health, and the future of agriculture.

Although Dow has assured farmers that this version of 2,4-D is less volatile, growers are at risk from the chemical drifting into their fields. If contaminated, organic farmers’ certifications would be jeopardized, and 2,4-D is highly toxic to fruits and vegetables.

Despite promises that GE crops would help feed a hungry world, any yield gains attributable to biotechnology have been modest at best. And while we’re seeing little benefit in the short-term, we’re damaging our soil, water, and air and jeopardizing the future of U.S. food production.

There is an alternative. Organic and sustainable farming safeguards water quality, builds soil organic matter and nutrients, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, eliminates antibiotic use, protects biodiversity, supports small and mid-scale family farms, and reduces exposure to pesticides—all without GE crops and herbicides.

Our future depends squarely on our good stewardship of the natural resources on which we all depend. Rather than treating the symptoms of a broken agricultural system, sustainable farming offers a long-term solution for nourishing our farming communities, feeding our families, and protecting our environment.

The EPA should act to protect the environment and public health by denying registration of the Enlist Duo herbicide.”

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