Thursday, February 22, 2007

Top U.S. dairy company, Dean Foods, to ban products from cloned animals

Sam Fromartz, blogger, reporter, and author of Organic, Inc has an exclusive story at his blog Chews Wise on Dean Foods' announcment to ban the use of dairy products from cloned animals. Dean's announcement follows similar actions from Ben & Jerry's, Clover-Stornetta, Organic Valley, Straus Family Creamery, Stonyfield Farms, and retailers Whole Foods and Wild Oats, though Dean's decision may have the biggest impact on the commercialization of clones to date, at least in the dairy industry. Dean Foods sells dairy under more than 50 different brands, including Berkeley Farms, Borden, AltaDena, Land O' Lakes, Garelick, Hershey's Milk, Meadow Gold and Verifine. Dean also sells under many private label supermarket brands, and owns Horizon Dairy, the country's largest organic milk brand. Dean Foods is the industry leader, raking in over $10 billion in annual sales.

Read Dean's position statement over at Chews Wise

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Whole Foods and Wild Oats to Ban Meat and Milk from Cloned Animals

According to a story posted today on, Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats have said they will ban food products from cloned animals or their progeny if such foods are approved for sale. Both companies also urged the labeling of these products for consumers.

According to
the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman reported. "Whole Foods believes any food derived from cloned animals and offspring should be required to be labeled as such to allow consumers to make informed decisions on the meat and milk they buy," Margaret Wittenberg, vice president of communications and quality standards for the chain, told the newspaper.

Bill to label food from cloned animals introduced in the House

U.S. House Representative DeLauro (D-CT) introduced an identical, companion bill, HR 992, to the Cloned Food Labeling Act recently introduced by U.S. Senator Mikulski (D-MD). Both bills would require mandatory labeling of food products from animal clones or their offspring.

Tell Congress to label food from cloned animals!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Precedent-setting Decision May Block Planting, Sales of Monsanto Alfalfa

In a decision handed down yesterday, a Federal Court has ruled, for the first time ever, that the U.S. Department of Agriculture failed to abide by federal environmental laws when it approved a genetically engineered crop without conducting a full Environment Impact Statement (EIS).

In what will likely be a precedent-setting ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District of California decided in favor of farmers, consumers, and environmentalists who filed a suit calling the USDA’s approval of genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa a threat to farmers’ livelihoods and a risk to the environment. Judge Breyer ordered that a full Environmental Impact Statement must be carried out on “Roundup Ready” alfalfa, the GE variety developed by Monsanto and Forage Genetics. The decision may prevent this season’s sales and planting of Monsanto’s GE alfalfa and future submissions of other GE crops for commercial deregulation.

Judge Breyer concluded that the lawsuit, brought last year by a coalition of groups led by the Center for Food Safety, raised valid concerns about environmental impacts that the USDA failed to address before approving the commercialization and release of Roundup Ready alfalfa.
In his ruling, the judge consistently found USDA’s arguments unconvincing, without scientific basis, and/or contrary to the law. For example:

* The judge found that plaintiffs’ concerns that Roundup Ready alfalfa will contaminate natural and organic alfalfa are valid, stating that USDA’s opposing arguments were “not convincing” and do not demonstrate the “hard look” required by federal environmental laws. The ruling went on to note that “…For those farmers who choose to grow non-genetically engineered alfalfa, the possibility that their crops will be infected with the engineered gene is tantamount to the elimination of all alfalfa; they cannot grow their chosen crop.”

* USDA argued that, based on a legal technicality, the agency did not have to address the economic risks to organic and conventional growers whose alfalfa crop could be contaminated by Monsanto’s GE variety. But the judge found that USDA “overstates the law…Economic effects are relevant “when they are ‘interelated’ with ‘natural or physical environmental effects.’…Here, the economic effects on the organic and conventional farmers of the government’s deregulation decision are interrelated with, and, indeed, a direct result of, the effect on the physical environment.”

* Judge Breyer found that USDA failed to address the problem of Roundup-resistant “superweeds” that could follow commercial planting of GE alfalfa. Commenting on the agency’s refusal to assess this risk, the judge noted that “Nothing in NEPA, the relevant regulations, or the caselaw support such a cavalier response.”

“This is a major victory for farmers and the environment,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety. “Not only has a Federal Court recognized that USDA failed to consider the environmental and economic threats posed by GE alfalfa, but it has also questioned whether any agency in the federal government is looking at the cumulative impacts of GE crop approvals.”

“This is another nail in the coffin for USDA’s hands-off approach to regulations on these risky engineered crops,” said Will Rostov, Senior Attorney of The Center for Food Safety, which just last week won another judgment calling for USDA to provide more environmental documentation for any new GE field trials.

“This ruling will help protect my rights as a consumer to choose, and I choose organic foods whenever and wherever I can,” said Dean Hulse, Fargo, ND-based spokesperson for Dakota Resource Council and the Western Organization of Resource Councils. “The decision rejects Monsanto’s claims that transgenic crops are safe for the environment. Many people have been skeptical of those claims, and now we have a judge who’s skeptical as well – a judge who has actually studied the facts.”

The suit also cited the urgent concerns of farmers who sell to export markets. Japan and South Korea, America’s most important alfalfa customers, have warned that they will discontinue imports of U.S. alfalfa if a GE variety is grown in this country. U.S. alfalfa exports total nearly $480 million per year, with about 75% headed to Japan. The Court disagreed with USDA’s assertion that exports to Japan would not be harmed by deregulation of GE alfalfa.

“Today's ruling reinforces what Sierra Club has been saying all along: the government should look before it leaps and examine how genetically engineered alfalfa could harm the environment before approving its widespread use,” said Neil Carman of the Sierra Club’s genetic engineering committee. “That's just plain common sense.”

Alfalfa is grown on over 21 million acres, and is worth $8 billion per year (not including the value of final products, such as dairy), making it the country’s third most valuable and fourth most widely grown crop. Alfalfa is primarily used in feed for dairy cows and beef cattle, and it also greatly contributes to pork, lamb, sheep, and honey production. Consumers also eat alfalfa as sprouts in salads and other foods.

“We applaud the decision of the Court,” said Bill Wenzel of the National Family Farm Coalition. “It’s unfortunate that we have to turn to judges to do what’s right for farmers while the USDA carries water for the biotech companies.”

Pat Trask of Trask Family Seeds, a South Dakota conventional alfalfa grower and plaintiff in the case stated: “It’s a great day for God’s own alfalfa.”

The Center for Food Safety represented itself and the following co-plaintiffs in the suit: Western Organization of Resource Councils, National Family Farm Coalition, Sierra Club, Beyond Pesticides, Cornucopia Institute, Dakota Resource Council, Trask Family Seeds, and Geertson Seed Farms.

For more information, please visit .

Friday, February 9, 2007

Senators introduce legislation to keep cloned animals out of organic food

Legislation was introduced in the Senate yesterday that would insure the exclusion of food products from animal clones or their progeny under U.S. organic standards.

While organic rules clearly exclude cloning on several grounds, the biotechnology industry has attempted to raise uncertainty about the status of products from clones as organic foods. The legislation introduced today by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) would codify without exception the exclusion of milk, meat or other food products from clones or their offspring from the U.S. organic program.

“The intent of the organic law is to insure the highest animal welfare standards and safe organic food for consumers, and food from clones fails on both counts,” said Joseph Mendelson, Legal Director for the Center for Food Safety (CFS). “FDA should withdraw its plan to approve cloned food, but in light of the agency’s proposal, we welcome this legislation to insure that organic food remains the safest food on supermarket shelves.”

After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its plan to approve food from clones in December, organic advocates quickly noted that such products would be excluded from organic production under current rules. However, biotechnology industry spokespeople have recently stated that they believe that cloned food should be permitted in products labeled as organic. While the National Organic Program (NOP) announced last week that clones would not be allowed under organic standards, the question of the progeny of clones remains unanswered. The Department of Agriculture has not taken up the issue of clones' offspring, and is reportedly planning to assemble an advisory panel to consider the issue.

Despite this, it is clear that the rules governing organic food production prohibits use of clones. A recent paper for the nonprofit Organic Center by a former Director of the National Organic Standards Board clearly outlines the exclusion from organics of products from clones. In his paper, “Is the FDA’s Cloning Proposal Ready for Prime Time?,” (PDF)University of Minnesota’s James Riddle notes that organic production excludes products that make use of cell fusion, a technique often used in animal cloning. The National Organic rule states that cell fusion and other methods are used to “influence [an organisms] growth and development by means that are not possible under natural conditions…and are not considered compatible with organic production.” The use in cloning of artificial hormones to induce labor is also prohibited in organics.

Under organic rules, animals must be provided with care that promotes their “natural behaviors,” including reproductive behavior, and must establish and maintain preventative livestock health care practices. But cloning clearly precludes natural reproduction. Further, defects in clones are common, often with horribly painful outcomes for animals. By its
nature, therefore, cloning cannot meet the rules for health required to meet organic standards.

The text of the bill is not yet published and has not been assigned a bill number. We will update this post when this happens.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


Dairies, Food Companies and Consumers Gather at the Capitol to Say No to Milk and Meat from Animal Clones

The Center for Food Safety today joined with Ben & Jerry’s and dozens of protesters in opposing the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) plan to approve milk and meat from animal clones. Despite widespread scientific concern and unaddressed questions about the safety of food from animal clones and their offspring, FDA announced in late December that it plans to approve cloning for food production later this year. The Center for Food Safety has been leading public opposition to FDA’s plan and has already collected over ten thousand comments for submission to FDA in opposition to cloned food.

“We are here today to let FDA know that the American people will not accept this food cloning experiment on our children’s milk,” said Joseph Mendelson, Legal Director for the Center for Food Safety (CFS). “The biotech industry can say that these foods are safe until the cows come home, but Americans won’t be fooled by industry propaganda – we demand independent scientific review and long-term studies on this radical new food technology.” Last October, CFS filed a legal petition with the FDA seeking a moratorium on foods produced from cloned animals and establishment of mandatory rules for pre-market food safety and environmental review of cloned foods.

In addition to Ben & Jerry’s, major dairies are already rejecting milk from clones. In a January 23 letter to its coop members, California’s largest dairy processor, California Dairies, Inc. stated that it “will not accept milk from cloned cows…effective immediately." Another California dairy, Clover Stornetta announced its ban on milk from clones early in January. Organic dairy companies and advocates have also been clear that they will work to insure that cloning is not permitted under U.S. organic standards.

Congress is also already taking steps to address FDA’s approach on food from clones. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has introduced legislation calling for mandatory labeling for all food from animal clones or their offspring, and the Boston Globe reported that Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro is considering introducing a similar House bill. In December, seven Senators wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt in protest over its plan to approve food from clones. Several states, including California and Massachusetts, have ntroduced or are considering state bills calling for labeling of cloned food.

The European Union has stated that it will consider food from clones or their offspring as “novel foods” subject to regulatory reviews similar to those that have held up trade in genetically engineered foods. Such EU scrutiny could become burdensome for many food products exported from the U.S. For example, Britain is an important market for U.S. ice cream producers. Major grocery retailers in Britain have already announced that they will boycott meat and dairy products from animal clones or their offspring.