Advancing a Free Society

Sack Vilsack!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

By Henry Miller and Gregory Conko

Something is very wrong at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The secretary, Tom Vilsack, is letting hypothetical claims by organic farmers--who produce less than 1% of the nation's farming output--cripple an important and environmentally beneficial technology, the genetic engineering of crop plants.

In December Vilsack announced that the USDA is considering geographic restrictions, as well as minimum separation distances from other crops, on the cultivation of genetically engineered alfalfa. This not only represents a reversal of previous policies; it also signals an abandonment of any claim to a scientific underpinning of regulation. Worse, it is a threat to an entire critical sector of American agriculture. Vilsack wants to let the organic tail wag the biotech dog.

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