January 21, 2005
AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE REPORT MISLEADING:
GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SEED SALES ESSENTIALLY LEVEL
MONTPELIER–Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture updated his report on
genetically engineered seed sales today in a Joint Session of the House and
Senate Agriculture Committees. Today’s report included sales from Seedway,
numbers which had been missing from his report given earlier in the week.
However, the report was still surprisingly inaccurate. According to the
handout, “GE Seed Sales and Use in Vermont,” given to legislators by the
Secretary, sales of genetically engineered (GE) seeds have risen from 8% in
2002 to 19% in 2004. According to the report from the Agency of Agriculture
on 2002 sales, delivered to the Agriculture Committees in early 2003, the
total pounds of GE seed sold in 2002 were 555,721, or 22% of total seed
sales — not 168,385, as reported in today’s handout. This means that the
total sales have actually gone down since 2002, although slightly up since
2003. According to the 2003 report, total GE seed sales were 407,198 pounds,
or approximately 16% of total seed sales. Today’s report indicated that the
2003 GE seed sales were 416,998 pounds.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable that the Agency is providing inaccurate data
to legislators and to Vermonters. The GE seed registration law was passed so
that Vermonters could gather information to make good decisions about this
fast-moving technology, and even at this basic level, the Agency is letting
us down,” lamented Amy Shollenberger, Policy Director at Rural Vermont.
The basic breakdown from the 2002, 2003, and 2004 reports is as follows:
2002 sales of GE seed were reportedly 22% of total seed sales with 555,721
combined pounds – 539,269 in corn and 16,452 in soy.
2003 sales of GE were reportedly 16% of total seed sales (that is corn only)
GE sales were 407,198 with 291,598 in corn and 115,600 in soy.
2004 sales of GE were reportedly 518,612 pounds, with 349,712 in corn and
168,900 in soy.
“The questionable reporting is indicative of the inadequate scrutiny this
new technology gets,” says Jim Moulton of the Genetic Engineering Action
Group. “It underscores the need for Vermont policy-makers to pass regulatory
measures that safeguard Vermont’s diversified agriculture. Passing the
Farmer Protection Act is a critical step.”
Rural Vermont is a statewide advocacy group that activates, advocates, and
educates for living soils, thriving farms, and healthy communities. You can
find more information at www.ruralvermont.org. The GE Action Group is an
all-volunteer citizen’s initiative aimed to educate the general public on
the pitfalls of genetic engineering in food and agriculture.
Contact: Amy Shollenberger, Policy Director, Rural Vermont — 802-793-1114
Jim Moulton, Genetic Engineering Action Group — 802-824-6670