Natural Foods Merchandiser
USDA ponders restrictions on genetically modified crops

USDA ponders restrictions on genetically modified crops

For the first time the government is considering limitations on where and how GM crops are planted.


The United States Agricultural Department could be changing its to-date hands-off role in imposing limitations to genetically modified farming practices. For the first time the agency is considering restricting where and how a genetically modified crop may be grown, a move that could eventually affect a wide swath of the farm industry, according to the Wall Street Journal

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said that the intent is to enable GM farmers to continue growing but also to address some of the concerns of the non-gmo proponents.

The news comes on the heels of a recent ruling by a U.S. District Court Judge to uproot hundreds of acres of Monsanto genetically modified sugar beet seedlings that were planted illegally. The beets had been approved for planting by the US Department of Agriculture in August even though a previous ruling had put the beets on “controlled” status requiring more research.  

The bottom line: It remains to be seen but the government does appear at least be considering changing its pro-GM stance. But how long the agency can endure pressure from big ag groups like the American Farm Bureau which was quoted as saying “Planting restrictions on government-approved genetically modified drops would just add unnecessary burdens to farmers,” in the WSJ article, is a wait and see.

If you’re a retailer concerned about GMOs, Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception (Yes! Books, 2003) offers the following information on what you can do in your store to increase education about biotechnology.

Retailers are the key pivotal force to reclaim a non-GMO food supply. Those who shop at natural foods stores are the best demographic to lead the tipping point. They want to avoid GMOs, but usually don’t know why or how. Retailers can convey the health dangers of GMOs (to motivate), provide easy non-GMO choices (to empower) and share the message of the tipping point (to make it viral). This will mobilize the trendsetting, health-conscious shoppers to drive out GMOs nationwide.

Based on recommendations by our retailer advisory committee, our institute provides tools to make this education effort easy and effective. We have GMO health-risk brochures, non-GMO shopping guides, a freestanding non-GMO education center, a downloadable retailer campaign kit and free materials for retailers’ websites and newsletters. More information is available at

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