In an interesting development, advocates of genetically engineered crops have walked out of talks aimed at creating a standard for sustainable agriculture, according to Sustainable Food News.
Apparently, they felt the effort was dominated by "environmental groups, certification consultants, agro-ecology and organic farming proponents."
This tension was present from the beginning of this effort, which aimed to define what "sustainable agriculture" meant. When I first talked to participants a couple of years ago, they felt the talks were important because companies were already using the words without any precise meaning.
Those standards exist for organic food, based on law and regulations, but they are virtually meaningless when it comes to "sustainable agriculture." Obviously, the big questions were whether genetically modified crops, along with organic methods, should be included. It seemed like an untenable divide to bridge.
The "mainstream agriculture" crowd didn't think they were getting sufficient clout in this agicultural standard, so 10 of them withdrew from the effort. They were supported by a bevy of industrial agriculture proponents -- from fertilizer and chemical companies to the Farm Bureau. But here's the thing: 50 people remain.
It will be interesting to see where this effort now leads.
- Samuel Fromartz