Action Alerts

NOFA-NY sends action alerts when an important issue is coming up for a vote either at the State or Federal level in an effort to encourage members and concerned citizens to contact their representatives. To receive action alerts, sign up for our E-News on the right side of this page. You can also see current alerts posted on social media like our Facebook or Twitter page. Our blog is also an excellent source for background on policy issues.


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NOFA Action Alert GMO Labeling 6.6.18


Past Take Actions!


May 9, 2018 - Farm Bill Action -- Make a Call Now!


Now is the time that your voice can have the biggest effect on how YOUR Congressmembers vote on issues and programs in the Farm Bill that make a difference in the lives of farmers and consumers. We have been asking you for your action often, and will continue to do so in the coming months. THANK YOU!


PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE – Find their name and number here, or call the Capitol Hill Switchboard: 202-224-3121.
Ask to speak with the staffer who works on agriculture or leave a message with whoever answers the phone. Use these talking points. For more detail click here. 

I urge Representative __________ to:

  • Voice strong support for funding of Organic Certification Cost Share programs. This program provides a small offset to annual certification costs. Rather than relying on imports, certified organic farmers in our communities should be supported so they can meet the demand for organic in the marketplace. As a bright spot in our economy, organic jobs can and should be created here at home. certified organic farmers in our communities should be assisted in their efforts to meet that demand.
  • Oppose any attempts to weaken the organic standards in the Farm Bill; specifically oppose any changes to the National Organic Standards Board.
  • Support the Organic Research and Extension Initiative(OREI) and other organic research programs so that research into production challenges faced by organic farmers can help level the playing field
  •  Support Seeds & Breeds Research which develops regionally-adapted, publicly-available cultivars and animal breeds that are well suited to local growing conditions, changing climates and differing farming systems.

May 7, 2018 - Organic Standards Under Attack - Call Senator Gillibrand Today

Save U.S. Organic Family Farms!

Under pressure from corporate lobbyists, Senator Roberts is planning to weaken the organic standards. His Farm Bill legislation would gut the authority of the National Organic Standards Board and put corporate interests above the needs of family farmers.

Call Sen. Gillibrand (202) 224-4451

Ask to speak with the staffer who works on agriculture or leave a message with whoever answers the phone. Use these talking points:

- I'm calling as a constituent and an organic farmer/consumer.
- I urge Senator Gillibrand to oppose any attempts to weaken the organic standards in the Farm Bill. First and foremost, I urge Senator Gillibrand to oppose any changes to the National Organic Standards Board.
- I urge Senator Gillibrand to create a level playing field for U.S. organic family farms and stop organic import fraud by fully funding the National Organic Program, fully funding organic certification cost-share, and increasing funding for the Organic Research & Extension Initiative to $50 million.

Do you tweet? See suggestions below.

This could end organic as we know it! We are deeply alarmed by this threat. The National Organic Standards Board determines which materials can be used in organic farming and is the heart of the transparent, democratic process that upholds the integrity of organic seal. Gutting the authority of the board could end organic as we know it.


Keep the organic standards strong! Consumer trust in the organic seal and the future of American organic family farms is at stake. Do not let Senator Roberts open up the organic standards to the dictates of special interests and the addition of toxic pesticides and GMOs. We need more support for organic in the Farm Bill, not a sneak attack aimed at taking this healthy, sustainable option away!


Background: Led by Senator Roberts, the Senate Agriculture Committee is considering Farm Bill legislation that would change the structure and authority of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and make it easier for industrial operations to cash in on organic at the expense of family farmers. The NOSB is at the heart of the transparent, democratic process that upholds the integrity of the organic seal. Changes that weaken the NOSB could be the end of organic as we know it.

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is made up of 15 dedicated public volunteers from across the organic community. The Board advises the Secretary of Agriculture on a wide variety of topics related to organic standards, including what materials should be allowed in organic farming. The Board currently has statutory authority to keep toxic substances out of organic production.

The organic standards must remain strong to ensure trust in the label and to create a level playing field for the vast majority of organic farms and businesses that are playing by the rules.

The science is clear that organic farming is better for people and the planet. It protects eaters, farmers, farmworkers, and rural communities from exposure to toxic pesticides. It conserves water and soil resources. And it's a climate change solution - it emits fewer greenhouse gases than industrial agriculture and builds healthy soil that traps carbon in the ground, where it belongs. Organic farming also improves farmers' incomes and boosts rural economies.



Sample tweets (NOTE: when tweeting at individuals, always include a "." Before the "@" to make sure it's shared publicly, not just with that individual)

.@SenGillibrand, organic needs you more than ever! Defend the integrity of the organic standards and the #NOSB from sneak attacks in the Farm Bill! #saveorganic #farmbill2018

.@SenGillibrand, thank you for your leadership on organic food and farming! We're looking to you to #saveorganic and defend the #NOSB from underhanded attacks in the Farm Bill! #farmbill2018

.@SenGillilbrand, protect our families and our right to healthy, organic food! Don't let the Farm Bill cut the legs out from under the organic standards and the #NOSB! #saveorganic #farmbill2018

May 4, 2018 - Make NYS Driver's License Accessible to All Residents

May 4 Call-In Day:
Make NYS Driver's License Accessible to All Residents
Driver's License Access and Privacy Act - A 10273

Call Your NYS Assembly Member - Find your member here.

May 4, 2018 is a special Call in Day to support A10273 -- Driver's License Access and Privacy Act to allow all residents, including undocumented residents of NYS to qualify for driver's licenses. At the 2018 NOFA-NY Annual Meeting, members of NOFA-NY voted overwhelmingly in favor of supporting this legislation. NYS Assembly member Marcos Crespo is lead sponsor of this bill. Read the full bill here, and call your Assembly Member today!

May 14, 2018, join the Mobilization Day in Albany to push for A 10273. Between 11 am and 1 pm, there will be a press conference to ask Assembly Members to co-sponsor and support the driver's license with legislative visits later in the day. This is a key mobilization. For more details go to:

Taking Action Together,

Liana Hoodes
NOFA-NY Policy Advisor

January 9, 2018 - Organic Animal Welfare


In January of 2017, the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule was finalized.

But now, after repeated delays, the Trump Administration is planning to kill the new rules before they go into effect!

Tell USDA to implement the Organic Livestock Poultry Practices Rule Now!

These new standards are essential for the integrity of organic. The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule is a proposed organic standard requiring minimum indoor and outdoor space for animals, and would clearly define “outdoors”. More than 40,000 agriculture groups, farmers and others urged USDA to finalize the standard – only 28 opposed it!
Consumers who choose organic eggs, poultry, and meat expect organic farmers to raise their animals in the healthiest conditions possible with real outdoor access. Most of our organic producers already follow these rules – it’s time to level the level playing field.

We need to flood USDA with comments to let them know that we oppose this action to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule!

Submit a Comment to USDA NOW! Deadline is January 17

For More Information visit the National Organic Coalition or Beyond Pesticides.

Read NOFA-NY's comments here

Use these points as a template for your comments:


  1. State clearly that as an organic producer, handler, or consumer you oppose USDA’s action to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule.
  2. Say who you are, where you are from, and share some details about your farm, ranch, or business, or why you are an organic consumer.
  3. Be sure to include Docket # AMS-NOP-15-0012; NOP-15-06 in your comment.

WRITE THIS -- (Use some or all of these points):

  1. These standards are critical to preserving trust in the organic label. If consumers see that the standards for poultry and livestock products are not consistent across operations, consumer confidence in the organic label overall will be negatively impacted.
  2. The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule has widespread support from the industry and a full spectrum of stakeholders. It is the result of more than a decade of work on the part of the National Organic Standards Board and organic community. 
  3. The USDA has received thousands of comments in support of letting the rule move forward without further delays. During the last comment period, 99 percent of commenters asked the USDA to let the rule go into effect as written without further delays.
  4. This attempt to withdraw the animal care standards was done without consultation form the National Organic Standards Board- the very group of farmers, processors, scientists, and public representatives, designated by Congress to advise USDA on organic standards.
  5. The majority of organic livestock farmers already comply with these rules. Farmers who already adhere to high standards are being undercut because of loopholes that allow a small number of producers to deny meaningful outdoor access to animals.

SUBMIT a comment to express your strong support for the organic animal welfare regulations before the deadline on January 17, 2018.

January 3, 2018 - The Organic Certification Cost-Share Program is at Risk!

The Organic Certification Cost-Share Program is at Risk! (January 3, 2018)

The Organic Certification Cost-Share program helps organic farms stay in business and is especially important for small and mid-size farms. We need to support local, organic farms and our regional economies. Without adequate support, we will become increasingly reliant imports for organic food.

Congress is working on the Farm Bill NOW, and we have learned that Organic Certification Cost-Share programs could be cut if we do not take action.

Background Information:

What is Organic Certification Cost-Share?
Organic farmers must go through rigorous annual organic certification process and pay fees each year. Two federal programs, the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program and the Agricultural Management Assistance Act (AMA), provide organic farmers with modest reimbursement of up to $750 (per scope) to cover a portion of their annual certification fees.

Why is Organic Certification Cost-Share Important?
The growing costs of annual organic certification can be prohibitive for some organic operations, especially those of small to medium scale. Yet third-party organic certification is critical to maintaining consistency in the application of organic standards, meeting consumer expectations, and ensuring the integrity of the trusted USDA certified organic brand. The modest certification cost share assistance provided to partially offset these costs has been instrumental in the decision by many farmers and handlers to seek initial organic certification and to remain certified as organic - in spite of the annual costs of doing so. This has helped to foster diversity in the scale of operations certified as organic, and also helps to maintain jobs here in the U.S.

What are the two programs that provide organic certification cost-share reimbursements?

  • The Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA), enacted as part of the Federal Crop Insurance Act, provides certification cost share assistance for organic farmers (but not handlers) in 16 states (including NY). The AMA program also provides risk management and conservation grants to producers in those states as well.
  • The National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP), enacted as Section 10606 of the 2002 Farm Bill and reauthorized through the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills, provides organic certification cost share for organic farmers in states not covered by the above-mentioned AMA program, and for organic handlers in all States. The program has operated through State Departments of Agriculture and is now also available through the Farm Services Agency (FSA). The one-year Farm Bill extension legislation passed by Congress on January 1, 2013 did not provide any funding for the NOCCSP, so the program was dormant for 2013, which caused a great deal of confusion and disruption.

Please make 3 Important Phone Calls Today to save this necessary program!

Call Your Senators and Representative TODAY!
Call the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121 to contact your Senators and Representative or find your Congress member here.

New Yorkers: Sen. Gillibrand: 202-224-4451; Sen. Schumer: 202-224-6542

Ask to Speak with the staffer who works on agriculture - Leave a message if they aren't available. Use your own words and experience, along with any of these talking points:

  • I am calling to urge Senator XXX/Congressman XXX to voice strong support for two organic certification cost-share programs in the next Farm Bill.
  • Congress should reauthorize, with adequate funding, both the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program because these two programs help organic farmers stay in business and keep jobs here in our local economy.
  • When I purchase organic food, I want to help support local farms and businesses. I want to support the beneficial conservation practices that certified organic farms follow.
  • I know that earning a livelihood from organic farming is not easy. One of the challenges and added costs is going through the annual certification process.
  • Rather than relying on imports, certified organic farmers in our communities should be supported so they can meet the demand for organic in the marketplace.
  • The modest certification cost share assistance provided to farms partially offsets annual certification fees and helps support farms that are using good conservation practices and providing healthy food for local communities.
  • Organic agriculture is a bright spot in our economy. These are jobs that can and should be created here at home. U.S. organic production is lagging demand for organic products. One of the barriers to getting farmers to transition is the annual costs of organic certification. Rather than relying on imports, certified organic farmers in our communities should be supported in their efforts to meet that demand.

Have another minute? Tell us how your call(s) went: email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


When Responding to Action Alerts about the 2018 Farm Bill, please feel free to use these Talking Points.

INTRODUCTION – DESCRIBE WHO YOU ARE (Farmer – say what you grow, how many acres). ARE YOU A MEMBER OF NOFA-NY? Please let them know that, and feel free to introduce NOFA-NY:

Composed of farmers, gardeners, consumers, and businesses, NOFA-NY has been serving the organic and sustainable food and farming community since 1983. Through education, outreach and advocacy, we promote land stewardship, organic food production, and local distribution & marketing, as well being New York’s largest USDA-accredited organic certifier of over 1,000 operations.

Organic sales and demand have been growing at an annual nearly double-digit rate for over a decade – and New York has consistently ranked in the top 3-4 in the nation in organic. Yet U.S. farmers not able to meet the demand and are losing ground to offshore supply. Our federal policies need to support U.S. organic farmers supplying the U.S. organic demand.

HERE ARE SOME OF NOFA-NY’S PRIORITIES for the FARM BILL. Pick as many as you feel comfortable talking about.

  • ORGANIC CERTIFICATION COST SHARE Assistance is crucial to increase number of U.S. organic farmers to meet this demand. If you are a farmer, tell them how important this is to you! Give numbers: total cost of your certification and total cost after cost share.
    • Ask them to support the Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act (HR 3941), which includes funding of Certification Cost Share.
    • NOFA-NY has greatly appreciated NYS Ag & Mkts implementation of this program, and encourages NYS Ag & Mkts continued participation even as FSA takes over federal administration.
  • ORGANIC AGRICULTURE RESEARCH ACT (HR 2436) – provides research support of $50 million to OREI to address production constraints faced by organic farmers. Organic Research at USDA is under 4% and has been stagnant for years. On average, only about 0.2 percent of AFRI funding goes toward organic research.
  • ORGANIC FARMER AND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT (HR 3871) – Thank you to Rep. Faso for introducing this bill to prevent the importation of fraudulent organic products from overseas though stricter enforcement of organic entering the U.S., modernization of organic import documentation, etc.
    • Tell them how fraudulent organic product affects YOU!
  • SEEDS & BREEDS – Farmers need seeds and animal breeds that are ideally suited to their local growing conditions, changing climates and farming systems. USDA should prioritize this work, by using existing research programs to dedicate $50 million in annual funds to public plant and animal breeding efforts, with a focus on regionally adapted cultivars.
  • National Organic Program (NOP) and the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Consumers must have confidence that products with the USDA organic seal meet the strict standards established by USDA. Funding for the NOP must be increased to address the enforcement challenges facing the sector, and the work of the standards Board must continue to be transparent and open.
    • NOFA-NY strongly opposes any efforts to dilute the authority and role of the NOSB in the overall standard-setting process, or to seek statutory changes to the delicate balance of stakeholder slot allocations for the Board membership.
  • Risk Management. Organic farmers need to insure their crops based on organic, not conventional prices. 2014 Farm Bill language should be renewed requiring RMA to provide price elections for all organic crops.
    • The Whole Farm Revenue Program should be reformed and streamlined to improve options for diversified organic farms.
  • Organic Data. Data about production and sales trends is extremely important to the organic sector and policymakers such as efforts to expand risk management options for organic farmers. The Organic Data Initiative should be reauthorized to provide $5 million in mandatory funding, as well as continue existing language authorizing additional funding through the annual appropriations process.
  • Young and Beginning Farmers Act. Support this bi-partisan bill which will help new farmers overcome the common barrier of access to land as well as improve access to critical programs that educate, train, and assist young and beginning farmers in starting their career. This bill will focus on three primary areas of concern for young farmers: access to land, USDA programs for young and beginning farmers, and investments in local and regional food systems.
  • Conservation Program. Currently, the EQIP Organic Initiative has a payment limit of $80,000 over 6 years, whereas the general EQIP limit is $450,000 over 6 years. Organic payments should be equalized with the rest of the EQIP program.
    • USDA conservation programs should be used to provide technical assistance and mentorship for farmers transitioning to organic.
  • ESPECIALLY FOR DAIRY FARMERS: Organic dairy in the Northeast is in crisis. Organic dairies are approximately 18% of New York dairy farms. 2017 saw a massive drop in pay price for most producers, and an oversupply of organic milk that will take until well into 2018 to adjust. Even though the Northeast is an organic milk deficit area, all producers have been hit by a 25% pay price drop ($10/cwt by Spring 2018) and most have had a form of quota applied. Over quota milk is paid at conventional prices. Despite the fact that retail sales of organic milk in the Northeast have increased, the national oversupply of milk has hit organic producers hard, many of whom have no safety net.

The reasons for this surplus can be summarized in three distinct areas; two of which are clearly the purview of the USDA and must be fixed in the Farm Bill –

  1. Inadequate supply management by milk buyers;
  2. Poor implementation of existing National Organic Program regulations; and
  3. Failure of USDA National Organic Program to publish regulations to uphold a consistent and fair organic standard.

Finally, while not a Farm Bill item, in an effort to address some of the emerging issues for New York organic farmers such as dairy and imported grain competition, NOFA-NY encourages NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets to create a position of “Organic Expert” on your staff and convene an Organic Summit to develop organic priorities for New York State for the next 3 years.

Download a copy of the talking points here.

October 10, 2017 - Keep the Soil in Organic!


The USDA National Organic Standards Board is about to vote on whether or not they will allow organic certification of hydroponics during their next meeting, which will take place October 29 - November 4. NOFA-NY is not against hydroponic systems, we just don’t believe they are organic systems – and they should not carry the organic certification label.

To reduce organic production to simply the input of a few nutrients that are needed by a plant is to deny the definition of organic as a complex ecological system. Soil systems create and sustain the life of organic food and are not dependent on continual infusion of the nutrients that plants need to grow. In fact, as organic soils improve over the years, it becomes more and more necessary to consider the soil ecology rather than the specific needs of any one plant. Urban farms are taking back the soil and bringing justice to our food system by nurturing both the earth and our communities.

Across the country and the world, people are gathering in valleys, on-line and in cities to say Keep the Soil in Organic! No Certified Organic Hydroponics. You can join the thousands of voices today!

Take Action! - Keep the Soil in Organic

TAKE A SELFIE to show your support for keeping the soil in organic!

  • Download this image or make your own sign in support of keeping the soil in organic.
  • Take a Selfie or a video with the sign!
  • Post your photo or video on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and make sure you tag NOFA-NY in your post.
  • NOFA-NY’s social media info:
  • Facebook: @NOFA-NY
  • Instagram: @nofanewyork
  • Twitter: @nofany
  • Use these hashtags to spread the word: #keepthesoilinorganic, #organicintegrity, #nocertifiedorganichydroponics, #feedthesoil, #organicissoil, #soilmatters, #soilgrown



Read our press release on the Rally in the City here.

October 3, 2017 - Talking Points for Farm Bill Hearing

NY Congressman John Faso introduced a Bill to address the issue of fraudulent organic grain and feed originating from overseas which was by supported by NOFA-NY. Rep. Faso notes that this fraud “...artificially drives down the price of real organics, hurting legitimate organic farmers in Upstate New York and across the country.” NOFA-NY ED Natsoulas was quoted by the Congressman here.

Read the entire bill HR 3871 here.

Monday, October 9, 2017 10:00 AM 
SUNY Cobleskill, Bouck Hall Auditorium, 107 Schenectady Ave.

Please tell the House Agriculture Committee why organic farming and food is important to you. Below are 4 Farm Bill priorities for NOFA-NY


  • ORGANIC CERTIFICATION COST SHARE PROGRAM – Full mandatory funding for this important assistance to offset organic certification costs to farmers, help increase number of U.S. organic farmers to been meet growing demand for organic products.
  • ORGANIC AGRICULTURE RESEARCH ACT (HR 2436) – If we are going to be able to meet growing demand for organic food with domestically produced product, we have to do a better job of funding research to address production constraints faced by our farmers. Therefore, Congress should support bi-partisan legislation to increase mandatory funding for Organic Research in the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative to $50 million. Funding for USDA’s organic-specific research programs has been stagnant for years, and broader programs like AFRI are not funding much organic research at all. (On average, only about 0.2 percent of AFRI funding goes toward organic research).
  • ORGANIC FARMER AND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT (HR 3871)– Support bi-partisan legislation to prevent the importation of fraudulent organic products from overseas though stricter enforcement of organic products entering the U.S., modernization of organic import documentation, and new technology advancements.
  • SEEDS & BREEDS – Farmers need seeds and animal breeds that are ideally suited to their local growing conditions, changing climates and farming systems. USDA should be prioritizing this work, by using existing research programs to dedicate $50 million in annual funds to public plant and animal breeding efforts, with a focus on regionally adapted cultivars.


Click here for a printable version of the Talking Points.

July 18, 2017 - Tell Governor Cuomo No Dead GMO Moths in our Brocolli, Cabbage and Cauliflower!

[Call him at 518-474-8390]

Cornell University just received a Federal permit to release the world’s first open air GMO insect developed for a food crop into the open air in Geneva, NY.GEDM

Don’t let Cornell University Release Genetically Engineered Moths into New York air – this is an uncontrolled release – once they are out, there is no taking them back!

The Genetically Engineered Diamondback moth was developed by Oxitec/Intrexon in the UK to ‘control’ the moth which does damage to brassica plants (cabbage, broccoli etc. family). The GMO moth kills the female larvae as they develop on the food plant. Tens of thousands of these altered moths will be released every week for 3-4 months in the Geneva, NY area.

The GMO moth (larvae) is engineered to die on the food plants.

Will we find — and potentially consume — dead GMO moth larvae on our organic broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower? Will we, our backyard chickens, songbirds, and endangered species be eating GMO moths dying on the plants?

Area organic brassica plants could be severely damaged by this inundation – Who will buy New York Broccoli plantingbroccoli, cabbage and Broccoli plantingcauliflower with dead GMO larvae on it?

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has refused any review or permitting jurisdiction – thereby letting the USDA’s cursory health/environmental review [see their ‘environmental assessment’ HERE] stand with no review of its effect on New Yorkers.

In New York State, you must get a permit to release butterflies at your wedding, but no permit or review is required to release a brand new Genetically Engineered moth into the open air.


Or contact Gov. Cuomo HERE

Or Tweet: @NYGovCuomo Halt @Cornell #GMOmoth release until state does full #environmental/#health review #NoGMOmoths in #NYS #NoGMOdiamondbackmoth

Click here for the PDF version.

May 23, 2017 - Tell the USDA You Want Strong Organic Poultry and Livestock Standards


The National Organic Program (NOP) has completed its Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule (OLPP) which would give them the ability to consistently enforce stronger animal welfare standards. It is now supposed to take effect on November 14.

But, Big Ag has lobbied to stop it from happening – USDA is asking (a second time) if these rules should go forward.

Send USDA a clear message: the animal welfare rule—also known as the OLPP rule—should become effective November 14.

Here's how:

  1. Visit and enter docket # AMS-NOP-17-0031; NOP-15-06A
  2. Use these talking points or share your own thoughts as to why the USDA should let the OLPP rule take effect in November.
  3. You can also mail your comments to: Paul Lewis, Director, Standards Division, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Room 2642-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC. 20250-0268.

The deadline for comments is June 9!


May 15, 2017 - Your Comments are Needed! Demand all environmental and health impacts have been reviewed before releasing the GE Diamondback Moth!


Cornell University has applied for a permit to execute the world’s first open-air trial of a genetically engineered diamondback moth (GDM). Diamondback moths are a potential pest to brassica plants (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, etc.).

This new GM insect is intended to reduce pest populations of diamondback moths by engineering a new female lethality trait into male GDM — female larvae die, and males reproduce until the population is destroyed.

Those pushing this technology have not completed any worldwide assessments of health and environmental safety, and only cursory environmental reviews have been conducted by the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Unless and until all environmental and health impacts have been reviewed, it is reckless to release hundreds of thousands of novel organisms around the citizens and farms of New York State.

Take Action – Object to the Proposal NOW!

The deadline for the APHIS open comment period on the release proposal is Friday, May 19. Submit your comments here BEFORE May 19, 2017 and click the box, “Comment Now!”

For more information, see the complete USDA/APHIS permit and the environmental assessment. Check out a comprehensive review and article by Gene Watch UK, plus NOFA-NY’s general fact sheet and farmers’ fact sheet.

Comment Points to the USDA/APHIS:

1. Impact on Human and Environmental Health

  • Human and animal health and environmental impacts of GDM are unknown.
  • Impacts on non-target species exposed to the GDM larvae are unknown, including:
  • Farmworkers who may breathe or ingest dead larvae debris or live adults.
  • Vegetable consumers who may eat dead larvae remaining on the vegetable.
  • Other birds and animals that may eat the plant, larvae, or debris.
  • Non-target species in the soil that may be exposed to dead GDM larvae.
  • The use of a tetracycline antibiotic to breed the GDM could result in antibiotic resistant bacteria in their guts that spread into the environment and food chain.

2. Impact on Brassica Farming in New York State

  • This trial could create a problem that doesn’t exist today, with negative consequences to the vital brassica farming business and farm economy in NYS.
  • Large releases of GDM could make it economically and agriculturally challenging to grow brassicas in NYS for both conventional and organic farmers.
  • Diamondback moths are not a serious threat in New York, yet this trial could create a bigger problem. The permit allows non-GM moths to be released if there aren’t enough naturally. GDM need to be released many times greater than natural numbers to overcome wild populations. Ratios of 10 to 1 and 40 to 1 GDM to wild moths have been used in caged experiments, taking repeated releases over six weeks to begin to suppress wild moth populations. The resulting damage to crops could be considerable.
  • Farmers may need to use additional pesticides to protect crops against infestation. This could create a cycle of release/spray that require ever greater releases and spraying.
  • Organic farms and methods of control could be overwhelmed in the face of the infestation created.
  • If the release results in reductions in diamondback moth populations, other pests, including potentially more destructive ones, could move into the ecological niche created, resulting in serious ecological and agricultural problems.
  • Since GDM female larvae die (presumably on the plant), farmers (conventional or organic) could experience large amounts of dead larvae on the plants, possibly resulting in market rejection of NY-grown brassicas.

3. Potential for Contamination and Other Unintended Consequences

  • There are no appropriate bio-security measures in place to protect those who do not want to be exposed to GDM. Windblown moths can be dispersed hundreds of miles from where they emerge.
  • When male GDM spread outside the trial site, breeding and release of large numbers could lead to a resistance to the female lethality trait. The GDM might encounter sufficient tetracycline in the environment to allow them to survive and breed.
  • It is unknown how the insects might mutate and evolve as releases continue.
  • Organic and other farmers who do not wish to have GDM on their crops will not be protected from the spread of GDM to their fields. No measures have been put in place to establish liability and responsibility for contamination by GDM.

Background to the plan:

The GM diamondback moth was developed by the British GMO insect developer firm Oxitec Ltd (now Intrexon) to reduce the population of the moth, which is a pest to Brassica family plants. In 2014 Oxitec received a permit from USDA/APHIS to allow the first world-wide efficacy trials in New York State by Dr Anthony Shelton, Cornell University.

The world’s first GDM trials began in 2015 under netted cages at Cornell University’s Geneva Experiment Station.

The 2014 permit was revoked in early 2016 (due to a USDA technical error) and the application was re-submitted in late 2016. The USDA/APHIS permit would allow for 2 years of open (non-netted) trials, releasing up to 1.44 million male GDM per year. Diamondback moths are a serious pest to the Brassica family of plants in the southern US, UK, parts of Europe, South and Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Africa, although not particularly in New York State.

Concerns include the contamination of crops with female GM larvae, which die while feeding on the crop, and impacts of this single-species approach on other pests which could cause increases in numbers.

How is it supposed to work?

Male GDM are produced in the laboratory with fluorescence and ‘female lethality’ traits. The lethality trait is turned off by a tetracycline switch, so the insects can be bred to adulthood by feeding on this antibiotic. Thousands of male GDM are repeatedly released into the field and mate with wild females who produce eggs, which are laid on the brassica. Larvae develop and the GDM female larvae die. The GDM males pupate to continue the cycle and surviving GDM males—along with repeated additional releases of GDM males—suppress the numbers of wild diamondback moths. This takes six weeks or more in laboratory experiments.

In order to significantly affect the moth lifecycle, up to 100,000 male GDM will be released weekly from the lab for up to 4 months. There may also be a release of non-GE moths if there are not enough naturally existing. The release of male GDM must be in numbers an order of magnitude greater than wild moths in order for the GDM to overtake the wild ones. The release rate is unknown at this time, but numbers from 4X to 50X have been used in trials of other GM insects.

Click here for the whole article.

April 11, 2017 - No Organic Checkoff!

In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed an organic research and promotion checkoff program which could unfairly promote large organic processors’ needs over those of smaller, family farmers. The deadline to leave comments is quickly approaching - April 19th.

NOFA-NY states that the Checkoff is not farmer friendly, will benefit United States Organic sales, not production, and will negatively impact all organic certificate holders, whether or not they are assessed. Given its stated purposes, it is unlikely to benefit the growth, sustainability or profitability of organic farmers in the U.S., yet will require burdensome paperwork for all, and is an unfair tax.

NOFA-NY believes that the proposed Checkoff program could unfairly promote large, organic processors’ needs over those of independent, family farmers. These USDA programs focus on the marketplace; they are not about farmers or farming.

“Organic is about more than sales,” adds NOFA-NY Executive Director Andrianna Natsoulas. “Unless we preserve the viability and profitability of our farmers and increase U.S. organic farmers and farms, we will not see organic’s health and environmental benefits.”

Click to read the comments submitted by NOFA-NY to the proposed rule. Click here to include your own comments!

March 1, 2017 - Oppose the Organic Checkoff

Oppose the Organic Checkoff

No Organic Checkoff

July 20, 2016 - GMO labeling & QR codes

July 20, 2016 ACTION ALERT!

On July 7, the Senate passed a bill to label genetically modified foods allowing companies to use QR codes instead of words on the package. It discriminates against low income families, minorities, mothers, seniors, the disabled & those without smartphones. 

In 2007 President Obama said, “We’ll let folks know whether their food has been genetically modified because Americans should know what they’re buying.”ALL Americans should know what they're buying, not just the privileged.Only 21% of Americans surveyed have scanned QR codes; QR code software must be downloaded. Just 27% of seniors & 50% of low income Americans own smartphones. 42% of Blacks & 36% of Latinos have had to let their smartphone service lapse. President Obama: Stand up for ALL Americans. Veto this discriminatory bill.

President Obama hasn't signed S.764, the DARK Act (the bill to Deny Americans our Right to Know about GMOs) yet:

So let's keep working on getting the official petition to 100,000 (the number that will trigger an official response):

When you post to social media, use #VetoDARKact. Thank you to everyone who's been pushing this out. We're getting close! Just a little more than 27,000 left to go!

Next week, Wednesday July 27, at 12 noon, there will be a rally for GMO labels at the Democratic National Convention in Philly:‎

June 2016 - Tell Your Senators to Reject Bill S.2609



 Please urge them to reject the latest version of Senator Roberts' bill (S. 2609), or any bill that prohibits states from requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods (GMOs).

Senator Gillibrand: (202) 224-4451

Senator Schumer: (202) 224-6542

Tell Senators Gillibrand and Schumer: Please Stand Firm For NY! Both senators have showed great courage in supporting mandatory on-package GE Labeling and opposing efforts to nullify Vermont and other states' laws. Urge them to protect New York again and oppose the Stabenow-Roberts Bill.

The Stabenow-Roberts bill violates the important tenets of GMO labeling. NOFA-NY supports the Maine Organic Farming & Gardening Association Five Key Principles:

  1. No State Pre-emption. Must not pre-empt established state GMO labeling laws
  2. Voluntary is Not Acceptable. Must require mandatory GMO labeling
  3. No Hi-Tech Gimmicks. No QR codes, 1-800-numbers, etc.
  4. On-Package. Must require on-package GMO labeling.
  5. Consumer Transparency. Must display the words "Produced with Genetic Engineering."


The Stabenow-Roberts bill (S. 2609) is a cave to special interests. If passed, it: 

 - would pre-empt Vermont's and other states' laws

 - would establish a federal program based on QR codes, a symbol, 1-800 numbers, or a statement on packages referring people to websites

 - would take 2 years to create the standards

 - would not include penalties for non-compliance

 - would narrow the definition of genetic engineering and exclude many products currently considered GMO


Make Your Voice Heard for GMO Labeling before it's too late! 

May 2016 - NY GE Labeling Bill - Turn up the Heat!


NY GE Labeling Bill – It's time to Turn up the Heat! Write a Letter to the Editor, and send us a picture.

All NOFA members and supporters! Help us make the final push to pass the GMO labeling bill!  The majority of NY Assemblymembers and Senators support A.617/S.485 which would label all genetically engineered foods in New York State. Fifty percent of the Assembly and nearly half of the Senate have co-sponsored the bill. Given this overwhelming support, we're asking you to please write a short Letter to the Editor of your local paper urging your Assemblymember and Senator to ask the leaders of the NY Legislature to put the bill up for a vote. This year’s session ends in less than a month!

Go HERE for some talking points to help you write a letter – Make sure you ask your Assembly member and Senator (by name) to urge the Legislative leaders to bring A.617/S.485 to a vote!

March 2016 - Tell your Senator to Support GE Labeling in NYS!

March 2016 Action Alert!

Please call your NYS Assembly representative and State Senator or arrange to visit them in their home office during the Easter break!

Ask them to sponsor A.617B/S.485B, the bill to Label GMO food in New York! If they have already signed on as sponsors (we are up to 73 Assembly reps and 23 Senators), thank them and ask them to push leadership to bring the bill to a floor vote.

The announcements from Campbell’s Soups and General Mills that they will label their products that contain GMOs, with no price rise, gives the lie to industry clamor that labeling GMOs will raise the price of food by $500 to $1000 a year!

Click here for a sample letter you can adapt to send to your representatives.