Texas Agriculture Commissioner Tom Vilsack says farmers need to “stand up” to Monsanto and other agribusiness giants if they want to protect themselves from GMOs.
In an interview with The Hill, Vilsacks comments come after he was recently reprimanded by the Texas Agricultural Commission for misleading its farmers by claiming the Texas soybean crop is genetically engineered.
Vilsacks was reportedly told by an agricultural official that the commission’s science on the soybean is “inadequate.”
The Texas Agriculture Commission is an agency created to oversee agriculture in the state, and Vilsanks office said the official was not involved in the investigation.
Varsack also said the agribuses goal of “providing consumers with the safest, most affordable, and most effective food and feed available” needs to be “comprehensive.”
“The goal of the Agribusity is to ensure that consumers can have access to food that is safe, nutritious, and affordable,” he said.
“In order to accomplish this goal, we need to ensure our products meet all the relevant regulatory requirements.”
The Texas Soybean Association, a lobbying group for the agri-business, said it will ask the Texas legislature to overturn Vilsands decision and call for a new review of the state’s GMO laws.
In the interview with the Texas Tribune, Vines said he has heard from farmers that Monsanto’s soybean products “may have been a factor” in their decision to opt out of the program.
“I have heard a lot of stories from farmers, from soybean farmers who have told me, ‘You know, I didn’t really want to go to the Agri-Bushes because of the GMOs and the way they treat farmers and whatnot,'” he said, adding that he would ask the state legislature to look into the matter.
Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Ready Soybean is genetically modified to be resistant to a wide range of weed killers.
The company has been forced to take a number of regulatory steps in response to a number the government has deemed to be unacceptable.
In March, the EPA announced it would ban all Roundup Ready soybean seed because it is linked to elevated rates of cancers, birth defects, and reproductive toxicity.
The move was aimed at preventing the use of Roundup Ready crops in soybean fields and was widely criticized by farmers, who said the decision was not based on science.