Center for Food Safety

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) is a U.S. non-profit organization, based in Washington, D.C., that also maintains an office in San Francisco, CA. The Center works to protect human health and the environment, focusing on the use of harmful food production technologies.

Objectives of the Center[edit]

Center for Food Safety promotes organic foods and sustainable agriculture. Center for Food Safety is a national non-profit public interest and environmental advocacy organization working to protect human health and the environment. Center for Food Safety also educates consumers concerning the definition of organic food and products.

Center for Food Safety uses legal actions,[1] groundbreaking scientific and policy reports,[2] books and other educational materials, market pressure and grass roots campaigns through its True Food Network. Center for Food Safety's successful legal cases collectively represent a landmark body of case law on food and agricultural issues.[3]

Through legal challenges, Center for Food Safety has successfully prevented at least seven potentially hazardous GE crops, including biopharmaceutical crops, from being commercialized. It has also been a key advocate for GE food labeling at both the state and federal level, pushing for new legislation and generating public support across the country for FDA to take action. In addition to its work on GE foods, Center for Food Safety has filed numerous groundbreaking legal petitions to halt the use of dangerous feed additives[4] in industrial livestock operations and has ramped up its legal and policy efforts to protect pollinators from toxic pesticides.

Also, among the issues the organization works on are: genetically modified foods and animals, organic food standards, aquaculture, pesticides and pollinators, animal cloning, food irradiation, CAFOs and animal drugs, synthetic hormones (such as bovine somatropin), and mad cow disease.

Center for Food Safety is organizing a grass-roots action network dedicated to building a socially just, democratic, and sustainable food system. Center for Food Safety has more than 375,000 members nationwide.


The Center was founded in 1997. Its executive director is a long time consumer advocate, public interest attorney, environmental activist, and author Andrew Kimbrell. As Senior Attorney and Policy Director for the Foundation for Economic Trends, Kimbrell successfully challenged federal agencies in several key environmental court cases, including a U.S. Supreme Court victory forcing regulation of motor vehicles carbon dioxide pollution under the Clean Air Act to safeguard the American public from ozone layer depletion and raise global climate change standards. As a noted expert in environmental and food issues, Kimbrell has been called to testify before the U.S. Congress and is a frequent contributor to documentaries, including the recent film, The Future of Food. Kimbrell’s accolades include a spot on Utne Reader’s list of the world's leading 100 visionaries,[5] and The Guardian recognized him in 2008 as one of the 50 people who could save the planet.[6]

Legal cases in the US against genetically modified crops[edit]

Center for Food Safety was active in organising a coalition of organic food activists and environmentalists to launch important legal challenges against the planting of genetically modified crops in the US.


On 21 June 2010, the US Supreme Court issued its first ruling in regard to a GM crop in the case Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms. This was a ruling in regard to Roundup Ready alfalfa.[7] This legal challenge was coordinated by Center for Food Safety, which had won at the federal district court and appeals court levels.

The case goes back to 2006, when organic farmers, concerned about the impact of GM alfalfa on their crops, sued Monsanto. In response, the California Northern District Court ruled that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) was in error when it approved the planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa. According to the presiding judge, the law required the USDA to first conduct a full environmental study, which it had not done. It was the concern of the organic growers that the GM alfalfa could cross-pollinate with their organic alfalfa, making their crops unsalable in countries that forbid the growing of GM crops.

The impact of the current US Supreme Court ruling is somewhat unclear, with both sides appearing to claim victory.[8][9] While Monsanto can claim technical victory in the case, various other issues still remain open, and will likely be litigated in the future. Meanwhile, the planting of GM alfalfa currently remains halted in the US, and it is unclear when it may resume.

Sugar beets[edit]

In 2009-2010, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has been considering the case involving the planting of genetically modified sugar beets. This case involves Monsanto's breed of pesticide-resistant sugar beets.[10] This lawsuit was also organised by Center for Food Safety.

Earlier in 2010, Judge Jeffrey S. White allowed the planting of GM sugar beets to continue, but he also warned that this may be blocked in the future while an environmental review was taking place. Finally, on 13 August 2010, Judge White ordered the halt to the planting of the genetically modified sugar beets in the US. He indicated that "the Agriculture Department had not adequately assessed the environmental consequences before approving them for commercial cultivation."[11]


Further reading[edit]

  • Andrew Kimbrell, The Fatal Harvest Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture. (illustrated), Island Press, 2002 ISBN 1-55963-944-X
  • Andrew Kimbrell, Joseph Mendelson, Monsanto vs. U.S. farmers. Center for Food Safety (U.S.) report, 2005
  • Andrew Kimbrell. 2007. Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food. Earth Aware Editions.

External links[edit]