Members of the sustainable food movement are furious and, frankly, we have a right to be. Last month's decision by the USDA to fully deregulate GE alfalfa isn't just a minor skirmish in a long and exhausting battle. It threatens the existence of organic farming and organic food, and flies in the face of USDA's mandate from Congress under the Organic Foods Production Act to promote and preserve organic agriculture.

The biotech industry loves to talk about how safe and beneficial GE technology is, and regardless of where your opinion lands on those claims, the simple fact is this: GE is not allowed in USDA organic certification. Period. GE contamination of conventional and organic crops is not a myth. It's a fact. Just look at the gene flow contamination of corn and soy. Deregulating yet another crop, particularly one that could have an enormous impact on organic dairy farming, undermines the future of organics. "Contamination of organic and traditional crops by recently deregulated, genetically modified alfalfa is inevitable," the Associated Press reported Monday, citing mainstream agricultural experts.

But organic agriculture not only has a right under Congressional mandate to exist, it has earned the right to thrive. Organic is the fastest growing segment of agriculture in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of consumers have voiced their feelings about organics and GE contamination. I'd love for someone to point me toward a compilation of U.S. consumers clamoring for GE food. We've certainly heard resistance from consumers in our foreign markets around the world.

Tensions following USDA's action have run high as members of the organic industry reacted to the news. Now, sustainable agriculture advocates including National Cooperative Grocers Association, Organic Valley, Stonyfield, and organic champion Maria Rodale are calling for organizations to "stand together in opposition to GE alfalfa." As we regroup and redouble our efforts to protect organic agriculture, these unifying messages are more important than ever. The USDA's decision last week was a tremendous setback, but the fight is far from over.