Opposition to the use of Genetically Engineered or Transgenic Crops

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TITLE: Opposition to the Use of Genetically Engineered or Transgenic Crops

WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and

WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and

WHEREAS, our traditional form of farming to provide food to our families and communities is a culmination of sowing and harvesting of native seeds that have been handed down to us from our ancestors and which we will pass on to our children and grandchildren; and

WHEREAS, our ancestors developed a relationship with plants that allowed their cultivation for food and medicine, which has become a foundation for our culture and survival for millennia; and

WHEREAS, just as our families are attached to our homelands, so too are our seeds, which thrive in their place of cultivation by developing a relationship with the soil, water, agricultural practices, ceremonies, and prayers thereby giving seeds a sacred place in our families and communities; and

WHEREAS, corporate seed industries have created technology that inserts genetic material from foreign species and plants into native seeds to create Genetically Engineered (GE) or transgenic crops; and

WHEREAS, the cultivation of GE seeds threatens our centuries-old practices of protecting and maintaining our traditional food and agricultural systems that promote the nurturing and harvesting of native seeds free of GE contamination; and

WHEREAS, it is critical that the basic elements of air, water, and soil surrounding our crops are protected from cross-pollination of GE crops, which poisons our native seeds (such as traditional corn varieties that are most vulnerable to GE contamination), wild plants, traditional foods, and aquifers; and

WHEREAS, on March 26, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 (CR), Public Law 113-6, which includes Section 735 pertaining to the Plant Protection Act that protects biotech corporations from litigation and requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to essentially ignore any court ruling that might otherwise halt the planting of GE crops; and

WHEREAS, the effect of GE technology on the environment or human health when consumed over a period of time is not fully understood; and

WHEREAS, the pervasiveness of GE crops in our area cannot be fully known because the biotech corporations refuse to label GE seeds and food products containing GE ingredients, which carries the potential for genetic pollution of our native seeds; and

WHEREAS, President Obama’s Memorandum on Tribal Consultation, signed on November 5, 2009, pronounces tribal consultations as “a critical ingredient of a sound and productive Federal-tribal relationship” and directs all federal agencies to take steps to fully implement Executive Order 13175 on “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments”; and

WHEREAS, the USDA should engage in meaningful consultation with tribal officials before implementation of Section 735 of the CR pursuant to Executive Order 13175.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NCAI calls upon Congress, USDA, and other federal agencies (Administration): to preserve, protect, and maintain the integrity of traditional native foods, seeds, and agricultural systems; seek repeal of Section 735 of the CR; engage in government-to-government consultation with Indian tribes; support the labeling of seeds or products containing GE technology and ingredients; ensure the sustainability of traditional native foods and seeds by providing funding for the construction of seed banks; gather data and provide testing on GE presence and cross-pollination of native seeds; create GE and transgenic crop-free zones; and oppose the use and cultivation of GE seeds in the United States.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.