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Genetic engineering, pesticides top concerns at organic farming conference

(Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- David L. Beck, San Jose Mercury News via Agnet: In the early 1990s, when organic farmers got together, they worried, according to this story, about establishing uniform national standards and achieving respectability.

Today, they have both -- federal organics standards went into effect in October, and organics' market share has been growing steadily -- but that doesn't mean they've adopted ``What, Me Worry?'' as their motto.

The story says that this past week's Ecological Farming Conference in Pacific Grove drew an estimated 1,200 growers, distributors, buyers, winemakers and assorted activists to celebrate their heroes and worry about a future clouded by genetic engineering, pesticides and the shadow of war.

As activist-businessman Dave Smith said, organics, environmentalism, civil rights, peace and democracy ``are all linked at that fundamental level . . . The earth tells you what to do, not Monsanto,'' the giant manufacturer whose name has become synonymous with bioengineered agriculture.

The four-day conference at the Asilomar Conference Center marked its 23rd year, and it has grown from a gathering of hippie farmers to a conclave powerful enough to attract Whole Foods officials to defend their buying strategy and nuclear physicist Vandana Shiva to warn against genetically modified foods.