Action Alert

Fair trade or free trade? Let your voice be heard on Minnesota’s future!

The Obama Administration is negotiating two new mega trade deals (one with Pacific Rim countries, another with Europe) entirely in secret, with the goal of further expanding the NAFTA-model of free trade. These trade agreements could have major impacts on Minnesota's farmers, workers, small business owners and rural communities. They could limit Minnesota’s ability to support local food and energy systems and grow local businesses. In order to stay up to speed, Minnesota has set up a new Trade Policy Advisory Council (TPAC) to advise the state legislature and Governor.

TPAC wants to hear from Minnesotans: What concerns do you have about free trade? What role could TPAC play in the future? Now is your opportunity to have a say in our future trade policy. Complete the survey and let them know future trade negotiations should be public, not secret. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard in the development of trade agreements and that they protect local control and our quality of life. The free trade model has failed for Minnesota and we need a new approach to trade. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard before trade agreements are completed, and that they protect local control, our natural resources and our quality of life.

Please take five minutes and complete the survey. To find out more about these trade agreements, go to

Genetically Altered Wheat Flagged; Thailand Detects Shipment Not Cleared for Commercial Sales


Published October 18, 1999

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA) | October 14, 1999 | Hannelore Sudermann, Staff writer

Scientists in Thailand claim they found genetically modified wheat in a recent grain shipment from the Pacific Northwest.

The discovery may jeopardize Northwest wheat exports at a time when a growing number of foreign governments and consumers are rejecting genetically altered products.

"This is not good for the two countries at all," said Prakarn Virakul, minister for agriculture with the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The Thai government hasn't said what it plans to do with the suspect shipment. But the country wants to work with U.S. grain marketers to ensure that genetically modified wheat, called transgenic wheat, isn't shipped again, he said.

The news shocked Northwest agricultural interests because transgenic wheat hasn't been approved for commercial sales and is grown only in test plots.

While many U.S. scientists say that transgenic food is safe, critics claim there hasn't been enough testing to determine what health or environmental consequences these new crops could bring.

Local agriculture agencies and scientists are trying to find out how the altered DNA got into the wheat that was sold.

"This test report surprised us as much as it surprised our customer," said Dawn Forsythe, a spokeswoman for U.S. Wheat Associates, a national wheat marketing agency.

The agency knows only that the wheat was grown in the Northwest and shipped from Portland.

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture hasn't approved transgenic wheat for commercial sale, a small number of acres of genetically modified grain was planted in Washington, Idaho and Oregon this year.