The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that it will once again allow unlimited, nation-wide commercial planting of Monsanto’s genetically-engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa.
The decision comes as a shock to many after the USDA admitted that GE alfalfa poses many risks to organic and conventional farmers in its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).
Alfalfa is a key component in feed for organically-raised animals. The USDA has failed to show how it will prevent GE alfalfa from contaminating organic and non-GE alfalfa crops. Without this guarantee, the integrity of thousands of organic products will be jeopardized.
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Although USDA Secretary Vilsack reiterated concerns surrounding purity and access to non-GE seed during a Thursday call with stakeholders, the Agency’s decision still places the entire burden for preventing contamination on non-GE farmers, with no protections for food producers, consumers and exporters.
In 2007, a federal court ruled that the USDA’s approval of GE alfalfa violated environmental laws by failing to analyze risks such as the contamination of conventional and organic alfalfa, the evolution of glyphosate-resistant weeds, and increased use of glyphosate herbicide, sold by Monsanto as Roundup. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals twice affirmed the national ban on GE alfalfa planting.
“Last spring more than 200,000 people submitted comments to the USDA highly critical of the substance and conclusions of its Draft EIS on GE Alfalfa,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety in a statement. “Clearly the USDA was not listening to the public or farmers but rather to just a handful of corporations.”
The Center for Food Safety identified several key points that were not properly assessed in the FEIS, and announed its immediate plans to challenge the USDA’s flawed plans in court.
If you want to learn more about the fight to eliminate GE crops from the food supply, check out the Millions Against Monsanto Campaign.
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