Despite a Supreme Court decision to regulate (read: ban) genetically engineered, Roundup Ready alfalfa for widespread commercial use in June 2010, the USDA is again poised to release this potentially harmful crop for national use.
Food and Water Watch reports: “the USDA had to do an assessment of the impact GE alfalfa could have on the environment. That new assessment was released on December 16th, and it is one of the last steps USDA has to take before approving Monsanto’s genetically engineered Roundup Ready alfalfa.”
The USDA has several options with regard to this decision. It could:
- Allow GE alfalfa to be planted anywhere in the U.S. without any restrictions
- Continue to regulate GE alfalfa (which means it would not be legal to plant)
- Allow GE alfalfa to be planted under certain conditions that vary in different parts of the country.
It’s important for consumers to know that any approval of GE alfalfa puts organic farmers at risk, even under the complicated scheme the agency is proposing as option 3.
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.
Although the new USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack acknowledges the potential harm of GE alfalfa and says he’s hoping for an amicable compromise in this legistlation, it’s impossible to imagine a win-win situation for both Monsanto and organic farmers.
The Atlantic’s Marion Nestle points out that “Farm groups supporting GM alfalfa strongly object to Vilsack’s ‘coexistence’ initiative. In a letter (PDF), the groups argue that the coexistence policy could ‘adversely impact all producers of biotech crops, as well as the integrity of the American agriculture system.’
TAKE ACTION! Tell the USDA it’s time to ban GE Alfalfa once and for all. Please sign both petitions below.
Help Preserve the Future of Organic; Prevent Full Deregulation of GE Alfalfa
Tell The USDA Not To Allow GE Alfalfa In Any Form
Image Credit: Flickr - Sam Beebe/Ecotrust