Monsanto is encouraging farmers to ask for the deregulation of genetically engineered alfalfa. They are telling them that it is their right to choose biotechnology. This grand effort is in the face of proven evidence that Monsanto’s Roundup Ready™ Alfalfa contaminates conventional alfalfa—and wild alfalfa species along roadsides and rivers, increases weed resistance, and fails to improve yield. Alfalfa is the feed of choice for organic dairies and ranches. What happens when contaminated alfalfa gets into our food supply? Many organic choices may cease to exist. So I ask, what of our consumer right to protect our food supply? And the farmer’s right to uncontaminated seed? What do we do when "their right to choose biotechnology" interferes with the rights of many to safe food and sustainable farming?
For one, we speak up! The U.S. government’s regulations.gov site will accept comments submitted by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time tonight (3/3/10). There is a handful of hours left to get your concerns heard. When the clock strikes midnight (or 9 p.m. PST, 11p.m CST and 7p.m HAST), it’ll be too late. Instead of your carriage turning into a pumpkin, the patented DNA of two different strains of Roundup Ready™ Alfalfa may be on their way to commercial release into our food supply and environment.
And speak up where it counts! Direct comments are the only ones assured of consideration. There are many environmental groups encouraging people to comment through pre-written letters. They are great to gather more information and perspective. However, the USDA instructs commenters to "not use alternative means to send comments through the Internet."
What is Roundup Ready™ Alfalfa and why is it of great concern? This is a seed that has been developed through biotechnology to be resistant to high doses of the broad based herbicide Round Up™. The active ingredient in Round Up™ is Glyphosate. Monsanto owns both the Roundup Ready Alfalfa seeds and the herbicide. It is very profitable for them to sell and contract their patented seeds to farmers as it facilitates a circle of dependence.
The alfalfa is of great concern because of its prevalence, its dependency on pollinators and its wide usage as feed for organic dairy and cattle. Alfalfa grows wild as well as being an intentional crop, so is at greater risk of widespread contamination. The USDA’s own Environmental Impact Statement reveals significant cross contamination occurrences. They are now proposing that they can restrict the GE crops for protection. However, the several varieties of bees that pollinate the alfalfa travel for many miles. Their solutions are unrealistic. Please read more about What is Wrong with Round Up Ready Alfalfa? from the Geerston Seed Farms and also this informative blog from Nourished Kitchen.