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Help Now and Say No to Genetically Modified Alfalfa

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 by: Ethan Huff
Tags: GM foods, alfalfa, health news

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(NewsTarget) In 2006, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Monsanto's genetically modified (GM), "Roundup Ready" alfalfa without conducting a proper Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Center for Food Safety (CFS) and The Cornucopia Institute jointly filed a lawsuit against the USDA decision, requesting that GE alfalfa be prohibited until an EIS was conducted. The lawsuit was won and the USDA eventually produced the report; however, the agency seems to be ignoring all the potential risks and is set to approve GE alfalfa anyway.

Alfalfa is a fundamental source of feed for both organic and non-organic livestock. It is also the fourth most widely grown crop in the U.S. It is concentrated primarily in the Pacific Northwest and Canada where it grows best.

Alfalfa is also a perennial crop and, if approved for genetic modification and release, would be the first in its category. Perennial plants grow continually, lasting throughout the year and persisting indefinitely depending on weather conditions. The negative impact of releasing GE perennials is speculated to be severe due to their natural growth tendencies.

If planted, fragments of GE alfalfa will eventually escape and contaminate nearby fields with pollen, spawning a host of new GE alfalfa plants all over the place where they should not be. Since alfalfa is open-pollinated by bees, which can travel upwards of six miles from their home, widespread biological contamination is sure to take place.

Controlling the growth, pollination, and proliferation patterns of GE crops is simply impossible; there is no way to protect non-GE plants and fields from being contaminated with patented DNA by natural forces and insect life.

GE crops are also known to foster pesticide-induced bacteria and "superweeds" that end up plaguing fields. Each year, superweeds become more virulent as they grow increasingly resistant to pesticides and herbicides that are designed to protect GE crops from infestation. Harmful bacteria colonies also infiltrate the root systems of GE plants, disrupting delicate soil compositions and wreaking havoc within the natural ecosystem.

According to experts, the entire $25 billion organic industry is at risk from GE alfalfa. If not stopped, the entire alfalfa industry will take a huge hit in and of itself. Because farmers will no longer be able to ensure the integrity of their alfalfa crops, they could potentially lose all export contracts with countries that oppose genetic modification. In time, all alfalfa besides Monsanto's GE variety could become extinct.

The USDA is receiving public comments concerning Monsanto's GE alfalfa until February 16. Comments can be submitted online at the U.S. Government Regulations input page.

Written correspondence can be submitted to:
Docket No. APHIS-2007-0044
Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD
APHIS, Station 3A-03.8
4700 River Road Unit 118
Riverdale, MD 20737-1238

Please be sure to include Docket No. APHIS-2007-0044 at the top of all written or electronic comments so the agency will know to which issue they apply.

Sources:

ACTION ALERT: Genetically Modified Alfalfa Threatens Organic Agriculture - The Cornucopia Institute

Speak Out on Genetically Engineered Alfalfa - Organic Valley Cooperative

Glyphosate-Tolerant Alfalfa Events J101 and J163: Request for Nonregulated Status - USDA

About the author

Ethan Huff is a freelance writer and health enthusiast who loves exploring the vast world of natural foods and health, digging deep to get to the truth. He runs an online health publication of his own at http://wholesomeherald.blogspot.com.


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