Originally published March 31 2011
Farmers and consumer groups file lawsuit against USDA over GM alfalfa approval
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) The heinously irresponsible -- and by many accounts illegal -- decision by the US Department of Agriculture to approve Monsanto's genetically-modified (GM) alfalfa will likely go down in history as the single most illicit scandal to decimate organic and non-GM agriculture. The Center for Food Safety (CFS) and numerous other farmer and consumer groups recently filed a lawsuit against the USDA for its unlawful deregulation of GM alfalfa, which if left to take its course will eventually eliminate the organic sector entirely.
Before approving any GM crop, the USDA is required to conduct proper environmental impact statements (EIS). Despite years-worth of GM crop approvals, the agency has never once actually completed an EIS -- that is until the 2007 court ruling that required it to for GM alfalfa.
After being legally challenged in 2007 over its initial approval of GM alfalfa, the USDA was ordered by a federal court to complete a proper EIS, and Monsanto was ordered to stop planting GM alfalfa until it could be proven that its "Frankencrop" was safe for the environment and humans. The USDA completed the EIS in late December, and it actually revealed very serious problems with GM alfalfa, including the widespread damage it will cause through cross-pollination (http://www.naturalnews.com/031196_GE_alfalfa...).
However, despite the clear evidence that GM alfalfa is highly problematic and unfit for approval, Obama USDA chief Tom Vilsack went ahead and approved it anyway. His decision had no basis in factual, scientific evidence that GM alfalfa was safe, of course, because such evidence does not and has never existed. Instead, it was based on political pandering to the interests of Monsanto, and nothing more.
"We expect Monsanto to force-feed people genetically engineered (GE) crops -- that's its business model," said Paul Achitoff, attorney for nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice. "We hoped for better from the USDA, which has much broader responsibilities."
Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of CFS, added in a press release that the USDA's "reckless approval flies in the face of the overwhelming evidence that GE (genetically-engineered) alfalfa threatens the rights of farmers and consumers, as well as (causes) significant harm to the environment."
Beyond simply lacking evidence that GM alfalfa is safe for the environment and humans is the fact that all available evidence shows GM alfalfa to be inherently harmful. While introducing an estimated 23 million more pounds of toxic pesticides into the environment, GM alfalfa will eventually spread and contaminate the entire alfalfa supply, including organic alfalfa crops used to feed organic livestock.
Alfalfa, of course, is a primary feed item for livestock. Farmers rely on it to feed their animals during the winter and as part of a pasture mix. In other words, once the entire alfalfa supply becomes compromised, all non-GM and organic cattle will also become compromised. In the end, there will be no more organics -- and organic farmers and ranchers will lose their entire businesses.
"If this decision is not remedied, the result will be lost livelihoods for organic dairy farmers, loss of choice for farmers and consumers, and no transparency about GE contamination of our foods," said Ed Maltby, Executive Director of the Northeast Alliance of Organic Dairy Producers.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include CFS, Beyond Pesticides, Cornucopia Institute, California Farmers Union, Dakota Resources Council, Geertson Seed Farms, National Family Farm Coalition, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Sierra Club, Trask Family Seeds, and Western Organization of Resource Councils.
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