What is Roundup Ready Alfalfa?

Roundup Ready Alfalfa like many Roundup Ready products is a genetically modified seed offering crop tolerance to glyphosate, the main ingredient in the popular Roundup herbicide.  This would enable farmers to spray the harsh chemical over the crops having a far superior advantage and control with weeds and other non-roundup ready plants in the field, therefore gaining far superior yields.  Sounds great doesn’t it?

Well it isn’t what its all cracked up to be.

First of all the license to use the product is a premium, a license really which is expected.  However if your caught utilizing the the product, which means if any of the harvested seed tests with traces of Roundup Ready Alfalfa or any other Roundup Ready product, the farmer becomes what Monsanto calls a financial opportunity due to not paying for a license when in fact the field could have simply been contaminated by other neighbouring fields. Monsanto has had a long history of false accusations when it comes to licensing and has always done well in making examples of these supposed thieves.

Second. Alfalfa being a perennial is very likely to contaminate an area during pollination either through bees or wind, therefore uncontrollably spreading a genetically modified crop product that can now no longer be controlled due to being tolerant to glyphosate. Not good. So then years go by and the only crop possible to produce will be Roundup Ready, which means no diversification of varieties.  So if something happens to the Roundup Ready crops like diseases, infestations or anything we wont have any other crops to fall back on.  Monsanto will have created a monopoly.

Thirdly. There’s reasons why we shouldn’t mess with genetics like this and the research being done is never extensive enough, therefore we never know what the consequences are until years later.  Just like Monsanto’s rGBH growth hormones for cattle that we know now isn’t good for the cows nor is it good for the kids drinking the milk that comes from the those cows.

Fourth. Export markets will be seriously affected. Most of the world have a zero tolerance to Genetically Modified products like Roundup Ready Alfalfa such as Europe, Japan and Australia.  So therefore if the product can’t be controlled and spreads throughout all our fields and the country’s major export clients have a zero tolerance for GMO’s and the contamination appears in tests then our export sales will be extincted.  So just like the majority of the world wont buy our beef due to growth hormones they will no longer buy any of our seeds.

Currently Monsanto is waiting to have their Roundup Ready Alfalfa approved in Canada and currently has, regardless of industry concerns, several testing plots growing the product, which can spread uncontrollably. Its been 2 years or so since the U.S. Department of Agriculture deregulated Roundup Ready Alfalfa which was opposed by many farmers and others who are concerned with genetic engineering.

It shouldn’t always be driven by profits.


Politics gets mixed in with genetically engineered food

The first genetically engineered food case to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court took place last week. The Center For Food Safety, a leading organization in food safety, asked the court to deny approval for Monsanto to sell its Roundup Ready alfalfa.

The main reason is the suspected contamination of both conventional nonengineered alfalfa and organic alfalfa. Alfalfa is a much-used plant to feed dairy cows. Contamination would threaten both domestic organic dairies and U.S. conventional dairies that sell their alfalfa overseas to countries in Asia, Europe and the Middle East that want nothing to do with genetically engineered food.

Despite opposition from scientists, farmers and consumers, the United States allows cows to be injected with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), developed and manufactured by the Monsanto Corp.

Somatotropin is a naturally occurring protein hormone produced in the pituitary gland of animals. Bovine somatotropin (BST) triggers nutrients to increase growth in young cattle and milk production in dairy cows. Artificial BST is produced using recombinant DNA technology and is called rBST. It is commonly known as bovine growth hormone. Â

When injected into cows, the growth hormone increases milk production 10 to 15 percent and in some cases up to 40 percent. About 17 percent of all cows in the United States are given the artificial growth hormone.

The Food and Drug Administration’s approval for the growth hormone came in 1993. According to opponents of the drug, effects of the drug were never properly studied. The FDA continues to assure consumers that the hormone is safe for cows and humans, despite evidence to the contrary. In 1994, the FDA prohibited dairies from claiming there was any difference between milk from hormone-injected cows and milk produced without the artificial hormone. This controversy continues today.

In 1998, an assessment by Health Canada, equivalent to our FDA, determined Monsanto’s results of their 90-day study showed concern and reasons for review before approval of the growth hormone. Today the European Union, Japan, Australia and Canada all have banned use of the hormone due to animal and health concerns. The government of Kenya has just recently banned it.

In the past, the U.S. stood as a leader in human health issues. Greed has seeped into the bowels of most all our systems and takes precedence over moral ethics.

Everyday we are learning that we can no longer trust those in leadership positions to do what is right and good for the people. There are so many special interest groups looking out for themselves and padding their own coffers that consumerism is rotting in deceitful practices.

The time has come when each individual must study these things out for themselves and refuse to buy contaminated food products. There are reputable sources available now. With public awareness, more and more organic and additive-free foods are cropping up on the mainstream grocery aisles.

Stay informed and alert. Make wise choices for yourself and those you love. The number one rule will always apply in consumerism: supply and demand, stressing the demand here.

Mary Russell is a resident of St. George and a member of The Spectrum & Daily News Writers Group.

Source: http://www.thespectrum.com/article/20100504/OPINION/5040307

Obama gives key agriculture post to Monsanto man

Gary Ruskin |  Green Change |  03.27.2010
Reference Site/article: http://www.greenchange.org/article.php?id=5713

Today, President Obama announced that he will recess appoint Islam A. Siddiqui to the position of Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Siddiqui is a pesticide lobbyist and Vice President for Science and Regulatory Affairs at CropLife America, an agribusiness lobbying group that represents Monsanto.

Following is a letter sent by 98 organizations to U.S. Senators in opposition to Siddiqui’s appointment, and a fact sheet about him.

Dear Senator:

The following 98 organizations are writing you to express our opposition to the nomination of Islam Siddiqui as Chief Agriculture Negotiator at the office of the United States Trade Representative.  Our organizations— representing family farmers, farmworkers, fishers and sustainable agriculture, environmental, consumer, anti-hunger and other advocacy groups—urge you to reject Dr. Siddiqui’s appointment when it comes up for a floor vote, despite the Senate Finance Committee’s favorable report of his nomination on December 23, 2009.

Siddiqui’s record at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and his role as a former registered lobbyist for CropLife America (whose members include Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and Dow), has revealed him to consistently favor agribusinesses’ interests over the interests of consumers, the environment and public health (see attached fact sheet). We believe Siddiqui’s nomination severely weakens the Obama Administration’s credibility in promoting healthier and more sustainable local food systems here at home. His appointment would also send an unfortunate signal to the rest of the world that the United States plans to continue down the failed path of high-input and energy-intensive industrial agriculture by promoting toxic pesticides, inappropriate seed biotechnologies and unfair trade agreements on nations that do not want and can least afford them.

The United States urgently needs a trade negotiator who understands that current trade agreements work neither for farmers nor the world’s hungry. With farmers here and abroad struggling to respond to water scarcity and increasingly volatile growing conditions, we need a resilient and restorative model of agriculture that adapts to and mitigates climate change and that moves us towards energy-efficient farming.

The most comprehensive analysis of global agriculture to date, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) states unequivocally that “business as usual is not an option.” We need a new, sustainable model of biodiverse, ecologically-based agriculture that regenerates soil health, sequesters carbon, feeds communities, protects farmworkers and puts profits back in the hands of family farmers and rural communities. Siddiqui’s track record shows that he favors none of these solutions.

We call on the Senate to reject Islam Siddiqui’s nomination and reorient trade policy to serve the interests of family farmers, farmworkers, consumers and the planet.

Sincerely,

[List of 98 organizations below.]

Siddiqui and CropLife: Statements and Positions

Islam Siddiqui was nominated by US President Barack Obama to the position of Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the office of the US Trade Representative. He is currently Vice President of Science and Regulatory Affairs at CropLife America. CropLife is an agricultural industry trade group that lobbies on behalf of Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and other pesticide and agricultural biotech corporations.

Siddiqui’s statements and positions—both as a public official and as an industry executive— coupled with CropLife America’s consistent record on public policy issues demonstrate a narrow and short-sighted view of American agriculture and trade interests. This viewpoint consistently places the special interests of large agribusiness above the health and welfare interests the broader public, the international community and the environment.

WHAT DOES SIDDIQUI’S POSITION ENTAIL?

Enforcing Trade Agreements

According to the Progressive Government Institute, the Chief Agricultural Negotiator “conducts critical trade negotiations and enforces trade agreements… This includes multilaterally in the World Trade Organization (WTO), regionally in the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and bilaterally with various countries and groups of countries. The ambassador also resolves agricultural trade disputes and enforces trade agreements, including issues related to new technologies, subsidies, and tariff and non-tariff barriers and meets regularly with domestic agricultural industry groups to assure their interest are represented in trade.” The industry groups’ interests will be more than adequately represented, as the WTO’s Doha Round will be a perfect opportunity for the agrochemical industry to push for trade agreements that maintain US subsidies, lower tariffs on chemicals, promote GM crops, and unfairly benefit the agrochemical companies that Siddiqui represents.

Source: http://www.progressivegovernment.org/appointee_data4.php?…

Legislative Influence and Defining ‘Sound Science’

Another part of the job description is that “He or she also coordinates closely with the US government regulatory agencies to assure that rules and policies in international trade are based on sound science.” Siddiqui’s background has always favored “sound science” to mean high-cost, high-input (and high profit, for CropLife’s members) agricultural practices being imposed on developing countries, despite their preferences. Many countries have chosen to ban GMOs on the precautionary principle, including the EU, but Siddiqui will be able to use the trade talks as leverage so that CropLife’s member companies can force their way around those precautions. Siddiqui will also be able to influence the results of the Casey-Lugar Global Food Security Act Bill (which mandates government funding for biotechnology research).

SIDDIQUI AN APOLOGIST FOR AGRICHEMICAL AND BIOTECH INDUSTRIES

Siddiqui Claimed EU Rejection of GMOs was “Denying Food to Starving People”

In 2003, Siddiqui applauded the Bush Administration’s decision to seek an end to the EU’s moratorium on approval of imports of genetically modified crops. Croplife America said the EU’s position had “no scientific foundation” and Siddiqui said, “EU’s illegal moratorium has had a negative ripple effect of creeping regulations and non-science-based decisions, which have resulted in denying food to starving people. The WTO requires that international trade rules be based on sound science, and today’s decision will send that strong message to the EU and other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.” [Delta Farm Press, 5/23/03]

Siddiqui Compared GMO Acceptance to Accepting “Microwave Ovens”

In 2002, Siddiqui claimed biotech foods have been proven to be as safe as traditionally grown foods. He cited a similar distrust of a new technology many people had when microwave ovens were first introduced; eventually, consumer acceptance of the technology became widespread. [State Department Washington File, 11/25/02]

Siddiqui Criticized EU for Insisting On “Precautionary Principle” On GMOs

In 2002, Siddiqui criticized the European Union’s precautionary principle rationale for rejecting the import of GMOs. Widely recognized in the international community, the precautionary principle allows societies to protect people and the planet when there are uncertainties or unknown risks associated with the introduction or use of a product. Siddiqui said the principle didn’t offer any more real protection to citizens than U.S.- “science-based” regulations and was being used by politicians as a non-tariff trade barrier. [State Department Washington File, 11/25/02]

Siddiqui Called for New Biotech Green Revolution

Statement by Siddiqui this year on new Green Revolution: “What we need now in the 21st century is another revolution, which some people are calling the second green revolution… You need to have use of 21st century technologies, including biotechnology, genetic technology, and all the other technologies, which are being (inaudible), in terms of achieving that.”

Source: “Green Innovation: Can Patents Help Make the World a Bett… April 22, 2009

Siddiqui Rejected Consumer Labeling of GMOs While Working at USDA

As a special assistant for trade at USDA, Siddiqui in 1999 warned Japan that if they implemented mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) it could mislead consumers about food safety and disrupt trade. Siddiqui said, “We do not believe that obligatory GMO labeling is necessary, because it would suggest a health risk where there is none.” He added, “Mandatory labeling could mislead consumers about the safety of these products and require segregation of GMO and non-GMO foods. I fear major trade disruptions and increases in food costs to consumers if Japan requires mandatory labeling.” Siddiqui also said Japan, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), is obligated to find the least trade-restrictive way of achieving its objectives. There are a number of ways other than labeling, such as educational materials and public forums, to provide consumers with information on genetic engineering, he said. [Reuters, 7/27/1999]

Siddiqui is a Former Registered Lobbyist

From 2001- 2003, Islam Siddiqui was a registered lobbyist with CropLife America, which spent just over $2 million on lobbying the federal government in 2008, and just under $1.9 million in 2007 on issues like registering pesticides for use in schools, limiting the Endangered Species Act so that it doesn’t inhibit agricultural pesticide use, revision of EPA pesticide registration fees, and fighting the EPA on restrictions to the use of fumigants.

CROPLIFE AMERICA REGIONAL PARTNER TARGETED MICHELLE OBAMA ORGANIC GARDEN

CropLife America’s Regional Partner Targeted Michelle Obama Organic Garden

CropLife America’s regional partner had notoriously “shuddered” at Michelle Obama’s organic White House garden for failing to use chemical pesticides and launched a letter petition drive defending chemical intensive agriculture and urging Michelle Obama to consider using pesticidies and herbicides. Mid America CropLife Association is listed as a regional partner on CropLife America’s website.

Letter: http://susty.com/michelle-obama-letter-mid-america-cropli…

SIDDIQUI OVERSAW FIASCO OVER USDA’s FIRST PROPOSED ORGANIC STANDARDS

Siddiqui Instrumental in Drafting First Proposed Organic Standards that Would Have Allowed Toxic Sludge, GMOs and Irradiated Food to be Labeled “Organic”

As Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at USDA, Siddiqui oversaw the release of the first-ever proposed federal standards for organics, an accomplishment the White House has cited in support of his nomination. However, these rules created an uproar when USDA overruled recommendations of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and permitted the use of GMOs, irradiation and toxic sludge under the organic label. Only after 230,000 comments flooded into USDA were these standards strengthened. It remains one of the highest outpourings of public sentiment on any government regulation in U.S. history. [Mother Jones]

Siddiqui Admitted USDA Overruled Organics Board Recommendations

Siddiqui justified allowing for possible allowance of GMOs, irradiated foods and toxic sludge under the organics by saying, “we know that [the] Organics Board had recommended against those two items in the organic agriculture. There’s a considerable debate on these issues; it’s a public debate issue. So essentially, the department has felt that we want to open it up, we want to seek comments. And it could be any one of the three choices; either it could be allowed, it could be prohibited, or it could be allowed on a case-by-case basis, especially dealing with GMOs. [Federal News Service, 12/15/07]

Siddiqui Admitted Allowing no GMOs in Organics Would Possibly be “Inconsistent” with Forcing GMOs on EU

Siddiqui explained one of the reasons GMOs were not banned under organic label was because ” … some of the agencies within the U.S. government felt that we will be inconsistent in going to the EU and telling them to not require GMO contents being spelt out in ingredients.” [Food and Drink Weekly, 1/19/98]

CROPLIFE AMERICA SPENT HALF-MILLION TO DEFEAT COUNTY-LEVEL ANTI-GMO INITIATIVE

CropLife Spent $500,000 to Defeat County Ballot Banning GMOs

“In March 2004, CropLife poured funding into a campaign to defeat a Mendocino County ballot initiative – known as Measure H – that would make the country the first to ban genetically engineered crops. In the lead up to the vote, CropLife contributed over $500,000 – more than seven times that of the initiative supporters – to defeat the proposal. [1] Despite the massive campaign against the initiative, the bio-tech industry suffered a humiliating defeat. The measure passed by a margin of 56% to 43%. [2]“

Siddiqui Said “Pleased” by Defeat of Ballot Measures

Siddiqui, on behalf of CropLife America, said he was pleased that voters in three California counties had rejected proposed bans on biotech crop cultivation. “I think you’ll see more counties in California try[proposing a ban]the next time they can get it on the ballot,” he said, adding that similar initiatives are unlikely in other states. [Food Chemical News, 1/3/05]

CROPLIFE AMERICA CONSISTENTLY FAVORS AGRIBUSINESS INTERESTS OVER PUBLIC INTEREST

CropLife Lobbied to Allow Children to be Used for Pesticide Experiments

In August 2005, CropLife America met with Bush Administration officials at the Office of Managment and Budget and EPA to allow for children to participate in pesticide experiments. CropLife America urged certain allowances to be made for chemical testing on children.  Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility criticized the meeting for excluding the perspectives of ethicists, child advocates and scientists. EPA one month later adopted a human testing rule in line with CropLife America’s suggestions. Environmental groups sued the EPA for failing to adequately protect women and children. [Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, 5/30/06]

PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruck commented on the backdoor meeting, “These meeting notes make it clear that the pesticide industry’s top objective is access to children for experiments. After reading these ghoulish notes one has the urge to take a shower. For an administration which trumpets its concern for the ‘value and dignity of life,’ it is disconcerting that no ethicists, children advocates or scientists were invited to this meeting to counterbalance the pesticide pushers.” [Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, 5/30/06]

Supported Use of Human Test Subjects

In 2003, CropLife America expressed pleasure that the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned EPA’s moratorium on using human clinical test data in pesticide risk assessment. The court ruled that EPA’s “previous practice of considering third- party human studies on a case-by-case basis, applying statutory requirements, the Common Rule, and high ethical standards as a guide, is reinstated and remains in effect unless and until it is replaced by a lawfully promulgated regulation.” “We are pleased that the court recognized that EPA’s moratorium constituted a binding regulation issued without notice and the opportunity to comment,” said Jay J. Vroom, head of CropLife America. [U.S. Newswire, 6/3/03]

CropLife America Secured Continued Use Of Banned Ozone-Depleting Pesticide, Methyl Bromide

CropLife America supported the continued use of methyl bromide by farmers in the U.S. despite its supposed ban under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Protocol) and the Clean Air Act (CAA). The Bush administration secured an exemption of the highly controversial chemical in 2006. “By no means is there one product that will fit all the critical uses of methyl bromide today,” CropLife CEO Jay Vroom said. The continued exemptions are needed while research continues on the alternative pesticides, he said, adding, “We’re not there yet, and the American farmer needs to have these tools so we can continue to be have viable exports.” Source: Associated Press, Nov 4, 2006. For more information see the website for the UN Environmental Programme Ozone Secretariat. The PANNA website contains extensive resources and fact sheets on methyl bromide’s use for soil fumigation.

·       Methyl bromide, a powerful ozone depleter used on strawberries, tomatoes, grapes and other crops. The EPA has classified methyl bromide as a Toxicity Category I compound, the most deadly category of substances due to causing neurological damage and reproductive harm. Farmworkers in particular have experienced death, birth defects, blurred vision, nausea, and dizziness as a result of direct exposure to methyl bromide. Methyl Bromide has also been listed as a Class I Ozone Depleter under the Clean Air Act. Methyl bromide is a highly toxic pesticide.

·       From 1982 to 1990, at least 18 people in California died from exposure to methyl bromide. The state Department of Pesticide Regulation also reports at least 148 systemic illnesses, 52 eye injuries and 60 cases of skin damage from methyl bromide. Methyl bromide has also caused birth defects in studies required by U.S. EPA and submitted by the manufacturer.

·       Methyl bromide is toxic to the central nervous system and can damage lungs and kidneys and possibly cause cancer. Direct exposure can lead to headaches, blurred vision, nausea and dizziness. Many farmworkers and residents near fumigated fields have experienced these symptoms. [Pesticide Action Network]

Croplife America Resistant to International Regulations Over Toxic Chemicals

Croplife America has been a driving force to weaken the U.S. position on the Stockholm Convention, a critical effort to regulate the use of toxic “persistent organic pollutants (POPs).” These include the well known chemicals DDT, PCBs and dioxins that have been linked to a host of serious human health problems and environmental concerns. Even at very low levels of exposure, POPs can cause reproductive and developmental disorders, damage to the immune and nervous systems, and a range of cancers. CropLife America has argued that “American sovereignty” concerns should override the treaty if the chemical regulations are stronger than U.S. law. CropLife America explicitly calls for the U.S. to “protect export markets for American produce and farm commodities,” even if they use chemicals that may be outlawed by the POP treaties. [CropLife America Website]

CropLife America Argues for Allowing Usage of Toxic Endosulfans

Croplife America and its international counterpart CropLife International, whom Siddiqui has represented in international negotiations, have continuously argued for a legitimate role for the dangerous POP endosulfan.  However in October 2009, scientists declared that: “endosulfan is likely, as a result of its long-range environmental transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and environmental effects, such that global action is warranted.” The finding sets the stage for a global ban under the Stockholm Convention. Endosulfan is an endocrine disruptor, and low dose exposure while in the womb is linked to male reproductive harm, autism, and birth defects. High dose exposures are acutely toxic, resulting in headaches, nausea and vomiting, seizures, and in extreme cases, unconsciousness and death. [Manila Bulletin, 10/20/09]

CropLife America Withdrew from Landmark UN/World Bank Study on Ag Research (IAASTD) that Highlighted Agroecological Science as Promising Way to “Feed the World”

CropLife Upset Industry Viewpoint Not Allowed to Dictate Findings

CropLife International participated in the UN/World Bank-sponsored International Assessment for Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) for 4 years, before withdrawing in the final days of the process. The IAASTD reports—authored by over 400 scientists and development experts from more than 80 countries, and subjected to two open public review processes—remains the most authoritative study to date on agriculture research and technology. CropLife objected to the measured but lukewarm findings of the IAASTD on “modern biotechnology” and genetic engineering. According to the spokesman for CropLife, their decision to withdraw in the final days was prompted by “the inability of its members to get industry perspectives reflected in the draft reports” —a complaint belied by the fact that IAASTD editors repeatedly offered CropLife a “blank page” to present the industry’s viewpoints. Ultimately, industry authors failed to submit text in time for publication.

The IAASTD concluded that an increase in investments in agroecological practices would be necessary to meet 21st century needs, noting that agroecological, organic, biodiverse and regenerative practices represented highly promising and scientifically robust approaches to feeding the world while also meeting social equity and sustainability goals, particularly under increasing stresses of climate change, water scarcity and fossil-fuel based energy limitations. In contrast, the IAASTD observed that chemical intensive and GMO-based practices were unlikely to meet these goals, had in many cases undermined public health and/or contaminated the environment, and posed severe social equity concerns due to industry concentration, IPR and patent rules. [Bioscience Resource, New Scientist, PANNA]

Prepared by Lindsey Schneider and Vera Glavova, PANNA, with contributions from National Family Farm Coalition. For further information on CropLife: http://www.panna.org/resources/popshttp://www.panna.org/resources/treaties

Pesticide Action Network has worked to replace pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives since 1982. PANNA is one of five regional facilitating organizations serving a global network of more than 600 civil society groups in over 90 countries who share these goals. For more information, see http://www.panna.org.

98 organizations who signed on to the letter to the Senate:

Alaska Community Action on Toxics (AK)
AllergyKids (CO)
American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association (WI)
Beyond Pesticides (DC)
Breast Cancer Action (CA)
California Food and Justice Coalition (CA)
Californians for GE-Free Agriculture (CA)
Californians for Pesticide Reform (CA)
California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CA)
Center for Environmental Health (CA)
Center for Food Safety (DC)
Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CA)
Central Florida Jobs with Justice Project (FL)
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (NE)
Community Farm Alliance (KY)
Concerned Citizens for Clean Air (OR)
Cornucopia Institute (WI)
Earth Justice (CA)
Equal Exchange (MA)
Fair Trade Coalition (MN)
Family Farm Defenders (WI)
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (TX)
Farm Worker Pesticide Project (WA)
Farmworker Association of Florida (FL)
Farmworker Justice (DC)
Farmworkers Self-Help (FL)
Food & Water Watch (DC)
Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy (CA)
Food for Maine’s Future (ME)
Florida Immigrant Coalition (FL)
Food Democracy Now! (IA)
Food Systems Integrity (MA)
Florida Organic Growers (FL)
Fresno Metro Ministry (CA)
Friends of the Earth (DC, CA)
Greenpeace US (DC, CA)
Grassroots International (MA)
Growing Power Inc. (WI)
Indigenous Environmental Network (MN) Indiana Toxics Action (IN) Innovative Farmers of Ohio (OH) Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (MN)
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (IA)
Kids for Saving Earth (MN)
Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KY)
Land Stewardship Project (MN)
Lideres Campesinas (CA)
Maine Fair Trade Campaign (ME)
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners (ME)
Maryland Pesticide Network (MD)
Mississippi Association of Cooperatives (MS)
Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MO)
Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative (OK)
National Family Farm Coalition (DC)
National Farm Worker Ministry (MO)
National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association (DC)
New York Environmental Law & Justice (NY)
Northeast Organic Farming Association Interstate Council (CT)
Northern Plains Resource Council (MT)
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (ME)
Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (OR)
Oakland Institute (CA)
Ohio Conference on Fair Trade (OH)
Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project (OK)
Oregon Fair Trade Campaign (OR)
Oregon Toxics Alliance (OR)
Organic Consumers Association (MN)
Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples (WV)
Pesticide Action Network North America (CA)
Pesticide Free Zone (CA)
Pesticide Watch (CA)
Physicians for Social Responsibility/Los Angeles (CA)
Public Citizen (DC)
Rochesterians Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NY)
Rural Advancement Foundation International USA (NC)
Rural Coalition/ Coalición Rural
Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment (CA)
Science and Environmental Health Network (IA)
Sciencecorps (MA)
Search for the Cause (CA)
Sierra Club (CA, DC)
Small Holders Alliance of Massachusetts (MA)
Student Action with Farmworkers (NC)
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (CO)
The Safe Lawns Foundation (ME)
The Second Chance Foundation Washington (WA)
Washington Fair Trade Coalition (WA)
Western Organization of Resource Councils (MT)
World Hunger Year (NY)

6 Comments | Add a Comment
  1. Posted by Gustavo Nelson on 03.28.2010

    With this appointment I am in total opposition, and for the first time I have become disillusioned with the leadership of President Barack Obama.

  2. Posted by Parke Burgess on 03.31.2010

    This news matches perfectly my thesis as given here: http://www.ourtragicflaw.com/blog/2010/3/29/genetically-modified-organisms.html Thanks for posting!

  3. Posted by Parke Burgess on 03.31.2010

    This news matches perfectly my thesis as given here: http://www.ourtragicflaw.com/blog/2010/3/29/genetically-modified-organisms.html Thanks for posting!

  4. Posted by Marcia Ishii-Eiteman on 04.01.2010

    Thanks, Gary. When 90,000 people petition our public servants (which is what Senators and the President are, after all) to say that a nomination is unacceptable, and that these revolving door appointments have to stop, and the President proceeds anyhow, what I see is a dereliction of duty. Expediency trumping democracy is how we end up with industry lobbyists running the regulatory agencies in the first place. Both Siddiqui and Congress now face a well-informed and outraged public. We will be closely monitoring Siddiqui at his new job, and evaluating whether his actions will truly benefit small-scale family farmers in the US and abroad, workers, consumers and the environment—or whether they will benefit large corporations such as Monsanto, JPS, Cargill and Archer Daniel Midlands. An update re: the March 1st letter to Senators that you posted — by the time we actually sent it, we had 113 groups signing it! Readers can download the final letter at: http://www.panna.org/jt For more info, visit Pesticide Action Network (panna.org); our press release about Siddiqui is posted on our newsroom page: http://www.panna.org/node/2536

  5. Posted by mikjall on 04.06.2010

    To Gustavo, Better late than never! Obama has proven himself not only to be a tool of corporate corruption, but a willing-even enthusiastic-tool. Bank bailouts, deals with big pharma, defense contracts, you name it. Let’s not imagine (if we ever did) that there will be any change we can believe in.

  6. Posted by Enda Game on 04.06.2010

    This puts us much closer to Codex Almentarius, a global “trade agreement” that will be policed by the WTO and Monsanto, and which will kill 3 billion people in the first few years.

Roundup resistant weeds are posing problem in US

Roundup Ready crops have made weed control much easier for farmers, but a new study shows their reliance on the technology may be weakening the herbicide’s ability to control weeds.

Bill Johnson, a Purdue University associate professor of weed science, said farmers who plant Roundup Ready crops and spray Roundup or glyphosate-based herbicides almost exclusively are finding that weeds have developed resistance. It is only a matter of time, Johnson said, before there are so many resistant weeds that the use of glyphosate products would become much less effective in some places.

“We have weeds that have developed resistance, including giant ragweed, which is one of the weeds that drove the adoption of Roundup,” Johnson said. “It’s a pretty major issue in the Eastern Corn Belt. That weed can cause up to 100 percent yield loss.”

Johnson was part of a team, including Steve Weller, a Purdue professor of horticulture and landscape architecture, that surveyed farmers in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska and North Carolina about their views on the ability of Roundup Ready crops to help control problematic weeds. A paper on the survey was published in the most recent edition of the journal Weed Technology. Researchers from Iowa State University, Mississippi State University, North Carolina State University, the University of Nebraska and Southern Illinois University Carbondale also contributed.

Roundup Ready crops are resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. So, if a farm uses Roundup Ready crops, the herbicide can be sprayed on crops to kill weeds without damaging those crops.

Johnson said the problem has become farmers’ overreliance on Roundup and Roundup Ready crops. Those who saw the most benefit from using Roundup, according to the survey, rotated between types of crops and those that were Roundup Ready and conventional crop varieties.

Johnson said this shows that subjecting weeds to different herbicides is important to keeping them from developing resistance to any particular herbicide.

“Farmers do not think resistance is a problem until they actually have it,” Johnson said. “And they think the chemical companies can turn on the spigots and produce a new herbicide whenever they want. The problem is, since Roundup is so effective, there’s not been any money for new herbicide discovery.”

Johnson said farmers should treat Roundup and Roundup Ready crops as an investment and work to protect the technology. Rotating crops consistently and using various herbicides will slow the development of glyphosate-resistant weeds.

“Go after weeds with two different herbicides. That’s the best short-term solution,” Johnson said. “We want to minimize the number of weeds resistant to Roundup. To do that, you want to minimize the exposure that a weed population has to Roundup. If you diversify a little bit, you’ll extend the life of the technology.”

Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, funded the survey. Johnson said the next step is studying the differences among management strategies in grower fields to see which will slow the build-up of glyphosate resistance.

Source: Bill Johnson, wgj@purdue.edu, april 2009

Bill C-474 Protecting our markets from GE Seed

Act Now!

Bill C-474 is a Private Members Bill, now scheduled to be debated March 17!

Bill C-474 would support Canadian farmers by requiring that “an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted.”

This Bill is a critical opportunity to stop dangerous GE crops. Add your voice now!

Bill C-474 begins a real debate over the impacts of GE crops. If the Bill is passed it would stop GE wheat and GE alfalfa.

The Bill was introduced by Alex Atamanenko, the NDP Agriculture Critic and MP for British Columbia Southern Interior.

Send your letter to your MP instantly by clicking here!

More Actions

  1. Write a separate letter to your MP (free postage). Here is a Sample Letter. You can search for your MP with your postal code at www.parl.gc.ca
  2. Meet with your MP before March 17.
  3. Collect signatures on the petition in your riding and bring them or send them to your MP.
  4. Send the action alert around by email.
  5. Print and distribute this flyer on Bill C-474
  6. Link to CBAN on facebook!

Now is the time to act to protect farming in Canada from GE crops.

This Bill is really important because, as we know from experience, the introduction of new genetically engineered (GE) crops can cause economic hardship to farmers.

Farmers are at risk when GE crops are commercialized in Canada without also being first approved in our major export markets.

Flax farmers in Canada are now paying a heavy price because of this exact problem. Late last year, Canadian flax exports were discovered contaminated with a GE flax that is not approved in Europe or in any of our other export markets (except the U.S.). Flax farmers actually foresaw that GE contamination or even the threat of contamination would close their export markets. That’s why they took steps in 2001 to remove GE flax from the market. Despite this measure, flax farmers were not protected. The GE flax contamination closed our export markets in 2009. It has created market uncertainty and depressed prices. Farmers are also paying for testing and cleanup and may be required to abandon their own farm-saved flax seed and buy certified seed instead. These costs are an unnecessary and preventable burden.

We cannot allow our export markets to close like this again.

It is the government’s responsibility to protect Canadian farmers from predictable problems caused by the introduction of new GE crops that have not yet been regulated in our export markets.

The MFC is very concerned about RR Alfalfa.


2008-05-27

Manitoba Forage Council Inc.

125 Patterson Cres.

Brandon, MB

R7A 6T7

Carole Swan

President, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

59 Camelot Drive

Ottawa

ON  K1A 0Y9

Dear Ms Swan;

Re:  Introduction of glyphosate tolerant alfalfa (RRAlf)

I am writing in my capacity as Chairperson of the Manitoba Forage Council Inc..

The Manitoba Forage Council Inc. is very concerned about and opposed to the introduction of glyphosate tolerant alfalfa (RRAlf).  Our concerns can be summarised in the following points:

  • Potential for loss of gene confinement

Periodic harvesting (i.e. cutting hay fields) to eliminate flowering plants is not a physically possible option for controlling all pollen flow of the RRAlf stands for these reasons:

  • Most alfalfa varieties in the market are “synthetic” varieties made up of alfalfa collections with similar growth habits, maturity rates, and tolerances to simulate an individual variety.  Therefore heterogeneity within a variety causes plants to initiate flowering at various times in the season – a physiological function that will compromise attempts to confine gene flow through timed harvesting operations.
  • Alfalfa is a plant that shares a physiological ability with few other agricultural commodities called “indeterminate growth.” This is a biological term used for plants that will continue to flower until environmental conditions physically inhibit physiological function (i.e. frost, drought) – a physiological function that will compromise attempts to confine gene flow through timed harvesting operations
  • Since the introduction of alfalfa to Manitoba, research has shown that the optimum harvesting stage to maximize yield and feed quality is approximately 10% bloom.  As a result, most alfalfa grown for livestock feed in Manitoba is harvested between 1 and 10% bloom stage – a production practice that will compromise attempts to confine gene flow. Inclement weather can easily delay cutting until flowering and pollen production has reached a much higher percentage, or even full bloom.
  • Potential negative impact on export market opportunities for forage seed and hay products. Once the RRAlf gene is introduced into the environment it may be spread uncontrollably by pollinating insects regardless of the intended use of the crop, thereby creating the likelihood of further contamination with the gene. Honey bees can travel and transfer pollen up to a two mile radius and be moved miles over night by the beekeeper, further compounding the problem of gene confinement. The practice of internationally trading common seed provides the vehicle to potentially transfer it to any Manitoba alfalfa seed or hay, and subsequently beef and milk product – compromising key international markets.  There is significant reason to believe that this contamination may become a very serious non-tariff trade barrier.
  • Potential negative impact on organic markets including milk and beef products.

The organic market is an important and developing market for milk and all meat (beef, bison, sheep, goat and elk) products which could be very seriously affected with the introduction of RRAlf. Most of the recent growth in the bison market has been to Europe.

  • Potential negative impact of the loss of glyphosate as a tool for terminating stands of alfalfa in Manitoba.

Glyphosate is used by many producers in terminating stands of alfalfa.  With the introduction of RRAlf this important production practice may be compromised.

  • Limited agronomic need

There is limited agronomic need for this technology in Manitoba as over 90% of alfalfa grown in Manitoba for livestock feed is sown with multiple grass species (susceptible to glyphosate) to manage feeding strategies, extend pasture longevity and mitigate pest infestations.

We are therefore requesting that the CFIA reconsider the position taken with regard to the introduction of RRAlf and that immediate action be taken in the following areas:

  • Place a moratorium on further field testing and trials in Canada until a complete environmental and economic impact assessment can be completed with all sectors of the forage industry.
  • Arrange for the destruction of existing field trial stands.

Background Information and Discussion

Manitoba Forage Council Inc. – The Manitoba Forage Council (MFC) is a not-for-profit organization representing over 400 forage producers across Manitoba. The MFC Board of Directors consists of 20 elected members consisting of forage growers and advisory representation from the Manitoba Dairy Producers, Manitoba Cattle Producers Association, Manitoba Sheep Producers, Manitoba Forage Seed Association, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, The University of Manitoba, Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ducks Unlimited, and various other Trade people.

Discussion

Currently, there are no GMO or HT forage or forage seed varieties registered or being multiplied in Canada. However, the Monsanto Company and Forage Genetics International (FGI) received clearance from CFIA for events J101 and J163 glyphosate tolerant alfalfa (RRAlf) for unconfined release into the environment and for use as livestock feed and clearance from Health Canada for food safety approval on July 28, 2005, the first for a perennial forage or turf species. Two further hurdles in the regulatory process are a herbicide label approved by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) for use of glyphosate (Roundup herbicide) on RRAlf and approval by CFIA for an RRAlf variety. Monsanto and FGI placed a voluntary moratorium on field testing and trials in Canada in 2005 and recently indicated an end of this moratorium, and therefore a movement to market with this technology in alfalfa. Monsanto said trials would be established in 2008 to gather information required for a herbicide label from PMRA for a RRAlf crop. An approved herbicide label could be in place by 2011. The final hurdle would then be the registration of an RRAlf variety by CFIA which could easily be met by 2011.

In 2007, a US court decision placed these same RRAlf events back onto regulated (not available for use) status based upon the ruling that the United States Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) had not fully carried out their regulatory responsibilities during their review of the petition for deregulation in which they carried out an Environmental Assessment (EA).  The court cited in particular that USDA-APHIS did not consider the economic impacts of the deregulation of these materials and ordered USDA-APHIS to place the events back on regulated status (as of March 23, 2007) and for USDA-APHIS to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), as provided for by US law, on RRAlf including the potential economic impacts of these events if released. It is anticipated that this process will take approximately another 12-24 months to be concluded (late 2009 or 2010). USDA-APHIS has also been preparing an EIS on RR creeping bentgrass (pre-deregulation) since 2005 with no defined end date. These two examples indicate the complexity of the scope of an EIS and that a thoroughly researched decision is not easily or quickly achieved.

Debate continues over the agricultural sustainability of relied use on herbicide technologies for crop management.  Debate also continues over the long-term effects of various GMO technologies in terms of food and feed safety and the consumer issues surrounding the GMO environment. Given the important role forages are shown to have in the environment, the argued economic and environmental benefits of HT forages need to be further researched comparing benefits to Canadian forage producers and the potential of environmental risks. There is the potential for pollen flow of the RRAlf gene if grown in proximity to alfalfa seed production fields and to a lesser extent tame or feral alfalfa and this could jeopardize all of the current export markets for alfalfa seed. While previous trials were conducted under regulatory conditions including the addressing of pollen flow potential, these current trials do not. Due to zero tolerance of the trait in jurisdictions into which Canadian alfalfa is currently exported, the increased risk due to larger areas seeded and with no prescribed and/or regulated stewardship protocols, pollen flow is inevitable. A cessation of these field studies is essential until at least the US situation has been resolved to protect the Canadian forage seed industry.

In conclusion the Manitoba Forage Council wishes emphasize our very serious concerns regarding the introduction of RRAlf.  We ask the CFIA to take immediate action in addressing this situation.

We look forward to your response to our concerns.

Sincerely,

Jim Lintott

Chair

Manitoba Forage Council Inc.

Copies:

Stephen Yarrow,  Director, Plant Biosafety Office, CFIA

Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Honourable Rosanne Wowchuk, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, Province of Manitoba

Canadian Groups Urge U.S. to Stop New GE Alfalfa

Monsanto’s new GE lines could contaminate Canadian crops if approved for commercialization in the U.S., say critics
Canadian farmers are worried that a ruling prohibiting the planting of genetically engineered alfalfa in the United States may soon be overturned.

Several farmer and consumer groups are urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) not to permit the introduction of GE alfalfa in the United States, saying the move could have an irreversible negative impact on the future of organic food and farming in Canada.

The USDA is currently inviting comments on its environmental impact statement concerning the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of allowing the deregulation of two lines of GE alfalfa produced by Monsanto Company and Forage Genetics International.

If the USDA decides in favor of the herbicide tolerant alfalfa, the current court injunction on plantings in the United States will be lifted. A hearing is scheduled for April 27.

In responding to the FDA, groups including the National Farmers Union, the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, and Beyond Factory Farming argue that commercializing GE alfalfa in the United States would result in widespread contamination of Canadian alfalfa and loss of markets.

Arnold Taylor, national president of Canadian Organic Growers, says there are several ways in which GE alfalfa could make its way across the border, including being carried by honeybees.

“Bees don’t recognize the border, they’ll fly right across that border,” he says, adding that since GE alfalfa is an “approved event” in Canada (though not approved for commercial use), there’s nothing to stop people from importing alfalfa hay, seed, feed, or pellets into Canada from the United States.

“The biggest threat is importation of seed as well as the fact that if they do deregulate in the United States, Monsanto will most certainly try to introduce it in Canada. That’s the biggest threat as far as I’m concerned.”

An important rotational crop in organic and conventional agriculture, alfalfa’s many attributions make it particularly important in organic farming.

The plant prevents erosion, is a soil builder that aids soil fertility, and its competitive nature gives it the ability to crowd out weeds—making it invaluable in organic agriculture where using herbicides and fertilizers is not an option.

GE crops are also not an option. In compliance with organic standards worldwide, Canada prohibits the use of GE organisms in organic production. Contamination, says Taylor, would almost certainly destroy organic agriculture in many areas.

“This alfalfa thing is directly aimed at the heart of organic farming because without alfalfa it’s going to be a big disaster. The biggest threat to us is once that [genetically modified organism] gets into our alfalfa, we won’t be able to seed alfalfa and there’s no substitute for alfalfa for soil building,” said Taylor.

In addition, animals that consume contaminated alfalfa could no longer be classified as organic, and organic dairy production would become extremely difficult, if not impossible, once feedstock became contaminated.

The USDA supports the “co-existence” of GE crops with conventional and organic crops. In its environmental impact statement, the agency suggests that contamination is unlikely to occur because alfalfa is typically harvested before 10 percent of the plants reach full flower. {xtypo_quote_right} ‘Here in Canada there is virtually no organic canola any more as everything is contaminated by genetic material.’—Terry Pugh, Canadian National Farmers Union{/xtypo_quote_right}

Terry Pugh, executive secretary with the Canadian National Farmers Union (NFU), says that while this may be true in theory, it won’t work in practice.

“The reality is that when you’re farming, you can’t always harvest [alfalfa] at the appropriate time. Sometimes it rains, so that means you lose a few days or a week and you can’t get at it. Then the flowering occurs and you’ve got the spread of that gene. So even the best of intentions often just can’t overcome the vagaries of nature,” said Pugh.

Pugh says the USDA is not looking at the market impact, has not provided any protections for non-GE alfalfa farmers and exporters in the EIS, and in fact puts the onus on non-GE farmers to prevent contamination by avoiding simultaneous flowering with GE alfalfa in neighboring fields.

Non-GE alfalfa farmers are also required to be responsible for removing commercial beekeepers’s hives from the vicinity of GM alfalfa fields.

“Given the fact that honey bees forage at distances over 10 kilometers [6.2 miles], the task of controlling this method of contamination is nothing short of herculean,” says the Farmer’s Union in their submission to the USDA.

Monsanto Canada spokesperson Trish Jordan says alfalfa markets wouldn’t be negatively impacted if Canadian non-GE alfalfa became contaminated because Roundup Ready alfalfa is fully approved in both Canada and Japan, which is a market for Canadian flax.

“There is zero-tolerance anywhere in the world, by any country, for unapproved events and rightly so. Once the events are approved then it’s a different situation, because there are typically thresholds and tolerance levels in place,” said Jordan.

Roundup Ready is Monsanto’s line of GE crops designed to be resistant to Roundup, the agrochemical company’s best-selling pesticide. When Roundup is sprayed on a field, it kills the weeds but not the crop.

Jordan maintains the reason the European Union blocked shipments of Canadian flax last September that were contaminated with a deregistered GE seed, was because the seed was unapproved. After the incident, flax prices fell from $12 a bushel down to about $6, dealing a devastating blow to Canada’s flax industry. Shipments resumed in late 2009 under new restrictions.

As for introducing GE alfalfa in Canada, Jordan says Forage Genetics, which handles commercialization of the product, hasn’t made a decision on that yet.

“They haven’t even looked at Canada really and from everything that I understand they don’t intend to do that until this situation in the U.S. gets resolved, because that’s their priority market right now.”

A number of American groups are also urging the USDA not to deregulate Monsanto’s GE alfalfa lines.

The National Organic Coalition (NOC), an alliance of U.S. organizations that includes farmer, rancher, environmentalist, and consumer groups, said in a statement that the contamination of non-GE and organic alfalfa hay and seed would “devastate livelihoods and the organic industry.”

“If Roundup Ready Alfalfa is permitted to be sold commercially, the ripple effect would wipe out many organic and non-GE businesses, from organic seed and forage growers to organic dairy farmers and retailers,” said NOC Director Liana Hoodes. “Every American’s right to cultivate, sell, and eat non-GE and organic food would no longer exist.”

Pugh from the Canadian Farmer’s Union fears that if alfalfa becomes contaminated in Canada, there will be a repeat of what happened with the organic canola market. GE canola was approved for commercial use in Canada 15 years ago.

“Here in Canada there is virtually no organic canola any more as everything is contaminated by genetic material,” Pugh said.

He believes the only truly effective way to safeguard non-GE alfalfa is to prevent genetically engineered varieties from getting into the environment in the first place.

“That’s the only way you can do it. Because what happens is it is a living organism, and all genetic material is driven to reproduce, you can’t stop it. So once it’s out there it’s out there—you can’t round it up and bring it back,” he said.

Source: http://beforeitsnews.com/news/23870/Canadian_Groups_Urge_U.S._to_Stop_New_GE_Alfalfa.html

Canadian Concerns on RR Alfalfa

Canadian farmer and consumer groups responded to an invitation to comment on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement created by the United States Department of Agriculture. The seed was first approved in 2005.

Saskatoon, Sask. – Canadian groups submitted comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) completed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in hopes of dissuading approval of Monsanto’s GE alfalfa. The alfalfa, originally approved in 2005, was taken off the market by a court order after a coalition of groups took the USDA to court. The groups won a temporary ban of the release of the seed to the market, pending an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be prepared by the USDA. Now that the USDA has prepared the court required Draft EIS, the public was allowed time to comment, although Wednesday was the last day for submissions.

The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) issued a press release Wednesday to inform Canadians that at least three Canadian groups submitted

“… highly critical analyses to the USDA. They argue that GE alfalfa plantings in the U.S. would contaminate Canadian alfalfa and cause serious harm to Canadian farmers and the environment.”

CBAN said if the USDA disregarded opposition to the GE alfalfa, approval would likely be granted by the end of summer. GE alfalfa has not been approved for growing in Canada, but it has been cleared for import into the country. CBAN is urging support for a private member’s bill, C-474, slated to be discussed in parliament in March because it

“… would support Canadian farmers by requiring that “an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted.”

Determined to have the GE alfalfa on the American market in 2010, Monsanto appealed the court decision that suspended the 2005 approval of the GE alfalfa. The appeal is scheduled to be heard later this year. Monsanto’s Alfalfa and Sugar Beet Lead, Stephen Welker said the company was appealing because

“USDA’s regulatory approval process was short-circuited without any hearing to consider the views of impacted farmers and consideration of sound science. We view the Supreme Court’s action to hear our appeal as important for American farmers and look forward to presenting our case to the Supreme Court in the coming months. We believe alfalfa growers deserve choice in the products that are available to them.”

Organic farmers in North America fear contamination of their crops by the GE alfalfa, as has recently occurred with Canadian flax. Should organic alfalfa become contaminated with GE alfalfa, organic farmers will be forced to stop growing alfalfa. Cathy Holslander, speaking for Beyond Factory Farming, said this would result in a

“…severe shortage of feed for certified organic livestock and dairy cows.”

Monsanto maintains its GE alfalfa will not cross-contaminate non-GE alfalfa. Monsanto provides the example of California farmer, Don Cameron as an example. Monsanto said Cameron

“… grows a number of organic and biotech crops including organic and Roundup Ready alfalfa,”

citing Cameron as having said

“Proper stewardship makes it possible to grow both organic and biotech crops. We’ve successfully accomplished this for nearly a decade on our operation and plan to continue.”

Readers will be interested to note that Don Cameron is a manager of a large commercial agribusiness that mainly grows non-organic crops on thousands of acres. Terranova Ranch employs approximately 50 people, and generated over $3 million in revenues last year. In 2008, Cameron testified at a Domestic Policy Subcommittee Oversight & Government Reform Committee hearing examining costs to farmers caused by GE contamination of crops. During that testimony, he said 10% of Terranova’s crops were organic. Speaking in favour of biotech seeds, Cameron said

“… The trait we find most useful is the Roundup Ready trait, which allows plants to resist the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate). Why is this so important to us? Because the economic savings we realize through the use of the Roundup Ready system has been tremendous.”

According to USDA definition, a farm is

“any operation that sells at least one thousand dollars of agricultural commodities or that would have sold that amount of produce under normal circumstances.”

San Fransisco Chronicle writer, Dave Stockdale said over 100 million acres in the United States are planted each year with genetically modified or engineered corn and soy beans. Genetically modified food plants now comprise about 70% of commercial food products in the United States. The American Consumers Union opposes the release of GE alfalfa onto the market, saying

“… Given the popularity of alfalfa sprouts among health-oriented eaters, Consumers Union urges the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to consider the overwhelming consumer concern before deciding to allow GE alfalfa on the market.”

Michael Hansen, a senior scientist with Consumers Union, criticized the USDA’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, saying

“USDA’s draft EIS is inadequate, leaving farmers and consumers unprotected. This alfalfa has been engineered to allow herbicides to be used on it that would normally kill the crop. The EIS states that consumers and organic farmers don’t care if their organic food is GE contaminated. Consumers Union’s poll states the exact opposite: consumers care greatly.”

The Government of Alberta calls alfalfa the “Queen of forages.” High in nutrients and widely grown as animal feed, alfalfa is also prized by farmers because it contributes to healthy soils. Alfalfa sprouts are power-houses of nutrients, making them popular for eating. Monsanto enjoyed higher revenues in 2009, although its revenues from its trademark herbicide, Roundup, decreased. Because alfalfa is a major forage crop in North America, Monsanto stands to gain from increased sales of Roundup as well as the alfalfa seed. The safety of the alfalfa, genetically engineered (GE) to tolerate Monsanto’s trademark herbicide, Roundup, was not an issue for the USDA.

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