ROUNDUP® READY ALFALFA COULD SET PRECEDENT FOR MAJOR CROPS, LIKE SOYBEANS
While most Americans were preoccupied with holiday preparations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Dec. 16, 2010, released its final environmental impact statement (EIS) outlining potential environmental effects of deregulating alfalfa that is resistant to glyphosate, a.k.a. Roundup® herbicide.
An editorial on Dec. 27, 2010, by the Wall Street Journal, stated:
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has invited activists and biotech critics to shape the agency’s regulatory decision on a biotech product. If the precedent stands, it could permanently politicize a system that is supposed to be based on science.
Sec. Vilsack is proposing to deregulate Roundup Ready alfalfa with “conditions” that include a mandatory minimum planting distance, so organic fields of alfalfa wouldn’t be contaminated. Approximately 20% of U.S. alfalfa acres would fall into the “no plant zones,” according to Idaho-based Forage Genetics.
Other critics have suggested that traditional farmers should accept liability for any contamination of organic crops. Just imagine the impact this could have on major biotech crops like soybeans! About 90% of U.S. soybean acres are planted to Roundup Ready varieties.
Those of us in ag states have been somewhat protected from the financial blow that has hit America. However, bad policy could turn our industry into a destructive tailspin. That’s why it’s imperative for agricultural groups to make their voices heard now as a final decision is expected as soon as Jan. 23.
Click the links below for related articles or background information about the USDA’s handling of Roundup Ready alfalfa: