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USDA Clears Planting of GM Alfalfa

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved the planting of genetically engineered alfalfa, rejecting regulations that the department proposed last month.

The USDA has decided not to regulate alfalfa that has been genetically modified (GM) to be resistant to the Roundup herbicide, made by Monsanto, which also makes the Roundup Ready GM alfalfa.

Last month the USDA signalled that it might approve GM alfalfa with certain restrictions, but the plan approved Thursday contained no such conditions, Reuters said.

The USD had posed three possible routes: maintaining current regulation, introducing a limited regulation strategy with bans on planting GM alfalfa seeds in seed-growing regions, and full deregulation, Sustainable Business reports.

The agency chose total deregulation, SB said.

The decision has been made in time to allow farmers to begin planting genetically modified alfalfa this spring, the Wall Street Journal says.

“This is great news for farmers who have been waiting for the green light to plant Roundup Ready alfalfa,” said Steve Welker, alfalfa commercial lead at Monsanto.

Alfalfa is the fourth-biggest U.S. crop by acreage, the WSJ said, raised as hay on about 20 million acres. About 250,000 acres of this, or one percent, is organic.

The vast majority of the country’s corn, cotton and soybeans are genetically modified, the WSJ said.

“A lot of people are shell shocked,” said Christine Bushway, chief executive officer of the Organic Trade Association. “While we feel Secretary Vilsack worked on this issue, which is progress, this decision puts our organic farmers at risk.”

Opponents say biotech alfalfa can contaminate organic crops, and that the increased use of herbicide can strengthen weeds’ resistance to such substances.

The USDA is expected to decide next week whether it will issue an approval for genetically modified sugar beets in time for this year’s planting, the WSJ says.

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8 thoughts on “USDA Clears Planting of GM Alfalfa

  1. Everything Monsanto wants, they get…has no one become informed? The USDA and the USFDA are all made up of former Monsanto execs and vise versa. Also included in the leadership of these government agencies are former leaders of major food processors and again, vice versa. Check for yourself. Sugar beets will be approved without any hinderance. Do your research, maybe you can vote for a change, such as buying only organic. Fight the cause using your wallet, your mind, your choice.

  2. Sounds like another case of Monsanto and USDA in bed together. Completely despicable. We might as well handover the USDA’s control to Monsanto.

  3. This is a horrible mistake that will not be easily corrected. Note the companies involved with this decision–Whole Foods, Stonyfield Farms, Organic Valley–have all signed on to this madness. The best thing to do is not patronize these companies. If they won’t tell us what is in their products, no one should buy them.

  4. The corporation has been given the status as a under the law. I have been watching the documentary film “The Corporation”. This documenary takes this premise and uses Robert D. Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist (The psycho-diagnostic tool most commonly used to assess psychopathy)to psychoanalyse various corporations to see if they meet the criteria. And guess what? Monsanto meets the criteria. Maybe we can have it committed.

  5. Kathy, where did you take the information on the organic companies you mentioned (Whole Foods, Stonyfield Farms, Organic Valley)? They are the ones who are going to loose most from it, apart from us, consumers. In fact, Gary Hirshberg,Stonyfield Farm President and CEO was fighting really hard to oppose this decision. I was prompted by his newsletter to contact my district house representative. It did not help though. So instead of throwing accusation we should all get together to fight for our rights. Here is what we can do http://www.stonyfield.com/blog/

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