What can we do the influence the outcome?
Call or Email the USDA and the White House and request that they reject Genetically Engineered Alfalfa.
"I am ___________, a farmer/citizen in New Hampshire I am calling to comment on USDA's push to allow the commercial release of GE alfalfa and its failure to evaluate the public health, environmental, and economic consequences of that release."
Under heavy pressure from the Biotech Industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is hurriedly preparing to approve the use of Monsanto's Genetically Engineered (GE) Roundup Ready ™ Alfalfa in time for spring planting.
This authorization ignores on-the-ground realities and will lead to widespread GE cross-pollination and contamination of organic and non-GE crops, corruption of seed supplies, and protracted economic injury to farmers and markets.
Alfalfa is the nation's 4th largest crop, planted on over 21 million acres. Forage and hay are primary feed crops for dairy cows and beef cattle as well as pork, lamb, and sheep. It's not just for livestock - some vegetable farmers use the hay as mulch and alfalfa meal as a beneficial soil amendment. Further, sprouts constitute an important sector of the salad market and alfalfa also plays a major role in honey production.
Organic standards do not allow the use of GE crops, including for animal feed. The purity of organic milk from alfalfa-fed dairy cows is a major concern. Milk is a primary entry product and mainstay for many U.S. consumers in the organic market and GE contamination would cause severe economic injury to farmers and have a devastating effect on the viability and integrity of the organic label. There are also test-verified GE-free domestic and world markets in Asia and Europe that would stop buying from US farmers whose crops are contaminated by GE alfalfa.
Despite three District Court rulings and a landmark Supreme Court decision that makes planting GE alfalfa illegal and requires USDA to formulate a valid management plan, the agency is going full steam ahead putting the deregulation of GE alfalfa on a fast track. While conceding for the first time that GE contamination of organic and GE-free crops and markets is a major problem in the U.S., USDA's court-ordered 2300 page Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) relies on faulty data and fails to take into account the scientifically-validated promiscuous nature of GE gene flow in crops. It also overlooks the widespread corruption of conventional seed varieties by GE strains (such as occurred with StarLink corn and LibertyLink rice) along with documented severe economic injury to farmers and markets. And there is no mention at all of possible health consequences from eating GM crops.
USDA has NOT shown that contamination-free coexistence with deregulated GE alfalfa is likely or possible. USDA's EIS fails to take into account the documented increase in Roundup-resistant "super weeds" that is requiring the use of highly toxic herbicide cocktails for weed control on conventional farms. Monsanto is in a big rush to spread GE alfalfa because the patent protections on their exclusive manufacture of Roundup expire in 2014. And, GE alfalfa is the all-important test case - waiting in the wings is an immediate decision on how to handle a lawsuit prohibiting GE sugar beets as well as a list of other GE crops coming along in the biotech pipeline.
Act now to preserve our organic future!
NOFA-NH Public Policy and Advocacy Committee