RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its decision to completely deregulate genetically engineered alfalfa, also known as Roundup Ready, GE, or GMO alfalfa.
Organic and conventional farming coalitions, dairies, and grass-fed beef operations have voiced major concern over allowing GMO alfalfa, because scientists believe cross-pollination could contaminate organic, non-GMO alfalfa fields within five years. Research has found that the overuse of Roundup weedkiller on GMO crops—the crops are genetically altered to survive a high dose of the chemical—destroys a plant's ability to take up adequate amounts of trace micronutrients that humans and livestock need to survive. The GMO/chemical agriculture system is dangerous in other ways, too: It's linked to hormone disruption, potential precancerous changes in the digestive tract, accelerated aging, infertility, birth defects, plant disease, and superweeds that are forcing farmers to abandon the land or use even more toxic, carcinogenic pesticides because Roundup isn't working anymore.
What happens next? Barring a reversal of the decision by President Barrack Obama, farmers could start planting the GMO alfalfa as early as this spring. The Center for Food Safety, whose 2007 lawsuit forced the USDA to assess the environmental impact of GMO alfalfa approval, is planning legal action in response to the decision. And now a coalition of notable organic business and trade groups, activists, and thought leaders have produced a statement of their opposition to GMO alfalfa—and to proposals to allow unrestricted planting of GMO beets, corn, and soy. "We are distributing this through our membership and social media channels, and encouraging others to further distribute it. I suspect that it will make its way to congressional representatives and senators, especially those on the agriculture committee," says Bill Duesing, director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), one of the statement's signatory groups. "We'd like to begin the process of more strictly regulating, and hopefully banning, the use of GMOs that can contaminate organic crops."
Here is their letter, which includes options for you to get involved: