In February 2006, a coalition of alfalfa producers and family farm organizations, as well as several environmental groups such as the Western Organization of Resource Councils, Center for Food Safety, and Beyond Pesticides, filed a lawsuit against U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), calling the agency’s approval of Monsanto’s alfalfa, the crop genetically modified to tolerate applications of Monsanto’s glyphosate (Roundup) herbicide, a threat to farmers’ livelihoods and a risk to the environment. Plaintiffs argued that the USDA acted illegally when it deregulated Monsanto’s GE alfalfa by failing to conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS). An EIS is a rigorous analysis of the potential significant impacts of a federal decision. A California District Court sided with plaintiffs and banned GE alfalfa until the USDA fully analyzed the impacts of the GE plant on the environment, farmers, and the public in an EIS. The USDA released a draft EIS (“DEIS”) on December 14, 2009, which proposed to grant GE alfalfa a deregulated status, and began accepting public comments on the issue.
The initial 60-day public comment period has now been extended to March 3, 2010.
On February 15, 2010, GMO Journal submitted a public comment to the Agency urging it to reject Monsanto’s application for a deregulated status. Specifically, we argued that, as drafted, the DEIS favors the corporation while discounting scientific evidence to the contrary. In fact, contrary to the erroneous conclusions reached by the USDA, scientific evidence points to the following salient and inescapable conclusions: (1) GE crops lead to increase use of herbicides, including glyphosate; (2) greater use of herbicides leads to superweeds; (3) as a result of the growing problem with superweeds, farmers have to use more pesticides, and often times more toxic pesticides, to kill the superweeds. The addition of glyphosate-resistant alfalfa, therefore, will not only increase the use of glyphosate herbicide but will also lead to the use of more toxic pesticides.
Additionally, GMO Journal informed USDA that, contrary to the agency’s conclusion, consumers do in fact care about the integrity of their food and will indeed reject GE contamination of organic alfalfa even if the contamination is unintentional.
See GMO Journal’s full public comment by clicking here for the PDF version.
There is still time to take action: Tell USDA That You Care About GE Contamination of Organic Crops and Food!