Beginning in 2006, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) took legal action against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) illegal approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa. The federal courts agreed and banned GE alfalfa until the USDA fully analyzed the impacts of the plant on the environment, farmers, and the public in an environmental impacts statement (EIS).
USDA released its draft EIS on December 14, 2009. A 60-day comment period is now open until February 16, 2010. CFS has begun analyzing the EIS and it is clear that the USDA has not taken the concerns of non-GE alfalfa farmers, or organic dairy farmers seriously, for example, having dismissed the fact that contamination will threaten export markets and domestic organic markets. You can review the EIS here and supplemental documents here.
This is the first time the USDA has prepared an EIS for any GE crop and therefore will have broad implications for all transgenic crops, and its failure to address the environmental and related economic impacts of GE alfalfa will have far-reaching consequences. CFS is spearheading a campaign to make sure all affected parties know and are involved in the public process and have the opportunity to comment.
This is a call to action to all who have concerns about the environmental and economic consequences of uncontrolled nation-wide growth of GE alfalfa, to all who believe in the public’s right to choose to eat non-GE food and the farmer’s right to sow the crop of his or her choice, and to those who care about the impacts of pesticides and invasive weeds on biodiversity and endangered species.
Farmers, dairy producers, scientists, public interest organizations, and all concerned citizenry must make sure their voices are heard in this important process. At this stage, the most critical thing anyone can do is provide public comments indicating their concerns with GE Roundup Ready Alfalfa.
In particular, the EIS dismisses the significance that GE alfalfa will broadly contaminate non-GE alfalfa. Opinions, studies (published or unpublished), anecdotal stories, and testing data about how contamination will occur and /or demonstrating that contamination has in fact occurred are critical.
The EIS also dismisses the significant adverse economic effects that GE contamination will have on non-GE conventional alfalfa seed or hay growers (e.g., export markets), or dairy production that rely on non-GE and organic alfalfa hay for forage. Studies (published or unpublished), anecdotal stories, and economic analysis showing harm through contamination is essential, especially markets that are GE sensitive or reject GE outright.
Submit your comments to USDA APHIS No Later Than February 16, 2009. You can also sign up for the CFS True Food Network and receive alerts on the process. Please also consider donating to CFS to help with this important effort.