The Return of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Alfalfa: Share Your Concerns with USDA | Civil Eats

The Return of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Alfalfa: Share Your Concerns with USDA

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 Opinions, studies (published or unpublished), anecdotal stories, and testing data about how contamination will occur and /or demonstrating that contamination has in fact occurred are critical.

We’ll bring the news to you.

Get the weekly Civil Eats newsletter, delivered to your inbox.

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.

Today’s food system is complex.

Invest in nonprofit journalism that tells the whole story.

Zelig Golden is a staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety where he works on law and policy issues related to genetically engineered crops, food safety laws, and the promotion of agriculture that is organic and beyond. He is a lead attorney in the landmark lawsuits halting GE alfalfa and GE sugar beets. Zelig is also the co-founder and director of Wilderness Torah which reawakens and celebrates the earth-based traditions of Judaism. Read more >

Like the story?
Join the conversation.

  1. Nancy Redfeather
    Round-up Herbicide continues to contribute to the destruction of the soils in America. More Round-up ready crops is not the answer to resistant weeds, herbicide run off into waterways, and decreasing nutrient quality of our foods.
  2. DKethler
    Round-up must be banned
  3. Erv Amdahl
    This is crazy. We accept tests, trials and studies from the same people that are selling these products just like we do with drugs that have proven to be harmful and kill people like Vioxx and yet the USDA and FDA stop people from promoting organic foods, whole foods, herbs etc. that have been around for centuries little or no adverse effects and yet they give the green light to chemicals, seeds, drugs etc. that have known adverse side effects, many of which are debilitating or terminal. When are you and other departments assigned to protect the public going to do your jobs instead of giving hasty approvals to limited and short term studies in comparison to centuries of use of natural foods and herbs and stop the proliferation of engineered crops and drugs that we have no idea of the outcome to the populace in 20 or 40 or 60 years down the road.
  4. JasonM
    Unfortunately has named Monsanto as the "Company of the Year" and has released the news on its website:

    Please take a moment to respond there or write a letter to the editor.


More from




This Farm Bill Really Matters. We Explain Why.

a trio of illustrations showing a black farmer, corn growing in front of the US Capitol Building, and a white woman with a baby paying for groceries with a SNAP-enabled card

Supreme Court Case Could Reshape Indigenous Water Rights in the Southwest

A close-up view of center-pivot irrigation watering corn on NAPI farmland. (Photo courtesy of NAPI)

All Eyes on California as Fast-Food Worker Rights Land on the 2024 Ballot

Fast-food workers and activists protest McDonald's labor practices outside a McDonald's restaurant on March 18, 2014 in Oakland, California. (Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Alaska’s Climate-Driven Fisheries Collapse Is Devastating Indigenous Communities

An Alaskan king crab trap and fishing vessel.