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Agricultural News

House and Senate Ag Committee Chairs Agree With USDA's Decision to Allow Roundup Ready Alfalfa Plantings

Fri, 28 Jan 2011 5:59:41 CST

House and Senate Ag Committee Chairs Agree With USDA's Decision to Allow Roundup Ready Alfalfa Plantings Reaction in favor of the Roundup Ready Alfalfa decision by the US Department of Agriculture reflects those who are supportive of tradtional agriculture. Here are some of the reactions we have seen thus far:


House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma issued the following statement in response to the announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Roundup Ready alfalfa. The agency will fully deregulate the product.

"Genetically engineered alfalfa has been subjected to an extensive multi-year review and the conclusion has always been the same: it's safe. A product that has been repeatedly found to be safe should be deregulated. I am pleased that USDA used sound science and respected the limit of its statutory authority to make this decision," said Chairman Frank D. Lucas.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) concluded in a final environmental impact statement (EIS) that genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa does not pose a plant pest risk. Typically, if a product is found to not be a plant pest, USDA deregulates it thereby making it available for commercialization. The House Agriculture Committee held a public forum on January 20 to explore the issue in advance of USDA's decision.


U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, expressed support for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's decision today to deregulate Roundup Ready alfalfa, but cautioned that flaws in the current biotechnology regulatory system, caused by multiple lawsuits, must be addressed to provide certainty for industry investors, farmers and consumers.

"I applaud the USDA's decision to deregulate Roundup Ready alfalfa, giving growers the green light to begin planting an abundant, affordable and safe crop," Stabenow said. "While I'm glad this decision was guided by sound science, I'm concerned that USDA's process creates too much uncertainty for our growers. Alfalfa was one of nearly two dozen genetically modified crops awaiting USDA evaluation and approval a bottlenecked process that hinders growth and progress.

"As incoming Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I'm committed to working with the USDA and stakeholders so that the system promotes safety, certainty, and efficiency. In the coming months, I will examine how we can promote a properly functioning, science-based system that promotes industry investment, growth and job creation while ensuring that consumers can count on safe and affordable products."


The National Corn Growers Association is pleased with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's decision to issue a full deregulation for glyphosate tolerant alfalfa events J101 and J163 as published in the Final Environmental Impact Statement this past December.

"We would like to thank Secretary Vilsack for keeping grower choice as a priority. Farmers need access to technology so that they can choose the option that is best for their farm," said NCGA Chairman Darrin Ihnen, from Hurley, S.D. "Biotechnology can improve a farm's efficiency and decrease the amount of chemical needed for that crop. We need choice to raise more food, feed, fiber and fuel for the world's growing needs."

"This is the right decision," said Jim Zimmerman, vice chairman of NCGA's Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team, a grower from Rosendale, Wis. "A clean, full deregulation is the best decision for producers and lets farmers plant the kind of alfalfa they choose this spring."


The following is a statement released on Thursday afternoon by the American Soybean Association:

The American Soybean Association (ASA) supports today's decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to deregulate biotechnology-derived, glyphosate-tolerant alfalfa, effective immediately and without conditions. The decision reinforces that USDA's policy-making activities adhere to a science-based regulatory process, and is consistent with the reviews that led USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to conclude that biotech alfalfa does not pose a plant pest risk.

ASA believes this decision by USDA is the correct one. It recognizes that USDA has no authority to impose restrictions on when, where, and how biotech alfalfa can be grown in order to achieve "coexistence" with organic alfalfa production. It recognizes that cooperation on coexistence best can be achieved neighbor to neighbor, and by working with trade associations, trait developers, seed companies, and state and local officials.

ASA and other farm groups, along with the biotechnology industry, strongly opposed USDA's proposed restrictions on biotech alfalfa to establish a broad regulatory policy for agricultural "coexistence." ASA was concerned that USDA's earlier proposals would have set a dangerous precedent for the continued development of biotech traits, undermined 25 years of science-based regulatory policy in the United States, and damaged efforts to ensure that international trading partners base decisions surrounding biotechnology on science.

The announcement was made earlier today by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who indicated that decisions on biotech sugar beets and amylase corn could be made as early as next week.



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