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Agricultural News


Renewed Court Challenge Promised by Opponents of USDA RoundUp Ready Alfalfa Decision

Fri, 28 Jan 2011 6:06:44 CST

Renewed Court Challenge Promised by Opponents of USDA RoundUp Ready Alfalfa Decision There is more than one group that is dismayed with the decision by US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to announce that genetically modified (GM) alfalfa can be planted “without conditions.”


One of those groups is the Cornucopia Institute- they released a statement via email on Thursday afternoon:


USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack this afternoon announced that the agency will fully deregulate Monsanto’s controversial genetically engineered alfalfa. The choice was favored by the biotech industry and one of three options identified in the USDA’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) released last month.



USDA could have maintained regulatory status over the perennial crop that is so important as forage for the livestock industry.   Or they could have chosen a limited regulation strategy with bans on the planting of GE alfalfa seeds in seed growing regions to attempt to limit the contamination of alfalfa seed stock by foreign DNA from Monsanto’s crop. (alfalfa is pollinated by bees and other insects and has a pollination radius of five miles). Instead, the agency, under heavy pressure from the biotech sector, chose total deregulation. Over 250,000 public comments were received during the FEIS process, with the vast majority opposing deregulation.



Vilsack did announce that the USDA WOULD establish a second germ plasm/seed center for alfalfa in the state of Idaho to try, and the operative word is "try," to maintain GE-free strains of alfalfa. They currently operate such a facility in Prosser, WA. He said the FEIS process brought home two key points to USDA: choice and trust.   


The Center for Food Safety, with The Cornucopia Institute and others, has been embroiled in a court case fighting the release of GE-alfalfa. The case has been on hold while the USDA completed its court-ordered EIS. Opponents of GE-alfalfa are evaluating their choices and likely will resume their legal battle.



“We are extremely disappointed with the USDA’s decision to fully deregulate Monsanto’s GE-alfalfa. It appears that the political muscle of bio-tech sector trumped the many concerns about widespread contamination of organic and conventional alfalfa that were expressed by tens of thousands of consumers and farmers to the USDA. This action raises the likelihood of a renewed court challenge by the Center for Food Safety to GE-alfalfa, a case in which The Cornucopia Institute is a plaintiff.”   


CLick here for the full news release from the Cornucopia Institute on this decision.



   

 

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