Published on January 28th, 2011 | by Jeremy Bloom42
End of Organics? Monsanto’s GMO Alfalfa Approved
The USDA has approved Monsanto’s gene-modified alfalfa.
“So what?” you say. “I don’t eat alfalfa.”
But if you eat beef, drink milk, eat cheese or ice cream, or eat any packaged food products that contain dairy, you DO eat alfalfa… as processed by cows. Alfalfa is the backbone of the agribusiness beef and dairy industry.
So the organic dairy industry is about to change, in a big way: until now, being non-GMO has been a principal part of being organic. But once they let these genes out of the bottle, there’s no going back:
- Alfalfa is an insect-pollinated crop
- There is no way to prevent cross-contamination from fields planted with Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa to other fields.
- These genes will contaminate the rest of America’s alfalfa crops within a few years
- In addition to its key use in dairy farming, alfalfa has also been used as a rotation crop to recharge fields in ecologically-sound agriculture methods.
The Organic Seed Alliance is “very disappointed” with this decision (to say the least)
Although Secretary Vilsack outlined additional steps his department will take to ensure “the availability of high quality seed,” the most meaningful steps toward ensuring fairness and organic integrity are conspicuously absent from this decision.
The decision is especially disappointing considering USDA acknowledges that GE material moves into fields and markets where it is not allowed or wanted. OSA believes the agency missed an opportunity to establish a comprehensive framework for overseeing GE crops and to protect the organic industry. Such a framework is long overdue.
What happened? Big organics companies like Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm tried playing footsie with Big Ag, working with Ag Secretary Vilsack on a compromise that would have let the GMOs in with vague assurances of safeguards. But Big Ag ramped up the pressure, and Vilsack caved – see accompanying article, “From Big Ag to Big Organics: Welcome to the Brave New World.”
-> Next Page: More fallout for organics