The United States Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) is now considering approving the use of agri-chemical company Monsanto’s patented genetically engineered “Roundup Ready” Alfalfa. You may not think about alfalfa much when you’re drinking organic milk, but organic alfalfa is important to organic farming, as a nourishing animal feed that’s also a nitrogen-fixing soil enhancer. Once Genetically Engineered (GE) alfalfa is introduced, its contamination of non-GE plants – including organic – is all but inevitable. And because alfalfa is fed to dairy cows and other livestock, contamination puts organic dairy and meat at risk, too!

Speak Out Against Genetically Engineered Alfalfa

Monsanto’s Alfalfa has patented GE components that make it sterile, so it is impossible for farmers to harvest, store and plant these seeds in a naturally recurring cycle. In this way Monsanto can effectively monopolize the seed market for this essential cover crop. The newest version of Roundup Ready Alfalfa is Monsanto’s attempt to continue their monopoly with a new patent on their alfalfa now that their current patent is about to expire. While this standard operating procedure makes good business sense for Monsanto, it takes the control out of the hands of farmers who are trying to manage their farms sustainably and holistically along organic or biodynamic principles.

If the USDA helps make conditions favorable for the new Roundup Ready Alfalfa, then independent farms and alternative seed-banks will be dealt a serious blow and organic alfalfa crops will be increasingly easily compromised with GE materials. Now is your chance to be heard. Tell the USDA to protect organic food and farmers from GE contamination, and NOT TO APPROVE Monsanto’s GE Alfalfa. You CAN make a difference. Tell the USDA that you care about GE contamination and your right to GMO-free organic foods.

Your Participation is Critical! Take Action by February 16

A 60-day comment period is now open until February 16, 2010.  This is the first time the USDA has done this analysis for any GE crop, so the final decision will have broad implications for all GE crops. The failure of the agency to address the impacts of GE alfalfa will have far-reaching consequences for farmers and organic consumers. Let’s not be Monsanto’s guinea pigs!

Where to Take Action:

Submit comments via the Center for Food Safety Action Center tool If you have time to write an original response, you can also submit your comments directly to the USDA.

By Mail: A written letter is very powerful. Mail your comments to:

Docket No. APHIS-2007-0044
Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8
4700 River Road Unit 118
Riverdale, MD 20737-1238

Talking Point Suggestions

  • Let the USDA know you do care about GE contamination of organic crops & food
  • Tell USDA that you will reject GE-contaminated alfalfa and alfalfa-derived foods
  • If GE alfalfa is deregulated, widespread GE contamination of non-GM and organic alfalfa is inevitable.
  • Organic alfalfa is a critical component for organic farming and feed.
  • Remind USDA it’s their job to protect Organic farmers, and all farmers who choose to grow non-GE crops.
  • GE alfalfa would significantly increase pesticide use and thereby harm human health and the environment.
  • Harm to small and organic farmers is significant.
  • USDA should extend the comment period.

More In-Depth Information:

In 2006, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) sued the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its illegal approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa. USDA failed to conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) before deregulating the crop.  An EIS is a rigorous analysis of the potential significant impacts of a federal decision.  The federal courts sided with CFS and banned GE alfalfa until the USDA fully analyzed the impacts of the GE plant on the environment, farmers, and the public in an EIS. They released a draft EIS on December 14, 2009. Draft EISSupplemental documents

It appears USDA again intends to deregulate GE alfalfa without any limitations or protections for farmers, consumers or the environment. In the new EIS, the USDA has completely dismissed the fact that GE contamination will threaten export and domestic markets and organic meat and dairy products.  And, incredibly, USDA is claiming that there is no evidence that consumers care about GE contamination of organic. We know that’s not true.

Learn more and get talking points from the Organic Valley Family of Farms website: http://www.organicvalley.coop/farm-friends/. Then take action at the Center for Food Safety, or submit comments online to the USDA directly.

After you write, let us know at rootstock@organicvalley.coop. We’ll post some comments on our website to inspire others to speak out.

Thanks for all your support for family farmers and a sustainable organic future for all!

Note: The majority of thus information is sourced from Organic Valley Family of Farms.
Additional information is integrated from an investigative piece that was broadcast on Chicago Public Radio in late January.

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