USDA Caves to Industry Pressure, OKs GMO Alfalfa

You can put another tick in the score column for industrial ag with the latest news that the USDA is giving the go-ahead for genetically modified alfalfa. The AP has the grim news:

The decision announced Thursday is a blow to the organic foods industry, which complains that modified seeds can contaminate their organic crops through pollination, bringing genetically modified foods into their fields. The Agriculture Department has said the modified alfalfa - used primarily for hay for cattle - is safe, but some consumers don't want to eat foods derived from it, including milk or beef. The growing organic industry and its millions of consumers have long been wary of genetically modified seed companies such as Monsanto, citing the purity of natural seeds, the ethics of eating modified foods and possible environmental damage from creating new varieties of crops.

As you can imagine, anyone concerned with organic food is might concerned. A statement released from

Food and Water Watch


We are extremely dismayed that the USDA has buckled under the pressure of biotech industry by deciding to allow the planting of genetically engineered alfalfa. Allowing GE alfalfa will have long-term, far reaching consequences on many aspects of agriculture, putting non-GE and organic seed supplies at risk of contamination by GE alfalfa. The USDA has given lip service to these concerns, but today's decision by the agency demonstrates the financial influence that well-connected biotech lobbyists wield over our federal agencies and Congress.

Today, in conjunction with the decision to allow unrestricted planting of GE alfalfa, the USDA has also announced a series of measures to try to understand the way that GE alfalfa could contaminate other crops. This is the first time the agency has acknowledged these issues, and unfortunately, these steps should have been taken before the agency decided to release this crop into the food supply, not after.

And the

Center for Food Safety

called the USDA a "rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment."


AlterNet / By Tara Lohan

Posted at January 27, 2011, 12:59pm