The decision by the USDA to approve deregulation of genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa has been upheld by the federal Ninth District Circuit Court. The Cornucopia Institute was one of the plaintiffs in the legal challenge brought by the Center for Food Safety.
Alfalfa, grown on over 21 million acres, is worth $8 billion per year (not including the value of final products, such as dairy products), making it the country’s third most valuable and fourth most widely grown crop. It is primarily used as feed and forage for dairy cows and beef cattle, and alfalfa also greatly contributes to pork, lamb, sheep, and honey production. Consumers directly eat alfalfa as sprouts in salads and other foods.
Cornucopia and other opponents argued that the USDA failed in its review of GE alfalfa to fully analyze the public health, environmental, and economic consequences of Monsanto’s new crop. Furthermore, concerns were raised that GE alfalfa will likely contaminate natural alfalfa and ultimately prevent farmers from producing natural, non-GE alfalfa for markets that demand it.
Alfalfa is a perennial crop, and the deregulation of GE alfalfa makes it the first perennial approved for usage. The plant is open-pollinated by bees and other insects. With bees traveling 4-6 miles, they can potentially spread Monsanto’s patented, foreign DNA to distant conventional and organic crops. The potential for biological contamination from a neighbor’s field, even miles away, threatens the livelihood of farmers, dairies and other livestock producers. Read Full Article »