Des Moines Register
Blog post by Philip Brasher
Six Democratic senators and 50 House member are urging Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack not to approve the commercialization of Monsanto Co.’s genetically modified alfalfa. The Supreme Court this week cleared the way for Vilsack too permit the sale of the biotech seed again by lifting a judge’s nationwide ban on the crop.
The lawmakers, many of whom are from states with significant organic farming, say the crop is going to contaminate non-biotech alfalfa crops and harm the organic dairy industry. In a letter to Vilsack, the lawmakers disputed the administration’s draft environmental impact statement that said the biotech crop was unlikely to harm the environment or human health. Contamination “will occur and it will result in significant economic harm,” the letter said. The letter goes on to quote the CEO of CROPP Cooperative, the company that markets Organic Valley milk, as warning that the biotech crop could “devastate organic dairy producers.”
The six senators who signed the letter were Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Jon Tester of Montana and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
Before a court order blocked the sale of the alfalfa variety forced the USDA to do the environmental impact study, 5,550 growers planted the seed on 236,000 acres nationwide, according to Monsanto. Alfalfa is typically grown on about 23 million acres.