Coexistence of Alfalfa Unrealistic

January 6th, 2011

[The following letter was sent to USDA Secretary Vilsack by Chuck Noble, a Bellvue, WA farmer.]

Dear Secretary Vilsack —

Conventional and genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa coexistence is not possible nor practical. Here are some reasons:

The USDA should realize that not all crops can coexist nor should all crops be genetically engineered.

A monopoly is growing in the seed industry which is threatening to destroy independent seed producers.

Technologically, perennial crops, alfalfa and grasses, should not be genetically engineered because they cannot be kept in the fence, human inserted genes must be controlled.

Approximately 100,000 acres of GE alfalfa were planted in two years out of over 20 million acres of conventional alfalfa. Most of the GE acres have been taken out.

GE alfalfa takes 20 percent more seed to establish the same stand as conventional alfalfa. The GE gene does not add nutrition and the herbicide on the plants does not have nutrition.

Many of us use Roundup to kill alfalfa stands in crop rotations. GE alfalfa will be a weed not easily killed in other crops being grown.

GE alfalfa seed is becoming costly to keep out of conventional seed lots. Accurate tests and hygiene, clean combines, cleaners and isolated fields are all issues.

To allow GE alfalfa to be grown for a small number of people who want to plant into their weed patches is poor reasoning. The majority of growers timely suppress weeds and use crop rotation management wisely.

Coexistence of GE alfalfa is not possible without wrecking the conventional alfalfa and seed industry and causing further monopoly.

Up to half of USA seed production comes from alfalfa second growth, such as I grow.

GE alfalfa will add costs to all producers and consumers. The benefit goes to the monopoly patent holder as we get further and further contaminated.

Genetically engineered effects are very difficult to back out of a perennial crop such as alfalfa and must not be allowed.

I have worked on this issue for five years. I was at the USDA-APHIS meeting in Colorado in October 2007, representing the 100,000s of growers against the contaminating trends of Monsanto’s GE alfalfa.

I was raised on a western South Dakota farm, have a science education and raise alfalfa hay and grass for dairy buyers and other buyers.

I sell alfalfa seed from my second-growth alfalfa and our operation also supports honey bee production which is also adversely affected by GE alfalfa.

– Chuck Noble

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