On January 26, the USDA made a decision that impacts everyone concerned with the future of organics. Genetically engineered (or “Roundup Ready”) alfalfa has been approved without regulation. Alfalfa may not be on your shopping list, but it is the fourth most widely grown crop in the USA and a staple in the diets of meat and dairy livestock.
Organic laws do not (and will not) allow genetic engineering, but because alfalfa is open-pollinated, gene contamination of organic and commercial alfalfa is almost certain. This will make it nearly impossible for farmers to grow alfalfa that is suitable to feed to organic livestock.
We now have to fight for the organic industry’s right to exist—and this is only the beginning. In the coming months, we will be seeing USDA proposals to allow unrestricted plantings of GE sugar beets and corn, as well as soy crops designed to resist pesticides, such as 2-4D and Dicamba, highly toxic pesticides that pose a serious threat to our health and the environment.
What can you do? Call the White House at 202-456-1111 and tell them your thoughts on genetically engineered foods. Continue to support organic farmers and organic companies.