Clear Message Sent to USDA about GT Alfalfa

Today the required 30-day public review period of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) environmental impact statement (EIS) on glyphosate-tolerant (GT) alfalfa ends.  The agricultural community waits with bated breath to learn the fate of Roundup® Ready alfalfa:  Will it be fully deregulated or will geographic restrictions and isolation distances be required?

Three senior U.S. lawmakers last Wednesday wrote a letter stating that the USDA is straying beyond the law by suggesting it can set planting restrictions on genetically modified crops that have already been deemed safe.  According to Reuters, the letter stated that this is the first time such measures would be included in a regulatory decision where the crop did not pose a plant pest or health risk.

During a House Agriculture Committee forum last Thursday, lawmakers sent a clear message to Secretary Tom Vilsack that placing onerous restrictions on GT-alfalfa production goes beyond the law.  There was no support from members of either party for an option that would impose stringent conditions on biotech alfalfa, according to a Jan. 20 article by Agri-Pulse Communications.

Also last Thursday, the Independent Professional Seed Association held a panel discussion on the GT-alfalfa issue during its annual meeting in St. Louis.  One panelist was Jim Tobin, Monsanto’s Director of Biotech Business Development, who said, “This is a very serious challenge to our industry and to future trait approvals.”

Thursday, January 20, 2011, was certainly a banner day for farmers, ranchers and agricultural community members who are fighting for “common sense agriculture.”  Thanks to all of you who took the time to contact your congressional representatives.  As a result, your voice was well represented in Washington, D.C.  Special thanks to all elected officials who told the USDA that the conditional deregulation of GT-alfalfa would negatively impact all of U.S agriculture.

Now all we can do is wait…