Thursday, February 18, 2010

Safeguard Organic Alfalfa - This is Not Just a Rural Issue

Alfalfa is a very important crop, high in nutrition needed by dairy and beef cattle and other livestock. Because it absorbs nitrogen from air - instead of from soil like most other grasses, including corn - with adequate water it is also quite an efficient crop to grow.
We just got a notice from the Organic Consumers Association telling us that:

The USDA is Poised to Approve Monsanto's Genetically Engineered Alfalfa.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), aren't actually in practice meant to feed the world or survive droughts and floods. GMOs currently in commercial use - now spliced into millions of acres of corn, cotton, soy, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa - are designed to sell Monsanto's herbicide, Roundup, and the patented "Roundup Ready" Monsanto-owned seeds that go with it. All corporate-patented GMO seeds for commercial use are either designed as crops able to withstand doses of Monsanto's herbicide, Roundup, while all other living plants are killed around them, or are designed to actually carry a pesticide within the crop plants. Other corporate players in the GMO game are Syngenta (Novartis), Bayer, and Dupont, although corporate names, and names of their subsidiaries do occasionally change as their practices are made public.

Pests on GMO crops have become resistant to GMO-related pesticides, creating need for ever-newer corporate GMO products to be purchased by farmers. Natural controls have been shown to be much more effective and sustainable.
Weeds are also becoming resistant to the chemicals that are part of the GMO 'package' - causing the same expensive and dangerous cycle. Again, tried-and-true traditional methods have proved much more effective and safer over the long-term, in addition to building soil health.
A 2009 study showed that, in 13 years,
Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops increased herbicide use by 383 million pounds.
The dangers of these chemicals to human health - and the
serious health dangers posed by the genetic modification process itself, especially to stomach, liver, and kidney - have been proved.

In 2007, a Federal court ruled the
USDA's approval of Roundup Ready alfalfa failed to analyze the risks Gmos posed, including contamination of conventional and organic alfalfa and the development of "super-weeds." The court banned the planting of GM alfalfa until USDA completed a rigorous analysis of these impacts.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals twice affirmed the national ban on Roundup Ready alfalfa planting. Now Monsanto is appealing to the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately, at least one sitting justice has close ties to the chemical, bio-engineering corporation, and has not recused himself in the past from decisions in which this company has a stake.
Widespread GMO contamination of organic alfalfa - destruction of organic crops - is inevitable if Monsanto's GM Roundup Ready alfalfa is allowed to be planted across the U.S.

GMO contamination poses an incredibly serious threat to the livelihood of alfalfa farmers, livestock and dairy farmers, the ranchers who depend on organic alfalfa for feed, the people who consume their products, and the economies these farms are an integral part of.

American farmers must not lose the right and the choice to grow organic and GMO-free food.

So far, in addition to organic farmers, ranchers, and others, 16,099 Organic Consumers Association activists have sent letters. If you haven't, you can Take Action Now.

If you happen to be in San Diego, Monsanto's coming to town. Are you or a friend a Facebook member? Join the Peaceful Eat-In (Facebook event) Say No to GMO!

The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund explains that GMO alfalfa also threatens our milk supply. They have actions you can take here.
photos Scott Bauer and Keith Weller, courtesy USDA