Environmentalists, Food Safety Groups Sue Over Alfalfa

Mar 24, 2011
Megan Bedard is a sucker for sustainable agriculture and a good farmers market, she likes writing about food almost as much as eating it.
The fight over alfalfa is far from over. (daryl_mitchell/Creative Commons)

Feds, prepare to face up to the consequences of your actions.

In January, the federal government approved unrestricted planting of a type of genetically modified alfalfa. Now environmentalists, food safety activists, and consumer advocacy groups are voicing their discontent with a lawsuit.

The groups say the decision potentially marks the beginning of the end of organic farming for two reasons, according to Slashfood: 1.) it's difficult to keep the GM alfalfa from contaminating the non-GM alfalfa and 2.) GM alfalfa will open the gates to 23 million more pounds of herbicide into the environment.

Slashfood reports:

...Monsanto developed its GM alfalfa to withstand application of its Roundup herbicide. Currently, more than 90 percent of the alfalfa grown in the U.S. does not use any herbicide, according to the UDSA. Critics say that planting GM alfalfa will not only lead to more herbicide use, it will encourage an already growing problem of herbicide-resistant weeds, so-called "superweeds."

Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety say the risks are too great.

"The decision is not based on sound science and fails to account for the harms to the environment and U.S. agriculture, such as transgenic contamination, increased use of glyphosate, and the proliferation of glyphosate-resistent weeds that dergulating [Roundup Ready Alfalfa] will cause," the complaint states. Read the full complaint here (pdf).

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