USDA to Move Forward with GMO Alfalfa?

December 27, 2010

The agency is mulling coexistence measures for conventional and GMO alfalfa.

In the case of alfalfa, the USDA appears ready to give genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) the green light for open-air production.

On December 16, the USDA released a final environmental impact statement outlining the potential environmental effects of deregulating Round-Up Ready alfalfa, a GMO alfalfa designed to resist the pesticide glycophosphate (commercially known as Round-Up).

Taking a line from the European Commission, the USDA appears to be favoring “coexistence” of GMOs with conventional crops or no regulation:

“USDA has thoroughly analyzed the potential environmental impacts of the proposed alternatives and has listed two preferred options: deregulation as one option and the other deregulation accompanied by a combination of isolation distances and geographic restrictions on the production of GE alfalfa seed and, in some locations, hay.”

Further implying federal support for the viability of GMO industry, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stressed the need to “develop a sensible path forward for strengthening coexistence of all segments of agriculture in our country. All are vital and a part of rural America’s success. All should be able to thrive together.”

The environmental impact statement on GMO alfalfa will be available for at least 30 days before the USDA publishes a final decision on how it will take action.