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Has GMO Alfalfa Already Contaminated Non-Alfalfa Fields?

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our Washington News page.

Despite a strong and vocal opposition, genetically engineered (GE) Roundup-resistant alfalfa was approved in late 2011. At the time, many environmental and organic experts spoke out against it, warning that its approval could be devastating not just for the environment in general, but also for conventional alfalfa growers, and organic farmers in particular.

This includes organic animal products, as dried alfalfa is the hay they're typically fed during winter months.

Phil Bereano, a co-founder of AGRA watch, argued that by deregulating the planting of GE alfalfa, the USDA was in direct contravention to its obligations under law and court decisions.

A 2007 trial judge had already found that alfalfa farmers had established a reasonable probability that their conventional alfalfa crops would be contaminated with the engineered Roundup Ready gene if deregulation occurred.

Toxicology and plant pathology expert Dr. Don Huber also pointed out that once you insert new genes into a perennial insect-pollinated plant like alfalfa, there's no way to prevent cross-fertilization and contamination, and it cannot be eliminated once it's distributed throughout an area. 

Of course, the possibility of cross-contamination between GE alfalfa and non-GE crops was downplayed as insignificant. But it didn't even take two years for this possibility to rear its ugly head.    


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