There are more than 20 million acres planted to alfalfa in the U.S. USDA-APHIS ruled four and a half years ago that glyphosate-resistant alfalfa does not pose a plant pest risk.

Yet, today only about 220,000 acres of alfalfa are planted to Roundup-resistant varieties largely because an organization, The Center for Food Safety, has filed frivolous legal actions. One resulted in a judge in May 2007 halting the sale of Roundup Ready alfalfa pending completion of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) by USDA.

This EIS is finally finished and in the Federal Register. The 60-day comment period began Dec. 18. Already, there are more than 30 pages of comments. The majority of comments, to this point, seem to be overwhelmingly in favor of releasing RR alfalfa to farmers for planting.

One of the ironies in all this is that when the judge ruled two and a half years ago that USDA must write an EIS before any more RR alfalfa could be sold, he did not ban the production from the 220,000 acres that had already been planted earlier in the year by 4,000 growers in 48 states.

As absurd and irresponsible as this effort is to ban RR alfalfa, it must be turned back. The Center for Food Safety (CFS) has already sent out a baloney-filled news release claiming to marshal a coalition of “concerned farmers, consumers and environmentalists” to halt the sale of RR alfalfa.

CFS often participates in food scare projects. It gave us the Mad Cow scare. It has embarked on a blackmail PR campaign against two major candy makers to force them to sign a pledge that they would not use sugar derived from Roundup Ready sugar beets. Despite their innocent-sounding names, many of these organizations are financial Goliaths that use junk science, intimidation tactics, and even threats of violence to push their radical agendas. These people are not trying to protect American agriculture or organic farmers. They want to destroy as much of America as they can.

The news release quotes George Siemon, one of the founding fathers of Organic Valley, a Wisconsin-based organic farming cooperative. He says, “GE alfalfa threatens the very fabric of the organic industry.” Baloney. Check out the Organic Valley Web site where you can get a bit more info about Organic Valley. They identify pesticides used in conventional farming as “synthetic pesticides evolved from the chemicals like mustard gas and nerve poison developed for chemical warfare in World Wars I and II.”

I have received a “few” e-mails from past commentaries where folks charge me with being anti-organic farming. I am not, but I do not respect people who use those types of scare tactics to promote an organic food agenda. In looking through the EIS comments already entered, there was one that really went to the core of the Roundup Ready alfalfa issue. Dr. Peggy G. Lemaux, from the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at UC Berkeley, is one of the most respected biotechnology researchers in the world. She commented on the issue with thoughtful and solid research. In closing she said, “It seems appropriate in considering impacts of RR alfalfa on organic growers to also consider possible economic consequences on non-organic growers.”

This technology must be made available to American farmers. Go online and issue your comments.

email: hcline@farmpress.com