The EIS released just before Christmas identified three alternatives for USDA to select from when it finally releases alfalfa seed for sale toward the end of January. Vilsack has rejected an outright ban on RR alfalfa, which leaves him two alternatives he called "preferred":

• Allow the sale of RR alfalfa without restrictions

• Allow RR alfalfa sales with restrictions like banning alfalfa forage production in RR alfalfa seed producing counties and creating a 5-mile buffer zone between RR alfalfa seed fields and non-biotech seed fields.

The 5-mile ban is more than twice the distance (2 miles) RR alfalfa seed producers have voluntarily agreed upon to placate anti-GMO critics and organic growers and almost incalculably different from what is now required for certified seed fields (165 feet).

This 5-mile buffer zone between RR seed fields and organic or conventional fields targets California, Arizona Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. RR seed fields would also be identified by GPS and included in the annual report to USDA. Location data will be made publicly available.

The proposed ban on alfalfa forage production in any county where RR alfalfa seed is produced would disenfranchise 20 percent of the nation’s alfalfa production area from planting RR alfalfa.

It would have even greater impact in the West, prohibiting 50 percent of the alfalfa acreage from planting the herbicide-resistant alfalfa because of seed production of herbicide-resistant seed.

The baffled agricultural majority became even more mystified at this sudden turn of events at USDA during the first coexistence meeting in Washington, D.C., when Vilsack reportedly dismissed the importance of science, saying everyone can provide science to support their views.

Vilsack's efforts to broker a treaty and his comments about science being subjective “generated tremendous interest,” admitted the secretary, in a statement issued shortly after the first meeting in Washington when both sides reacted to his plan.

“As a regulatory agency, sound science and decisions based on this science are our priority, and science strongly supports the safety of GE alfalfa,” Vilsack.

However, the secretary added in his statement that the “clash” between the rapid adoption of GE crops and the rapid expansion of organic and other non-GE products has led to litigation and uncertainty. He is hoping a USDA brokered truce can keep the issue out of the courtroom. However, anti-biotech activists have vowed that if they do not agree with what USDA decides on RR alfalfa, they will file another lawsuit.

Most in agriculture believe the anti-GE activists want nothing short of a ban on GE crops. To agree to anything less would negate their radical anti-biotech position of the past decade.

Nevertheless, Vilsack says “a solution that acknowledges agriculture’s complexity while celebrating and promoting its diversity ... is a better way.”

Vilsack’s goal is to create a “new paradigm based on co-existence and cooperation.”

The call for a new paradigm met with this reaction from Cummings: “There can be no such thing as ‘coexistence’ with a reckless and monopolistic industry that harms human health, destroys biodiversity, damages the environment, tortures and poisons animals, destabilizes the climate, and economically devastates the world's 1.5 billion seed-saving small farmers.”