USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack made the right decision to allow sales of Roundup Ready alfalfa to continue.
There has been considerable angst and trepidation over the past 30 days after Vilsack said he wanted to forge a co-existence between the anti-biotech not-so-silent minority and conventional agriculture. It was an admirable goal to try to head-off lawsuits before they happen.
What Vilsack failed to realize is that lawsuits from the likes of the Center for Food Safety are money in the bank. Without lawsuits, they do not get money from foundations and the government. They do not care about the environment. They are strictly self-serving, arrogant extremists feeding at the government trough and feeding on tax dodging foundations. It was obvious shortly after Vilsack announced his plan that the anti-biotech crowd was not interested in compromise. They felt like Vilsack opened the door for them to make totally absurd demands. He slammed that door when he decided to deregulate RR alfalfa.
Vilsack had no other choice but to deregulate RR alfalfa without any planting or geographic restrictions. The possible restrictions bordered on ridiculous. Not much real thought was put behind the one that would have precluded the planting of RR alfalfa in counties where alfalfa forage crops were planted. That would have literally put thousands of farmers and dairymen out of business. Not sure where that came from, but it did not come from someone familiar with agriculture.
Hate to keep hammering at this point, but these radical environmental groups do not care about the environment. They want to bring down Monsanto and corporate America.
The other part of this anti-biotech rhetoric is that there has been no single incident of any person being harmed physically by a biotech food. No headache, no hangnail, no nothing, and there are millions of acres of biotech crops grown in the world.
Agriculture did itself proud in this fight. Valuable lessons were learned. Recognizing that organic producers and seed exporters had a stake in this, regardless of how small the pie piece is, was important. It was a victory with many lessons learned.
Unfortunately, the fight is not over. More lawsuits are coming. However, the marketplace may eventually dictate the demise of these radial groups.
Renee Pinel, president of the Western Plant Health Association, pointed out something very interesting recently when she spoke at a conference about issues facing California ag.
California and U.S. rice growers justifiably have not embraced biotech because of marketing roadblocks in Asia, particularly Japan. Japan will not accept biotech rice. However, Pinel points out that China and India are embracing biotechnology for all crops, and those two nations produce more than half of the world’s rice. They are also big exporters. Rice is a staple for more than half the world’s population. Governments will not allow people to go hungry over a political issue like biotechnology.
The marketplace may put the extremists out of business.