Sunday, January 23, 2011

Regulating GE crops: Have your say

Genetically engineered crops I admit make me uneasy at best. As we don't fully know the health and environmental implications of genetically engineered food, the idea of it more fully integrating our marketplaces gives me pause.

Why does it matter now? Because the USDA is considering deregulating the use of GE alfalfa, the fourth-largest crop in the country. They are taking comments through tomorrow.

Conventional alfalfa (alfalfa that is not a GE variety and is not grown
using organic practices) has been used by farmers as livestock feed for decades
because of its high protein and low fiber content. Alfalfa ranks fourth on
the list of most widely grown crops by acreage, behind corn, soybeans, and
wheat, and is ranked third among agricultural crops in terms of value.
Because it is widespread and is typically grown as a perennial crop, alfalfa also providesimportant habitat for wildlife (Hubbard 2008). ...

Alfalfa is predominantly cross-pollinated and the flowers depend entirely on bees for cross-pollination. (USDA Environmental Impact Statement, Dec. 2010)

So what does that mean for you?
Our non-GE and organic farmers continue to be concerned with crop contamination
and market rejection. Independent studies in the U.S. and in other countries on
GE crops have documented a long list of reasons for concern, including evidence
that these crops lead to herbicide-resistant super-weeds and require the use of
more toxic herbicides. As mentioned above, organic alfalfa is used as feed by
most organic and non-GE dairies. Also, the policy set for GE alfalfa will most
likely guide policies for other GE crops as well. (Whole
Foods Blog
, Jan. 20)
On top of the cross-contamination issue, the USDA concedes that the deregulation, or increased use, would likely increase the use of herbicides such as glyphosates, but whether the use of other herbicides would increase or decrease is unknown. (USDA Environmental Impact Statemnet, Dec. 2010)

The USDA is taking comments through Monday on whether to deregulate GE alfalfa which would allow it to be planted anywhere. Alfalfa is often used as feed for dairy cows and beef cattle, and cross-contamination with GE alfalfa would have an impact on these designations.

I agre that our farmers have a right to grow foods without fear of contamination from others’ GE crops—and that consumers have a right to make the choice to buy non-GE products.
You can learn more about the alfalfa issue here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its so depressing :(
I hope something is done before its too late.