Canadian livestock producers and commercial hay growers would benefit from the introduction of Roundup Ready alfalfa, but the concerns of seed and organic hay producers must be addressed, a new report indicates.
Assessing the Potential Impact of Roundup Ready Alfalfa on Canada’s Forage Industry is an “unbiased, fact-based assessment,” according to the Canadian Forage & Grassland Association (CFGA), which funded the report in partnership with the Saskatchewan Forage Council. “This collaborative project, with input and direction from stakeholders across the industry, will assist the forage industry nationwide in its efforts to respond to the new and emerging issue of genetically modified crops,” CFGA tells its members.
The 90-page document covers most of the same issues that were debated in the U.S. before Roundup Ready alfalfa was deregulated in 2005 and reintroduced to the marketplace in 2011. It says the crop has the potential to deliver cleaner, more vigorous alfalfa stands with lower weed-control costs. Also, Roundup Ready is the first of several possible genetically enhanced traits to be introduced in alfalfa. “If it is not commercialized in Canada, the industry will have little interest in developing these other traits for the Canadian market.”
The biggest concern is contamination of conventional alfalfa seed fields with the Roundup Ready gene. Growers who export hay to countries that don’t accept genetically modified crops may also be impacted, the report states.
Roundup Ready alfalfa has regulatory approval in Canada, but no varieties are licensed. Forage Genetics International, the company licensed by Monsanto to develop the first transgenic varieties, hasn’t indicated that it will seek to market transgenic varieties there.