South Dakota’s Senate Agriculture Committee last week rejected a bill that would have made it illegal to raise or sell Roundup Ready alfalfa in the state.

Proponents of a ban argued that the biotech crop threatens to contaminate conventional alfalfa through cross pollination by bees and wind. Since alfalfa is a perennial and its seed can germinate decades into the future, the threat is long-term, they said.

“This is a really, really serious threat to the conventional alfalfa seed industry,” Pat Trask, an alfalfa seed producer from Wasta, SD, told the committee.

But Kathy Zander of the South Dakota Agribusiness Association argued that potential for cross pollination is very slight when Roundup Ready alfalfa is properly grown and harvested. She gave the committee a joint statement from the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, South Dakota State University, Forage Genetics and Monsanto saying the risk of contaminating conventional alfalfa is minimal if growers follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

The committee rejected the bill by a 6-3 margin. A similar bill that would have required farmers to notify the state ag department if they intended to raise biotech alfalfa was also defeated.

Source: Associated Press.