Nearly a quarter of Hay & Forage Grower readers surveyed earlier this month have planted or will plant Roundup Ready alfalfa on new hay or haylage acres this year. Of those who aren't planting the transgenic crop, nearly a third cited that they aren't planting any alfalfa. Some said that they were planting alfalfa-grass mixes that Roundup can't be used with or that they'd bought seed before Roundup Ready alfalfa was back on the market.
The email survey was a small one – about 500 readers responded to the question about whether they'll plant the transgenic alfalfa.
At least 45% of those who will plant Roundup Ready alfalfa will seed more than 50% of their new acreage to the crop. Nearly 15% of growers will plant less than 10% of new seedings to the biotech crop and 18% will seed 10-20% of new acreage to it. Nearly 8% of growers will seed 21-30% of acreage; more than 4%, 31-40%; and 9.5%, 41-50%.
Of those who said they aren't planting the controversial crop this year – 30% said they aren't planting any alfalfa at all, 27% said they don't have enough of a weed problem to use Roundup Ready alfalfa and more than 21% indicated that the biotechnology was too expensive. Eleven percent decided not to plant transgenic alfalfa because they were concerned about environmental issues or contamination and 4.7% were worried about the new lawsuits concerning Roundup Ready alfalfa.
In March, the Center for Food Safety filed a lawsuit against USDA, charging that the agency didn’t provide "adequate oversight of a biotech crop." Another lawsuit, by organic groups and farmers, was filed against Monsanto over patent infringements.
Nearly 21% of growers surveyed by email indicated other reasons why they weren't planting the crop. Those include that: Roundup Ready alfalfa was back on the market after they had made their seed buys, they were planting grasses with their alfalfa, the market doesn't want genetically modified feeds or they're concerned the market doesn't want the biotech crop, they don't like the current transgenic selection and they want to wait a few years to "see how this will develop."