A lively discussion on Roundup Ready alfalfa highlighted the first day of the Feb. 4-6 National Alfalfa Symposium and Mid-America Alfalfa Expo in Kearney, NE.

Erik Freese, Dixon, CA, told the audience that he gets good weed control with a single annual application of Roundup on Roundup Ready alfalfa. He was disappointed when a federal district court judge issued an injunction prohibiting the sale of Roundup Ready alfalfa seed in March of last year.

"With Roundup Ready alfalfa, in essence, I've flown first class and I don't want to go back to coach," Freese said.

But Phil Geertson, Geertson Seed Farm, Adrian, OR, warned that, if the transgenic crop is legalized again, cross-pollination will result in contamination of conventional seed, ruining organic alfalfa and hay export markets.

" ... Once Roundup Ready alfalfa is grown commercially throughout the country, the GE (genetically enhanced) genes will be virtually impossible to contain and will spread through the environment, threatening all conventional and organic alfalfa," Geertson said.

The discussion also included Mark McCaslin, president of Forage Genetics International, and Will Rostov, staff attorney with the Center for Food Safety. Forage Genetics developed the first Roundup Ready varieties and the Center for Food Safety filed the lawsuit that resulted in the injunction.

Watch the March issue of Hay & Forage Grower for more symposium coverage.

USDA-APHIS is seeking alfalfa grower comments on the regulation status of Roundup Ready alfalfa. To comment electronically, click www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2007-0044. Under Add Comments, click a yellow icon to the corresponding comment that you would like to submit a comment on. At this point, the comment period is to end tomorrow, Feb. 6.