The Center for Food Safety vows to fight against the deregulation of Roundup Ready alfalfa despite governmental assurances of its safety in the recently published draft Roundup Ready alfalfa environmental impact statement (EIS).

The organization, which filed the 2007 lawsuit that stopped the sale and planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa, said in press release response that USDA “plans to once again allow unlimited, nation-wide commercial planting of genetically-engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa. USDA plans to move ahead despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment.”

The press release was issued one day after the EIS was made public and three days before it will be available for public comment – Dec. 18.

“Allowing Roundup Ready alfalfa to be grown in fields across America without restriction spells the elimination of farmers like me who grow alfalfa and choose not to use Monsanto’s GE crops,” said Phillip Geertson, a conventional alfalfa seed grower and marketer. He was a plaintiff in the 2007 lawsuit halting the sale and use of the seed until the EIS is completed.

“Bees spread pollen for miles; it’s inevitable that the GE pollen will invade conventional and organic alfalfa, making it virtually impossible to grow non-GE alfalfa in just a few years,” he added.

The press release said that USDA’s 2005 deregulation of Roundup Ready alfalfa “violated environmental laws by failing to analyze risks such as the contamination of conventional and organic alfalfa and the development of ‘superweeds’ that are resistant to Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup. The court banned the planting of GE alfalfa until USDA completed a rigorous analysis of these impacts. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals twice affirmed the national ban on GE alfalfa planting. In their court-ordered assessment released today, USDA once again dismissed the potential that organic and conventional alfalfa will be endangered due to biological contamination.”

The rest of the release is as follows:

“GE alfalfa threatens the very fabric of the organic industry. Organic consumers want seeds and products to not be polluted by GE,” explained George Siemon, one of the founding farmers and CEO of Organic Valley. “In order for dairy products to be marketed as organic, certified organic alfalfa must be used as forage. When contamination of GE alfalfa becomes widespread, organic dairy farmers will no longer be able to give that assurance.”

“USDA’s announcement is simply business as usual, once again catering to Monsanto’s corporate interests at the expense of farmers and consumers,” stated Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety. “This is a huge disappointment coming from the Obama administration, which has repeatedly claimed to support family farms and consumers’ right to know what’s in their food.”

Following the release of the draft EIS, the USDA will announce a 60-day public comment period beginning on Friday, Dec. 18, 2009. CFS encourages all concerned parties to share their views about the future of GE alfalfa by submitting comments to the USDA. Kimbrell concluded, “We will mobilize to make sure the USDA knows that the American public will not allow their right to safe food to be taken away so easily.”

For more information about the visit Center For Food Safety.

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