A letter disputing articles in Hay & Forage Grower's May issue, called “Co-Existence Can Work,” and “How To Co-Exist With Transgenic Alfalfa,” was sent to the magazine by Chuck Noble. Noble, a Winner, SD, hay grower and conventional seed producer, is also one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Monsanto regarding Roundup Ready (RR) alfalfa patent infringement.
Here’s what he had to say in a letter entitled: “GE Alfalfa Coexistence: The Real Worlds Of Seed, Hay And Growing Seed From Hay Fields."
What are you to do when you cannot perform a 30-day cutting cycle due to weather or shortage of water? I have had alfalfa ready to cut in 23 days and most often later than 30 days. Some years the alfalfa grows 3-6” and stops due to lack of rain. Even irrigators have had water turned off.
Recently, RR alfalfa was sold at auction for $30 a ton less. Consumers of meat, milk and dairy products, and dairies and alfalfa growers are concerned about the presence of chemicals and GE (genetic engineering) in their feed/food.
When alfalfa seed and hay are grown in the same area, contamination is large. This contamination has occurred in my county and other areas in the United States.
In 2010, I had three certified seed lots tested, since no data was available on GE proximity or contamination level. One lot was found contaminated. Planting contaminated seed makes the problem worse. The contamination will grow when people plant contaminated seed.
My neighbors and I grow hay and seed from the same fields (second growth). We use honeybees, alkali bees, and wild pollinators. Contamination occurred from fields left planted in 2005 and 2006. Seed buyers expect conventional seed purity from us with no contamination.
Who pays for sanitation expenses and seed tests? Litmus tests have not worked for me and other growers.
Who pays for locating GE fields? It is difficult to locate these fields. The USDA, Monsanto and some growers are the problems. Keeping track of 19-75 square miles around my farm is not easy (a five- to 10-mile circle is required to provide a pollen flow isolation minimum for honeybees, alkali bees and wild pollinators).
The USDA, Monsanto and others are not helpful. Some neighbors do not care about their neighbors. Court actions are in the works.