Editor's Note: This letter refers to a conference hosted by the National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance to address the management of Roundup Ready alfalfa seed production. Called “Peaceful Coexistence: Creating a Strategy for Harmony Among GM, Organic and Conventional Alfalfa Producers,“ the meeting was held last October.
Iinvited myself to Denver to represent thousands of combined alfalfa hay/seed growers who would have been unrepresented. We do not believe coexistence is possible. We grow 40-55% of alfalfa seed from total U.S. hay acres. In general, the speakers were weighted to California. A number of questions were asked with no real-world solutions. For example:
How is good stewardship going to be enforced?
How are alfalfa bloom restrictions going to be enforced when rain and irrigation restrictions cause short growth and bloom for four to six weeks? This will contaminate from hay to seed fields in the area.
How is Roundup Ready alfalfa hay and seed field isolation going to be enforced? Can county noxious weed boards be used?
How is contaminated alfalfa seed going to be restricted and enforced? Last summer some Roundup Ready alfalfa fields bloomed and seeded all summer. Nothing was done. In my view, enforcement of GM restrictions is not working.
Is there a requirement to have all crops be herbicide-resistant? Why have Roundup Ready alfalfa when 85% of alfalfa does not have weed problems? Is “easy“ the criterion? Crop rotation management is effective.
Why are we going to allow industry to be controlled by genetically engineered seed companies through contamination of conventional seed?
How can we allow commercial industrial products and pharmaceuticals to be produced from genetically engineered alfalfa?
— Chuck Noble, South Dakota alfalfa seed producer
The 2008 National Alfalfa Symposium, set for Feb. 4-5, will feature a roundtable discussion by both sides of the Roundup Ready alfalfa legality issue.
For more information or to register for the conference, to be held at the Ramada Inn and Conference Center, Kearney, NE, visit www.alfalfasymposium.com or call 800-722-5334, ext. 14695. To see the symposium program, turn to page 39. The Mid-America Alfalfa Expo follows the symposium, Feb. 5-6 (visit alfalfaexpo.com).