The science of genetic engineering (GE) systems must include management. (See Roundup Ready Reality, January issue.) It is not responsible to select most of our crops to be herbicide-resistant. Super weeds are increasing. Was Roundup Ready alfalfa selected for some pesty weeds in southern Wisconsin and parts of California or was it the expected ease to gain monopoly control of the alfalfa-seed industry? The responsible control and management of perennial alfalfa pollen flow, seed contamination and liability costs are not possible.
Less than 1% of alfalfa acres were planted to Roundup Ready alfalfa. Parts of these acres have been removed by producers, reducing impact on their neighbors. Buffer zones and cutting before bloom are not working.
Who is responsible for contamination seed tests? A proposed 1-5% tolerance on GE seed contamination will reduce independent competitive conventional alfalfa seed sources. Safety tests have not been done, also.
Mexico, Canada and Europe do not want genetically engineered alfalfa, either. The qualities of conventional alfalfa are excellent and alfalfa breeders have not come up with much improvement. The biggest moneymaker would be monopoly control of the seed market.
Overall, genetic diversity is important. The lack of genetic diversity led to potato famines and millions of deaths in the last century.
I use sustainable crop rotation and nitrogen credits from alfalfa as do others very effectively.There is a conflict-of-interest question. Universities and labs get grants and contracts from biotech companies. There are large costs, technical control and management issues/risks and liability as things go wrong. This would be the demise of the independent conventional alfalfa seed producer if Roundup Ready alfalfa is commercialized. – Chuck Noble, South Dakota alfalfa and seed producer