The Gardena Alfalfa Seed Growers Association, Touchet, WA, held an emergency meeting last week to discuss the final environmental impact statement and USDA Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack’s three possible decision options. Here’s the result of that meeting – a unanimously approved letter asking that the ag secretary decide the transgenic crop’s fate based on science. The association is also concerned that its area not be determined GMO-free. Below is the entire letter. An interview with the president of the association can be found at http://hayandforage.com/ehayarchive/0118-seed-growers-rr-alfalfa-deregulated/.

January 15, 2011

Secretary Vilsack:

We, the Gardena Alfalfa Seed Growers Association, would like to express our concern on the possibility of Roundup Ready Alfalfa being restricted from certain geographical locations, primarily the Touchet area, in the Walla Walla Valley in the state of Washington.

We produce a significant amount of alfalfa seed for the nation. In the past we have been able to meet the seed purity needs for the industry and we see no reason that we will not be able to do that with the introduction of GMO alfalfa.

We recognize that there are certain states where Roundup is not registered for use in alfalfa seed production. These states include North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas and Nebraska. If the 1% of alfalfa hay producers that produce it organically have a desire for 100% GE-free alfalfa, they should be able to secure a source in one of those states.

Setting up separate and isolated growing areas will artificially segregate alfalfa seed production in the country. The outcome of which will be government determined winners and losers and probably the inability of the alfalfa seed industry to meet the growing and changing needs of its customers.

Our feeling is the imposition of artificial geographical restrictions and severe isolation distances will possibly separate and uncouple the ability of historical and reliable seed production areas to grow GMO alfalfa seed and to serve what we regard to be an expanding market. The bottom line is that demand for alfalfa will eventually outrun our ability to produce under the proposed restrictions for isolation in outlying, unproven production areas. The forage industry will continue to be compromised with artificial restrictions, growers’ choices will continue to be limited, and the marketplace will continue to be unsatisfied.

We urge you to make the final decision based on science and deregulate without restrictions.

Sincerely,

Tim Wagoner, President, Gardena Alfalfa Seed Growers Association