In late January, the USDA announced that it is completely deregulating genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa. This decision could spell disaster for organics and the quality of our food supply.
Alfalfa has been used by farmers as livestock feed for decades because of its high protein and low fiber content. But lobbyists for Monsanto -- a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation and the world's leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, or "Roundup" -- have succeeded in pushing the USDA to deregulate GE alfalfa.
If GE crops spread, the word "organic" will be virtually meaningless, affecting crops, the cattle who eat the alfalfa, and consumers who eat both.
Let the USDA and your senators and representative know there's a steep political price for this decision, which if left unchanged, will have devastating consequences for organic agriculture.
Dear [Decision Maker],
I cannot possibly express my shock and dismay at learning that the USDA had decided to completely deregulate genetically engineered alfalfa. It is an outrageous decision that will have far-reaching implications.
[Your personal comments will be added here.]
The USDA's own data shows that just 7% of alfalfa acres are currently treated with herbicides. USDA's projections in their environmental impact statement show that a substantial adoption of Roundup Ready® alfalfa would trigger increases in glyphosphate herbicide use of up to 23 million pounds per year! This is unthinkable, especially considering that many "superweeds" have already become resistant to Roundup. We'll be living in a toxic soup in a very short while.
Without regulation, genetically modified alfalfa will encroach on non-GM alfalfa, irretrievably contaminating it. There have already been over 200 episodes of transgenic contamination, costing farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales. If genetically engineered crops spread, the word "organic" will be virtually meaningless, affecting crops, the cattle who eat the alfalfa, and consumers who eat both.
My family and I are careful to purchase organic foods. We believe our health, and the health of our children, is too important to do otherwise. Recent studies show that genetically engineered foods are causing terrible genetic changes in mammal offspring. Scientists are seeing birth defects, high infant mortality rates, and sterility in hamsters, rats, and livestock fed genetically engineered soy and corn. Some hamster pups even begin growing hair inside their mouths! What our children eat not only affects them, but will also affect the biology of their children -- and may harm them irreparably.
Please do everything in your power, Mr. President, to step in and protect your citizens from this very great threat to their health. Please, senators and members of Congress, convene hearings to learn how the USDA could possibly have made such a dangerous decision, when only full regulation has any chance to control the spread and use of such an invasive crop. And please, Mr. Secretary, don't be swayed by Monsanto's deep pockets. Your own EIS proves that RR alfalfa desperately needs to be regulated.
I want to be very clear: I will not support any candidate who has voted for or otherwise promoted genetically modified organisms. You will see a massive groundswell of public opinion against this terrible decision, and the political consequences will be severe. Please -- for all our sakes, overturn this disastrous decision.