GMO Alfalfa: Republicans Want Deregulation Now

2899995132_5908ea7d80_oU.S. Representative Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) penned a letter to Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, asking the department to "return to a science based regulatory system for agriculture biotechnology and to deregulate without conditions genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa."

The letter states that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) regarding genetically modified alfalfa clears alfalfa from harm to pests and human health (up for debate); what representative Lucas and Senators Chambliss & Roberts are disputing is the third leg of EIS testing which details the possibility of cross-pollination by genetically modified alfalfa into neighboring crops. As they see it, it is not necessary to continue testing to ensure that open pollinated alfalfa exists outside of the genetically modified form.

Directly from the letter, they state:

While the final EIS concluded that GE Alfalfa does not pose a plant pest risk, it nonetheless contained a significant departure from existing policy since it includes a third option to grant non-regulated status to the product with geographic restrictions and isolation distances. ... The solitary reason for the “conditions” would be to interfere in planting decisions based on the risk of economic harm due to pollen drift. ...The third alternative steps beyond the scope of the Act and is a poor substitute for existing options available for farmers to amicably resolve the concerns regarding co-existence of agriculture biotechnology, conventional and organic crops. The proposed third alternative is equally troubling due to the precedent it will set for open pollinated crops in the future.

The "precedent" that will be set by regulating open-pollinated crops is absolutely necessary, regardless of the failings we've already considered within the corn and cotton industries. And the implications that "could potentially hinder the future development of varieties" is exactly why regulation needs to be enforced.

It seems that the very reasons that these republicans are asking for deregulation are the very same reasons we should be enforcing stronger regulations. Possibly there exists some good reasons for the use of genetically modified crops (once sufficient testing has been performed), but biodiversity isn't the first item on that list. Genetically modified crops like corn, soy, cotton and soon-t0-be alfalfa have a tendency to be used as monocrops: crops that of which only one particular strain is grown, therefore impacting biodiversity in a very direct way.

And monocropping of any sort is a dangerous act: it saps soil of nutrients requiring heavy doses of fertilizers, synthetic or natural. Genetically modified monocrops further the case by having been created for the sole purpose of withstanding  liberal doses of herbicides which accumulate in the soil (despite contradicting claims by bioAg leaders); herbicides literally create superweeds and eventually run off into underground water systems which filter into watersheds and logically destroy plant life (and micro ecosystems) all along the way.

Continue to Part Two

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