In 2007 a judge ruled to ban the growth of GMO alfalfa after proper environmental impact studies were not conducted. Phil Geertson, a local Idaho alfalfa farmer we have been working with, and the Center for Food Safety sued Monsanto under this pretense and have been fighting in court ever since. It looks like the battle might over for Phil and the Center for Food Safety, as U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti of San Francisco said the USDA had acted within its authority allowing GMO alfalfa to hit the markets full force.
Conti said, “That possible consequence, and the impact on other crops and species, are beyond the scope of the environmental review that the department was required to conduct.”
According to the judge the USDA conducted all the environmental impact studies it could within it’s authority, which begs the question, who then has the responsibility and authority to conduct studies about the contamination of non-GMO crops? And why the hell are these studies not being conducted?!
Conti stated federal law does not require the department to “account for the effects of cross-pollination on other commercial crops” in assessing the risks posed by a new crop. Conti also stated that GMO contamination is “possible but unlikely.” Read the full article here.
This is a big loss for Phil and the Center for Food Safety, conventional and organic alfalfa growers, and consumers.
Phil Geertson had an export seed business, growing conventional alfalfa and shipping the seed to New Zealand. When his crop became contaminated with the GMO trait Phil could no longer export his seed because most countries outside of the Americas (like New Zealand) do not want GMOs on their market place. Phil did the right thing, he stopped the exports of his seed and ended up losing his business.
The Center for Food Safety contacted Phil and asked him to be part of this lawsuit and with nothing to lose, he accepted. You can read an article written by Phil about his concerns associated the GMO alfalfa here.
As part of his case, Phil gathered samples of conventional and ferrel alfalfa along the roadside around the Treasure Valley and tested them for GMO contamination. 9 out of 10 samples came back as carrying the GMO trait. Contamination is already far spread and is only going to get worse. Alfalfa is the first perennial seed to become GMO and has far reaching consequences. Contamination is VERY likely. In fact it is inevitable.
We are very sad to hear this news. Alfalfa is ruined. You cannot recall the GMO gene in any crop so genetic pollution is here to stay. This will effect not only alfalfa, but organic milk and other beef products. There could be countless alfalfa and dairy producers who are totally unaware that their alfalfa could already contaminated. We could be consuming certified organic dairy also not knowing that it could be contaminated.
In addition, Phil has expressed another concern. When GMO alfalfa is sprayed with Roundup, it is harvested much sooner then other GMO crops that get sprayed with Roundup. This means that more than likely, Roundup is being transferred into our milk supply.
GMO Free Idaho and Phil have discussed teaming up in the future to conduct testing of milk in which the alfalfa was sprayed with Roundup to check for herbicide contamination. Phil is certain we will find unacceptable amounts of Roundup in our milk supply.
GMO consumer awareness is more important then ever. GMO alfalfa is a game changer. As I said it is the first perennial seed to become GMO, which means it can pop up anytime, anywhere. Because alfalfa is self seeding, we can expect it to show up in conventional and organic alfalfa fields, other crops fields, on our roadsides and in our yards. And if we can only kill GMO alfalfa by pulling it out, alfalfa will literally become an unstoppable “weed”.
This is not to mention that GMO crops are loosing their weed resistance anyway. So seeing super weeds in GMO alfalfa fields will become a likely problem in the years to come.
The questions surrounding this issue are endless and the consequences are dire and obvious. But because our regulating agencies are bought out by companies like Monsanto and we can’t seem to trust our judicial system, it seems like a loosing battle.
The Center for Food Safety does plan to appeal the ruling and we can only hope that this time enough consumers, farmers, and organizations are there to help them say no to GMO alfalfa.
We will keep you posted about the developments of this story and we plan to meet with Phil soon to discuss his next move and how we can raise more awareness about this issue locally and nationally. In the mean time, educate your local milk producers and alfalfa farmers about the dire consequences associated with GMO alfalfa and avoid buying products that could contain the GMO alfalfa trait.
You can tell U.S. Dairies to say no to GMO alfalfa here. We will come up with or find other action campaigns where you can voice your concerns and make comments about this ruling.
Check out the Center for Food Safety’s No GMO Alfalfa campaign here.