The alfalfa has been genetically modified (GM) to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup brand of herbicide and is used as a feedstock for dairy cattle.
The case regarding deregulation of GM alfalfa has been watched carefully around the world as a potential bellwether for the GM industry. January’s decision to allow planting without any restrictions was seen as a boon to the biotech industry – while opponents of the technology were disappointed.
Opponents include proponents of conventional, non-organic agriculture, but the organic industry has been one of the most vocal sectors in its opposition to deregulation of the crop, due to the potential for cross-contamination.
Plaintiff and executive director of the Northeast Alliance of Organic Dairy Producers Ed Maltby said: “Approving the unrestricted planting of GE [genetically engineered] alfalfa is a blatant case of the USDA serving one form of agriculture at the expense of all others. If this decision is not remedied, the result will be lost livelihoods for organic dairy farmers, loss of choice for farmers and consumers, and no transparency about GE contamination of our foods.”