Genetically modified alfalfa has been confirmed on a Washington State farm where GMO alfalfa supposedly was not planted, and where the hay farmer did not want such a crop.
The Washington Department of Agriculture – the USDA branch — is reporting that the samples from the farm in the eastern section of the state showed a “low level presence” of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa.
Such genetically engineered alfalfa seeds are able to tolerate the popular Monsanto Roundup weed spray. The tests on the crop were initiated after a non-GMO farmer had his alfalfa crop turned down by an agricultural broker who found GMO pesticide resistance in the load.
Washington Department of Agriculture spokesman Mike Louisell called it “the end of the process” for his department and said nothing else would be done as far as the state department of agriculture was concerned. The department in a press release said “there is strong market demand for Round-Up Ready alfalfa and conventional alfalfa varieties.”
Washington state Senator Maralyn Chase, a Democrat, said the state’s farmers “are becoming collateral damage of the reckless practices of the agriculture industry in this country.”
“As a result, their farms are put in danger and our state stands to lose literally millions — if not billions — of dollars in lost exports if their practices are allowed to continue,” Chase said. “… Negative news about contamination problems are absorbed into the market and reflected across the board. It’s a real world effect that impacts the price farmers get for their crops and hurts them and our state as a whole.”
Critics say the vast number of former Monsanto officials President Obama has appointed to the USDA, FDA and EPA has impacted his policies and led his administration to be Monsanto-friendly.
Critics of GMO alfalfa say it is virtually impossible to keep conventional alfalfa and GMO alfalfa separate because of cross-fertilization by bees.
GE alfalfa is also referred to as pesticide-resistant alfalfa. Thomas Helscher, a Monsanto company spokesman, said major importers of American alfalfa, such as South Korea, Japan and the United Arab Emirates, do not have restrictions on GMO crops. He also said that the biotech giant is negotiating with portions of China for permission to import GMO crops.
But Maralyn Chase said the restrictions are far more significant than Monsanto wants to acknowledge.
“More than 60 of our trade partners throughout the world have bans on the import of unlabeled GMO foods,” Chase said. “Just recently, a similar case involving wheat contaminated with GMO material grown in Oregon prompted Japan and South Korea to temporarily cease imports from our southern neighbors. As a trade-dependent state, Washington and its farmers can no longer tolerate the reckless practices of Monsanto and other bad actors.”
The incident could send alfalfa prices tumbling. As previously reported by Off The Grid News, when GMO wheat was found this year in an Oregon field where it had not been planted by the field’s owner, prices for the commodity hit rock bottom. A host of foreign buyers temporarily cancelled orders for planned purchases as well. The US government has not yet licensed GMO wheat for sale. GMO alfalfa is legal.
The Washington-based group Yes on 522 is pushing for labeling GMO products in stores and is backing an initiative that will be on Washington state ballots in November.
Fears that GMO crops could pose harm to both humans and animals are not the only reasons many are opposed to the products of companies like Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and Dow. According to an Associated Press report, many markets, especially those in Europe and portions of Asia, fear that “desirable traits” on species of crop could transfer to another species and have a harmful effect or create a “super weed” that could not be killed by currently available products.