“When genetically engineered alfalfa pollen contaminates your clover, will Monsanto claim they own your clover?”
—Elaine R. Ingham, PhD, chief scientist, Rodale Institute
Expanding the use of GMO crops and the use of Roundup worries toxicology and public health experts for numerous reasons. Ample evidence shows that Roundup inhibits a plant’s ability to take up micronutrients essential for human survival. Livestock animals need these nutrients, too, and Jeffrey Smith, founder of The Institute for Responsible Technology, says veterinarians are finding livestock livers’ universally low in manganese, a nutrient used in many metabolic processes. This, he says, is likely an affect of the Roundup pesticide and Roundup Ready gene. Roundup is also linked to more than 40 plant diseases, and the rise of hard-to-kill superweeds. In fact, because Roundup isn’t working well on corn, soy, and cotton crops anymore, Monsanto has been forced to pay farmers to use their competitors’ toxic pesticides. With Roundup failing, there are patents out to create seeds resistant to 2,4 D pesticide, a carcinogen, meaning more of it could end up in our soil and water.
“Hundreds of millions of pounds of Roundup sprayed around the world are taking nutrients out of the food supply,” says Smith, author of Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating (Yes! Books, 2003). “Given the toll that Roundup has already taken, and the evidence suggesting it’s creating a perfect storm of diseases and disorders in plants, animals, and humans, the only way USDA can justify approval of Roundup Ready alfalfa is by deceiving themselves, or deceiving the American public. Either decision is a disaster.”
And it could be a disaster for farmers, too. Smith believes that because of a growing consumer demand for non-GMO products, and the ability to test for GMO contamination, farmers who invest in planting Roundup Ready seeds may go out of business in a few years because no one will want to buy their product. Ingham notes that GE alfalfa will be able to cross-pollinate with an enormous number of plants, asking, “When genetically engineered alfalfa pollen contaminates your clover, will Monsanto claim they own your clover?”
Here’s how you can fight back against GMO alfalfa.
• Get the White House on the horn. Nestle says if the rumors are true about Obama pushing for the approval of GMO alfalfa that consumers don’t want, it’s time to let the White House, in no uncertain terms, know that grassroots constituents do not like the decision. Here’s how to contact the president.
• Pressure dairies. Don’t just call the president, call the dairy that supplies your milk, too. And go out of your way to buy organic, a system in which GMO seeds and pesticides are banned. If you can’t swing that, conventional non-GMO dairy, beef, and honey is another route, although, unless it’s also organic, it won’t be pesticide-free. (Check out the Non-GMO Project for participating companies.)
• Join with others. Food & Water Watch has launched a campaign to urge the president to overrule the USDA’s decision to allow GMO alfalfa plantings without any protections for organic farmers and consumers.