According to Wikapedia, “Roundup is the brand name of a systemic, broad-spectrum herbicide produced by the U.S. company Monsanto and contains the active ingredient glyphosate.” (Read more). (Read more.) In 2007 a federal court ruled that the USDA failed to adequately address the risks and banned the planting of any additional acres (thousands of acres of RR alfalfa had already been planted, and those fields were allowed to remain). USDA continues to work to approve RR alfalfa.
The Western Farmer Stockman magazine ran a story in its July issue about RR sugarbeets (bet you can’t wait), and a farmer with a RR alfalfa field. The alfalfa grower now applies Roundup annually to this field, and it is quite productive. What I found interesting, however, was that the article said:
His enthusiasm for the technology is tempered with concerns. Unlike corn and other annuals, alfalfa plantings last several seasons with numerous opportunities for flowering and seed production by plants missed in harvest. Bees and other pollinators can carry the RR alfalfa pollen to other alfalfas. The escaped RR pollen can transfer glyphosate tolerance to seed produced by alfalfa plants, often miles from the source…..
In Idaho, conventional seed growers aren’t convinced the buffer the state’s ag department mandates between varieties of alfalfa is enough (900 feet).
As organic producers, RR alfalfa is a big concern. Our commitment to you is GMO free food. If a neighbor plants RR alfalfa next to us, how will we protect our fields, and maintain our commitment? I get so frustrated with agriculture as an industry. More and more people want GMO free food, why is American agriculture continuing headlong down this path of genetic modification, especially when it is so difficult to contain (avoid contamination on a broad scale as has happened with corn)?
It seems that American Agriculture, as an industry, has forgotten who the actual consumer is. We farmers produce food for people. We feel that very acutely here at Alderspring. American agriculture should produce the food people want. Instead, the industry tries to convince people its OK to eat GM food, or irradiated food, or cloned meat, or any of the other things that agriculture, in its drive for efficiency, has come up with. Why do other countries refuse American beef? They don’t want hormones! Let’s grow what they want–beef without hormones–instead of trying to convince people that beef grown with hormones is perfectly safe (I know I’m not convinced!).
I’m thankful every day that we can grow our own food, but I’m frustrated for so many of our customers who cannot find the food they want because American agriculture refuses to produce it for them.