USDA has decided to grant non-regulated status for Roundup Ready alfalfa. According to U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has determined that Roundup Ready alfalfa is as safe as traditionally bred alfalfa. This decision comes after APHIS conducted a thorough and transparent examination of alfalfa through a multi-alternative environmental impact statement and several public comment opportunities.
After releasing a final environmental impact statement in December USDA brought together a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss feasible strategies for coexistence between genetically engineered, organic and other non-GE stakeholders. That group helped identify areas of consensus, issues where the group disagreed and opportunities for further dialogue exist and areas where USDA could, or should, play an important and helpful role.
USDA is taking a number of steps in response to the request for support. Action includes USDA reestablishing two USDA Advisory Committees, the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture and the National Genetic Resources Advisory Committee; refining and extending current models of gene flow in alfalfa; and providing voluntary, third-party audits and verification of industry-led stewardship initiatives.
Officials for the National Corn Growers Association say they are pleased with USDA's issuance of full deregulation for glyphosate tolerant alfalfa. NCGA Chairman Darrin Ihnen says Secretary Vilsack kept grower choice as a priority. Ihnen says biotechnology can improve a farm's efficiency and decrease the amount of chemical needed for that crop and producers need choices to raise more food, feed, fiber and fuel for the world's growing needs.
The American Soybean Association also supports the decision. They say the decision reinforces that USDA's policy-making activities adhere to a science-based regulatory process, and is consistent with the reviews that led USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to conclude that biotech alfalfa does not pose a plant pest risk.