The US Department of Agriculture has deregulated the use of genetically modified alfalfa – a move that many opposing the use of genetically engineered plants believe will bring more harm to people and the farm environment than good. The GE Alfalfa will be mostly used as hay for cattle. Consumers and health officials are wary, however, of the potential dangers that these move will bring.
The USDA claims that the modified alfalfa, specifically Monsanto’s weed-resistant Roundup Ready alfalfa, is safe but many fear that this mutant weed will jeopardize the organic meat and milk industries. Consumers will most likely boycott the products that come from cattle eating roundup ready alfalfa as well.
Genetic Engineering In Agriculture Is Against The Will Of The People
While the USDA has approved the use of Monsanto’s alfalfa, many organic farmers are still against the use of the modified crop and even genetic engineering in agriculture as a whole. Organic farmers are also very concerned with the fact that alfalfa pollen is easily dispersed, which means that the genetically modified alfalfa can easily pollinate non-GMO plants.
This cross-pollination between the GMO crops and non-GMO crops means that the non-GMO crops will no longer be considered as organic products. This will also endanger organic cow-breeding farms and affect the demand on beef and milk. In the end, more than millions in what should have been revenue from organic crop sales will be lost.
USDA Alfalfa Poised To Threaten Milk Supply
Because USDA alfalfa might end up being accidentally fed to non-GM cows, this mutant crop will also threaten the organic milk supply. Many people are against drinking milk from “tainted cows,” such as milk that come from cows injected with the genetically engineered rBGH or recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). The rBGH is injected in dairy cows to increase the levels of IGF-1 or insulin-like growth factor, which in turn increases the milk-production of dairy cows.
However, the introduction of rBGH in the cows has made their milk very undesirable to many people. Studies have also showed that rBGH milk can increase the chances of those drinking the milk to develop cancer. Because of this, even milk coming from cows fed with the modified alfalfa is getting the same treatment.
Presently, many are filing charges and protests in opposition to the USDA’s decision to allow the planting of Monsanto’s mutant alfalfa. But these moves, it seems, are falling on deaf ears and sometimes are even met with opposition. And the only thing that the farmers can do is wait.
Right now though, consumers can protect themselves by buying only organic produce. But that too may come with a little difficulty as the US government does not require the labeling of GM foods. This means, other than the organic producers labeling their products as such, consumers won’t have a way of telling whether a particular product is genetically modified or non-genetically modified food. Consumers are therefore advice to be vigilant and mindful of the food that they buy.