Alfalfa is a popular and commonly-planted plant that’s part of the pea family. It is mainly used as a forage crop in countries like Canada, France, Australia, the Middle East, South Africa, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States. On the outside, it resembles a clover, and features a cluster of little purple flowers. However, there currently has been a lot of brouhaha over alfalfa, because of ethical and environmental issues that are hurled over USDA alfalfa. Here are a number of reasons why genetically engineered alfalfa should be regulated.
Roundup Ready Alfalfa Is Not Making Everyone Happy
Alfalfa is basically a harmless plant that’s commonly used for forage. However, a thorny issue has currently been raging over what is referred to as “roundup ready alfalfa”. Roundup Ready alfalfa is actually a genetically-modified variety that was commercially released in 2005 by a company named Forage Genetics Int'l, through the insertion of a gene by the industrial giant Monsanto. This makes the new alfalfa variety resistant to a broad-spectrum herbicide called Roundup. This new development has allowed farmers to spray their fields with herbicides to kill weeds, without causing any damage to alfalfa.
Roundup ready alfalfa was commercially released in the United States on 2005, and health experts estimate that over three hundred thousand acres of land are currently planted with gmo plants like the alfalfa roundup ready. The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conducted a partial deregulation of the crop, and also imposed restrictions on planting it, to prevent contamination of non-genetically modified alfalfa. The department though did a turnaround recently, with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announcing that they will allow GE-modified alfalfa to be planted without any restrictions.
Will GMO plants have effects on the power for farmers to own their crops?
The ever-increasing influence of biotech companies on agriculture is already becoming too clear these days, as two chemical and drug giants have recently merged. American Home Products (AHP) and DuPont Co have recently joined forces, only to merge with biotech company Monsanto. The recent merger of these drug and chemical giants has already given them the power to spend billions on acquiring seed companies, food processing and distribution companies. It is estimated that the merger will give AHP-Monsanto with a sizable portion of the US seed market. This allows them to create a market for genetically-modified corn, cotton and soybean seeds.
And, will gmo plants have effects on the power for farmers to own their crops? The answer is yes. When these biotech giants control seed production, they will also have a monopoly on patents and pricing power, and this will also allow them to control farmers, as well as industrial farm production. They will also be able to widen the floodgates for the entry of more engineered plants and food items.