GE Alfalfa release delayed

Forage Genetics International, the licence-holder of GE alfalfa that was approved for registration in Canada last year, has delayed its Canadian release for another year. Read the story in the Western Producer here.

This news comes in the wake of a the Canadian Seed Trade Association’s plan to establish coexistence with GE and non-GE alfalfa. The proposed plan for coexistence not only fell short of guaranteeing GE contamination, but downplayed scientific evidence and ignored a significant voice of dissent to GE alfalfa. To read an excellent commentary on the document, visit this site. The notes from the meeting organized by the CSTA are also very telling of the tone: lost markets with the release of this new technology will severely impact Canadian alfalfa growers.

It is also in the wake of motion passed by the Union de Producteurs Agricole (UPA), one of the major farm groups in Quebec prohibiting the marketing of GE Alfalfa. Diary producers in Quebec have also been strongly opposed to its release.

Clearly there is very little support for the introduction of GE alfalfa in Canada, as it would negatively affect markets across a wide spectrum of agricultural sectors, including dairy, seed, organics and beef. Alfalfa is a widely used crop that has become fundamental to many farming operations for its deep taproot, significant nitrogen-fixing capacity, excellent feed value and perennial persistence.

Alfalfa seed growers in the US have been increasingly concerned about losing markets due to GE contamination, which most foresee as inevitable, given the high out-crossing rate, vigor, and weedy-nature of this plant.

Canada is a major producer of alfalfa seed. Alfalfa is also widely grown on organic farms as a green-manure cover crop that adds nutrients to the soil and reduces weed pressure. This is also an important forage crop for livestock producers.

GE contamination has been reported in Washington, and many see that widespread contamination is inevitable, as reported here.

Read more about GE alfalfa from these sources:

National Farmer’s Union

Saskatchewan Organic Directorate

Canadian Biotechnology Action Network

And read about the lawsuit filed by the Center for Food Safety against the USDA over GE alfalfa here.

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