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Hell Breaks Loose: USDA Allows Genetically Modified Alfalfa

As an crop open pollinated by the wind, genetically modified alfalfa will contaminate all pure alfalfa within five years according to scientific experts.

As an crop open pollinated by the wind, genetically modified alfalfa will contaminate all pure alfalfa within five years according to scientific experts.

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It’s nauseatingly pathetic. I don’t know how else to say it.

Despite hundreds of thousands of pleas to keep a vastly destructive technology under wraps, the Obama administration’s choice for Secretary of Agriculture opened the door for genetically modified alfalfa today. This marks the first widespread genetically modified perennial crop: http://www.cornucopia.org/2011/01/breaking-news-usda-to-fully-deregulate-monsantos-genetically-engineer-alfalfa-gene-contamination-of-feed-milk-meat-and-other-products-to-follow/.

The move, what some people call “Mankind’s Greatest Mistake,” will most assuredly forever contaminate the nation’s 20-30 million acres of alfalfa grown for hay, feed and fertilizer.

The ONLY thing that can stop this now would be a massive public outcry, yet that seems unlikely in a nation that has benignly accepted genetically modified corn, soybeans and other crops for more than a decade. The trade association known as the Biotechnology Industry Organization praised Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack Thursday for opting not to place the first planting restrictions on an approved genetically modified crop and you just know there’s a hell of a party going on in Washington tonight in celebration.

“We hope this will help pave the way for new technologies in the pipeline,” BIO President and Chief Executive Jim Greenwood told the Wall Street Journal this afternoon.

Up next will be genetically modified beets, and the process will landslide from there. The health of our water, our soil and our bodies all lie in peril.

“A lot of people are shell shocked,” said Christine Bushway, chief executive officer of the Organic Trade Association, which represents organic farmers and food makers.

I’m just stunned that President Obama isn’t smarter than this, that he is clearly putting business interests ahead of human and planetary health.

I’ve been a fan of this administration overall. Even when I have not agreed with everything, I’ve always felt it’s best to support a sitting public official. To wish them ill will or outcome is to wish us all the same fate.

The president brought me to tears with his speech in Arizona 11 nights ago as he eulogized the victims and called for a higher level of discourse. I even liked the rhetoric Tuesday night during the State of the Union speech when he said, “We Do Big Things.” I like to think that way, too.

Today’s decision feels personal, I have to admit. After today’s decision, it’s impossible not to look at the ugly underbelly of some of his more subversive actions.

On the campaign trail in 2007, he promised, “We’ll tell ConAgra that it’s not the Department of Agribusiness. It’s the Department of Agriculture. We’re going to put the people’s interests ahead of the special interests.”

But, then, look at who he has hired to run the agriculture department in charge of growing the nation’s food. In addition to the pro-biotech former governor of Iowa,Vilsack, President Obama has brought a virtual Who’s Who of former Monsanto and Dupont Chemical employees to Washington.

1) Michael Taylor, former Monsanto Vice President, is now the FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods.
2) Roger Beachy, former director of the Monsanto-funded Danforth Plant Science Center, is now the director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
3) Islam Siddiqui, Vice President of the Monsanto and Dupont-funded pesticide-promoting lobbying group, CropLife, is now the Agriculture Negotiator for the US Trade Representative.
4) Ramona Romero, corporate counsel to DuPont, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
5) Margaret Miller, a former Monsanto researcher, now reviews Monsanto research for Obama’s FDA.
6) Susan Sechen, also a former Monsanto researcher, is Miller’s assistant.
7) Michael Taylor, yes, also from Monsanto, is in charge of “food safety” for this administration.

Maybe President Obama isn’t that smart and maybe he has no idea just how bad Roundup Ready crops are for our environment and health. Maybe it hasn’t dawned on him that the skyrocketing costs of health care in the United States are plainly and obviously due, in large part, to the poor quality of genetically modified food.

If that’s true, then it’s our job to make him understand that LOUD AND CLEAR.

But if he really is just sitting back and letting Monsanto run his and our agricultural world, then he doesn’t deserve his job any longer.

Yes, it’s personal. And it’s pathetic. I’ve got four kids. That’s the only way to take this.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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