Photo: daryl_mitchell, Flickr
Got organic milk? Maybe not for long.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced its approval of "unrestricted planting" of genetically modified alfalfa sold by Monsanto, according to The Atlantic. So what does that have to do with organic milk?
Cows eat more alfalfa hay than anything else, and as a crop, alfalfa is what The Atlantic calls "notoriously promiscuous." Bees and other insects can spread alfalfa pollen for up to five miles, meaning it's only a matter of time before the unrestricted GMO alfalfa cross-pollinates with non-GMO varieties.
It makes for a strange conundrum: The USDA's own regulations prohibit the use of genetically modified organisms in certified-organic products, yet by allowing such a fast-and-loose crop to be planted anywhere, the department is virtually guaranteeing that cows used to make organic dairy products will end up eating some mutant strain of GMO alfalfa.
"This creates a perplexing situation when the market calls for a supply of crops free of genetic engineering," Christine Bushway, executive director and CEO of the Organic Trade Association, said in a press release. "[C]onsumers will not tolerate the accidental presence of genetic engineered materials in organic products, yet [genetically engineered] crops continue to proliferate unchecked."
What choice those irate consumers have, however, remains something of a mystery. Almost 250,000 of them submitted comments to the USDA asking the agency to prohibit the use of GMO alfalfa, which the department appears essentially to have ignored.
Organic revolution, anyone?
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