We sympathize with Cal Poly professor Jeff Wong’s wish that “the debate on genetic engineering was more of a discussion and less a series of attacks,” and with the Farm Bureau’s position that “as long as ‘the science is there,’ farmers should be able to market such crops” (“Playing God, alfalfa style,” Oct. 8).
Those attacks are necessary because the science is not there, and never has been. That’s why the Center for Food Safety, Sierra Club, Western Organization of Resource Councils, National Family Farm Coalition, Beyond Pesticides, Cornucopia Institute, Dakota Resource Council, Trask Family Seeds, and Geertson Seed Farms sued to rescind the deregulated status of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa and challenge USDA for its inadequate environmental review of the crop. And that’s why the court agreed with us.
Alfalfa is a perennial, pollinated by bees, which can carry the pollen for miles. Seeds can also be disbursed by wind and transport of the crop. Deregulation means that RoundUp Ready herbicide-resistant alfalfa would spread throughout the country whether farmers want it or not, appearing in some places as a genetically engineered, RoundUp-resistant weed.
Genetically engineered crops have been approved and rushed to market courtesy of the profit motive, without the tests and safety studies that good science demands. The result is summed up by Dr. Hugh Lehman of the
Sierra Club’s Genetic Engineering Committee: “The health of consumers may already be affected, but, since nobody is investigating, it is virtually certain that such harm will go undetected for a very long time.”