Biotech Updates

USDA Releases Final Environmental Impact Statement for RR Alfalfa

December 23, 2010

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the release of the final environmental impact statement (EIS), an assessment of the possible environmental effects of deregulating Roundup Ready (RR) alfalfa which has genetically engineered resistance to glyphosate.

USDA considered the following alternatives during the preparation of the final EIS: "1) to maintain the RR alfalfa's status as a regulated article; 2) to deregulate RR alfalfa; or 3) to deregulate RR alfalfa with geographic restrictions and isolation distances for the production of RR alfalfa." After analyzing the possible environmental effects of these three alternatives, the agency chose options numbers 2 and 3.

USDA also dealt with plant pest concerns, and other broader environmental and economic issues on coexistence of GE alfalfa with non-GE and organic alfalfa production. "We have seen rapid adoption of biotechnology in agriculture, along with the rise of organic and non-genetically engineered sectors over the last several decades," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "While the growth in all these areas is great for agriculture, it has also led, at times, to conflict or, at best, an uneasy coexistence between the different ways of growing crops. We need to address these challenges and develop a sensible path forward for strengthening coexistence of all segments of agriculture in our country. All are vital and a part of rural America's success. All should be able to thrive together."

Read the press release a!ut/p/c5/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os_gAC9-wMJ8QY0MDpxBDA09nXw9DFxcXQ-