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Call to Action: Say NO to GM Alfalfa

January 23rd, 2011

“If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”

~Thomas Jefferson, 1781

I’m sure you’ve heard about the controversy surrounding the possible approval of Monsanto’s genetically modified Round-Up ready alfalfa. The approval of yet another GMO crop is very troublesome to me. I know a lot of people who own small organic farms and the approval of GM alfalfa will affect their way of life. They may no longer be able to find organic hay and may lose their organic certification because of gene pollution.

I’m pretty outspoken about my concerns with genetically modified crops both for health and environmental reasons. They don’t reduce the use of chemicals and have wide genetic pollution results and other environmental concerns. Here in Ohio we now have 6 superweeds thanks Monsanto’s Round-Up ready GMO crops, read this article and check the map to see how many super weeds are in your state. Click on the map below to go to the New York Times page where you can see the progression of superweeds in the country over the past 10 years. (image from

If you’re concerned about the approval of genetically modified alfalfa please contact Tom Vilsack or President Obama right away as the decision is supposed to be made in the next couple of days. You can head over to Food Democracy Now and send a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. You can also email the USDA about this issue at: and you can reach the White House at 202.456.1111. In addition I’d recommend that you encourage your Congressperson to contact House Agriculture to express support for Secretary Vilsack’s coexistence option. Find your Congressperson here (there’s a great letter in the comments here that you can copy and paste).

I have my doubts that this will do any good, since Vilsack seems to be on the side of BioTech. (why do I say this? ) As Iowa state governor, he originated the seed pre-emption bill, that blocked communities from regulating where GMO’s could be planted. He was the founder and former chair of the Governor’s Biotechnology Partnership, and was named Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the biggest biotech group. As part of the Iowa Values Fund he gave 9 million dollars and 6 million in tax relief to TransOva to help develop cloned dairy cows.

I have my doubts that writing him will make any difference, I personally don’t think that politicians (left or right) are on the side of the citizens but rather the corporations that pay for their campaigns and give them high-paying jobs when they leave office. At least sending a letter makes me feel like I did something, even though the outcome may not be the one I was hoping for. What else can I do? Besides of course not buying anything that contains GMO ingredients and supporting small local farms, especially organic ones. That’s really the best way, vote with your dollars!

Are you concerned about genetically modified crops?

Some Links for Further Reading:
Organic Consumers Association: Six Reasons Why Obama Appointing Monsanto’s Buddy, Former Iowa Governor Vilsack, for USDA Head Would be a Terrible Idea
Radio Iowa: TransOva given nine-million from Iowa Values Fund Iowa’s Vilsack Named BIO Governor of the Year
GM Watch: Supreme Court’s Ruling on Monsanto’s GE Alfalfa Supreme Court’s ruling on Monsanto’s GE alfalfa: Who won?
Co-Op Stronger Together: Background on the GE Alfalfa Issue
Reuters: Lawmakers ask USDA to deny Monsanto GMO alfalfa
Food & Water Watch: Food and Agriculture Biotechnology Industry Spends More than Half a Billion to Influence Congress
Denis Kucinich on GMO’s & food labeling
Stonyfield Farm: We Can’t Let GE Alfafa Ruin Organic Dairy

21 Comments to “Call to Action: Say NO to GM Alfalfa”
  1. Trish on January 23, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I am not as concerned about gmo crops as some – I was in grad school in plant science when the technology was developed and considered it elegant and fascinating – the best biotech had to offer so far. And Roundup is a pretty inocuous herbicide as herbicides go. I do not use insecticides in my own garden, but I do use roundup, especially on perennial weeds. My main concern is the environment, and I will go to great lengths to protect it. I have a certain prejudice against organic fruit and veg developed when I noticed people driving their SUVs from their homes with manicured lawns to the organic supermarket. and on hearing that Prince Charles, and organic advocate and a loud opponent of GMOs, has food from his British estate flown every day to his Scottish vacation home (600 miles) when he is there.

    Reply to Trish's comment

    • Susy on January 23, 2011 at 11:27 am

      I agree that big organic is just as bad as big conventional, so I don’t purchase that either. Seeking out small local farms is the best way to go, if they’re organic that’s a bonus and of course growing your own is the best option.

      As for Round Up being “pretty innocuous herbicide” – not so sure about that one, since there are numerous studies that relate it to: birth defects, infertility, cancer, etc. Not to mention that it wreaks havoc on soil and all the microbes within and soil really is our most important resource. I refuse to use it and any herbicide in my gardens.

      I like, you get super annoyed by people and their chemically treated lawns, big cars, huge houses, and buying organic and the hypocrisy that you see not only there but also with the GMO’s, big ag, CAFO’s, Climate Change, BioFuels, etc. I see big ag as the worst as far as environmental pollution goes since modern agriculture is by far the largest consumer of fossil fuels (mostly natural gas) which are used in the production of fertilizer used in intensive (GMO) agriculture.

      What concerns me most however, is the genetic pollution since it’s irreversible.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Jennifer on January 23, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Thanks for this, Susy. The rate at which “weeds” and insects are becoming immune to insecticides and pesticides – especially Roundup – is frightening. I don’t think people understand how much alfalfa affects the food chain – bees, cattle, feed for small livestock … none of it could be certified organic ever again. And the Umbrella Corpora … er Monsanto would win.
    I highly recommend taking the 15 minutes to read these articles. If it alarms you, send your congressperson an email! Look into it further. This is our future, folks. Once GE alfalfa really gains momentum there won’t be an easy way to go back to organic alfalfa, just that one type of genetically engineered, modified seed. No other choice, no biodiversity.

    Reply to Jennifer's comment

  3. Lisa on January 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    I look at your map of superweeds and think….it is not possible for Florida to NOT have superweeds….or Texas. All it means is that they aren’t reporting their data. Florida’s problem is fertilizers on all the lawns so that they stay GREEN all year round. I think organic veggies in the grocery store look horrible and NOT fresh. And the conventionally grown veggies all look grat in the store but then, literally overnight ripen instantly. The stores all have to be pumping that stabilizer in the produce departments to keep the fruit and veggies from ripening.

    I would rather eat local…and hopefully in a year I will be growing my own.

    Reply to Lisa's comment

    • Susy on January 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm

      Yeah, I’m sure there are way more superweeds than they’re listing in this article.

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • MAYBELLINE on January 23, 2011 at 6:31 pm

      My 1st observation as well Lisa. Texas must have a ton.

      Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  4. Kathryn on January 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    I agree with every word you said. I share the concern, and also some of the cynicism about our gov’t caring what their constituents think.

    I believe that GMOs are behind much of the problems with increasing allergies, as well as increases in obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. But we will never know because this is an experiment run amuck, with no controls, because the FDA says the GMO organisms are essentially the same as real food and gras.

    It is a sad world. The safest thing to do is order (and save) heirloom seeds and grow as much of our own as we can.

    Reply to Kathryn's comment

  5. denimflyz on January 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    A thought on this:
    Besides worrying about GMO’s and frankenfood. The new Food Safety bill that has been signed in law has wording in it to outlaw citizens from growing their own food in their own backyards. Talk about control. You will be forced to buy GMO’s and corporations as they will prevent you from even growing in your own home or space.
    There is urban areas and all manner of small cities or towns preventing citizens from having garden area in the FRONT yard, with the garden landscaping.
    Think about it folks.

    Reply to denimflyz's comment

  6. Throwback at Trapper Creek on January 23, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I agree totally with your post. As a farmer where I see roadblocks in issues such as this is not only consumers but farmers themselves, or in our area which doesn’t have too many farms anymore but a lot of horses, people don’t really care what they feed as long as the animal in not a meat animal. Beet pulp is another popular feeding item, and is all GMO. All those little hobby farm sales add up.

    And since alfalfa is a perennial there is a lot of acres out there of GMO alfalfa that were planted before the sales of GMO seed was stopped. From Monsanto’s website:
    Additionally, the injunction did not impact farmers who had already planted Roundup Ready alfalfa. Based on USDA information, 5,485 growers in 48 states have planted more than 263,000 acres of Roundup Ready alfalfa. These growers follow USDA stewardship guidelines when selling hay, as it is a regulated product.

    Great post Susy!

    Reply to Throwback at Trapper Creek's comment

  7. annie on January 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    There are a lot of reasons to worry about GMOs since we don’t know what happens when they’re everywhere, in all our food, in the pollen we breath, in the animals we eat, etc. But even if you don’t believe any of that is a problem, every one should be worried that it’s irreversible. IF we find out it was a tragically bad idea, there is no fix. We’re stuck with them. It’s definitely a tragedy waiting to happen.

    Great post.

    Reply to annie's comment

  8. Morgan G on January 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Isn’t it amazing how much foresight there was centuries ago? Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Tesla, the Cree and on and on… Why does it always take us so long to listen?

    Reply to Morgan G's comment

    • tj on January 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm

      …I agree with Morgan G. We as humans have great hindsight, it’s always 20/20, and this is just one of many instances where we’ll all be wishing we could turn back the hands of time and can’t. It’s sad. Just sad.

      …And this is a great post Susy. Thank you for providing all of the information! :o)


      Reply to tj's comment

  9. Kaytee on January 23, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Oh boy, not another one. My fear with GMO crops isn’t so much the plant itself (although, they do insert some crazy genes into plants that just doesn’t seem right) but is more the environmental impact. I’m with you that cross-pollination could ruin non-GMO crops. And just the idea of being able to spray Round-up wily-nily is ridiculous. All that chemical leaches into the soil, or washes off, and ends up in the water supply.

    And just because Round-up is available to the general public, doesn’t make it safe. When I work for the USFWS, there has to be someone certified in pesticide use (which is a crazy long and in-depth process) on the premises before we are allowed to use round-up (for invasive plant control). Not only that, anyone using it (even in small quantities from a spray bottle) have to wear long pants and shirts, boots, rubber gloves that reach to the elbow, and glasses. This is government law! That raises the red flag for me.

    I’m also with you thinking that although we can send letters and make phone calls, politicians aren’t listening. The big corporations pay big money, which is a lot more persuading than concerns coming from us little people. It’s such a shame that this is what the country (and world) has come to. I do my part to make the earth a better place for future generations, but I fear it’s too little too late. I’m just glad I won’t be around when humanity runs itself into the ground.

    Reply to Kaytee's comment

  10. MAYBELLINE on January 23, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    I am shoulder to shoulder with you in your cynicism of our politicians. Contacting your representatives is helpful but they don’t always vote your way (ala Obamacare). One of the strongest ways we can show our power is with our pocketbooks. Make sure to purchase from those only using no GMO/GEO. By paying a higher price lets the producer know that as consumers we are serious.

    Thankfully, I have a source of locally raised, grass fed beef. I don’t use much dairy. But still, I support your efforts.

    Keep after it!

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

    • MAYBELLINE on January 23, 2011 at 6:32 pm

      PS—Your Jefferson quote is beautiful.

      Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  11. Amy @ Homestead Revival on January 23, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Not sure I can add any more to the conversation than has already been said except to say in response to Trish that GMOs defy God’s created order on a cellular level that goes way beyond “hybrids” and such. When we start tampering with cells by adding animal dna to a plant’s dna and visa versa, we’ve stepped into the role of God and tampered with creation in such a way as to possibly destroy the very thing we hope to enhance. Fascinating? Perhaps. But wise? I doubt it seriously.

    I tweeted and FB the link to sign the letter to Vilsak.

    Reply to Amy @ Homestead Revival's comment

  12. Heather on January 25, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I took action on this and shared it on both Facebook and Twitter. It makes me so mad! GMO is not the same as creating and modifying natural selection. Weather you bring god into it or not, I don’t think it’s right, especially for our food crops!

    Reply to Heather's comment

  13. Gene on January 25, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    “Here in Ohio we now have 6 superweeds thanks Monsanto’s Round-Up ready GMO crops…”
    In the immortal words of Willy Wonka, “WRONG, sir, WRONG!”
    among other articles, states that over use of pesticides has resulted in resistant weeds, NOT genetic engineering.
    What scares me is the mindless braying, like this, that seems to have to purpose but to obfuscate the truth and try to make people hate for no reason.

    Reply to Gene's comment

    • Susy on January 25, 2011 at 11:49 pm

      First of all it’s overuse of herbicides not pesticides that cause superweeds. What causes overuse of herbicides? Being able to spray them on all the crops because they’re genetically engineered to withstand it. If the crops weren’t able to resist it farmers wouldn’t be spraying it on the field, therefore they wouldn’t be overused. The organic farmers I know aren’t spraying their fields with herbicides, only the ones growing GMO crops.

      As far my “Mindless braying” and “obfuscation of the truth” well condescension never converts anyone to your point of truth, it just emphasizes that you aren’t speaking rationally and feel threatened. Thanks for making my beliefs even stronger in this matter with your rude comment. And I believe this is my personal blog where I can share my personal opinions whatever they may be and in this case it’s against genetically modified crops.

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • MAYBELLINE on January 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      Simmer down,Gene.

      Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  14. MAYBELLINE on January 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I’m disappointed but not surprised to learn that yesterday afternoon, Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, approved Monsanto’s genetically engineered alfalfa for widespread planting this spring.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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