The USDA announced on Thursday the decision to deregulate Roundup Ready alfalfa without conditions. The ruling follows a lengthy USDA environmental review that determined the product was safe, as well as a public forum held last week by the House Agriculture Committee to discuss the USDA regulatory process.
An article in the Wall Street Journal points out that the USDA says that the ruling is consistent with the Obama administration’s broader agenda to remove regulations that are “overly burdensome for businesses.” The Des Moines Register points out that the decision comes as a victory for the biotech companies and farmers who have “said planting restrictions could slow the development of genetically modified products, and there were worries in Congress that the rules could undermine U.S. efforts to convince other countries of the safety of biotech food.”
Paul Voosen of Greenwire writes for the New York Times that the Department of Agriculture’s decision to allow unrestricted cultivation of the biotech crop will be positively received by many farmers who grow alfalfa, the fourth largest U.S. field crop planted. “Many farmers will welcome an ability to grow the herbicide-resistant alfalfa, seeking to copy the gains made by their peers cultivating bioengineered corn or soy, both of which also carry genes granting herbicide resistance.”
According to Forbes, the decision to allow biotech alfalfa intends, “to bring to a close a lengthy legal and regulatory process in which organic producers attempted to curtail the use of the modified crop.” An article in New Scientist captures the implications of the decision and its support for science-based regulations. Farmer associations “had feared a decision to regulate alfalfa would set a precedent that could hinder engineered crops in the US. ‘Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s decision is based on sound science and two decades of regulatory precedent,’ said Jim Greenwood, CEO of Biotechnology Industry Organization.”