A: The 50 House members and six senators who sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asking him not to approve Monsanto s genetically modified alfalfa seeds. While the USDA s initial findings are that the alfalfa wouldn t pose an environmental threat, the legistlators argued the crop would contaminate organic crops, devastate organic dairy producers, [and cause] significant economic harm. In 2006, seed companies and environmental groups successfully halted a thorough environmental impact review of the crops by the USDA. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service hopes to complete the review by spring 2011, but the legislators want the USDA to ban the Roundup-resistant alfalfa without the safety assessment.
The legislators should not interfere with the ongoing process to commercialize a safe crop that will ultimately benefit farmers and consumers, argues ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross. They are, as is their nature, acting out of self-interest. In fact, their electorates include substantial numbers of organic farmers who merely fear damage to their businesses, not the environment. This is one of many examples in which legislators misinterpret the science and try to pass laws that are without scientific merit.