Obama Administration Gives Green Light to Biotech Industry

The Obama administration declined proposals to restrict planting of genetically modified alfalfa. This decision stemmed from the administration’s evaluation of “burdensome” rules and regulations in the agricultural industry. The USDA’s decision not to restrict planning is a major victory for big seed and agri-chemical companies, as well as the American Farm Bureau Federation, which have been opposed to the planned regulations since they were first proposed several months ago.

Vilsack and the USDA have received praise from biotech industries. “We hope this will help pave the way for new technologies in the pipeline,” Biotechnology Industry Organization President and Chief Executive Jim Greenwood said. “This is great news for farmers who have been waiting for the green light to plant Roundup Ready alfalfa,” said Steve Welker, alfalfa commercial lead at Monsanto Co. Alfalfa is currently the fourth largest U.S. crop by acreage.

Organic farmers, however, have criticized the UDSA decision. Christine Bushway, chief executive officer of the Organic Trade Association, stated “This decision puts our organic farmers at risk.”

In particular, many organic farmers are worried about the future costs of organic farming. Current federal regulations forbid organic products from using genetically-modified crops. Organic food companies reject food products that contain even small amounts of genetically-modified organisms. An increase in genetically modified alfalfa further complicates the difficulties in organic growing and threatens to raise costs for organic farmers.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer