Hi there, Marcus here, back again with another blog entry. Many of you have probably heard about the recent USDA decision to deregulate the production and use of GE (genetically engineered) alfalfa. This decision has sparked great concern in the dairy industry as well as the organic industry at large.
In my last entry I wanted to give a voice to those who will be the first to be directly affected by the recent legislation concerning GE alfalfa: the farmers. John Taylor of Bivalve Dairy in Point Reyes, CA, a Clover Organic Dairy Producer since 2006, was kind enough to take the time to speak to me about his view of the issue. Today I would like to take this opportunity to explain Clover’s point of view and plans for the future. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the issue, I have addressed some main points in the form of Q & A at the end of this post.
Clover has always been, and continues to be, against the deregulation of GE alfalfa. There are many reasons for this. Perhaps the most compelling reason we have found is that deregulation poses a threat to the integrity of our organic products. While Clover produces both organic and conventional (non-organic) dairy products, our concern in regards to GE alfalfa is centered on our organic line. Clover will continue to provide our animals with certified organic feed. The possibility of cross pollination with GE alfalfa crops would result in a price increase in organic alfalfa, which of course we would prefer to avoid. However, if this does occur, we will do everything in our power to avoid passing the increased cost along to you, the consumer.
Please rest assured that Clover continues to be, perhaps now more than ever, diligent in our quest to create and deliver the highest quality products in the industry. Our Clover Organic Farms line will continue to be GE free, and we will continue to support the fight against GE deregulation.
If you have further questions or concerns please feel free to comment on this post. I will personally reply to you as quickly as I am able.
As always, thank you for reading. See you next time!
What does the “deregulation of GE alfalfa” mean?
Well, ostensibly what this means is that from here on out there will be no regulations on the production and use of GE alfalfa. GE alfalfa is alfalfa produced from a seed that has been genetically engineered or genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide Round-Up. You may also hear GE alfalfa referred to as GMO (genetically modified organism) alfalfa or “Round Up Ready” alfalfa.
Ok, so alfalfa crops are genetically altered…What does this have to do with the dairy industry?
Although, due to climate, alfalfa doesn’t grow in Northern California where our Clover dairies are located, during certain months the cows do not get enough nutrients from grazing alone and their feed is supplemented with alfalfa. This means by consuming dairy you are indirectly consuming alfalfa. Clover Organic Farms use only organic alfalfa which, by definition, cannot contain any genetically altered organisms.
The worry here is that organic alfalfa crops could be exposed to genetically engineered seed through wind drift and cross pollination. Many would argue that this isn’t a “could happen” scenario, but a “will happen” reality. The outcome remains to be seen. If, however, a significant amount of alfalfa becomes contaminated, then true organic alfalfa will be hard to come by, resulting in a price increase.