I wrote on Friday about the USDA’s decision to approve genetically modified alfalfa without restriction.
This was a surprise because Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack had suggested earlier that he favored geographical limitations on the use of GM alfalfa so as to prevent cross-pollination with nearby organic crops (thereby making those crops non-organic).
But it was also a surprise because joining the news was an article by Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association criticizing Whole Foods, Stonyfield and Organic Valley for caving in to the demands of Monsanto, the owner of the GM alfalfa strain in question.
This sounded funny, given that GM alfalfa, without geographical restrictions, could well jeopardize Stonyfield’s supply of organic alfalfa, which it relies on to produce its organic yogurt.
And indeed these organic companies have begun to defend themselves. I got a particular kick out of Gary Hirshberg’s (Stonyfield’s “CE-Yo”) pyrotechnic response published on Monday. Hirshberg denies having caved in to Monsanto’s demands, reaffirms his die-hard opposition to GMOs and professes that he and his counterparts at Whole Foods and Organic Valley worked through the holidays to try to cement the opposition.
Who’s right? I have a hard time believing that these three companies condoned the unrestricted approval of GM alfalfa. But let’s see how the record plays out.