Andrea McNally (301) 734-0602
R. Andre Bell (301) 734-3853
On the heels of issuing the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Roundup Ready Alfalfa, Secretary Vilsack invited stakeholders to a meeting at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Monday December 20, 2010. The meeting began a dialogue with a diverse group, representing different interests and viewpoints in the GE, organic, and non-GE agriculture sectors, as well as consumer interests, regarding possible approaches to alfalfa production coexistence that are reasonable and practical.
The meeting gave these stakeholders the opportunity to hear from one another, exchange information and concepts, ask questions, and explore possible ways of working together to propose strategies for strengthening alfalfa production coexistence.
There was recognition by participants that immediate focus needs to be put on the issue of GE alfalfa production, as USDA will follow the final EIS with a Record of Decision in the very near future, but no sooner than January 24, 2011. USDA intends to reach a decision in a timely manner to allow growers, if possible, to make decisions regarding the planting of alfalfa this spring. USDA is hopeful that a smaller number of participants most directly interested in the issues surrounding Roundup Ready alfalfa will come together and continue their dialogue over the next few weeks to evaluate possible approaches that could be taken in support of alfalfa production coexistence.
There was also recognition that discussions regarding other longer-term issues associated with the coexistence of GE, organic, and non-GE agriculture in the United States needs to begin now and proceed as expeditiously as possible.
Most participants agreed with the need to move the process forward, continue the dialogue started during the meeting, and develop possible approaches to the longer-term issues surrounding coexistence.
In convening the meeting, USDA hopes that key stakeholders will work together to devise a practical way forward in time to inform plans for the alfalfa planting season in 2011. USDA fully supports all sectors of U.S. agriculture—GE, organic, and non-GE. In beginning this effort, USDA is focused on finding reasonable and appropriate approaches for strengthening alfalfa production coexistence and, in doing so, supporting farmers and rural America.
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