October 28, 2021

GE Alfalfa Contamination Reported in Washington State

An export shipment of alfalfa from Washington state was rejected after it tested positive for contamination from genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-resistant alfalfa. The U.S. is the primary supplier of alfalfa to Japan, Saudi Arabia, and other countries which have banned GMO foods or require labeling of the product. The market was valued at $1.25 billion in 2012.

Farm FieldEarlier this year, unapproved GE wheat was found growing in Oregon in violation of the Plant Protection Act. There are no GMO wheat crops approved for sale or growth in the U.S. at this time.

Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for Food Safety said in a statement, “for nearly a decade, Center for Food Safety has vigorously opposed the introduction of GE alfalfa, precisely because it was virtually certain to contaminate natural alfalfa, among other severe environmental and economic harms. We warned this administration and the industry repeatedly of the significant risk to farmers and the environment. Tragically, neither listened, and this latest contamination is a result of that negligence.”

USDA proposed commercial approval of GE alfalfa in 2006. CFS challenged the decision in court and stopped the planting. Monsanto appealed the case to the Supreme Court. In 2010 SCOTUS left the ban in place. USDA was forced to analyze GE alfalfa’s effect on farmers and the environment. That review concluded that GE alfalfa, unless restricted, “would contaminate natural alfalfa, causing the loss of U.S. expert markets, as well as dramatically increase pesticide use and drive the rise of Roundup-resistant superweeds.”

The engineered crop was supposed to be planted in restricted zones, but USDA abruptly approved the crop without protection in 2011. Industry assured the government that “best practices” would prevent contamination. That wasn’t enough.

The GE “Roundup Ready” alfalfa is the first engineered perennial crop, which means it will grow again year after year without being replanted. Alfalfa doesn’t need many herbicides because it grows densely and crowds out weeds naturally. ¬†Alfalfa isn’t harvested; it is mowed, which also reduces weed biomass. In addition, alfalfa, like most other plants, is pollinated by bees that fly for many miles, cross-pollinating between planted fields and wild crops, so cross-contamination was practically inevitable.

Alfalfa is used as feedstock for the dairy industry. Ninety-percent of all alfalfa planted by farmers in the U.S. has been grown without the use of herbicides. But GE alfalfa will increase the herbicide amount used by farmers to 23 million more pounds every year.


  1. It is unacceptable that the FDA protects Monsanto’s profits, not public food safety. The FDA has proven that they are unable to act objectively or effectively in the regulation of GMO’s. The current regulatory policy is to allow the biotech crop developer (Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont, and the rest of the transgenic cartel) to vouch for the safety of the GMO crop, that is all the FDA needs. If Monsanto says it’s safe that is good enough for the United States Food and Drug Administration. Conveinently for biotech, many FDA employees also work for Monsanto and other biotech corporations that are receiving rubber stamp approval of their mutagenic Round Up drenched, bacterial toxin producing stacked trait freak crops. These mutated crops flood our food supply, without any long term objective testing, unlabeled, crammed down our throats without our knowledge or consent. Biotech and the FDA claim that GMO’s are safe because they are “significantly equivalent” to natural crops. This is a blatant lie. Genetically modified obviously means altered. If these crops aren’t different, then why are the corporations that create the mutated crop allowed to patent them? Biotech needs to be reigned in before it’s too late.

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