by Heather Loney
Global News

There’s a new genetically modified crop on the horizon that some say is jeopardizing the entire Canadian organic farming industry.

Organic farmers across the country are sounding the alarm bells on the state of alfalfa, one small plant with a massive role in organic farming.

When most people hear the word alfalfa they generally think of sprouts they buy in the grocery store.

However, full-grown, dried alfalfa is a high-protein feed for pigs, poultry, dairy cows, beef cattle and lambs and is used to increase the nutrients in soil.

In order to be certified organic, foods cannot be produced with genetically modified crops and chemical sprays.

The crop at the centre of this debate is Monsanto’s herbicide tolerant, genetically modified (GM) alfalfa. It has already been deregulated in the U.S. and north of the border seed growers and conventional farmers are meeting to discuss the possibility of commercializing GM alfalfa in Canada.

This November, the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) is meeting with members of Forage Genetics International to discuss the status of herbicide tolerant alfalfa in the U.S. and Canada and develop a coexistence plan for GM alfalfa.

Critics argue that organic crops and GM crops cannot coexist, as cross-pollination of GM alfalfa to organic crops is inevitable – making organic certification impossible.

“The consensus among the food scientists is that once it’s out there, it will inevitably contaminate the entire seed supply,” said Ted Zettel, from the Canadian Organic Federation.

I’m sure that I’ll lose my certification,” said organic dairy farmer John Brunsveld.

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