USDA weighing what to do in case of GMO alfalfa contamination
Alfalfa is the fourth-most widely grown U.S. field crop, behind corn, wheat and soybeans, and is used as food for dairy cattle and other livestock. The crop, worth roughly $8 billion, was grown on more than 17 million U.S. acres in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Exports of hay, including alfalfa, have been rising, hitting a record $1.25 billion in 2012, according to the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. Washington state is one of the largest producers of alfalfa for export.
Steve Norberg, regional forage specialist at Washington State University, said he is warning farmers that they should test every bag of alfalfa seed for purity before they plant it.
"It's now on the farmers. When they are growing for sensitive markets, they are going to have to beware," he said. "This is just really starting."