Source: USDA, APHIS, Monsanto, NCGA, ASA, OTA, OCA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) last week announced its decision to grant non-regulated status for alfalfa that has been genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide commercially known as Roundup.

"After conducting a thorough and transparent examination of alfalfa through a multi-alternative environmental impact statement (EIS) and several public comment opportunities, APHIS has determined that Roundup Ready alfalfa is as safe as traditionally bred alfalfa," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "All of the alfalfa production stakeholders involved in this issue have stressed their willingness to work together to find solutions. We greatly appreciate and value the work they've done so far and will continue to provide support to the wide variety of sectors that make American agriculture successful."

"This is great news for farmers who have been waiting for the green light to plant Roundup Ready alfalfa," said Steve Welker, alfalfa commercial lead at Monsanto. "USDA's action gives farmers the choice to enjoy the benefits of this product, including superior crop safety and high-quality yield opportunity." 

The House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas was pleased with the decision. "Genetically engineered alfalfa has been subjected to an extensive multi-year review and the conclusion has always been the same: it's safe. A product that has been repeatedly found to be safe should be deregulated. I am pleased that USDA used sound science and respected the limit of its statutory authority to make this decision," Lucas said.

"The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's announcement that the Agriculture Department will fully deregulate Roundup Ready alfalfa. The decision follows the completion of the comprehensive environmental impact statement (EIS) conducted by USDA that analyzed the potential environmental impact of Roundup Ready alfalfa, and concluded that it is safe and does not represent a plant pest risk. The action is consistent with the department's statutory authority and the United States' commitment to a science and risk-based regulatory system for agricultural biotechnology. Decisions based on sound science are the underpinning of U.S. domestic and international biotech policy.

"This week's action by USDA clears up uncertainty for producers and allows them to move forward with planting decisions. Ensuring farmers and ranchers have access to the latest, proven-safe technology for food production is vital to their productivity in meeting the world's growing food demand."

Many agricultural groups applauded the move. However, many organic groups were not happy with the decision.

Original USDA news release

Read more from Monsanto

National Corn Growers Association statement 

American Soybean Association's statement 

Organic Trade Association's response

Organic Consumers Association's statement