Let's be completely honest the RR alfalfa lawsuit

Dear Mr. Cline, I really enjoyed your editorial about the federal order stopping the sale of Roundup Ready alfalfa seed. I didn't know they let you do all your writing on toilet paper, but I guess that makes it easier to flush down the drain. Let's get the facts straight bucko! First, Geertson is spelled with an “O” not an “E”, second, Geertson Seed Farms sells no GMO alfalfa seed (all alfalfa seed is derived from conventional breeding), third, Geertson Seed Farms has never wanted to sell GMO alfalfa seed or have they attempted to secure a license to do so and my last point which may be impossible to penetrate your thick head and you do not seem to grasp is that alfalfa seed is pollinated with bees. Bees do not differentiate between GMO and non-GMO alfalfa, they can fly several miles pollinating alfalfa and spreading the RR gene into non-RR seed fields. In the real world, we call this trespass, maybe it is time to take companies to court for trespass if they can't control their technology.

In addition, what about the organic farmer? They want nothing to do with GMO crops yet they are getting it shoved down their throats that they have to accept whatever the large farms do. I think we have lost our perspective of who America belongs to, it belongs to everyone not just a few greedy multinational corporations. You also state that you don't own any stock in Monsanto, well good for you, but I bet you have been wined and dined by Monsanto, but of course that would never change your unbiased opinion.

I will be at the farm show in Tulare in February and look forward to meeting someone of your ilk and low standards who couldn't get a fact straight if it knocked him over.
Best Regards,
Doug Behrends

Another letter from one of my many admirers is a good way to start this commentary. I apologize here for it running longer than usual, but the session on the Roundup Ready alfalfa controversy and court case at the recent California Alfalfa and Forage Symposium compels me to stretch it a bit.

UC Extension Forage Specialist Dan Putnam and his program committee wanted to address the RR alfalfa issue from many viewpoints and put a commendable program together. It included farmers, hay dealers, the president of Forage Genetics and an organic dairyman. Their presentations were factual, honest and well done. Everyone did an honest job except for one, Kevin Golden, staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety, the radical environmental group that convinced a liberal San Francisco judge to halt the sale of Roundup Ready alfalfa until the federal government closes a bureaucratic loophole.

Golden spewed one refutable fact after another as he tried to justify his organization's lame lawsuit that has set back alfalfa production technology at least two years; cost growers millions of dollars and is one of the most ludicrous lawsuits ever filed against U.S. agriculture.

He laid out one concocted fact after another under the guise of protecting the technology and organic hay producers and in the process insulted a roomful of dedicated scientists, who were more than courteous to Golden.

I would have shouted him off the podium and sent him packing. I considered setting him straight by refuting just about every fact he laid out, but that would be a waste of time and only contribute to his smokescreen. Let's set the record straight; Golden and the Center for Food Safety do not care about the issues in this case; cross pollination of conventional and GMO alfalfa; weed resistance; U.S. hay export markets or anything else to do with alfalfa.

Golden's group is interested in one thing. He lectured about it two weeks before he insulted the alfalfa industry. On Oct. 31, Golden lectured at the University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall Environmental Law Society. The topic of his lecture: “The Beginning of the End of GMOs”.

Golden's group wants the world to plow up 222 million acres of biotech crops.

I have used “ludicrous” to describe this lawsuit and the actions of the judge to monitor an estimated 330,000 acres planted before he issued the injunction halting seed sales. He said in his ruling that RR alfalfa was not harmful to people or the environment, yet he stopped seed sales. This makes no sense at all.

Unfortunately, no one will do it, but it would be a service to agriculture and the American people if someone filed a malicious prosecution or groundless litigation lawsuit against the Center for Food Safety and others of their ilk for this RR alfalfa lawsuit.

Put a dollar figure on the damages. Scientists believe Roundup Ready alfalfa offers a savings and/or an increase in income of $50 per acre in reduced herbicide use; higher quality forage, weed free hay and longer stand life.

Let's say roughly a third of the 24 million acres of alfalfa in the U.S. would have been planted to RR alfalfa had the Center for Food Safety not convinced the judge to halt seed sales for what many believe will be two years. Damages of $50 times roughly 6 million acres: $300 million.

That would go a long way to get these anti-society, anti-American groups out of the legal system they are using to promote their socialist causes.

One more thing — here is my response I sent back to the message printed at the start of this column: How far do you have to drive your horse and buggy to get to Tulare? Just wonder where do you farm?

He answered:

Oh Harry, flip answers will get you everywhere. To answer your questions while you keep yourself on the straight and narrow with your corporate blinders, I will be arriving in California (Land of Fruits and Nuts) by airplane and I farm in Oregon.

Of course you should keep using leaded paint, try to eat all your tomatoes off of pewter plates and maybe you can find an old bottle of Coca-Cola, because it is the real thing.

Maybe sticking up for your lousy editorial would be wiser, but it is hard to defend the indefensible. Another thing to chew on, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), what is happening to the bees. A reason could be the transference of GMO tainted pollen into hives by the bees. Of course, corporations are our friends and they would never do anything to hurt the population. You understand that Bt corn (Yieldgard) is a GMO product and the pollen in corn carries the Bt gene. Bt is an insecticide and what would prevent this pollen from causing problems in the hive?

Things to think about, but of course it shouldn't bother you because you have your rose colored glasses on. Remember what your former governor and our former president said, “Trust but verify.”

I still am looking forward to meeting you at Tulare — of course you should be easy to spot as the Monsanto dollars will be falling out of your pockets.
Best regards,
Doug Behrends

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