If you haven’t heard of Washington’s Initiative 522, it’s the state’s version of a GMO labeling act that will go into effect if enough signatures are received – and could go into effect in July of 2015. The 522 Initiative is getting heated enough, but extra controversy surrounds the law due to its implications for Northwest hay exporters – including those who grow alfalfa, since they say overseas customers don’t want GM crops.
This animal-feed crop, but also an important cover crop, has been grown legally in the US for years, and is often exported to Japan, but there are eastern parts of the state of Washington where this GMO crop wasn’t supposed to be growing. As with many other GMO crop-contaminations, it seems genetically modified alfalfa has spoiled a farmer’s crops. His crop is now being tested, and if confirmed, it will be the second known case of GM contamination in a major American crop since May, when university scientists confirmed the presence of a banned GM wheat growing in a farmer’s field in Oregon.
Keeping non-GMO crops and GMO crops separate is a major exportation concern – since those who are importing non-GMO crops want assurance that they are indeed getting what they pay for. For those who are unaware – it can be increasingly difficult to keep the two separate since cross-pollination occurs with wind, bees, butterflies, etc. and we can’t exactly control these aspects of mother nature.
Initiative 522 would require farmers to label their GMO crops, but even organic farmers could face liability issues and business detriment if their crops are soiled with GMO through cross-pollination.
The worst part? They may not even be protected from Monsanto contaminating their crops, legal or otherwise. There have been numerous cases where Monsanto’s GM seeds end up drifting into organic fields. You would think that the organic farmer, if any party, could take some action, but Monsanto is actually the one that would sue and (probably) win. In an effort to protect themselves, U.S. organic farmers tried to create some legal shield from being sued in such a case, but an appeals court sided with Monsanto.