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USDA gives full approval to Monsanto's genetically-modified alfalfa

Flickr CC Sam Beebe-Ecotrust.jpg
Alfalfa fields in Idaho. (Flickr Creative Commons user Sam Beebe/Ecotrust)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that it has decided to allow unrestricted commercial planting of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa.

The alfalfa has been genetically-engineered to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate, known commercially as Roundup.

In its final environmental impact statement for the crop, released in December, the USDA proposed two options: either allowing commercial planting with no restrictions, or limiting where the alfalfa could be grown.

The decision to grant non-regulated status to the Monsanto seed line means farmers can plant it anywhere they want.

The USDA initially approved the crop with no restrictions in 2005, but was forced to reconsider its decision when environmental groups sued over concerns the genetically-engineered alfalfa could contaminate organic fields.

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