Washington state alfalfa crop may be contaminated with genetic modification

Authorities were investigating a new suspected case of crop contamination on Thursday - the second in the Pacific north-west in five months - after samples of hay tested positive for genetically modified traits.

The investigation was ordered after a farmer inWashington statereported that his alfalfa shipments had been rejected for export after testing positive for genetic modification. Results were expected as early as Friday.

If confirmed, it would bethe second known case of GM contamination in a major American crop since May, when university scientistsconfirmed the presence of a banned GM wheatgrowing in a farmer's field inOregon.

The suspected outbreak comes in the run-up to a ballot measure in Washington state that would require mandatory labelling of allGMfoods.

Alfalfa is America's fourth largest crop, behind corn, wheat and soybeans, and the main feedstock for the dairy industry. A confirmed case of contamination could hurt the organic dairy industry, which is now worth $26bn a year, forcing farmers to find new sources of GM-free feed. It could also hurt a growing export industry. Alfalfa is increasingly sold for export but buyers, such as Japan, do not want GM products.

Campaigners said the suspected case of contamination provided further evidence of the difficulties of containing GM crops.

Read more : http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/12/gm-crop-contamination-alfalfa-monsanto