The relationship of bees to alfalfa is symbiotic: alfalfa producers rely on bees to pollinate their crops, and bees rely on alfalfa flowers for food.
There is no shortage of fascinating factoids about bees, but for now, we’ll focus on their sense of sight. The eyesight of a bee is very different from that of a human: where we might see a field blanketed with color, a bee sees a detailed landscape of individual food sources bathed in UV light.
That ability to see UV light, in particular, highlights plants with blue, violet and purple flowers of high nectar content, including alfalfa. The adoption of Roundup Ready alfalfa throws a beautiful relationship badly out of whack, as is apparent in the alfalfa industry’s profitable side hustle: honey.
While glyphosate is an herbicide — designed to kill plants rather than animals — recent studies indicate it alters the gut flora of honey bees, potentially weakening them so they are more susceptible to other threats like viruses, mites, and predators.
GMO alfalfa isn’t just an agricultural boondoggle, it’s also a dangerous bait-and-switch for pollinators.
Source Credit: livingnongmo.org, depositphoto.com
Historically, 93% of pre-GMO alfalfa was grown without herbicides. So it’s a bit of a head-scratcher as to why GMO alfalfa, developed specifically for tolerance to the herbicide glyphosate (the key ingredient in Roundup) was developed at all.
If weeds weren’t a big problem in the first place, why bring unnecessary chemical inputs into alfalfa fields?
The Roaring 20s ushered in an era of innovation, prosperity, cultural and societal change.
We are welcoming the new decade with optimism, with the belief that diversity of thought and purpose can shake us loose from an agricultural system born of the Second World War.
The grocery store produce section used to be relatively safe territory, GMO-wise. But there’s a growing movement to employ new genetic engineering techniques to extend the shelf life and portability of our produce.