Roundup Ready alfalfa hay doesn't have to be stored in containers, and must be labeled only if it leaves the farm where it was grown. Equipment must be cleaned after harvesting the transgenic crop, but farmers and custom harvesters don't have to submit their cleaning procedures to USDA for approval. Those are the main points in a court order issued last week by Charles Breyer, the northern California district court judge who in May issued a permanent injunction against the sale and planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa. In the new ruling, he made several changes to provisions of the judgment that deal with preventing contamination of organic and conventional alfalfa with Roundup Ready alfalfa.

Breyer admitted that he erred in his earlier judgment when he ruled that Roundup Ready alfalfa must be stored in clearly labeled containers. That, he wrote last week, should apply to Roundup Ready seed but not hay. To ensure that equipment is properly cleaned after handling Roundup Ready alfalfa, the judge initially ruled that every grower had to submit his proposed cleaning procedures to USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for approval. In lieu of that requirement, the amended ruling orders APHIS to publish and distribute, by July 13, a best practices guide for cleaning farm equipment.

The June 27 court order also softens the judge's earlier demand that Monsanto and Forage Genetics International provide the government with the acreage and location of all Roundup Ready alfalfa seed and hay fields by a specified date. Finally, it removes the requirement that the location of those fields be "publicly disclosed" on a government Web site. Instead, locations of Roundup Ready fields will be made available to farmers who request them.