The court decision halting the planting of genetically engineered alfalfa could hurt Wyoming alfalfa seed production, according to a University of Wyoming researcher. "We're a top state in producing the Roundup Ready seed for companies, and this could impact our alfalfa seed growers," says Stephen Miller, also director of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station.

A Roundup Ready alfalfa environmental impact study will take 18-24 months to complete, according to USDA. "What are growers going to be able to do with the seed that is produced this year?" Miller asks. "What impact does the ruling have on growers contracted for this year?"

"The judge's decision did not affect existing seed fields, so there's nothing that prohibits the harvest of seed from existing seed fields," answers Mark McCaslin, president of Forage Genetics, the company that contracted with Monsanto to develop the first Roundup Ready alfalfa varieties. "We're planning to honor the contracts that we have with our growers," he adds.

Roundup Ready alfalfa producers will also have to make sure they don't contaminate adjacent, conventional alfalfa fields, Miller says. "Roundup Ready growers will have to harvest, at the latest, at one-tenth bloom."

According to USDA, Wyoming produced 1.5 million tons of alfalfa for forage in 2005 on approximately 600,000 acres. It also produced 3.47 million pounds of alfalfa seed from 5,600 acres. The value of the 2005 alfalfa crop was nearly $113 million. Miller estimates Wyoming currently has between 5,000 to 10,000 acres of alfalfa containing the Roundup Ready trait.

To contact Miller, call 307-766-3667.

For further reading on Roundup Ready alfalfa, visit:
Judge Says USDA Erred On Roundup Ready Alfalfa
Monsanto Asks To Intervene In Lawsuit
Return Roundup Ready Alfalfa Seed
Injunction Jolts Roundup Ready Alfalfa
RR Court Injunction May Squeeze Alfalfa Seed Supply
Roundup Rescue
A Good Buy?