The National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance (NAFA) and seven other ag groups showed support for Roundup Ready alfalfa by filing a joint friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court this week.
The Supreme Court will consider whether, in 2007, a lower federal court acted hastily and incorrectly by banning the sale of biotech alfalfa, despite extensive scientific evidence documenting the safety of the crop, according to a press release put out by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).
“This is an important case because it will be the first time the high court has weighed in on the risks of genetically engineered crops,” the press release continues. Of the more than 10,000 cases appealed to the Supreme Court each year, only about 1% is accepted for review on the merits and oral arguments. The case is set for oral argument on April 27. A decision is expected from the court by June.
Organizations joining NAFA and AFBF in support of the petitioners in the Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms lawsuit are the Biotechnology Industry Organization, American Seed Trade Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cotton Council and National Potato Council.
The groups urge that the lower court decision to approve an injunction without adequately hearing key evidence must be reversed “to protect the farmers who choose to grow genetically engineered crops, as well as the public benefits that agricultural biotechnology brings to producers and consumers around the world.”
In the 2007 court case, environmental groups and individual organic alfalfa farmers sued USDA, claiming that its decision to deregulate glyphosate-tolerant Roundup Ready alfalfa in 2005 violated the National Environmental Policy Act. USDA was ordered to implement an environmental impact statement (EIS) on the transgenic crop, which was pulled from the market.
The lower court injunction was made without the court conducting a thorough review of evidence that precluded a finding of irreparable harm, according to the brief. The brief also states that the lower court failed to consider the public benefits of ag biotechnology, already adopted widely in the U.S. for a number of key crops, such as corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets and papaya.
At this time, a 1,400-page draft EIS, again recommending that Roundup Ready alfalfa be deregulated, has just finished its public review period. A final statement is in the works.