Monsanto, Forage Genetics and two alfalfa growers have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower court’s decision to deregulate and disallow the planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa until an Environmental Impact Statement has been conducted and reviewed.
That’s according to a Nov. 2 news release on the Forage Genetics Web site.
“We look forward to the successful completion of the additional environmental review ordered by the court, but we hope the Supreme Court will agree that it is wrong to make farmers wait for years to get the benefit of a safe and effective product,” the release noted.
Roundup Ready alfalfa was USDA-approved and put on the market in 2005. But it has been in a holding pattern since mid-2007, when it was deregulated by order of a California judge and its commercial use banned.
The Center for Food Safety and a conventional seed grower filed a federal lawsuit and won an injunction in May 2007 against the further sale and planting of the crop until a thorough Environmental Impact Statement could be completed by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and reviewed. A 2008 appeal by Monsanto, Forage Genetics and several Roundup Ready alfalfa growers argued that the injunction “imposed unnecessary restrictions and costs on alfalfa hay and seed growers.”
Three judges reviewed the appeal and ruled 2-1 against Monsanto and Forage Genetics. The dissenting judge wrote: “I see no good evidence of hay-to-seed or seed-to-seed gene transmission. Yet the district court entered a nationwide injunction on the planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa while APHIS completes an EIS. This nationwide injunction has severe economic consequences for Monsanto, Forage Genetics, and for the farmers and distributors who planned on RRA alfalfa being available.”
APHIS officials had great hopes that the EIS would be published and out for public review ahead of the two years originally projected. This past March, a project coordinator told Hay Forage Grower that the statement would be out in last spring or early summer for review. (See “Roundup Ready EIS Due Late Spring.”)
The EIS has not yet been made public.