A recent court order prohibiting the sale and planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa could lead to a shortage of seed of conventional varieties, warn seed company representatives.
They say the ruling likely will result in fewer acres seeded to alfalfa this spring, too, exacerbating the expected hay shortage resulting from alfalfa growers switching to corn.
The injunction was issued March 12 by the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California in response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Food Safety against USDA. The judge in the case ruled that USDA violated the National Environmental Protection Act by failing to prepare an environmental impact statement before deregulating Roundup Ready alfalfa in 2005.
The potential contamination of conventional alfalfa by the Roundup Ready gene, and the development of Roundup-resistant weeds, are the main concerns sited in the lawsuit.
The court order allowed growers who bought Roundup Ready seed before March 12 to go ahead and plant it, but it had to be in the ground by March 30. Seed company officials attending Hay & Forage Grower's March 13-14 Hay Business Conference in Kansas City speculated that some growers would turn in their Roundup Ready seed for other varieties. But others, they figured, would plant corn instead of alfalfa.
The supply of conventional seed probably will be adequate if the injunction is still in place when late summer and fall seedings are made, said the company reps. But some growers may not be able to buy the varieties they want. If it lasts until next spring, they foresee a serious seed shortage.
The judge is scheduled to hear arguments April 27 on whether to make the preliminary injunction permanent.
For further reading on Roundup Ready alfalfa, visit:
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Monsanto Asks To Intervene In Lawsuit
Return Roundup Ready Alfalfa Seed
Injunction Jolts Roundup Ready Alfalfa