Finally, a legal victory against Genetic Engineering of agriculture!
This story lays out the scope of the issues more fully than any other
so far, I'd say. Congratulations to Joe, Will, Bill and everyone
else who worked on this, as well as on the bentgrass case!
c/o Institute for Social Ecology
P.O. Box 93
Plainfield, VT 05667
Published on Thursday, February 15, 2007 by Reuters
USDA Criticized by 2nd Judge over Genetic Crops
by Carey Gillam
Biotech crop critics celebrated on Wednesday the second court ruling
this month to find the U.S. Department of Agriculture acted
improperly in advancing certain genetically altered crops, both of
which are tied to biotech giant Monsanto Co.
"This is another nail in the coffin for USDA's hands-off approach to
regulations on these risky engineered crops," Will Rostov, senior
attorney for The Center for Food Safety, said in a statement.
U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District
of California in San Francisco criticized the USDA on Tuesday as
"cavalier" and said the department violated the law by failing to
adequately assess possible environmental impacts before approving
genetically engineered alfalfa developed by Monsanto.
Roundup Ready Alfalfa allows growers to use Monsanto's Roundup
herbicide to kill competing weeds without damaging the alfalfa, a key
A coalition of farmers, consumers, and environmentalists, led by the
Center for Food Safety filed suit last year, alleging biotech alfalfa
could create super weeds resistant to herbicide, hurt production of
organic dairy and beef products, and could cause farmers to lose
export business due to risks of contamination to natural and organic
The suit also alleged that contamination of conventionally grown
alfalfa could force farmers to pay for Monsanto's patented gene
technology whether they wanted it or not.
Alfalfa, a perennial plant cross-pollinated by bees and wind, is
among the most widely grown crops in the United States, along with
corn, soybeans, and wheat.
Judge Breyer said the parties in the case should propose remedies to
him by Feb. 26. Rostov said the plaintiffs would ask the court for an
injunction against future seed sales or plantings of the biotech
The defendants in the case are Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns,
Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Administrator Ron
Dehaven and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Steve Johnson.
Monsanto, which is not a named defendant, said it disagreed with the
"Monsanto stands behind the human health and environmental safety of
Roundup Ready Alfalfa," spokeswoman Lori Fisher said. "Numerous
regulatory agencies around the world, including Canada, have
confirmed the environmental safety of Roundup Ready alfalfa. We are
currently reviewing our legal options regarding this matter."
A spokeswoman for APHIS said the service was examining both court
rulings. "We are very committed to protecting the environment and we
do take compliance with environmental regulations seriously," said
The ruling on alfalfa follows a Feb. 5 court ruling that was also
critical of the USDA. That case involves field tests approved for
bentgrass genetically modified to resist Monsanto's Roundup herbicide
in a collaboration between Monsanto and The Scotts Co. Bentgrass is
commonly used on lawns, athletic fields and golf courses.
U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy for the District of Columbia said
there is "substantial evidence that the field tests may have had the
potential to affect significantly the quality of the human
environment." He said USDA could not process any further field test
permits without conducting a more thorough review.
Kennedy said USDA's APHIS failed to adequately consider whether the
field tests could harm the environment.