Monsanto Appeals Roundup Ready Alfalfa Ruling
By Jim Dickrell
August 14, 2007
Monsanto filed a notice of appeal in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday seeking to overturn the permanent injunction on planting Roundup Ready alfalfa. This is the second time the case has been appealed.
The injunction was issued May 3rd, when Judge Charles Breyer ordered that all sale and seeding of Roundup Ready alfalfa stop until USDA completes an Environmental Impact Statement (EIA). Judge Breyer did allow that Roundup Ready alfalfa planted prior to March 30th could be harvested, but only under special handling requirements which prevent neighboring fields from being contaminated.
Monsanto's appeal seeks to correct legal standards applied as the basis for the injunction, says Michael Doane, company spokesman. Monsanto also asserts irreparable financial harm will come to growers, seed dealers, Forage Genetics, Inc., and Monsanto while the EIS is completed.
Monsanto attorneys could not offer an estimate of when a decision on the appeal would be rendered. If the appeal is accepted, it is likely the case would go back to Judge Breyer for re-consideration.
Banned Strain of Alfalfa Planted in 43 Michigan Counties
August 26, 2007
BAY CITY -- A genetically engineered strain of alfalfa that was banned nationwide until the government can adequately study the crop's potential impact already has been planted in 43 Michigan counties.
In May, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer in California made permanent a temporary ban he ordered in March on alfalfa with genetic material from bacteria that makes the crop resistant to the popular weed killer Roundup.
Breyer said the U.S. Department of Agriculture must conduct a detailed scientific study of Roundup Ready alfalfa's effect on the environment and other alfalfa varieties before deciding whether to approve it.
The USDA recently released a list of counties in which the alfalfa is grown that includes the Michigan counties, The Bay City Times reported.
The Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C., had sued on behalf of farmers who argued that the genetically engineered seed could contaminate organic and conventional alfalfa varieties.
"There's a lot of farmers who don't want to use genetically engineered alfalfa for a variety of reasons," said Joseph Mendelson, the center's legal director. "When their fields essentially get polluted with this crop, it can have negative effects on them in the market."
Dean Kirkpatrick, a dairy farmer in Kinde, grows 150 acres of traditional alfalfa. He scoffs at worries about the Roundup Ready variety.
"I believe a lot of this stuff is blown way out of proportion," Kirkpatrick said. "The same story went around when it came to Roundup Ready corn and then ... soybeans. Every time we come around with a new technology, somebody is going to make a fuss about it."
Nationwide, about 220,000 acres of genetically engineered alfalfa were planted this year before the judge's ban went into effect. The judge ordered those farmers to ensure their crops do not contaminate adjacent fields of alfalfa.
About 2,000 acres of the seed were planted in Michigan last year, according to the Michigan Farm Bureau.