Thursday, January 5, 2012
Judge rejects challenge to biotech alfalfa
By Mateusz Perkowski
January 05, 2012
A federal judge has rejected allegations by biotech critics that USDA violated environmental laws by fully deregulating transgenic alfalfa.
U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti has refused to overturn the agency’s approval of the crop, which was genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate herbicides.
The biotech trait was developed by the Monsanto Co. and allows farmers to spray glyphosate directly over alfalfa, leaving the crop undamaged while killing weeds.
In his Dec. 5 ruling, Conti repeatedly said that arguments against the crop’s commercialization were unpersuasive and lacked merit.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, took a “hard look” at transgenic alfalfa’s potential effects, as required under federal environmental law, he said.
“None of the purported deficiencies raised by plaintiffs in this area, considered independently or holistically, provide sufficient grounds to set aside APHIS’s deregulation determination,” said Conti.
The Center for Food Safety, which opposed the crop’s deregulation, vowed to challenge the ruling in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.