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Monsanto supports growers' rights to choose Roundup Ready alfalfa

Agriculture.com Staff 03/05/2007 @ 8:41am

Monsanto Company recently filed a motion to intervene in the remedy phase of a lawsuit to support farmers who choose to use Roundup Ready alfalfa in their forage operations.

Forage Genetics International and several farmers also plan to ask for intervenor status in this case, which was brought by the Center for Food Safety and others against the U.S. Department of Agriculture as Geertson Seed Farms Inc., et al. v. Mike Johanns, et al. The lawsuit is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

In a decision issued February 13, the federal district court judge ruled that USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) did not follow the proper process in assessing possible environmental affects of Roundup Ready alfalfa.

"Monsanto is asking to intervene because we believe it is important for hay growers to have the choice to use this beneficial technology," said Jerry Steiner, executive vice president for Monsanto. "Many alfalfa growers have expressed their desire to be heard and we believe Monsanto's participation in the remedy phase will help bring forward important information that underscores how crucial this technology has become to forage operations from an economic and environmental point of view."

Steiner noted that the court has already accepted the fact that Roundup Ready alfalfa poses no harmful effects on humans and livestock. As part of its regulatory filing for Roundup Ready alfalfa in April 2004, Monsanto provided USDA with an extensive dossier that addresses a variety of environmental, stewardship and management considerations, including those raised by the plaintiffs in this case.

"The plaintiffs describe Roundup Ready alfalfa as a threat to the production of conventional and/or organic alfalfa production," Steiner said. "They project an either/or scenario when evidence and experience show that sensible stewardship practices make it possible for these different production systems to coexist."

Roundup Ready crops have been grown successfully alongside conventional and organic crops for more than a decade. In fact, the rapidly increasing demand for and adoption of the Roundup Ready system by growers has demonstrated the ability of alternative cropping systems to successfully coexist. USDA data for 2005 indicate that of the more than 22 million acres of alfalfa grown, roughly 200,000 acres of this total was certified as organic production.

Monsanto Company recently filed a motion to intervene in the remedy phase of a lawsuit to support farmers who choose to use Roundup Ready alfalfa in their forage operations.

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