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Another take on the Roundup Ready alfalfa ruling

Agriculture.com Staff 05/04/2007 @ 8:14am

Several organic farming and environmental groups have a different take than Monsanto's on a U.S. District Court ruling that has halted planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa.

"I'm hopeful that Judge (Charles) Breyer's precedent-setting ruling will induce a rebirth of values at the USDA, in particular, and federal regulatory agencies generally," said Dean Hulse, an organic food consumer from Fargo, North Dakota and past chair of Dakota Resources Council (DRC), a Dickinson, North Dakota-based group. "The USDA's role with respect to regulating transgenic crops should be that of a watch dog, not a lap dog."

The court suspended planting of any Roundup Ready seed until USDA conducts an Environmental Impact Statement. Roundup Ready alfalfa that was planted by March 30, 2007, can still be grown, harvested and sold as forage.

In a release, the DRC and Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) said the court ordered USDA to make the location of these plots "publicly available as soon as practicable" so that growers of organic and conventional alfalfa "can test their own crops to determine if there has been contamination."

"The judge's order to make public the location of Roundup Ready alfalfa fields is a critical part of the decision," said Blaine Schmaltz, an organic alfalfa seed producer from Rugby, North Dakota, and spokesperson for the DRC and WORC. "It allows GM-free (genetically modified) and organic producers like me to make sound planting decisions."

"This ruling is good news for organic farmers and most conventional farmers across the country," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety. "This crop represents a very real threat to their corps and their livelihood. This ruling is a turning point in the regulation of biotech crops in this country."

The Center for Food Safety initiated the legal action resulting in today's ruling in February 2006, representing itself and the following co-plaintiffs in the suit: Western Organization of Resource Councils, National Family Farm Coalition, Sierra Club, Beyond Pesticides, Cornucopia Institute, Dakota Resource Council, Trask Family Seeds, and Geertson Seed Farms.

Several organic farming and environmental groups have a different take than Monsanto's on a U.S. District Court ruling that has halted planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa.

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