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Monsanto alfalfa case heads to the Supreme Court

Agriculture.com Staff 04/27/2010 @ 10:57am

The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments Tuesday to consider overturning a lower court's order that prevented farmers from planting Roundup Ready alfalfa since 2007, according to a Monsanto report.

The case before the Supreme Court is specifically about the injunction against Roundup Ready alfalfa. Monsanto Company and Forage Genetics International (FGI) argued the lower court's ban on planting Roundup Ready alfalfa in May 2007 was inappropriate for several reasons. The plaintiffs in the case have not demonstrated that continued planting of the crop was likely to cause irreparable harm to other alfalfa growers.

Additionally, the lower court failed to meaningfully consider USDA's proposed interim solution that would have allowed continued planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa subject to certain mandatory stewardship measures, a Monsanto report indicates.

"This Supreme Court hearing is about farmers, fairness and choice," says David F. Snively, Monsanto General Counsel. "Farmers should be able to count on USDA approvals of biotech crops, know that challenges to biotech authorizations must be based on scientific evidence, and have the choice to use this seed technology."

Monsanto and FGI are not alone in this Supreme Court Case. The briefs filed by the federal government reinforce Monsanto and FGI's position that the district court erred in fashioning the injunction. Also, 5 Amici Curiae briefs were submitted by 18 "friends of the court" to protect the farmers who choose to grow genetically-engineered crops, as well as the public benefits that agricultural biotechnology brings to producers and consumers around the world. Supporters of the petition included:

  • American Farm Bureau Federation
  • Biotechnology Industry Organization
  • American Seed Trade Association
  • American Soybean Association
  • National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance
  • National Association of Wheat Growers
  • National Cotton Council and National Potato Council
  • Sugarbeet Growers Association
  • U.S. Beet Sugar Association
  • National Corn Growers Association
  • The Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America
  • American Petroleum Institute
  • National Association of Home Builders
  • CropLife America
  • The Washington Legal Foundation
  • Allied Education Foundation
  • The Pacific Legal Foundation

Roundup Ready alfalfa successfully completed a food safety review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and was granted non-regulated status by USDA in 2005. A separate review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found the use of Roundup on the crop to be safe. Prior to the injunction, Roundup Ready alfalfa was planted by approximately 5,500 growers across more than 220,000 acres.

The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments Tuesday to consider overturning a lower court's order that prevented farmers from planting Roundup Ready alfalfa since 2007, according to a Monsanto report.

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