U.S. court cuts off appeals in Monsanto alfalfa case

June 30, 2009

According to Reuters, a U.S. appeals court on June 24 left in place an injunction barring Monsanto Co. from selling its Roundup Ready alfalfa seed until the government completes an environmental impact study on how the genetically modified product could affect neighboring crops. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals also said it would accept no more petitions for rehearing in the three-year-old case.

“We are considering our legal options and one of them could include a request for review by the Supreme Court,” said Monsanto spokesman Garrett Kasper.

Environmental groups and conventional seed companies, led by Geertson Seed Farms, sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Feb. 2006 to force it to rescind its 2005 approval of the Monsanto seed until it does a full environmental study. The plaintiffs claimed cross pollination of genetically modified crops could contaminate conventional alfalfa fields and overuse of the herbicide Roundup, which the seeds were bred to resist, could foul soil and groundwater or give rise to Roundup-resistant “super weeds.” The trial judge, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer, ruled in 2007 that an agency study had failed to address those concerns. The Ninth Circuit affirmed that ruling twice. It is not known when the study will be conducted.

Reuters article