In a 7-1 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned a lower court’s order that has prohibited farmers from planting Roundup Ready alfalfa for the past three years.
“This Supreme Court ruling is important for every American farmer, not just alfalfa growers,” says David F. Snively, Monsanto’s senior vice president and general counsel. “All growers can rely on the expertise of USDA, and trust that future challenges to biotech approvals must now be based on scientific facts, not speculation.”
The opinion of the court, written by Justice Samuel Alito, sharply stated that the district court abused its discretion when it prohibited the planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa in 2007. The ruling will allow USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to take appropriate action to allow further planting while they complete the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The opinion concluded that the lower court’s injunction on Roundup Ready alfalfa “cannot stand.”
The case will now be remanded to the lower court with the instruction to allow APHIS to decide which interim measures will need to be established in order to allow growers to resume planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa.
“This is exceptionally good news received in time for the next planting season. Farmers have been waiting to hear this for quite some time,” says Steve Welker, Monsanto’s alfalfa business lead. “We have Roundup Ready alfalfa seed ready to deliver and await USDA guidance on its release. Our goal is to have everything in place for growers to plant in fall 2010.”
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 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. Alfalfa is the fourth-largest crop grown in the U.S. with 23 million acres grown in 48 U.S. states annually.
For more information on the history of the Roundup Ready alfalfa case, including links to today’s ruling, all Monsanto briefs, the federal government’s briefs and five Amici Curiae briefs, visit: www.monsanto.com/roundupreadyalfalfa.