May 3, 2007
Permanent Injuction Against Genetically Engineered Alfalfa
Judge Charles Breyer of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California today affirmed his preliminary ruling against the USDA's deregulation of genetically engineered alfalfa. The agency did not perform an environmental impact statement even though it did identify environmental effects likely to follow from deregulation.
San Francisco, CA, May 3, 2007 - A Federal judge today made a final ruling that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) 2005 approval of Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) "Roundup Ready" alfalfa was illegal. The Judge called on USDA to ban any further planting of the GE seed until it conducts a complete Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the GE crop.
In the decision, Judge Charles Breyer in the Federal Northern District of California affirmed his preliminary ruling, which echoed the Center for Food Safety's arguments in their lawsuit against USDA, that the crop could harm the environment and contaminate natural alfalfa. Today's ruling also requires Forage Genetics to provide the locations of all existing Roundup Ready alfalfa plots to USDA within 30 days. The Judge 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."
"This permanent halt to the planting of this risky crop is a great victory for the environment," said Will Rostov, a Senior Attorney for CFS. "Roundup Ready alfalfa poses threats to farmers, to our export markets, and to the environment. We expect the USDA to abide by the law and insure that American farmers are protected from genetic contamination."
Today's decision is consistent with Judge Breyer's ruling of February 13th, in which Judge Breyer found that the USDA failed to address concerns that Roundup Ready alfalfa will contaminate conventional and organic alfalfa. In calling today for a permanent injunction, Judge Breyer noted that contamination of natural and organic alfalfa by the GE variety has already occurred, and noted that "Such contamination is irreparable environmental harm. The contamination cannot be undone."
"This ruling is good news for organic farmers and most conventional farmers across the country," said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center. "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," Kimbrell concluded.
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