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USDA acted legally in deregulating GM alfalfa, judge rules


Related topics: Regulation

A federal judge has dismissed claims that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) acted illegally by deregulating Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) alfalfa seeds, used primarily as feedstock for dairy cattle.

The Center for Food Safety had sued Monsanto and the USDA several times over the deregulation of GM alfalfa, which was seen by many as a bellwether for future GM crop approvals. The USDA deregulated Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa – modified for resistance to the company’s Roundup brand herbicide – in January last year.

Last January’s decision to allow planting without any restrictions was seen as a boon to the biotech industry – while opponents of the technology were disappointed. They include proponents of conventional, non-organic agriculture, but the organic industry was one of the most vocal sectors in its opposition to deregulation of the crop, due to the potential for cross-contamination.

However, US District Judge Samuel Conti of San Francisco ruled that the USDA had acted within its authority when it deregulated the crop.