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.