Monsanto intervenes in GM alfalfa lawsuit

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Environmentalism Cattle Monsanto Usda

Biotech giant Monsanto is to file a motion to intervene in a case
asking for a permanent injunction to stop planting of the firm's
genetically modified alfalfa.

The announcement follows a ruling last month that found USDA failed to abide by federal environmental laws when it approved the crop without conducting a full Environment Impact Statement. On February 13, US district court judge Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District of California decided in favor of farmers, consumers, and environmentalists who filed a suit calling the USDA's approval of genetically modified (GM) alfalfa a threat to farmers' livelihoods and a risk to the environment. Judge Breyer ordered that a full Environmental Impact Statement be carried out on "Roundup Ready" alfalfa, the GM variety developed by Monsanto and Forage Genetics. The judge concluded that the lawsuit, brought last year by a coalition of groups led by the Center for Food Safety, raised concerns about environmental impacts that the USDA failed to address before approving the commercialization and release of Roundup Ready alfalfa. But on Friday Monsanto said that the court has already accepted the fact that Roundup Ready alfalfa poses no harmful effects on humans and livestock. "As part of its regulatory filing for Roundup Ready alfalfa in April 2004, Monsanto provided USDA with an extensive dossier that addresses a variety of environmental, stewardship and management considerations, including those raised by the plaintiffs in this case," said the firm. "The plaintiffs describe Roundup Ready alfalfa as a threat to the production of conventional and/or organic alfalfa production. They project an either/or scenario when evidence and experience show that sensible stewardship practices make it possible for these different production systems to coexist," said Jerry Steiner, executive vice president for Monsanto. The firm said it decided to intervene in order to give farmers the choice to use the technology. Alfalfa is grown on over 21 million acres, and is worth $8 billion per year (not including the value of final products, such as dairy), making it the countrys third most valuable and fourth most widely grown crop. Alfalfa is primarily used in feed for dairy cows and beef cattle, and it also greatly contributes to pork, lamb, sheep, and honey production. Consumers also eat alfalfa as sprouts in salads and other foods.

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