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Jun 22, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court Lifts Ban on HT GM Alfalfa

U.S. Supreme Court, Washington D.C.

 On 21 June the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farm that overturned the 2007 national ban on gene-modified (GM) alfalfa.  The ban had been issued by an order from a federal judge ruling that the USDA had approved Monsanto's RoundUp herbicide tolerant (HT) alfalfa without conducting an environmental impact report to assess the possibility of cross-contamination of HT alfalfa with conventional and organic alfalfa. 

The Supreme court ruling was 7-1 to strike down the federal judge's order and to grant the USDA permission to authorize interim planting while the USDA finishes the requisite environmental impact study.  This study should be completed by spring 2011.  Its findings could prompt more lawsuits.

This was the Supreme Court's first case involving GE crops.  The court opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito.  His conclusion state that the national ban issued by the federal judge is California was an abuse of judicial discretion.  In Alito's words, "[a] permanent injunction is not now needed to guard against any present or imminent risk of likely irreparable harm." Justice John Paul Stevens was single dissenter.  Justice Stephen Breyer was recused because his brother was federal judge who ordered the ban. 

The court decision could have future implications, especially in the case of GM sugar beets.  A federal court in California is currently considering a ban on HT sugar beets, which produce a majority of the U.S. sugar supply. 

For more see related blogs:

US Supreme Court Considers GM Alfalfa Case, 27 April 2010.

For the original articles see:

"Monsanto Wins Supreme Court Case: Genetically Modified Alfalfa Ban Lifted," Huffington Post, 21 June 2010.

Kendall, Brent. "High Court Sides With Monsanto in Alfalfa Case," Wall Street Journal, 22 June 2010.

Koons, Jennifer. "Supreme Court Lifts Ban on Planting GM Alfalfa," New York Times, 21 June 2010.

U.S. Supreme Court. Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, Syllabus, 21 June 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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