WASHINGTON, May 17, 2013- The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld USDA's decision to commercialize genetically engineered alfalfa, according to the decision published today.
USDA’s APHIS unconditionally deregulated Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Alfalfa on the ground that the product is not a “plant pest” within the Plant Protection Act.
Roundup Ready Alfalfa is a plant developed by the Monsanto Company and Forage Genetics International to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, or Roundup.
Environmental groups and some farmer organizations asked the court to review the deregulation as a violation of the Plant Protection Act and National Environmental Policy Act. The environmental groups, which include the Center for Food Safety, are concerned that the commercialization of Roundup Ready Alfalfa will result in environmental damage, a growth of glyphosate-resistant weeds and cross-pollination with conventional alfalfa.
“This is an irresponsible decision,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety. “The court acknowledged the many stark environmental and economic impacts of these crops, and yet bends over backwards in allowing USDA to avoid addressing those concerns in its regulatory process.”
However, the circuit court ruled that the Plant Protection Act does not regulate the type of harms that the plaintiffs complain of, and therefore the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service correctly concluded that Roundup Ready Alfalfa was not a “plant pest” under the Act.
“The panel also held that the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service did not violate the Plant Protection Act by not considering whether Roundup Ready Alfalfa was a noxious weed,” according to the ruling.
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