Thursday, December 10, 2009

Just in from Washington

Near Wilder last summer--Jake Putnam photo
Ag Groups file Supreme Court Brief in Biotech Alfalfa Case

WASHINGTON-The American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Corn Growers Association, the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the American Seed Trade Association have submitted a joint friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court in support of a petition seeking review of the “alfalfa” case, “Monsanto v. Geertson Seed.”

The Ag groups argued that the Lower courts failed to adequately consider the mountains of evidence that prove biotech alfalfa is safe, and thus those courts abandoned a well-established legal principle when they banned the planting of the crop. That is just one of the points supporting a request for the United States Supreme Court to review a case related to biotech alfalfa, according to a brief filed by several groups.

Family-owned Geertson Seed Farms, Adrian, Ore., has been producing alfalfa seed since 1942, and still farms the original 80 acres that was homesteaded by the family in 1939. They're worried that genetically altered seed could put them out of business.

Ag group lawyers contend that the lower court’s injunction against biotech alfalfa was made without the court conducting a thorough review of evidence and absent a finding of irreparable harm, according to the brief. It was also made despite the fact that agricultural biotechnology already is adopted widely in the U.S. for a number of key crops, ranging from corn and cotton to papaya, sugar beets and soybeans.

“The lower courts abandoned the well-established principle that evidence of likely irreparable harm is a prerequisite to issuance of an injunction,” the brief stated. “The district court ruling in this case, instead of fashioning an injunction based on the evidence before it, declined to conduct an evidentiary hearing and applied a legal standard that effectively presumed the existence of irreparable harm.”

If the courts do not respect those established legal standards, the ability to bring future innovations, especially biotech crops, to the marketplace is in real jeopardy, according to the brief.

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