Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Just in from Washington

Supreme Court to Hear GMO Alfalfa Case
Washington--The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the first genetically engineered crop case this morning in Washington, and it's attracting interest from around the world.

Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms will decide whether to allow the planting of Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa after the Bush-era U.S. Department of Agriculture allowed planting, plaintiffs contend that Monsanto failed to analyze the crop's impacts on farmers and the environment.

Monsanto wants to market a RoundUp Ready alfalfa seed, while the Center for Food Safety argues that there's not enough known about the environmental, health, cultural, and economic impacts of RoundUp Ready alfalfa to deregulate it as the USDA wants to do.

A key issue centers on the concept of genetic drift. Justices will hear testimony on plaintiffs claims that genetically modified alfalfa can contaminate nearby alfalfa fields, wiping out the conventional and organic alfalfa with patented Monsanto seed. Monsanto calls that argument "science fiction."

Idaho sugar beet growers will watch the case with interest, they currently have a case in California Federal District court with similar issues, a favorable ruling here could insure round-up ready beets next season.

Beet Farmers like round-up ready beets because they don't have to spend as much money on labor and pesticides not to mention a significant improvement in yield per acre.

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