Issue Date: March 28, 2011
Approval Of Biotech Alfalfa Challenged
A coalition of environmental groups and organic farmers has filed a lawsuit against USDA, claiming that the department’s Jan. 27 decision (C&EN, Feb. 7, page 22) to allow unrestricted planting of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa violates federal laws. Roundup Ready alfalfa has been genetically modified to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate. The groups argue that USDA’s environmental impact review, which was completed in December, is inadequate. In particular, they say USDA failed to analyze the risks of cross-contamination of Roundup Ready alfalfa with conventional and organic alfalfa. The coalition also claims that unrestricted planting of the modified alfalfa will lead to the creation of glyphosate-resistant weeds and the increased use of glyphosate herbicide. This is the second lawsuit challenging USDA’s approval of genetically altered alfalfa. In another case, filed by the Center for Food Safety, one of the plaintiffs in the current suit, a federal court ruled that USDA failed to analyze the environmental risks of planting Roundup Ready alfalfa in 2007. That decision led to a ban on the planting and selling of the alfalfa until USDA completed its environmental impact statement.
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