Court blocks Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa

But what about Buckwheat, you rascals?: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld an injunction barring Monsanto from selling its Roundup Ready alfalfa seed until the government completes an environmental impact study on how the genetically modified product could affect neighboring crops. "This is a major victory for consumers, for farmers and for the public as far as protecting their rights and the rights of farmers to sow the crop of their choice and consumers to eat the food of their choice," said George Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety, a plaintiff in the case. Kimbrell said that Monsanto's chances of getting Supreme Court review of the case were "slim to none and slim just left town." Heh. (Reuters)

9 Responsesto “Court blocks Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa”

  1. Yee-haw! About time.

  2. I chuckled when I read this quote in the news yesterday: "rights of farmers to sow the crop of their choice" - it is interesting to note that the goal of anti-GE groups is to prevent farmers from being able to choose to grow GE crops - and to say that they are standing up for farmers' choice is false and contradictory. And the last I checked, very few people munched on alfalfa.

    I wonder, would plants with traits derived through mutagenesis be required to go through the same process of putting together a full environmental impact study? (There is herbicide-resistant wheat generated through mutagenesis.)

    Just so people know, the RR alfalfa was put through an environmental safety assessment - and the lawsuit has been over the technicality of whether that was sufficient or whether it should go through the more involved environmental impact study. There are a lot of misleading reports about the RR alfalfa lawsuit issue that suggest that there was no assessment at all. In the interest of accuracy...

  3. IM, when someone plants GMO crops and the pollen spreads to a farmer's non-GMO crop they have violated that farmer's ability to grow non-GMOs. Not only that but Monstersanto then sues the non-GMO if they save their own seed. Among other problems, GMO's trespass, rape and pillage.

  4. Walter, then what you have is a case where two hypothetical farmers' rights are in conflict. You are preferring one 'right' over another 'right', while defending limiting farmers' choices.

    But pollen drift is an issue that farmers have dealt with in many other cases, some better than others. Popcorn or sweet corn contaminated with field corn pollen damages the quality of the crop, just like sticky rice grown next to long grain or jasmine rice presents challenges for maintaining the identity of those crops. Would it make any sense for someone to ban Jasmine Rice because pollen from it will prevent farmers from exercising their "right to grow non-Jasmine Rice"? If you believe your above statement then you must also agree with this statement, because it is based on the exact same principle. (BTW - rice is self-pollinated like Alfalfa so the risk of cross-pollination in both is very low)

    In other cases, farmers have not dealt with pollen drift well. There's an organic cotton grower who has developed pigmented cotton, and the conventional white cotton growers have kicked her out of their regions because of their fear of finding colorful cotton in their pretty white fields. This, IMO, was a breakdown of communication and mediation between these farmers. Communication is the best way, and I think farmers on the whole are mature enough to talk to their neighbors.

    There's another angle which I think you might want to consider if you think that farmers must in all cases be responsible for the pollen coming from their plants. Currently, peanuts are highly allergnic, but a public scientist I have met is working on a long-term goal of allergen-free genetically engineered peanuts. Should these be grown in a field, then the real risk of pollen drift comes not from the 'GMO' but from any Conventional and Organic peanut farms that might be nearby. Like Jasmine rice pollen contamination, except potentially deadly. In that case, will you stand up against any non-GMO allergenic peanut farmer and their "pillaging" pollen?

    Monsanto has stated that they will not sue a farmer if their crop has a low-level presence of transgenes from cross-pollination. Even Percy Schmeiser who travels on the lecture circuit as an example of Monsanto suing over pollen drift was not the result of accidental pollen drift but deliberate planting. Every case that went to Canadian court sided with the american company, which they are probably not particularly happy to do.

    I know California has a law preventing farmers from being responsible for low-level presence, and it might be a good idea nationwide.

  5. No, IM, you're over simplifying. One right was already there. Not only that but Monstersanto has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to destroy farmers who got drifted by them. Frankly, there should be no patenting of life and if they are going to patent it then they should take responsibility for the polluting they are doing. In any case, they have not demonstrated that their GMOs are safe. They should be held to the highest possible standard on that since they are releasing these genes out into the wild by selling them and having pollen drift.

    Bravo to the courts for being sensible and stopping the Monster.

  6. Wait, I thought I was the local pedant... now I'm over-simplifying? No, I don't think I was making anything simpler, actually, I was showing how if you were to extract any general principle from your statement of farmer's rights, that it would actually be much more complicated than you suppose. If it was to be based on something other than "I hates GMOz!" that is. If you suggest that a farmer's rights extend to control what other farmers grow within pollen-drift-distance of them, that is the logical outcome.

    You know what I like about you, Walter? You bring up quite excellent debatable points, and very quickly avoid them or default on them. :)

  7. Brian Rasche says:

    IM is undoubtedly an industry paid PR shill.

  8. Brian: He's not. He's an extremely well-informed skeptic and blogger with his own radio show.