- Posted By: Gale Perez
- Written by: Posted by David Low, The Weed's News; by Bob Egelko, The Chronicle
He said the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service had found that contamination of either conventionally grown or organic alfalfa was "possible but unlikely," and that Roundup Ready alfalfa was no more hazardous than other varieties.
As a result, Conti said, the department reasonably concluded it lacked authority to require separation between genetically modified alfalfa and other crops, and could rely on voluntary agreements among growers and trade associations.
He rejected the plaintiffs' argument that the USDA's analysis had failed to consider the effects of increased herbicide use that would inevitably follow the approval of herbicide-resistant alfalfa. That possible consequence, and the impact on other crops and species, are beyond the scope of the environmental review that the department was required to conduct, Conti said.
Alfalfa, used for hay and cattle feed, is grown on about 20 million acres in the United States, including 1 million in California, and is the nation's fourth-largest crop. The USDA initially approved Monsanto's product in 2005, while requiring buffer zones around organic farms, but U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said the department had failed to conduct a thorough study of its safety and environmental effects.
The plaintiffs are disappointed by the ruling and plan to appeal, said George Kimbrell, a lawyer with the nonprofit Center for Food Safety in San Francisco.
Monsanto's lawyer was unavailable for comment. Forage Genetics International, a co-developer of the alfalfa strain and its licensed distributor, said the ruling confirmed that the USDA's approval was "based on sound science and thorough analysis."
Posted on The Weed's News