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Foundation on Economic Trends v. Johnson

Citation: 17 ELR 21148
No. No. 86-1956, 661 F. Supp. 107/25 ERC 1429/(D.D.C., 12/22/1986)

The court holds that a challenge to the definitions adopted in an interagency report on biotechnology fails for lack of standing and ripeness. The Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology was developed by an interagency group in an attempt to provide the agencies with a consistent blueprint in an area of overlapping jurisdiction and little legislative guidance. The court first holds that there has been no regulatory rulemaking. The report is designed to guide agencies in developing policies concerning biotechnology. It is still being commented upon, and its use by agencies varies widely. Plaintiffs are free to assert their views as each agency issues its own regulations. The court next holds that plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the report. Plaintiffs' allegation that certain definitional defects in the report will result in inadequate regulation of genetically engineered products, which in turn will cause harm to the environment, is entirely speculative. Plaintiffs have failed to show a causal connection between the report and any future approval by the agencies of genetically engineered products, nor have they demonstrated that judicial invalidation of the definitions would prevent the agencies from authorizing the use of genetically engineered products. The court holds that the dispute in this case is not ripe for adjudication. Plaintiffs allege no specific agency action with an identifiable impact on the environment, and have failed to show that deferral of adjudication would work an immediate and significant hardship.

[A related case appears at 17 ELR 21149.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Edward Lee Rogers
1718 P St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 387-1600

Counsel for Defendants
Pauline H. Milius, Elizabeth A. Peterson, Ward Tabor
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2000