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Geertson Seed Farms v. Johanns

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20047
Nos. No. 06-01075, (N.D. Cal., 02/13/2007)

A district court held that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) failed to take a hard look at its decision to deregulate alfalfa genetically engineered to resist the herbicide glyphosate—the active ingredient in "RoundUp." Substantial questions exist as to whether the deregulation of "RoundUp Ready alfalfa" without any geographic restrictions will lead to the transmission of the engineered gene to organic and conventional alfalfa, the possible extent of such transmission, and farmers' ability to protect their crops from acquiring the genetically engineered gene. Substantial questions also arise as to the extent to which RoundUp Ready alfalfa will contribute to the development of RoundUp-resistant weeds, especially when considered in conjunction with other genetically engineered RoundUp crops that are already or soon-to-be deregulated, and as to how farmers will address such weeds. Instead of addressing these issues, APHIS concluded that any environmental impact is insignificant because gene transmission is the problem of the organic and conventional farmers and weeds always develop resistance to herbicides. Because these reasons are not convincing and do not demonstrate that the agency took a hard look at the potential environmental impacts of its deregulation decision, APHIS must prepare an environmental impact statement.