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Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms

ELR Citation: 40 ELR 20167
Nos. No. 09-475, (U.S., 06/21/2010) Injunction rev'd and remanded

The U.S. Supreme Court held that a district court abused its discretion in enjoining the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) from effecting a partial deregulation of Roundup Ready Alfalfa (RRA), a variety of alfalfa genetically engineered to tolerate the herbicide Roundup, and in prohibiting the planting of RRA pending the Agency's completion of an EIS under NEPA. Petitioners and the government do not dispute that APHIS' deregulation decision violated NEPA, but they challenge the scope of the relief granted. None of the four factors for granting permanent injunctive relief supports the district court’s order enjoining APHIS from partially deregulating RRA during the pendency of the EIS process. Most importantly, respondents cannot show that they will suffer irreparable injury if APHIS is allowed to proceed with any partial deregulation. And because it was inappropriate for the district court to foreclose even the possibility of a partial and temporary deregulation, it follows that it was inappropriate to enjoin planting in accordance with such a deregulation decision. An injunction is a drastic and extraordinary remedy that should not be granted as a matter of course. If, as respondents concede, a less drastic remedy (such as partial or complete vacatur of APHIS' deregulation decision) was sufficient to redress their injury, no recourse to the additional and extraordinary relief of an injunction was warranted. The Court, therefore, reversed and remanded the Ninth Circuit decision affirming the district court.

[A prior decision in this litigation is reported at 37 ELR 20047.]