New seeding of Roundup Ready alfalfa halted

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.

As some of you are likely aware, a U.S. District Court in California has issued a temporary injunction that prohibits the planting of Roundup Ready alfalfa after March 30, 2007. This injunction was in response to arguments made against the procedures the USDA followed prior to deregulating glyphosate-resistant alfalfa in June 2005. The question at the center of this legal battle is whether the USDA conducted proper testing of glyphosate-resistant alfalfa, specifically the risk of unwanted pollen movement from glyphosate-resistant varieties to non-resistant varieties under normal production settings. This movement has the potential to impact two groups of alfalfa growers: organic producers and conventional alfalfa seed producers. The judge has scheduled a new court date of April 27, 2007, to hear arguments pertaining to making this injunction permanent from both sides of this issue.

In the meantime, all Roundup Ready alfalfa that was seeded prior to March 30, 2007, is exempt from this ruling and can be harvested, sold and fed to animals. Any Roundup Ready alfalfa seed purchased before March 12, 2007, must be planted before March 30, 2007. After this date, all alfalfa planted must be a conventional, non-glyphosate resistant variety.

It is important to note that this legal battle is centered on the USDA and their registration procedures for the release of glyphosate-resistant alfalfa. Monsanto and Forage Genetics, the two companies that developed glyphosate-resistant alfalfa, are not mentioned in the lawsuit. Furthermore, the concern is with the potential of pollen movement from resistant to non-resistant alfalfa and not the feed safety of the alfalfa itself. The final outcome of these procedures could have a lasting impact on the use of glyphosate-resistant alfalfa and how future genetically-engineered crops are deregulated. It is safe to say that whatever the outcome of this hearing, an appeal will be filed by the losing party and additional lawsuits will be filed. This will likely take several months to a year(s) before a final verdict is the reached.

As more information becomes available, MSU will pass it along to you. More information about this can be found at: Monsanto’s website, monsanto.com.

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