NCGA Applauds Supreme Court Decision to Uphold Ban on Planting Genetically Engineered Alfalfa

Jun 22, 2010

National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), a business services cooperative for 114 natural food co-ops nationwide, applauds yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the USDA ban on the deregulation of Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE), Roundup Ready alfalfa for widespread commercial use.

Although the decision does not uphold an indefinite ban on GE alfalfa, it provides consumers and farmers the opportunity to voice their opinions and challenge any potential deregulation of GE alfalfa, which is the fourth most planted crop in the U.S. NCGA encourages concerned consumers to continue telling theUSDA they oppose allowing GE alfalfa's use in agriculture.

In Monsanto vs. Geerston Farms, the first genetically modified crop case litigators have brought before the Supreme Court, the justices handed the decision back to the USDA to determine whether the selling and planting of Roundup Ready Alfalfa is legal.

The Supreme Court's ruling also supports the contention that GE alfalfa could compromise the integrity of the USDA Organic Seal through uncontrollable contamination of organic foods. Contamination can occur when GE crops on neighboring farms unintentionally cross-pollinate with organic farms, effectively destroying acres of carefully nurtured organic crops and pastureland.

With the oversight of GE alfalfa back in the control of the USDA, the agency must conduct a complete environmental impact statement (EIS) before deregulation can take place. The USDA notes the EIS will take about a year to conduct. In the event the USDA deregulates GE alfalfa, further litigation will be needed to keep the harmful seeds off farmlands.

“This clearly is a victory for farmers seeking to grow food and raise livestock in harmony with nature and for consumers seeking to make informed food purchases,” said Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for NCGA. “The Center for Food Safety (CFS) has been a leader in the fight against GE alfalfa. We were proud to sign an amicus brief in this case detailing GE alfalfa’s detriment to organic food.

“But it’s also clear pressure against GE alfalfa must continue,” said Shrader.

NCGA encourages individuals to affirm their opposition to GE alfalfa by contacting their legislators and voicing support for its continued regulation. 

In May, Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR) circulated a bicameral Congressional sign-on letter in the House and Senate “AskingUSDA to Maintain the Ban on GE Alfalfa.” Individuals can contact their Senators and Representative and urge them to sign on by visiting the CFS website.