We know you're just dying to taste that delectable genetically modified alfalfa, but you'll have to wait: an appeals court today ruled that the feds must review the potential environmental effects of the biotech seeds before farmers can plant them.
The decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals forces the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue an environmental impact statement on Roundup Ready alfalfa seeds, which are made by ag giant Monsanto and would be planted exclusively by Forage Genetics International.
"It’s a historic moment of a court requiring an environmental review, and until it's done Monsanto can't plant or sell its seed," said Kevin Golden, a staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety (CFS), which along with eight other parties sued the government green-lighting the seeds. "It puts on notice the government and creators of this technology -- Monsanto in particular -- that if it wants to bring GE (genetically engineered) crops into the American agricultural system, it must do its work to show that farmers and consumers will be protected and non-GE crops won't be affected."
The decision upholds an injunction issued by a district court judge last year. CFS and other critics worry that tiny genetically modified alfalfa seeds will contaminate organic and conventional crops through cross-pollination.
"The concern is there will one day not be organic alfalfa, which is the primary food for cattle in this country," Golden said. "If you lose organic alfalfa, you lose organic cheese."
Representatives from USDA, Monsanto and Forage Genetics International didn't immediately respond for comment.
(Image courtesy of iStockphoto; Copyright: Daniel Loiselle