Many of you may have read press today reporting that the 7-1 decision announced by the Supreme Court this morning went entirely in Monsanto’s favor, and have asked us to clarify this decision. Not to our surprise, Monsanto’s PR machine is working hard to overpower the truth in today’s decision in the first-ever Supreme Court case on genetically engineered crops (Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms). While the decision is complicated, this Court opinion is in many ways a victory for CFS and a defeat against Monsanto—especially given that it is still illegal to sell or plant GMO alfalfa.
CFS’s Executive Director, Andrew Kimbrell authored an article in today’s Huffington Post to help clarify the legal ramifications of the decision. Grist also has a good piece outlining the decision, as does Eco Centric.
Despite what Monsanto is claiming—and what many mainstream media outlets reported earlier this morning—today’s ruling isn’t even close to the victory they were hoping for. Generally speaking, Monsanto asked the Supreme Court to rule on three main issues: (1) to lift the injunction on GMO alfalfa; (2) to allow the planting and sale of GMO alfalfa; (3) to rule that contamination from GMO crops not be considered irreparable harm. In fact, the court only ruled on the first request which it did affirm by stating that the injunction was overly broad and should be overturned; however, the Court ruled in CFS’s favor on the other two issues, which in many ways are more important as the fact remains that the planting and sale of GMO alfalfa remains illegal.
The Supreme Court ruled that an injunction against planting was simply unnecessary since, under lower courts’ rulings, Roundup Ready Alfalfa became a regulated item and is therefore illegal to plant. In other words, the injunction was “overkill’ because our victory in lower federal court determined that USDA violated the National Environmental Protection Act and other environmental laws when it approved Roundup Ready alfalfa. The court felt that voiding the USDA’s decision to make the crop legally available for sale was enough.
The Center is victorious in this case in several other ways: most importantly, the High Court did not rule on several arguments presented by Monsanto about the application of federal environmental law. As a result, the Court did not make any ruling that could have been hurtful to National Environmental Policy Act or any other environmental laws. In addition, the Court opinion supported the Center’s argument that gene flow is a serious environmental and economic threat. This means that genetic contamination from GMOs can still be considered harm under the law, both from an environmental and economic perspective, another huge victory for CFS.
We will keep you updated on any Agency attempts to deregulate GE alfalfa and on the ongoing EIS process. In the meantime, if you have not already done so, please take a moment to contact your Congressional representatives and ask them to sign the “Dear Colleague” letter circulating in the U.S. House and Senate urging USDA to ban GE alfalfa.