Well folks, good old Clarence Thomas remained true to form and overturned the ban on GM Alfalfa. They will begin planting upon completion of the USDA’s Environmental Impact Statement and review. But wait, maybe the USDA will decide to not allow it! And I think I just saw a pig fly over my house. Remember, this is this the same USDA that gives insurance breaks to farmers willing to plant genetically modified crops instead of normal ones. But just maybe this “non-biased” agency will decide in favor of common sense and the health of the people, eh? FAT CHANCE! We are going to be flooded with GM contamination the likes of which we have never seen. Prepare yourself. It is coming.

Barbara H. Peterson

Here is the article:

Court lifts limits on GMO alfalfa pending USDA

Reuters

Missouri (Reuters) – A Supreme Court ruling in a case pitting environmentalists against biotech seed giant Monsanto Co may speed up a resumption of sales of genetically altered alfalfa, but any commercialization still depends on action by U.S. regulators.U.S.

The Supreme Court said in a 7-to-1 vote on Monday that a district court judge in San Francisco had abused his discretion in barring the U.S. Agriculture Department from effecting a partial deregulation and in prohibiting the planting of the biotech alfalfa seeds, pending the completion of an environmental review.

The ruling, however, does not alter the lower court decision that vacated the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s approval of genetically altered alfalfa until completion of a full environmental review. That review is pending and USDA could seek a partial deregulation, the Supreme Court said.

USDA indicated at the Supreme Court argument in April that full deregulation is about a year away and that the agency would not pursue a partial deregulation in the interim.

USDA officials were not immediately available for comment on Monday.

But Steve Welker, who heads Monsanto’s alfalfa business, said the company saw the ruling as good news.

“We have Roundup Ready alfalfa seed ready to deliver and await USDA guidance on its release. Our goal is to have everything in place for growers to plant in fall 2010,” Welker said.

Monsanto said in a statement that the ruling will allow USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to take appropriate action to allow further planting while the USDA completes the Environmental Impact Statement.

Andrew Kimbrell, a lawyer for the Center for Food Safety, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said plaintiffs were heartened that the ban on sales and planting of the biotech alfalfa remained in place, at least until USDA’s environmental review is completed.

“The bottom line is the bottom line. The ban on the sale and planting of alfalfa remains in place,” Kimbrell said.

FOUR-YEAR LEGAL BATTLE

Environmental groups and conventional seed companies, led by Geertson Seed Farms, sued the USDA in 2006 to force it to rescind its approval of the Monsanto alfalfa seed until USDA conducted a full environmental study.

The groups claimed that the biotech alfalfa could be destructive to both the economy and the environment.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of the Northern District of California vacated the USDA’s 2005 approval of biotech alfalfa, saying USDA’s approval was illegal and did not follow a full environmental review.

Breyer issued an injunction against the planting of biotech alfalfa, marking the first time a federal court had overturned a USDA approval of a biotech seed.

His decision was upheld by a U.S. appeals court.

Prior to the injunction, Roundup Ready alfalfa was planted by approximately 5,500 growers across more than 220,000 acres, according to Monsanto.

St. Louis-based Monsanto intervened on the government’s side in the case and appealed to the Supreme Court.

Specifically, the Supreme Court ruling on Monday said that Breyer had erred in entering the nationwide injunction against planting the seeds and also that the lower court had overstepped its bounds in prohibiting APHIS from pursuing a limited deregulation as it completes its environmental review.

“We do not know whether and to what extent APHIS would seek to effect a limited deregulation during the pendency of the EIS process if it were free to do so; we do know that the vacatur of APHIS’s deregulation decision means that virtually no RRA (Roundup Ready Alfalfa) can be grown or sold until such time as a new deregulation decision is in place,” the ruling stated.

Alfalfa is the fourth-largest U.S. field crop grown on about 23 million acres in the United States annually, Monsanto says.

The Supreme Court case is Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, No. 09-475.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam, additional reporting by James Vicini in Washington, editing by Matthew Lewis)