In June 2005, Monsanto’s genetically modified Roundup Ready alfalfa was approved for commercial sale by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Roundup Ready alfalfa is designed to tolerate the leading ingredient in Monsanto’s trademark Roundup herbicide, glyphosate. Monsanto’s alfalfa is the first genetically modified perennial crop to be commercialized, which poses special environmental, agricultural, and economic risks.
WORC produced A Guide to Genetically Modified Alfalfa for alfalfa producers and consumers on the environmental, agricultural, and economic risks that Roundup Ready® alfalfa poses to U.S. conventional and organic farmers, ranchers and consumers.
DRC & WORC challenge GM alfalfa
Dakota Resource Council and WORC have joined a lawsuit filed March 18 challenging the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to allow unrestricted planting of genetically modified Roundup Ready (GM) alfalfa. The groups said the agency has failed to provide adequate oversight of GM alfalfa.
Farm Aid features member
Dakota Rural Action member Pat Trask has been working to keep genetically modified alfalfa from threatening the livelihoods of conventional and organic farmers.
USDA deregulates GM alfalfa
Dakota Resource Council said the decision to allow unrestricted planting of genetically modified Roundup Ready alfalfa threatens consumer choice and the livelihoods of organic and conventional growers.
Read news release
GM Alfalfa Environmental Impact Statement
WORC statement on Final EIS
WORC is pleased that U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering a new option which would place some limits on the planting of genetically modified alfalfa. USDA has finally recognized that contamination from genetically engineered crops unfairly damages farmers who grow organic crops or conventional crops for markets demanding GM free production.
Read entire statement
Alfalfa study not worth a straw
WORC told the Department of Agriculture to redo its study on the deregulation of Monsanto’s genetically modified alfalfa. More than 200,000 people said USDA should not approve the crop in comments on the draft Environmental Impact Statement.
COALITION WINS MORATORIUM
WORC, Dakota Resource Council, Center for Food Safety and others have won the first-ever moratorium on a genetically modified seed. On February 13, 2007, Judge Charles Breyer ruled that USDA had failed to adequately evaluate the potential environmental and economic impacts of GM alfalfa. In May, Judge Breyer issued a judgment banning the planting or sale of Roundup Ready alfalfa until USDA re-approves it based on a full Environmental Impact Statement.
Supreme Court Rules on GM Alfalfa Case
The Supreme Court made its ruling on the first ever genetically modified crop case to go to the high court. In Monsanto V. Geerston Farms, the Court reversed parts of the lower courts rulings. However, the judgment holds that the planting of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Alfalfa cannot go forward at this time.
- Read the Court’s decision
- Read summary of the findings
- Read press release by Center for Food Safety
- Justices to hear appeal on Roundup Ready alfalfa seed, Billings Gazette
Monsanto loses alfalfa appeal (June 20, 2010)
On June 24, 2009, a U.S. appeals court refused to lift the ban on planting genetically modified (GM) alfalfa until the federal government finishes its study on how the product could affect organic and conventional crops, the environment, and economic well-being of farmers.
- Read WORC's news release
Appeals Court affirms GM alfalfa ban
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled for WORC and our fellow-plaintiffs, upholding a nationwide ban on the planting of genetically-engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa pending a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Court rejected an appeal by USDA and Monsanto of Federal Judge Charles Breyer's 2007 decision to enjoin further sales and planting of GM alfalfa seed and requiring USDA to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement on any future decision to approve GM alfalfa.
In her opinion for the Court, Circuit Judge Mary M. Schroeder upheld Judge Breyer’s finding that “the harm to growers and consumers who wanted non-genetically engineered alfalfa outweighed the financial hardships to Monsanto and Forage Genetics and their growers.”
Judge Breyer Orders Complete Environmental Review of Monsanto’s Gene-Altered Alfalfa (May 3, 2007)
The Judge called on USDA to ban any further planting of the GE seed until it conducts a complete Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the GE crop.
Judge Grants Injunction (March 12, 2007)
Judge stops GM alfalfa seed sales and planting of crops.
Judge Issues Decision (Feb. 13, 2007)
Court finds USDA violated the law by failing to conduct and Environmental Impact Statement before approving commercial release of GM Alfalfa.
COALITION FILES LAWSUIT
WORC, Dakota Resource Council, Center for Food Safety and others have joined in a lawsuit challenging USDA’s approval of the commercial release of GM alfalfa.
- Read WORC news release
- Read Dakota Resource Council news release
- Read The Center for Food Safety news release
- Read Executive Summary
- Understanding Monsanto's Technology Agreement
- 10 Things You Should Know About Roundup Ready Alfalfa
Farmers and ranchers value alfalfa for its superior quality as forage. Alfalfa is the fourth most widely grown crop behind corn, soybeans, and wheat. In Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and North and South Dakota, alfalfa hay production is a $1.7 billion a year industry, and amounts to 25% of U.S. annual alfalfa hay production. Alfalfa is grown on over 21 million acres, and is worth $8 billion per year (not including the value of final products, such as dairy products).
Organic Valley farmers want permanent injunction against genetically modified alfalfa.
Saskatchewan Organic Directorate opposes GM alfalfa. Read their position statement.
WORC's fact sheet, The Problem with GM Alfalfa.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture approves Roundup Ready alfalfa for commercial sale in the U.S.
WORC submits comments to USDA/APHIS on Roundup Ready alfalfa.
The Center for Food Safety