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U.S. Judge OKs Alfalfa Strain Made by Monsanto Co.

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.
A federal judge has upheld the government's decision to let the nation's alfalfa growers plant the genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant strain manufactured by Monsanto Co., saying the alleged risk of contaminating other crops does not require regulators to impose buffer zones.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the use of Roundup Ready alfalfa - so named because it is designed to withstand Monsanto's Roundup herbicide - in January 2011, ending a nationwide ban that another judge had imposed in March 2007.

The action was challenged by a group of alfalfa farmers who said they feared that the Monsanto product, spread by winds and bees, would pollinate their crops and take over their fields. Thursday, however, U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti of San Francisco said the USDA had acted within its authority.

Federal law does not require the department to "account for the effects of cross-pollination on other commercial crops" in assessing the risks posed by a new crop, Conti said.

He said the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service had found that contamination of either conventionally grown or organic alfalfa was "possible but unlikely," and that Roundup Ready alfalfa was no more hazardous than other varieties.



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