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Court Upholds Ban on Monsanto's GE Alfalfa

A federal appeals court upheld a 2-year-old ban on Monsanto Co.'s genetically modified alfalfa in a case a biotech food opponent calls a "turning point" in the regulation of such crops.

The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday leaves Creve Coeur-based Monsanto with two options. It can appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court or hope for regulatory approval after the Agriculture Department completes a comprehensive environmental review.

"The ruling is disappointing, both to our company and the growers," said Garrett Kasper, a Monsanto spokesman.

However, Monsanto said a dissenting opinion by one of the three judges provides a "sound argument" if the case is appealed to the Supreme Court.

 Monsanto got regulatory approval for biotech alfalfa in 2005. A year later, two alfalfa-seed farms and a coalition of environmental groups sued the government, challenging the decision to approve the crop without requiring an environmental impact statement.

The groups cited concerns that conventional and organic alfalfa could be contaminated through cross-pollination, preventing crops from being sold. They also claimed biotech crops have led to overuse of herbicides and given rise to "super weeds" resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.

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