The U.S. Supreme Court heard the first case involving genetically engineered crops Tuesday. The case involved a three-year-old ban on Monsanto’s genetically modified alfalfa. Sale of the Roundup Ready alfalfa was blocked by a court order in California after opponents claimed that Monsanto’s seed contaminated their crops and cripple export sales to countries that ban GMO products. The judge ordered an environmental impact study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Earlier, the USDA had okayed the Monsanto product; the USDA is expected to complete the environmental study of the alfalfa next year.
The justices spent little time dwelling on the debate about the safety or environmental effects of biotech crops,” wrote the Des Moines Register’s Philip Brasher. “But Justice Antonin Scalia suggested that the threat to conventional or organic growers was minor and manageable. ‘It makes it more difficult for them to have a field of 100 percent non-genetically engineered (alfalfa), but that’s not the end of the world,’ Scalia said.”
The Supreme Court’s decision is due in June. Opponents say they may take the case back to court. Brasher interviewed one alfalfa producer who said that if the Court ends the band, the threat of cross-polination from GMS crops will push the production of non-biotech alfalfa to Canada.