Ag Groups File Supreme Court Brief in Biotech Alfalfa Case

By American Farm Bureau Federation,

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 8, 2009 – Lower courts failed to adequately consider the mountains of evidence that prove biotech alfalfa is safe, and thus those courts abandoned a well-established legal principle when they banned the planting of the crop. That is just one of the points supporting a request for the United States Supreme Court to review a case related to biotech alfalfa, according to a brief filed by several groups. The American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Corn Growers Association, the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the American Seed Trade Association have submitted a joint friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court in support of a petition seeking review of the “alfalfa” case, “Monsanto v. Geertson Seed.”

According to the brief, if left to stand, the lower court ruling “could begin a wave of anti-biotechnology injunctions.” Such a wave would generate uncertainty in the agricultural biotechnology industry, throughout American agriculture and in the global food market, according to the brief.

The lower court’s injunction against biotech alfalfa was made without the court conducting a thorough review of evidence and absent a finding of irreparable harm, according to the brief. It was also made despite the fact that agricultural biotechnology already is adopted widely in the U.S. for a number of key crops, ranging from corn and cotton to papaya, sugar beets and soybeans.

“The lower courts abandoned the well-established principle that evidence of likely irreparable harm is a prerequisite to issuance of an injunction,” the brief stated. “The district court ruling in this case, instead of fashioning an injunction based on the evidence before it, declined to conduct an evidentiary hearing and applied a legal standard that effectively presumed the existence of irreparable harm.”

If the courts do not respect those established legal standards, the ability to bring future innovations, especially biotech crops, to the marketplace is in real jeopardy, according to the brief.


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