Contacts: George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety, 415-826-2770
John Bianchi, Goodman Media, 212-576-2700
Diverse Interests Back CEnter for Food Safety, Oppose Monsanto In Upcoming High Court Hearing on Biotech Alfalfa
States, Scientists, Organic And Conventional Farmers, Food Companies, Exporters, Former Govt. Officials, And Legal Scholars File Briefs In Support
Seven Amicus Briefs Filed In All
Washington, DC – April 19, 2010 — A myriad of interests – ranging from food companies to farmers unions to scientific experts and legal scholars – have filed briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Center for Food Safety and opposed to Monsanto in a case to be argued on April 27, Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms. This will be the first genetically engineered crop case ever heard by the High Court.
All lower courts that have heard the case temporarily stopped the planting of Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” alfalfa because the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) failed to analyze the crop’s impacts on farmers and the environment. Although it is undisputed that USDA violated environmental laws and that the agency must rigorously analyze the crop’s impacts if it is to again approve it for sale, Monsanto is arguing that the lower courts should have allowed the planting of the now-illegal crop to go forward anyway.
The Attorneys General of California, Oregon and Massachusetts filed a brief on behalf of their citizens supporting the Center, emphasizing the “States’ interests in protecting their natural resources and their citizens’ rights to be informed about the environmental impacts of federal actions.” The States note “immense” ramifications for all environmental protection should Monsanto prevail, which would damage the States’ interest in “protection of wilderness, habitat preservation for endangered species, watershed protection, [and] air quality.”
Leading organic businesses and trade groups – including Organic Valley, Stonyfield Farms, the Organic Trade Association, United Natural Foods, Eden Foods, Annie’s, Clif Bar and Nature’s Path Foods – warned of the imminent threat from unwanted biotech contamination to their businesses. The $25 billion-a-year organic industry, the fastest growing sector of U.S. agriculture for more than a decade, is at particular risk from the effects of contamination because alfalfa is pollinated by bees, which can fly many miles to cross-pollinate different fields. Organic dairy alone is a one-billion-dollar-a-year industry and depends on organic hay as the main forage for its cows. These commercial entities warned that “widespread planting of RR alfalfa imposes massive risk and uncertainty on the continued viability of organic dairy farming” and that overturning the lower courts would “irreparably harm” their ability to grow and sell organic food.
Conventional farmers and exporters filed a similar brief, warning of lost overseas alfalfa markets in Asia, Europe and the Middle East that reject biotech-contaminated crops. The Arkansas Rice Growers Association, which produces approximately half of all exported U.S. rice and which in 2006 lost their overseas markets from a biotech rice contamination episode, voiced similar concerns: “Genetically engineered (“GE”) crops have already contaminated conventional crops, resulting in damages of over a billion dollars to the rice trade, and ruinous results to many of Amici’s export operations.”
The Union of Concerned Scientists and nearly a dozen other scientific experts warned that allowing the planting of Monsanto’s alfalfa would “bring with it certain predictable, serious risks of irreparable harm to farmers and to the public” that will “continue to contaminate agriculture and the environment indefinitely.” The scientists highlighted the “spread of unwanted transgenes to surrounding fields and wild plant populations and the proliferation of herbicide-resistant weeds. Both events are likely, and when either occurs, the resulting harm is effectively irreversible.” Contrary to Monsanto’s assurances, the experts underscored for the Court the “near certainty of irreparable harm” from the “collective risks” of allowing planting before USDA’s assessment is complete.
Finally, over a dozen law professors, scholars and several former General Counsels of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) filed two separate briefs explaining that, contrary to Monsanto’s mischaracterizations, the processes and standards used by the lower courts were entirely correct. CEQ is the expert federal agency charged with overseeing the statute in question in the case, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): “A court is well within its equitable discretion to enjoin an unprecedented activity from proceeding until after a proper environmental analysis, required by statute, has been conducted.” By “prohibiting further sale and distribution of Roundup Ready alfalfa, the district court followed Congress’s directive.” The law professors “vast scholarship includes over two hundred law review articles, six casebooks, and the leading treatise on NEPA law. Although law professors often write about what law should be established, here they write to defend law that is already well-established.”
Environmental groups including the National Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Center for Biological Diversity also filed briefs in support of CFS.
A full list of those filing briefs, as well as background and related information, are available Here.
Full List of Amici:
• Amicus brief from California, Oregon, and Massachusetts
• Amicus brief from CROPP Cooperative (Organic Valley), Montana Organic Ass’n, Nat’l Cooperative Grocers’ Ass’n, Nat’l Organic Coalition, Organic Farming Research Foundation, Organic Seed Alliance, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Ass’n, Organic Trade Ass’n, Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, United Natural Foods, Inc., Eden Foods, Inc., Annie’s, Inc., Clif Bar & Company, Nature’s Path Foods, Inc., Purist Foods, Inc., Stonyfield Farm, Inc., and Straus Family Creamery
• Amicus brief from Arkansas Rice Growers Association, Rice Producers of California, New England Farmers Union, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, FedCo Seeds, Inc., Nat’l Farmers Union of Canada, Genetics International, Eckenberg Farms, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture
• Amicus brief from Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Responsible Genetics, Dr. Steven R. Radosevich, Dr. Paul E. Arriola, Dr. John Fagan, Dr. E. Ann Clark, Dr. Don M. Huber, Dr. Rubens Onofre Nodari, Dr. Doreen Stabinsky, and Caroline Cox
• Amicus brief from Dinah Bear, Robert Glicksman, Oliver Houck, Daniel Mandelker, Thomas McGarity, Robert Percival, Zygmunt Plater, Nicholas Robinson, and Gary Widman
• Amicus brief from Natural Resources Defense Counsel and Prof. Craig N. Johnston, Prof. Michael C. Blumm, Prof. David W. Case, Prof. Jamison E. Colburn, Prof. William F. Funk, Prof. David K. Mears, Prof. Patrick A. Parenteau, Prof. John T. Parry, Prof. Melissa A. Powers, and Prof. Mary C. Wood
• Amicus brief from Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society of the United States, and Center for Biological Diversity