CFS Update on Roundup Ready Alfalfa Supreme Court Case
To briefly recap how we ended up at the Supreme Court, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) spent the last four years successfully litigating against Monsanto and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the illegality of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Alfalfa (RRA). We sued on behalf of our membership, in addition to: a broad coalition of organic and conventional farmers who wished to retain the right to sow non-GE crops without contamination; public interest environmental organizations focused on the foreseeable environmental impacts of the crops on biodiversity; and consumers who demand the right to choose to eat GE-free.
In 2007 we succeeded in getting USDA to undertake a rigorous analysis of RRA’s impacts under U.S. environmental laws, the first time USDA (or any other federal agency) has done such an analysis on a GE crop, even though such crops were introduced in the marketplace more than 15 years ago. Over 200,000 of you commented on the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in March of this year, an amazing showing that was noted in court. We also succeeded in halting the introduction of RRA until and unless USDA complies with environmental laws, another first. The court of appeals twice upheld the decision in favor of CFS, once in 2008 and again 2009. Finally, Monsanto pressed its arguments to the last court left, the normally business-friendly Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case over our objection (and that of the USDA) in January of this year. Many powerful corporations then filed briefs in support of Monsanto, including the American Petroleum Institute and CropLife, the lobbying wing of the pesticide industry. On our side we marshaled briefs from many organic and conventional farmers, dairies and businesses, international groups, prominent scientists, legal scholars, environmental organizations, and three states (CA, OR and MA).
We believe that the Supreme Court argument went well for us, all things considered. Our legal team did a great job, in a hostile and challenging environment, against great odds. The oral argument provides a brief window into the Justices’ possible leanings on a case, as it is the first and only time to gauge the reaction of the Justices to the lengthy written briefings. And at least some of the Court seemed to agree with our views. The Justices also at times questioned harshly Monsanto’s lawyer, President Bush’s former Solicitor General. However, it is impossible to predict an outcome based on the oral argument.
In conclusion, there are still many possible outcomes. However, contrary to the pre-argument assumptions of most legal and business pundits, we think our arguments hit home with at least some of the Justices. We definitely have a fighting chance. A decision is not expected until June—we will let you know as soon as we hear word.
Once again thank you for your support. It was a great honor and privilege to represent you, at the highest court in our country. We could not do this important but immensely difficult work without your continued support and generosity. Because of you, CFS has been able to take on Monsanto, one of the most powerful corporations in the world, and repeatedly win, driving them all the way to the Supreme Court. These are important, ground-breaking victories in protecting the future of our food, for all of us. Regardless the outcome of this case, we are committed to protecting the interests of the public and farmers, fighting the impacts of industrial agriculture and promoting sustainable and organic alternatives.
The Center for Food Safety
True Food Network Director, the Center for Food Safety
t 415/826-2770 f 415/826-0507 c 510/501-8092
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