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Challenge to Approval of Deregulation of Genetically Modified Plant

By FindLaw Staff on June 21, 2010 10:35 AM

Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, No. 09-475, involved an action challenging the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's (APHIS) decision to approve the unconditional deregulation of Roundup Ready Alfalfa (RRA), a variety of alfalfa genetically engineered to tolerate the herbicide Roundup.  The court of appeals reversed the Ninth Circuit's affirmance of judgment for plaintiffs, holding that 1) plaintiffs had standing to seek injunctive relief, and defendants had standing to seek the Court's review of the Ninth Circuit's judgment affirming the entry of such relief; and 2) the district court abused its discretion in enjoining APHIS from effecting a partial deregulation and in prohibiting the planting of RRA pending the agency's completion of its detailed environmental review.

As the Court wrote:  "This case arises out of a decision by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to deregulate a variety of genetically engineered alfalfa. The District Court held that APHIS violated the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 83 Stat. 852, 42 U. S. C. §4321 et seq., by issuing its deregulation decision without first completing a detailed assessment ofthe environmental consequences of its proposed course of action. To remedy that violation, the District Court vacated the agency's decision completely deregulating the alfalfa variety in question; ordered APHIS not to act on the deregulation petition in whole or in part until it had completed a detailed environmental review; and enjoined almost all future planting of the genetically engineered alfalfa pending the completion of that review. The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's entry of permanent injunctive relief. The main issue now in dispute concerns the breadth of that relief. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse and remand for further proceedings."

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