Ag groups file supreme court brief in biotech alfalfa case

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WASHINGTON — Lower courts have failed to adequately consider the evidence that proves biotech alfalfa is safe, and have abandoned a well-established legal principle when they banned planting the crop, say a group of agricultural organizations.

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 U.S. 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.”

Review not thorough

The groups claim 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.

They also claim 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 states.

“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.”

The group believes the court’s decision could bring the innovations of future innovations, especially biotech crops, into jeopardy of never entering the marketplace.

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