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Rachel Iadicicco  (301) 734-3255
Jerry Redding      (202) 720-4623

USDA PROVIDES UPDATE ON GENETICALLY ENGINEERED ALFALFA

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2007--In order to comply with a March 12, 2007, preliminary injunction order by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is informing all alfalfa growers that Roundup Ready (RR) alfalfa, is once again a regulated article, and will remain so until the agency issues a new determination consistent with court requirements.
 
The court did not overturn federal conclusions regarding the safety of the crop for food and feed purposes, but rather concluded that APHIS had not adequately documented potential environmental impacts.  A future decision regarding the deregulation of RR alfalfa will be issued only after the completion of an appropriately documented environmental analysis.
 
After the court issued its March 12, 2007, order, seed dealers were notified that seed can no longer be sold.  Growers who had already purchased RR alfalfa seed as of March 12, may plant that seed before March 30, 2007.  Growers who meet these deadlines may harvest, use and sell their RR alfalfa crop, as may growers who previously planted RR alfalfa.  Any product grown from seed planted after this deadline will be subject to the full range of APHIS’ remedial authorities.
 
APHIS deregulated genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa lines J101 and J163 on June 14, 2005, after a thorough review of the scientific evidence.  APHIS prepared an environmental assessment (EA) to determine whether deregulating the alfalfa could have a significant impact on the environment and issued a finding of no significant impact.  APHIS makes a determination of nonregulated status only when it can conclude that the organism does not pose a plant pest risk.
 
RR alfalfa is engineered to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, marketed under the brand name Roundup.  RR products include corn, canola and soybean and have a long history of safe use.

APHIS regulates the introduction (importation, interstate movement and environmental release) of GE organisms.  APHIS has been safely regulating GE organisms since 1986 and has overseen the deregulation of more than 70 GE crop lines.

Notice of this action is published in the March 23 Federal Register.

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