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Roundup Ready Alfalfa Timeline

In 2005, USDA deregulated alfalfa genetically engineered to resist the herbicide Roundup®. A lawsuit challenging USDA's decision was subsequently filed. As a result, several actions were taken by the court and APHIS. This page describes the chronological history of the court's and APHIS' actions.

February 2, 2011
APHIS published a notice in the Federal Register announcing that the record of decision and determination of nonregulated status, based on the findings of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) published December 16, 2010, for Roundup Ready® alfalfa (RR alfalfa), is available.

January 27, 2011 
APHIS announced its decision to grant nonregulated status for RR alfalfa. APHIS was required to wait at least 30 days after the EIS was published in the Federal Register before issuing its decision. APHIS made its decision after conducting a thorough and transparent examination of alfalfa through a multi-alternative EIS and several public comment opportunities, and determining that RR alfalfa does not pose a plant pest risk.

December 16, 2010/December 23, 2010 
APHIS makes available for public viewing the final EIS that evaluates the potential environmental effects of deregulating two lines of alfalfa genetically engineered (GE) to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate, known commercially as Roundup ®. The Environmental Protection Agency publishes the final EIS in the Federal Register.

January-February 2010 
APHIS holds four public meetings to gather feedback on the Draft EIS.

December 14, 2009
APHIS makes the Draft EIS available for public viewing.

September 2, 2008
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, CA upheld March 30, 2007 decision to halt the selling and planting of seed for the Monsanto Company's line of alfalfa genetically engineered to resist the herbicide Roundup® pending the completion of an environmental impact statement (EIS).

December 18, 2007 
APHIS issued a supplemental administrative order which clarifies and replaces the July 12, 2007 Administrative Order. The revised order specifies mandatory practices that must be implemented by Roundup Ready® alfalfa producers.

July 23, 2007 
The California District Court issued an Amended Order on its May 3, 2007 Permanent Injunction regarding the court's ruling in February 2007 to vacate APHIS' 2005 decision to deregulate Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready® alfalfa. The order describes details on how growers and distributors will store GE alfalfa, label containers, and clean equipment. It also describes how APHIS will manage the disclosure of location data. The July 23 Amended Order is the final order that will be enforced by the court.

May 3, 2007
The judge issued a permanent order in a lawsuit concerning genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa. The permanent order stated that the alfalfa is once again a regulated article, requiring an APHIS permit for future plantings. Future harvesting or sale of alfalfa already planted will be allowed under certain conditions. APHIS must issue an administrative order describing the conditions within 45 days. Within 30 days, Forage Genetics must supply all known alfalfa seed production locations for public disclosure.

March 23, 2007 
APHIS published in the Federal Register a notice that the Agency will return to regulated status alfalfa lines J101 and J163 that are genetically engineered by the Monsanto Company and Forage Genetics International to be tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate. APHIS is taking this action due to a California U.S. District Court decision on February 13, to vacate APHIS' June 2005 determination of nonregulated status of the alfalfa lines.

The court made its decision in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Food Safety --along with several other nonprofit organizations and alfalfa growers--challenging APHIS' decision to deregulate the alfalfa lines (referred to as Roundup Ready® alfalfa). The court ruled that the deregulation may have significant environmental impacts that require the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS), and that APHIS violated the National Environmental Policy Act by preparing an environmental assessment (EA) instead of an EIS.

March 12, 2007
The court issued a preliminary injunction order that all sales of Roundup Ready® alfalfa seed are prohibited pending the Court's issuance of permanent injunctive relief. The court decided that growers who have already planted Roundup Ready® alfalfa will not be required to remove the plants. Additionally, they will be permitted to harvest, use, and sell such Roundup Ready® alfalfa. The court also prohibited all future planting of Roundup Ready® alfalfa beginning March 30, 2007. Growers who intended to plant Roundup Ready® alfalfa before that date and who had already purchased the seed prior to the March 12, preliminary injunction order may plant the seed. Growers who intended to plant alfalfa after March 30, or who did not purchase Roundup Ready® alfalfa seed prior to March 12, must plant non-genetically engineered alfalfa.

February 13, 2007
The court issued an order requiring APHIS to develop an environmental impact statement for the lines of deregulated Roundup Ready® alfalfa.

June 27, 2005 
APHIS advised the public in a Federal Register notice (70 FR 36917-36919, Docket No. 04-085-3) of its determination to grant nonregulated status to the alfalfa lines. As a result a lawsuit was subsequently filed.


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