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G-E Whiz: Judge Says G-E Crops Need More Study

February 15, 2007


Companies touting genetically-engineered crops say they're safe for people and the environment, but that's not a guarantee. U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer has ordered additional research before "G-E" alfalfa can be planted in the United States this season.

Dean Hulse with the Western Organization of Resource Councils says consumer studies have repeatedly shown people are uncomfortable with the idea of genetically modified crops, but it's the first time a federal court has agreed that there are valid concerns about their environmental impact.

"At least somebody in our system of checks and balances understands that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has got to do a better job of regulating these G-E crops, rather than just trying to rush transgenic crops to market that benefit largely the seed seller and gives another market for Round-Up brand herbicide.

The ruling concerns "Round-Up Ready," an alfalfa brand of the St. Louis-based Monsanto Company. Hulse says small farmers can't afford the expensive testing needed to prove their seed hasn't been contaminated with the G-E crop. Such contamination means the loss of sales not only overseas, but domestically, to organic dairy and livestock operations. Monsanto says G-E alfalfa is profitable for growers, and that the company has done its own testing to verify its safety.

Deborah Smith/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - MT