ST. LOUIS -- Monsanto Company said it is disappointed that a preliminary injunction will affect the plans of many farmers who want to use Roundup Ready alfalfa in their forage operations.

The preliminary injunction was issued in a lawsuit currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California; the lawsuit was brought by the Center for Food Safety and others against the USDA as Geertson Seed Farms Inc. et al. v. Mike Johanns, et al.

In this case, the court had previously ruled that USDA had failed to follow procedural requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act in granting non-regulated status to Roundup Ready alfalfa under the Plant Protection Act, and would have to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.

"We are hopeful that a reasoned approach in this matter will address questions about the regulatory approval process for Roundup Ready alfalfa while maintaining farmer access to this beneficial technology," said Jerry Steiner, executive vice president for Monsanto. "The extensive regulatory dossier for Roundup Ready alfalfa, combined with farmer stewardship agreements, provides a robust and responsible approach to managing the environmental questions raised by the plaintiffs in this case."

The March 12 preliminary injunction order allows continued harvest, use and sale of Roundup Ready alfalfa, but placed limits on the purchase and planting of seed until further hearings are held. Growers who intend to plant Roundup Ready alfalfa and have already purchased the seed as of March 12 may do so if said seed is planted by March 30, 2007.

The order also said growers intending to plant alfalfa after March 30, 2007, must plant non-genetically engineered alfalfa and that sales of Roundup Ready alfalfa seed are prohibited after March 12 pending the court's decision on permanent injunctive relief. The court has scheduled oral arguments on the nature of any permanent injunctive relief in this case for April 27, 2007.

In some parts of the country, the March 30 planting deadline does not leave enough time to plant Roundup Ready alfalfa that has been purchased.

"We don't plant alfalfa until the middle of May," said Dale Scheps, who operates a 145-cow dairy farm in Almena, Wisc. Scheps planted 35 acres of Roundup Ready alfalfa in 2006 and had already purchased enough seed to plant another 35 acres in 2007.

"It's a major setback to have this technology taken away from us," Scheps said. "It will needlessly drive up our feed costs because we will have to replace superior quality hay."

Monsanto, Forage Genetics International and several farmers were granted intervenor status in this case on March 8. Plaintiffs, defendants and intervenors can participate in oral arguments for this case on April 27.

The court has already accepted the fact that Roundup Ready alfalfa poses no harm to humans and livestock. As part of its regulatory filing for Roundup Ready alfalfa in April 2004, Monsanto provided USDA with an extensive dossier that addresses a variety of environmental, stewardship and crop management considerations. Other regulatory agencies around the world, including Canada and Japan, have confirmed the environmental safety of Roundup Ready alfalfa.

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.

SOURCE: Monsanto Company via PR Newswire.