Action Could Clear the Way for RRA Sales By Early 2011

WEST SALEM, WISCONSIN - U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that the long-awaited Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Roundup Ready(R) Alfalfa (RRA) has been published. An electronic copy of the document can be found at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/biotechnology/downloads/alfalfa/gt_alfalfa%20_feis.pdf

"Publication of the final EIS marks an important, critical step to bringing RRA back to the U.S. market and ensuring growers have access to this technology, which will lower their costs and increase their profitability," said Mark McCaslin, President of Forage Genetics International, the world leader in value-added alfalfa genetics and co-developer of RRA.

Publication of the EIS satisfies a 9th Circuit Court ruling that required the EIS be conducted, and enables the USDA to make a decision about deregulation of RRA. There is a minimum 30 day period required between publication of the EIS and a deregulation decision by the agency. No commercial activity is allowed until and unless the USDA issues a decision deregulating RRA.

The USDA indicated it had considered three alternatives during the preparation of the final EIS. Maintaining RRA's status as a regulated article has been ruled out. The USDA is now considering two options – "deregulation as one option, and the other deregulation accompanied by a combination of isolation distances and geographic restrictions on the production of GE alfalfa seed and, in some locations, hay."

"When the USDA makes a decision about deregulation of RRA, Forage Genetics International will be ready to sell RRA seed to growers," McCaslin said. "With the action of the USDA today, American farmers are one step closer to having the opportunity to benefit from the advantages RRA provides." Those benefits include a more productive and profitable crop for growers, with RRA users self reporting a $110 per-acre advantage over conventional alfalfa. RRA also requires less use of crop protection products, providing both financial and environmental benefits.

"In these difficult economic times, America's farmers need every advantage to provide a reliable, affordable food supply for the U.S. and people worldwide. We need all types of agriculture – organic, conventional and biotech options – to feed a growing global population, and Forage Genetics and the seed industry remain committed to stewardship programs that are designed to enable co-existence and grower choice," McCaslin added.

Forage Genetics International is the world leader in value-added alfalfa genetics. Our breeding expertise, combined with our proprietary germplasm base allows us to develop unique seed varieties for diverse growing conditions. We make our products available through the most effective supply-chain management system in the alfalfa seed industry.

SOURCE: Forage Genetics International