Q 7: Did we non-GMO's win or lose in the Supreme Court 6-21-10
A 7: We won BIG in the Supreme Court on 6-21-2010! But we're in the next phase of the drama so read the update at the end. It ain't over yet.
Maybe you heard otherwise in the media- maybe you heard we lost. The respondents in the case reported on their website on the court decision. They are the Center for Food Safety, who stood with farmers as Monsanto fought to once again shirk responsibility for the inevitable contamination of other alfalfa crops. But all the things they won in court are not known to many because the local papers were told before the decision was released that Monsanto won it all- by Monsanto. They didn't fact-check a Supreme Court decision and just took the Plaintiff's word for it and misinformed the public. Monsanto spent a lot of money to make sure we didn't hear the truth from the press. The fact is, although the court did lift a ban placed by a lower court, it had no effect because there was a perfectly good standing ruling in an even lower court that barred them from planting or selling and to go forward, Monsanto would have to wait for an Environmental assessment to be done once again which includes public comment and may be challenged in court while a temporary hold on planting is put in place. There was absolutely no ground lost by us, and none gained by them. However, by spinning it in the media, they not only stopped investors from being scared off, but they made many people disheartened and ignorant to the fact that we only need to put the last nail in the coffin on GMO's and its time to go after the big prize. With these erroneous reports, the media, including our local newspaper, made people think the Supreme Court ruled that GM alfalfa was safe. They gave pro-GMO's something to argue 'proves' we anti-GMO's and pro-Organics are wrong that GMO's cause harm.
The Court opinion, (see pages 11-15 using the actual document page numbers, not your pdf reader's page numbers) should make you jump for joy. It plainly says that if APHIS (USDA) deregulates GMO alfalfa (allows it to be grown and sold), it will be the reason that contamination and risk of contamination occurs. Everyone is aware that they will absolutely contaminate non-GMO alfalfa, and that this will harm other farmers. Therefore if a farmer has to protect themselves in any way, this too is a harm that is illegal. If the GMO alfalfa is deregulated, an Environmental Assessment must be prepared and that is subject to challenge if it does not prove alfalfa safe. Every step of this process is still allowed. And you don't have to take it just from the CFS or us because you can read the ruling directly, and also the write up in AgProfessional, an agricultural industry trade magazine that used the CFS interpretation, not Monsanto's, to explain this decision. The title is 'CFS: Supreme Court ruling in Monsanto case is victory for Center for Food Safety, farmers.' Notice how many articles on AgProfessional.com are geared toward farmers using GMO seed. This is not an organics publication by any means. It is an agriculture trade magazine period. Read the article here.
The seedy part of this event is the media coverage. Since I'm an Oregonian, living in a state where alfalfa and the non-GMO / organic dairy cows and grass-fed cattle are a huge part of our Agriculture / Economy, I take it personally that the title of the Oregonian newspaper article is 'U.S. Supreme Court lifts ban on Monsanto's genetically engineered alfalfa seeds.' The article should have been titled 'GMO alfalfa contamination ruled an actionable injury by the US Supreme Court.' If you are wondering whether the article really implies that alfalfa can now be planted which it most certainly can not, notice the URL of the article says 'US_Supreme_Court_Allows_Planti..' (!) They did not overturn the lower court's ruling that held them from planting! This decision paves the way for someone to go to court and get a judgment that would set the precedent we need so badly- making transgenic contamination illegal ... the Court's words can be applied to other GMO's- and if people were told that, there would be more support for the CFS as they go after this opportunity. That is why we suggest that our readers ask for a major correction. The Oregonian welcomes feedback for errors.
The Public Editor states on www.biz.oregonion.com:
'If you think The Oregonian has published something in error, please call the public editor. Credibility with our readers depends on accuracy. Corrections and clarifications appear on page two of the first section of the newspaper.' Followed by their contact information: Corrections Public Editor's Office 503-221-8221, email@example.com
I just personally left a voicemail, and it appears that they are geared toward getting information from readers for corrections and calling them back. I told them people came away thinking GM Alfalfa could be planted- that it even says so in the URL. I said this proves the article was misleading and didn't have the right focus- that the Supreme Court lifted the ban but there is another valid one in place in a lower court and that the real news should have been the title article I suggested, 'GMO alfalfa contamination ruled illegal by the US Supreme Court' because this impacts our traditional alfalfa growers, ranchers, and dairy farmers.
They called me back and she went over the court finding with me. She said the part I was talking about didn't amount to a ruling- that only the ban being lifted was a ruling. I said the court said there was already a ban in place that stands so they were misleading when they made it sound like the ban was lifted. She said the article doesn't lead people to think that. I said, well, it lead whoever made the article URL have "US_Supreme_Court_Allows_Planti.." in it, so if it fooled your staff maybe it fooled the readers. She didn't have much of a reply except that it was a staff member that didn't know better. Nope- they just read the article like everyone else. Look- we talked to people face to face- everyone that had heard about the court battle thought that the decision was to allow planting- and all those folks got the idea from the Oregonian article and that is the proof that the Oregonian flubbed. But as the editor pointed out, she just copies her news from the New York Times or LA Times. I guess Monsanto only had to make 2 phone calls to mislead the nation. There's your mainstream journalism. They printed the Center for Food Safety's letter asking them for a correction- sticking it in the middle of a 3 topic blog entry. Not a fan.
Since the bulk of this FAQ was written, there have been more court cases on GMOs and those will have other FAQs, namely GM sugar beets and GM salmon (a.k.a. Frankenfish)
Update 12-18-10The Environmental Impact Statement on the alfalfa has been released. Now, folks are reviewing it to make comments USDA will see before they make the decision to approve or not approve the GM alfalfa. After that, if approved, it will be brought to court again because there is no way to grow this stuff and keep it from contaminating Organic and other non-GMO alfalfa.