Deregulating Genetically Engineered Alfalfa and Sugar Beets: Legal and Administrative Responses [September 10, 2010] [open pdf - 188KB]
"Monsanto Corporation, the developer of herbicide-tolerant varieties of genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa and sugar beet (marketed under the name of Roundup Ready alfalfa and Roundup Ready sugar beet), petitioned USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for deregulation of the items. Deregulation of GE plants is the final step in the commercialization process. Monsanto filed a petition for deregulation of its GE alfalfa in 2004, and for sugar beet in 2005. As part of the deregulation process, APHIS conducts an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to determine whether any significant environmental impacts will result from deregulating the item. APHIS conducted a limited review, known as an environmental assessment (EA), of the GE plants to assess the impacts of growing them on a commercial scale. For both GE alfalfa and sugar beets, APHIS issued a 'finding of no significant impacts' (FONSI), in June 2005 and March 2005, respectively. Lawsuits subsequently challenged the adequacy of the EAs as the basis of the FONSI. The courts agreed that APHIS should have prepared an environmental impact statement (EIS) for both deregulation decisions. An EIS is a more comprehensive review than the EA completed by APHIS. APHIS was directed by the court to complete an EIS on the effects of deregulating both of the GE varieties."
CRS Report for Congress, R41395
National Agricultural Law Center: http://www.nationalaglawcenter.org/crs/