Deregulating Genetically Engineered Alfalfa and Sugar Beets: Legal and Administrative Responses [May 22, 2013] [open pdf - 286KB]
"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 GE sugar beets 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. APHIS issued a 'finding of no significant impact' (FONSI) for GE alfalfa and GE sugar beets. Lawsuits subsequently challenged the adequacy of the EAs in separate actions. Both courts held that APHIS should have prepared a more analytically thorough environmental impact statement (EIS) for the deregulation decisions. An EIS is a more comprehensive review than the EA completed by APHIS. Separately, the courts directed APHIS to complete an EIS on the effects of deregulating GE alfalfa and GE sugar beets."
CRS Report for Congress, R41395
National Agricultural Law Center: http://www.nationalaglawcenter.org/