"Biotech Crops Go Before Supreme Court This Week"

"The U.S. Supreme Court is considering genetically engineered crops for the first time, in a case that has divided conventional and organic farmers.

The justices will hear oral arguments Tuesday on a lower court's ruling that halted the sale of biotech alfalfa seeds that were developed by Monsanto Co. and briefly sold to farmers after getting government approval.

The biotech industry, including Monsanto and Johnston-based Pioneer Hi-Bred, and organizations representing conventional farmers argue that the case could stifle the development of biotech crop varieties, unless the justices make it harder to block the sale of the seeds.

Farmers would be hesitant to start using some new biotech products if they're worried a court could stop the crop varieties after they've gone on the market, said Danielle Quist, an attorney for the American Farm Bureau Federation. 'For farmers who want to use any sort of biotechnology trait, if they can't rely on a decision made by USDA to regulate a product that is put out there, then they may not want to use it,' she said."

Philip Brasher reports for the Des Moines Register April 25, 2010.

Monday, April 26, 2010