June 21, 2010

Victory in Roundup Ready Alfalfa case

By Victory in Roundup Ready Alfalfa case

Author:  Damien M. Schiff

In a 7 to 1 decision issued today, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, overturned a nationwide injunction that had prohibited use of Roundup Ready alfala pending completion of a new environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  PLF filed an amicus brief in the case arguing that the traditional requirements for injunctive relief should apply as much in NEPA as in other legal contexts.  The Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Alito, agreed, holding that the plaintiffs in Monsanto were not entitled to an injunction because they had not demonstrated that they would be "irreparably harmed" without an injunction.  Moreover, the Court emphasized that there may have been less drastic remedies than issuing a nationwide injunction effectively prohibiting any use of Roundup Ready alfalfa.

An injunction is a drastic and extraordinary remedy, which should not be granted as a matter of course. . . .  If a less drastic remedy (such as partial or complete vacatur of [the agency’s] deregulation decision) was sufficient to redress respondents’ injury, no recourse to the additional and extraordinary relief of an injunction was warranted.

The decision is a reaffirmation of the Court's decision in Winter, another NEPA case, in which the Court held that the traditional balancing of harms analysis that precedes issuance of an injunction applies to NEPA.  In that respect, it is a victory for those who favor a balanced approach to environmental regulation.

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