Franken-Alfalfa OK, Says Supreme Court


Inscribing superstition in the field

The Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that essentially banned genetically enhanced alfalfa until an environmental impact study had been done. The 7 to 1 victory for science over environmentalist superstition is, however, qualified. In its opinion in Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, the court noted:

"Such harms, which respondents will suffer even if their crops are not actually infected with the Roundup ready gene, are sufficiently concrete to satisfy the injury-in-fact prong of the constitutional standing analysis. Those harms are readily attributable to APHIS's deregulation decision, which, as the District Court found, gives rise to a significant risk of gene flow to non-genetically-engineered varieties of alfalfa."

Note the language—"infected" and "significant risk." Infected? Gene flow between crop plants is absolutely normal. The specific trait, herbicide resistance, has been ruled safe for humans and the environment for more than a decade. The case should have been thrown out at the district court level as a frivolous waste of time.

Nonetheless, one political practitioner of the higher environmental superstition, Sen. Patrick Leahy (I D-Vt.), issued a press release decrying the decision:

Once again, it appears that the Court is siding with big business, putting the interests of  corporations ahead of hardworking Americans, specifically farmers, as well as the environment. …

I believe the decision erroneously approves Monsanto's argument for a dangerous pollute-first, investigate-second approach to enforcing federal environmental laws.

Really? And just who does the senator think wants to grow biotech alfalfa? How about hardworking farmers who want ot use the latest technology to be better stewards of their land and lower costs? I wish the Court had come down more firmly on the side of science, but this will have to do for now.


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  1. “Franken-Alfalfa”

    Isn’t that “SENATOR Franken-Alfalfa”?

    1. They’ve gotta feed him something, after all, and virgin sacrifices are a bit difficult inside the Beltway.

    2. I guess it’s now the Franken Al Decade.

  2. I’m sure farmers will be happy to know that allowing their crops to pollenate now falls under the definition of “pollution”.

    1. Hey, if it works for CO2, why not. Oh, and Humans? Yeah, no more “pollinating” either. Unless its in the course of successful reproduction. Them catholic bastages were onto something!

  3. The aliens are giving us a sign: they hate (the University of) Michigan, too.

    1. You’re upside down, they hate Weslyan…

      1. I thought they were blaming Bush.

  4. I’m picturing Eddie Murphy as “Enhanced Alfalfa.”
    He’s either a cyborg or an enzyte addict…

    1. Eddie didn’t play Alfalfa, Mary Gross did. But who shot Buckwheat?

      1. He is this man, 27-year-old John David Stutts, described by those who now him as “a loner.” We understand that Stutts is now being taken to criminal court for arraignment. Let’s go there live.

        1. I’m not allowed any visitors, I’ve been quite ill.

          1. Amembah me?

            1. “Luckily, Alfalfa was an orphan owned by the studio.”

      2. Munce. Tice. Fee Tines A Mady.

        1. Wookin por nub

      3. That was a great bit. Over and over again. Just like Reagan. I must’ve seen fifty replays of him getting shot, despite not really wanting to see it over and over and over again.

      4. I should be stripped of my nerdhood for forgetting that rather salient fact.
        I shall lash myself and perform other penance until I feel clean again.

    2. Can’t be Eddie Murphy; this would be funny.

  5. Umm, Ron, in your blog post you have Leahy as “I-Vt.,” which would mean he is an independent from Vermont.

    Actually, he is a Democrat.

    1. Just a little Bernie confusion is all.

    2. IW: Thanks. I do confuse him with Bernie. Fixed.

  6. I find it interesting that the prevalence of superstition amongst third parties (whoever it is that will harm the farmers of “infected” alfalfa) is the basis for Constitution standing.

    Does this mean that, if I can show that irrational people will not buy my product because of what someone else is doing, I can sue someone? If I’m operating a halal bakery, and someone opens up a bacon store down the street, I have a claim when my Muslim customers all go away in case there are bacon molecules on my bread?

    1. Can the bacon store charge you for selling bacon scented bread since your product is now infused with their proprietary bacon smell?

      1. Nope.

    2. If I’m operating a halal bakery, and someone opens up a bacon store down the street, I have a claim when my Muslim customers all go away in case there are bacon molecules on my bread?

      Yes. Yes you do. I like where this is heading…

    3. God/Allah forbid the two business team up. Bread and Bacon? Yeah, they don’t go together at all.

      Oh, but teh muslims dont haz teh bacon….oh, because they’re the only ones shopping in that area? If that’s the case, WHY is there a bacon store in the 1st place?!

  7. Is the primary fear really pollution, or that owners of infected plots will now have to pay Monsanto for using their proprietary alfalfa seeds even though they didn’t intentionally plant them?

    1. Pollution. The plaintiff’s standing in this case is based on their assertion that somebody, somewhere, might not buy their non-Monsanto alfalfa because it might have cooties from the Monsanto alfalfa.

      1. We really get around. We’re here! We’re clear! Get used to it!

  8. I think Monsanto should roll with it, and trademark the prefix “Franken”. They can market Franken-Alfalfa, Franken-Beets, Franken-Corn, etc.

    1. Not without my say so! I’d better get to drafting some law…

      1. Frankin-Beets. BAM, now get off my Trademarked Field?.

  9. As a small alfalfa farmer myself, I, for one, welcome our genetically modified alpha-alfalfa overlords.

    1. You subsidy whore!

    2. Miss Crabtree! CN is touching me!

  10. In general I’m a fan of Mr. Bailey, but calling this a triumph of “science over environmentalist superstition” is … well … a triumph of industrial superstition over science and democracy.

    Google “Roundup-resistant weeds,” and you’ll find that the news has been full of stories about them ? big, nasty superweeds that have been created by a blunt reliance on Roundup, and are so tough that farmers can only remove them by hand.

    That’s the sort of thing that could and should be discussed during environmental policy reviews. NEPA exists for a good reason, and calls to suspend it should be considered very carefully. Witness the Gulf of Mexico now, where oil companies have been given their freedom from NEPA.

    Maybe after NEPA review, the Roundup-ready alfalfa ? and other engineered plants to come ? would have been rejected. Maybe they would have been approved, after a few years of analysis, with caution and foresight. Would that be so unreasonable?

    1. Google “Roundup-resistant weeds,” and you’ll find that the news has been full of stories about them ? big, nasty superweeds that have been created by a blunt reliance on Roundup, and are so tough that farmers can only remove them by hand.

      IOW, a field full of Roundup-resistant weeds has to be farmed the way every field on the fucking planet was farmed before Roundup was invented.

      Hardly bad for the environment. Painting it as such only makes sense if you think low-till Roundup-resistant farming techniques are environmentally beneficial.

      1. The point is that Roundup resistant plants embody a fundamentally stupid way of dealing with weeds: hitting them with one pesticide, over and over, harder and harder. It’s the sort of thing you’d do if you *wanted* to create superweeds.

        And then there’s the whole issue of maintaining diverse crop strains, rather than monocultures. That didn’t start with Roundup-resistant plants, obviously — but they’re still a problem.

        Maybe NEPA review would have required Roundup resistance be deployed in rotation with other weed-killing strategies, so as to delay the the evolution of superweeds. Maybe it would have required the breeding of many different Roundup-resistant alfalfa strains, rather than one or a few, to avoid the risks of massive, catastrophic disease or pest outbreaks that accompany monoculture planting.

        Point is, trying to understand a technology and use it wisely is not a bad thing — and when it’s required by law, and the Supreme Court overturns it, I want to puke.

  11. http://opinion.financialpost.c…..ence-week/

    It is junk science week at the financial post.

    1. New studies show that food cooked at high temperatures such as grilling produce carcinogens that can lead to colon and stomach cancers, heart disease, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s. The culprit is flair-ups from fat that catches fire. Don’t let your food over-burn. So adjust the height of the rack ? for largest cuts of meat, indirect heat which means putting your meat on an unheated side and let the heat from the other side cook the meat more slowly. Trim the fat and cut off any blackened materials. The best tip is to precook your meat and poultry in the microwave for 2-5 minutes to boil away the juice which is where 90% of the harmful chemicals are found. Marinating your meat protects against the higher heat, but use less oil. For total safety use foil, this will prevents all charring.

      Better not make your meat taste good. And make sure not to have any joy. Joy will cancer the fuck out of you.

      1. I don’t know about that, but I once fucked the cancer out of Joy…

      2. Somehow, I managed to grill without charring my food. Well, not chicken, thats damn near impossible to keep from charring. But beef and pork: sexy grillmarks and no char.

        It probably doesn’t matter to the nannies though, I’m sure there’s still something deadly about my Good Eats. NaNO2 maybe, or food-borne pathogens.

        I’d weep for their sad view of the world, but I’m all out of tears.

        1. I think those grillmarks are exactly what they’re talking about.

  12. Oh great, another GMO for Monsanto to patent and the sue the shit out of hardworking farmers when their seeds are blown into the farmer’s crops.

    1. Oh for fuck’s sake. You really think you can get away with repeating that bullshit around here?

      The “hardworking farmer” realized he had special corn that he didn’t pay for, and he “accidentally” nuked the rest of his crops so he could harvest only the GM corn, with the intention of replanting (again, without paying).

      Now, if you want to bitch about Monsanto’s policies, go ahead. There’s enough to bitch about. But you don’t need to completely misfuckingrepresent a situation to make them look worse.

  13. The fear over genetically engineered crops is silly. Plant phylogenies tent to be rather reticular anyway.

  14. Can I just ask that libertarian commentators get in the habit of sticking themselves with a pin or putting their fingers into a flame or something of the sort every time they use an authoritarian passive voice phrase like “has been ruled” to bolster an argument they’re making. Pavlovian association works.

    1. I would also add that any “libertarian” writer who thoughtlessly defends fascism should amputate one of their fingers. I reckon within a year of such conditioning either they would start thinking or stop writing.

  15. From the Amazon page for Mr. Bailey’s fascist defense of biotech:

    “A positive, optimistic, and convincing case that the biotechnology revolution will improve our lives and the future of our children The 21st century will undoubtedly witness unprecedented advances in understanding the mechanisms of the human body and in developing biotechnology. With the mapping of the human genome, the pace of discovery is now on the fast track. By the middle of the century we can expect that the rapid progress in biology and biotechnology will utterly transform human life. What was once the stuff of science fiction may now be within reach in the not-too-distant future: 20-to-40-year leaps in average life spans, enhanced human bodies, drugs and therapies to boost memory and speed up mental processing, and a genetic science that allows parents to ensure that their children will have stronger immune systems, more athletic bodies, and cleverer brains. Even the prospect of human immortality beckons.”

    Wow. If that’s an accurate reflection of Mr. Bailey’s book – then he follows a long tradition of fascist technocrats. We were promised flying cars and meals in a pill and so much more – instead we got flimsy pieces of crappy plastic and crappy plastic meals and so much less.

  16. “Note the language – “infected” and “significant risk.” Infected? Gene flow between crop plants is absolutely normal. ”

    Gene flow of fascist man made non-scientifically tested genes is absolutely not “absolutely normal”. But hey, the state said it’s okay so it’s okay.

    “The specific trait, herbicide resistance, has been ruled safe for humans and the environment for more than a decade.”

    Oooh! It was “ruled safe” by men in black dresses and men in white coats, both employed directly or indirectly by the state! Anything ruled safe by the technocrats must be safe!

    “I wish the Court had come down more firmly on the side of science, but this will have to do for now.”

    You misspoke – but that’s no mistake for fascists and technocrats. You must have meant “fascist technocracy”. All hail the fascists! All hail the technocrats! All hail the fascist technocrats!

    Don’t you worry your thoughtless little head Mr Ron Bailey – the fascists you propagandize for will win in time.

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