Supreme Court justices on Tuesday sharply questioned a lower court’s decision that has prohibited Monsanto Co. from selling biotech alfalfa seeds, possibly paving the way for the company to distribute the seeds for the first time since 2007.
Several justices appeared skeptical that the lower court had the authority to fully ban the sale of the product because of a pending environmental review. Chief Justice John Roberts questioned why the court issued the injunction instead of simply sending the matter back to USDA.
Justice Antonin Scalia appeared even more wary, questioning the idea that genetically modified crops could contaminate other crops. “This isn’t the contamination of the New York City water supply,” he said. “This isn’t the end of the world, it really isn’t.”
Monsanto argues that the ban was too broad and was based on the assumption that their products were harmful. Opponents of the use of genetically engineered seeds say they can contaminate conventional crops, but Monsanto says such cross-pollination is unlikely.