USDA imposes environmental studies for genetically engineered crops

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Agricultural producers worry the statements will hurt farmers.

“The Agriculture Department’s announcement that it will require full environmental impact statements for new corn, soybean and cotton crops developed through biotechnology to be herbicide-resistant is troubling," said the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Bob Stallman, in a statement.  

“Most disturbing is that USDA has not provided scientific justification for why full environmental impact statements are needed, rather than the usual environmental assessments," he added.

The chemical and agricultural companies Dow and Monsanto have produced strains of crops that are resistant to two different types of herbicides, both of which the USDA claims have been used safely since the 1960s. Both companies have petitioned the USDA to remove regulations on their genetically engineered crops, drawing thousands of comments from the public.

On Monday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Monsanto's right to prevent farmers from saving seeds from genetically modified crops, forcing them to buy new seeds each year. In a statement applauding the decision, the company's Executive Vice President and General Counsel David Snively praised "innovation that feeds people, improves lives, creates jobs, and allows America to keep its competitive edge."

In addition to the environmental impact statements, the USDA will also hold public meetings to discuss the genetically engineered crops.