Farmers And Conservationists Challenge Latest Federal Approval Of Genetically Engineered Sugar Beets
CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY
San Francisco, CA – February 4, 2011 – In defiance of earlier court ruling, USDA allows continued growing of controversial, illegally planted crop
Today the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a new decision to allow the U.S. sugar beet industry to continue growing Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready,” genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets. The decision will be immediately challenged in court by a coalition of farmers and conservation groups: the Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and the Sierra Club. This is the same coalition that in August of last year had APHIS’s previous decision to allow planting thrown out because it violated environmental laws. The coalition declared the new decision unlawful as well, and vowed to overturn it.
The sugar beets are genetically engineered by Monsanto to tolerate repeated applications of that company’s weed killer Roundup, or glyphosate. Judge Jeffrey White of the federal district court for the Northern District of California found in earlier rulings that growing the GE sugar beets is likely to cause irreparable harm to the groups’ members and the environment, and “may cross-pollinate with non-genetically engineered sugar beets and related Swiss chard and table beets,” and ordered the federal government to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as required by the National Environmental Policy Act before allowing the GE sugar beets to be grown. The USDA is continuing to work on the court-ordered EIS, but considers today’s documents sufficient to allow growers to continue growing the controversial crop illegally planted in defiance of the earlier court ruling.