Judge Revokes USDA’s Approval of Biotech Sugar Beets
San Francisco--Federal District Court Judge Jeffrey White revoked the Agriculture Department’s approval of Roundup Ready sugar beets Friday because the department had not adequately assessed the environmental consequences before approving them for commercial cultivation.
The decision appears to effectively ban the planting of biotech sugar beets, which make up 95 percent of the crop, until USDA prepares an environmental impact statement and approves the crop again, a process that could take two years. The decision bans planting of biotech sugar beets next spring, but does not impact this year’s crop, which is planted and set for harvest this fall.
Monday's Wall Street Journal reports that the decision won’t disrupt sugar supplies this year, but could cause headaches for food companies after that. Food companies are uncertain where they will source their sugar beets after next year.
The American Farm Bureau Federation is concerned and disappointed with the judge’s ruling. This marks the second time a federal judge has revoked USDA’s approval of a biotech crop. In 2007, a federal court in California halted the planting and sale of Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa seed pending completion of an environmental impact statement. The impact statement is expected later this year.