Federal court overturns FDA approval of genetically engineered sugar beet

Posted on August 20th, 2010 by

Photo by kregarious at http://www.flickr.com/photos/kregarious/1235974281/

A California federal judge has rescinded the approval of Roundup-Ready sugar beets, according to a post on the Center for Food Safety website, and an article in the New York Times.

“In September 2009, the Court had found that the USDA had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by approving the Monsanto-engineered biotech crop without first preparing an Environmental Impact Statement. The crop was engineered to resist the effects of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which it sells to farmers together with the patented seed.  Similar Roundup Ready crops have led to increased use of herbicides, proliferation of herbicide resistant weeds, and contamination of conventional and organic crops.

“In today’s ruling the Court officially “vacated” the USDA “deregulation” of Monsanto’s biotech sugar beets and prohibited any future planting and sale pending the agency’s compliance with NEPA and all other relevant laws.  USDA has estimated that an EIS may be ready by 2012.”

An AP article notes that the ruling has left conventional (i.e. non-organic) sugar beet growers worried overthe source for  next year’s seed for the crop.  “Duane Grant, chairman of the board at the Boise, Idaho-based Snake River Sugar Co., said…’There has been no incentive, no market, no demand for conventional seed since 2008 and we believe there is not enough conventional seed available for our growers to plant a full crop in 2011.'”

Conference speaker Paul Thompson has written extensively on the matter of the regulation of food biotechnology, noting that “[Biotechnology] is not simply another type of mechanical or chemical creation aimed at making the world better for us. In this instance, we are not simply reshaping matter, but are harnessing life. By manipulating life and natural evolution, we are taking the process that shaped our existence and that of every other living organism on the planet and restructuring it for our own benefit.” (quoted in Bioindustry: A Description of California’s Bioindustry and Summary of the Public Issues Affecting Its Development.)


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