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Court of Appeals Dismisses Monsanto's Appeal of Biotech Beets Case, Preserves Victory for Farmers, Environment

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page, and our Food Safety page.

Upholds Lower Court's Rulings Requiring New USDA Approval Decision And Rigorous Review of the Crop's Impacts

Litigation Over USDA's Interim Approval of Planting Continues

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a summary order concluding a long-standing lawsuit over the impacts of genetically engineered (GE) "Roundup Ready" sugar beets.  As a result, previous court rulings in favor of farmers and conservation advocates will remain, including the order requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prepare a rigorous review of the impacts of GE sugar beets, engineered to be resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, before deciding whether to again allow their future commercial use.

Center for Food Safety (CFS) attorney George Kimbrell: "Today's order cements a critical legal benchmark in the battle for meaningful oversight of biotech crops and food.  Because of this case, there will be public disclosure and debate on the harmful impacts of these pesticide-promoting crops, as well as legal protections for farmers threatened by contamination."

CFS, Organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and the Sierra Club, represented by CFS and Earthjustice, challenged the USDA approval in 2008.  They argued that GE sugar beets would contaminate organic and non-GE farmers of related crops, such as table beets and chard, as well as increase pesticide impacts on the environment and worsen the current Roundup-resistant "superweeds" epidemic in U.S. agriculture.  In September 2009, Judge Jeffrey S. White in the federal district court in San Francisco agreed, and ordered USDA to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) assessing these and other impacts, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  In August 2010, after a year of vigorous litigation over the proper remedy for USDA's unlawful approval, the court again agreed with plaintiffs, threw out the USDA's approval, and halting planting.  


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