A federal judge ordered environmental groups and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to present more evidence at a coming hearing, insuring that a courtroom battle over the legality of some genetically modified beets will continue for at least a few more weeks.
On Friday, Judge Jeffrey White of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California asked the government to provide the plaintiffs with unredacted copies of permits the USDA issued to agricultural companies producing the altered beet seeds. He also told the government to provide information to him about acreage that has been planted with the genetically modified seeds.
In the case, the Washington-based Center for Food Safety and other groups are objecting to the planting of genetically modified beet seeds. Those seeds were planted with the USDA’s approval.
The case is critical to the U.S. sugar industry. Sugar production will fall by about 20 percent if farmers are banned from planting genetically modified beets next year, according to data the U.S. Department of Agriculture prepared for the case.
Genetically modified beets, approved just five years ago, currently account for about 95 percent of the U.S. sugar-beet crop.
In August, White threw out a USDA approval for the use of the seeds, saying the department hadn’t done enough research into the seeds’ environmental impact. Despite that ruling, the USDA granted permits to some seed companies to begin seed production.
Posted by Russell Nemetz-Northern Ag Network