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Sugar beets

GM sugar beet scandal leads to lawsuit against USDA

Monday, September 13, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: sugar beets, lawsuit, health news

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(NaturalNews) Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White from California's Northern District Court in San Francisco ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) approval of genetically-modified (GM) sugar beets was unlawful, and that no further plantings were permitted to take place until a proper safety assessment is conducted. Several groups have announced, however, that they are filing a lawsuit against the USDA for violating the court ruling by permitting GM seed producers like Monsanto Co. to plant them anyway.

According to a recent Reuters report, the USDA decided to begin issuing permits to GM sugar beet producers, allowing them to plant the "Frankencrops" as long as they do not flower. But the Center for Food Safety and the Sierra Club, two of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, allege that this decision not only threatens to contaminate nearby fields, but violates the court ruling as well.

Roughly 50 percent of U.S. sugar production currently comes from GM sugar beets. However according to the plaintiffs, the court ruling effectively banned all future plantings of GM sugar beets, allowing only those currently growing to be harvested. After harvest, the seeds must be culled and no longer used.

That GM sugar beets were ever planted in the first place was ruled unlawful by the court, because the USDA lacked the conclusive safety evidence it needed to actually approve them in the first place. So the recent court ruling requires that the USDA formulate an Environmental Impact Statement showing that the crops are safe for human consumption.

In the meantime, it is unclear what GM sugar beet farmers will be planting for next year's crop, as some reports indicate that reverting back to non-GM sugar beets may not be feasible.

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