SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge banned the United States Department of Agriculture from continuing to plant genetically modified sugar beets, granting the Center for Food Safety’s request to vacate approval of the crop.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White limited the order to next year’s crop, allowing beets already planted to be processed and sold as sugar.
White ruled last September that the USDA’s planting of the beets violated federal environmental law but did not suggest a remedy. He also urged growers to use conventional seeds. But in his decision Friday, White found the USDA should cease planting the seeds pending a full review from the agency on potential environmental harm.
White also disagreed with the USDA’s contention that its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s “deficiencies” in deciding to deregulate the crop without preparing an environmental impact statement “were not that serious or numerous.”
“The fact that the Court has already found that APHIS failed to fully consider the potential consequences of deregulation may significantly affect the environment demonstrates that APHIS’s errors are not minor or insignificant,” White wrote.