SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge ordered 256 acres of genetically modified sugar beet seedlings "removed from the ground," saying the U.S. Department of Agriculture "rushed to grant permits" for planting the herbicide-resistant beets to commercial growers like Monsanto.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White comes after the Center for Food Safety and other environmental groups sued the USDA in September, claiming the department disregarded an August order banning the modified beets from being planted and vacating the USDA's approval of the crop.
White ruled in August that the USDA failed to conduct an adequate environmental review.
But according to the environmental groups, the USDA began issuing permits to sugar beet producers on Sept. 1.
White said it was clear that the USDA and the sugar beet industry were "merely seeking to avoid the impact" of his previous order, and that "the legality of defendants' conduct does not even appear to be a close question."
White ordered the seeds removed by Dec. 7, pending an appeal to the 9th Circuit.
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