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USDA Deregulates GMO Sugar Beets

On Friday, June 1, 2012, the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it has completed the final assessment of Monsanto’s genetically engineered sugar beets that were modified to withstand continued applications of the Monsanto’s flagship herbicide, Roundup.  Since every application for deregulation of a genetically engineered crop has so far beenapproved, it surprised no one when the agency again recommended a complete deregulation.
APHIS prepared two assessments — an environmental impact statement and a plant pest risk assessment.  Both assessments were made pursuant to court orders after a lengthy legal battle with the USDA by concerned consumer and environmental groups.
The initial lawsuit, filed in January 2008, was in response to the agency’s decision to deregulate genetically engineered sugar beets. In September 2009, the district court ordered the agency to conduct a full environmental impact study. The following year, in August 2010, the same court set aside the agency’s initial deregulation decision of GE sugar beets.
The USDA’s response to the court’s August 2010 ruling was to grant industry members temporary permits that allowed continued planting of GE sugar beets, forcing environmental groups back into count to challenge the agency conduct. The district court ruled that seedlings planted pursuant to the permits must be destroyed. An Appellate Court, however,  overturned that decision in February 2011. That same month APHIS announced that it will grant Monsanto’s request for a partial deregulation allowing planting of GE sugar beets with certain limitations until the agency conducts the court-ordered assessments.
George Kimbrell, Senior Attorney with the Center for Food Safety (CFS), one of the plaintiffs in the case, told me that CFS was “disappointed” with the agency’s decision and that CFS is reviewing the 800-plus page assessments to determine if any action is warranted.  SOURCE
Selections from Natural Health News

Aug 13, 2010
In today's ruling the Court officially “vacated” the USDA “deregulation” of Monsanto's biotech sugar beets and prohibited any future planting and sale pending the agency's compliance with NEPA and all other relevant laws.
Feb 05, 2011
This Friday USDA announced that it will allow the planting of Monsanto's “Roundup Ready” GE sugar beets even though the agency has yet to finalize conducting an Environmental Impact Statement (”EIS”). The Center for ...
Sep 23, 2009
Noting that pollen from genetically altered sugar beets could be blown by the wind long distances to related crops, such as chard and table beets, the judge ordered the agency to produce an environmental impact statement ...

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