Federal Judge Orders that Genetically Modified Sugar Beet Seedlings be Pulled from the Ground

December 6, 2010

By Ricardo Carvajal

In a strongly worded opinion, a federal judge has ordered that genetically modified sugar beet stecklings (seedlings) planted pursuant to permits issued by USDA be pulled from the ground.  As we noted in a prior blog posting, USDA/APHIS was found in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act for deregulating Roundup Ready sugar beets without preparing an Environmental Impact Statement.  The agency’s subsequent decision to issue permits for the production of the stecklings was not well received by the presiding court.  Now that court has concluded that Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of irreparable harm from the production of the stecklings based on the potential for “significant risk of environmental harm” (including potential incidents of contamination), and the “significant procedural injury stemming from the NEPA violations.”  Finding Defendants’ and Intervenor-Defendants’ assertions of economic harm to lack credibility, and that the “legality of Defendants’ conduct does not even appear to be a close question,” the court granted Plaintiffs’ request for an injunction requiring that the stecklings be removed from the ground.  An appeal is certain.