Court Finds USDA Violated Federal Law by Allowing Genetically Engineered Sugar Beets on the Market
Government failed to evaluate environmental and economic risks of Monsanto product
September 22, 2009
San Francisco, CA — In a case brought by Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice representing a coalition of farmers and consumers, a federal court ruled yesterday (PDF) that the Bush USDA’s approval of genetically engineered (GE) “RoundUp Ready” sugar beets was unlawful. The court ordered the USDA to conduct a rigorous assessment of the environmental and economic impacts of the crop on farmers and the environment.
The federal district court for the Northern District of California ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) when it failed to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) before deregulating sugar beets that have been genetically engineered (“GE”) to be resistant to glyphosate herbicide, marketed by Monsanto as Roundup. Plaintiffs Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, Sierra Club, and High Mowing Seeds, represented by Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety, filed suit against APHIS in January 2008, alleging APHIS failed to adequately assess the environmental, health, and associated economic impacts of allowing “Roundup Ready” sugar beets to be commercially grown without restriction.
“This court decision is a wakeup call for the Obama USDA that they will not be allowed to ignore the biological pollution and economic impacts of gene altered crops,” stated Andrew Kimbrell Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety. “The courts have made it clear that USDA’s job is to protect America’s farmers and consumers, not the interests of Monsanto.”