September 20, 2021

Federal Judge Halts Future Planting of Genetically Engineered Beets

Sugar Beets

Field of Sugar Beets

The U.S. government’s approval of the future planting of genetically modified sugar beets has been revoked by a federal judge. Ruling that the Department of Agriculture did not thoroughly evaluate the environmental impact of planting the genetically engineered seeds before granting approval.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White’s decision to impose the ban was not applicable to beets that already have been planted or harvested and processed. The Court’s decision stems from a lawsuit brought by The Center for Food Safety, an environmental group opposing Monsanto’s sugar beets that have been genetically engineered to be resistant to the weed killer Roundup.

The altered seeds were sold to beet farmers together with Roundup, also manufactured by Monsanto.

The environmental group claimed that the approval decision had not adequately considered the environmental impact. George Kimbrell, an attorney for The Center for Food Safety, stated that the judge’s decision is “a victory for farmers, for the environment and for the public.”

Judge White ruled in September 2009 that the Agriculture Department failed to adhere to the National Environmental Policy Act. However, he refused to ban the planting of genetically modified seed, stating that such a ban would be disruptive to the sugar beet industry.

About half of U.S. sugar is processed from beets. Grown primarily in the U.S. Midwest, the sugar beet crop has been valued by the government at approximately $1.3 billion.