Judge bans planting of engineered beets

Aug. 13, 2010 at 11:45 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- A federal judge Friday revoked U.S. approval of genetically modified sugar beets, saying the Agriculture Department did not fully assess environmental impact.

About 95 percent of the U.S. crop of the beets is now genetically modified. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in San Francisco said the beets that have been planted this year can be harvested and processed, The New York Times reported.

The Center for Food Safety in Washington, a group opposed to the planting of genetically engineered crops, filed a lawsuit challenging USDA approval of the sugar beets. The group said the environmental impact had not been adequately considered.

White found in September 2009 that the department violated the National Environmental Policy Act, but he refused this spring to bar the planting of genetically modified seed, saying that would be disruptive to the beet sugar industry.

About half of U.S. sugar is processed from beets.

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