Agricultural biotech & USDA bear fruit of their labor in latest court ruling

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A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in the Golden State ruled in favor of Monsanto Co. and the U.S. Department of Agriculture yesterday by reversing a previous judge’s order to destroy already planted genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready sugar beets.

Back in January 2008, a consortium of environmental and organic food groups, including the Center for Food Safety, filed a lawsuit claiming that the biotech seeds would contaminate “natural” sugar beet plants, and an order was issued to dig up 256 acres of the GM seeds. On November 30 of last year, however, that order was stayed pending the appeals court review. Such a loss would have severely reduced sugar production and led to a rise in costs to consumers, aggravating an already worrisome situation in agricultural prices.

Yet, given their history of stubborn persistence in the face of all the scientific and public health evidence of the beets’ safety, environmental activist and organic groups will likely appeal this decision, says ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross. He strongly doubts, though, that their efforts will gain any further traction in the higher courts. “This is great news for American farmers, consumers and agricultural biotechnology companies. Finally, USDA Secretary Vilsack is on the same side as the agricultural industry, and everyone who matters has won.”