Update on U.S. District Court Activity by the Sugar Industry Biotech Council

December 2, 2010

On November 30, 2010, Judge Jeffrey White of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the removal from the ground of sugar beet stecklings (seedlings) currently being grown under permits from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and intended for research and breeding purposes, as well as basic seed and hybrid seed production for 2012 and future years. This ruling would take effect on Dec. 7, 2010.

The sugar industry disagrees with this ruling, which has already been appealed by APHIS and industry parties, who are also seeking an immediate stay of the order. 

Sugar beets are an important crop, planted on 1.2 million acres in the United States annually and supplying half of our nation’s sugar.  The value of sugar beet crops is critically important to rural communities and their economies. Biotech sugar beets planted on 95 percent of all sugar beet acreage have allowed growers to control weeds – one of their greatest challenges – in a more environmentally sustainable way.

Statement by the Sugar Industry Biotech Council on Notices of Appeal

October 13, 2010

On October 8, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal, pending approval of the United States Solicitor General, of the court order issued on August 13, 2010, by Judge Jeffrey White of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in which the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) original deregulation of Roundup Ready sugar beets was vacated and remanded back to APHIS.  Intervenor-Defendants, representing the nation’s sugar beet farmers, processors, seed and technology providers, filed their notice of appeal on October 12, 2010.

Sugar beets are an important crop, planted on 1.2 million acres in the United States annually and supplying half of our nation’s sugar.  The value of sugar beet crops is critically important to rural communities and their economies.  Biotech sugar beets planted on 95 percent of all sugar beet acreage have allowed growers to control weeds – one of their greatest challenges – in a more environmentally sustainable way.

Statement by the Sugar Industry Biotech Council on USDA’s APHIS Announcement on Next Steps on Sugar Beets

September 1, 2010

On September 1, 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced its next steps in response to the August 13 ruling by Judge Jeffrey White of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California regarding Roundup Ready sugar beets.

The court returned this matter to APHIS to address and resolve consistent with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms.  The sugar industry is pleased to see that APHIS is engaged and working on this matter.  The sugar industry is likewise engaged and pledges its support to continue to provide APHIS any information necessary to move this process forward.

Update on U.S. District Court Activity by Sugar Industry Biotech Council

August 14, 2010

On August 13, 2010, Judge Jeffrey White of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied plaintiffs’ motion for a permanent injunction banning Roundup Ready sugar beets.  The Court vacated the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) original deregulation decision and remanded the matter back to APHIS.  APHIS may now consider implementing interim measures for planting future Roundup Ready sugar beet crops that comply with applicable federal law, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 

The Court’s order does not interfere with the harvest and processing of Roundup Ready sugar beet and sugar beet seed crops planted before the date of the order.  The Court ruled “such crops may be harvested and processed,” and sugar from the 2010 sugar beet crop may be supplied to the market without limitation. 

Under the Court’s ruling, and the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, APHIS may adopt interim measures regarding future planting of Roundup Ready sugar beet crops that are compliant with federal legal requirements.  The sugar beet industry will provide its full support to USDA to allow full consideration of appropriate interim measures that allow continued production of Roundup Ready sugar beets. 

Sugar beets are an important crop, planted on 1.2 million acres in the United States annually and supplying half of our nation’s sugar.  The value of sugar beet crops is critically important to rural communities and their economies. Biotech sugar beets planted on 95 percent of all sugar beet acreage have allowed growers to control weeds – one of their greatest challenges – in a more environmentally sustainable way.

Update on U.S. District Court Activity by Sugar Industry Biotech Council

August 13, 2010

Today, August 13, 2010, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California held a hearing in the Roundup Ready sugar beet litigation. The court is considering how the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Monsanto v. Geertson Seed impacts the future planting of Roundup Ready sugar beets. The court did not immediately issue a ruling, but took the matter under submission. The Sugar Industry Biotech Council cannot speculate as to how or when the court will rule. 

 

Statement by the Sugar Industry Biotech Council on the Supreme Court Biotech Alfalfa Decision

June 21, 2010

The U.S. Supreme Court, in its first decision involving biotech crops, overturned a lower court’s order that has prohibited farmers from planting biotech alfalfa in a 7-1 vote. This ruling could allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to permit interim planting of the crop while it completes an environmental study.

We are pleased with this significant ruling and how it might inform the biotech sugar beet process as we prepare for the next phase of the biotech sugar beet court proceedings. The biotech alfalfa ruling focuses on and clarifies the process of biotech approvals. Importantly, the Supreme Court’s ruling on biotech alfalfa does not presume that an injunction on planting biotech crops would be automatically issued if a biotech approval is challenged.

The next biotech sugar beet hearing is scheduled for August 13, 2010.

Update on U.S. District Court Activity by Sugar Industry Biotech Council

March 16, 2010

U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White has denied the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction that would have prohibited planting of the biotech sugar beets that growers planted on 95 percent of their acreage last year.

We are pleased that the court denied the request and recognized the significant negative impact that an immediate ban on planting would have caused to growers, processors, rural communities and the U.S. sugar supply. This decision allows sugar beet growers to proceed with planting this year’s crop.

We look forward to the next phase of the court proceedings where we can present evidence about potential choices for our growers and processors.

Update on U.S. District Court Activity by Sugar Industry Biotech Council

March 5, 2010

On March 5, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White conducted a hearing on the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction.  The judge took the matter under advisement and will issue his decision at a future time.

Update on U.S. District Court Activity by Sugar Industry Biotech Council

December 8, 2009

On December 4, 2009, Judge Jeffrey White decided how his court will proceed with the next phase of litigation concerning the approval of Roundup Ready sugar beets.

The Sugar Industry Biotech Council is pleased that Judge White has allowed a settlement conference with a U.S. magistrate no later than Feb. 4, 2010. Additionally, we are encouraged that the court has allowed limited discovery, which will provide an opportunity to obtain interviews and documentation from the plaintiffs.

Judge White scheduled filing of briefs on remedies between March and April, and plans to hear oral arguments on June 11, 2010. It is not certain at this point whether or not a full evidentiary hearing will be scheduled.

Statement by the Sugar Industry Biotech Council on U.S. District Court Decision

September 23, 2009

On September 21, 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will have to complete an Environmental Impact Statement for Roundup Ready sugar beets.  This is a procedural decision, in which the court concluded USDA needs to show a more thorough review process than was documented in the deregulation process the agency completed in 2005.

While the Sugar Industry Biotech Council is disappointed by the outcome, we look forward to the next phase of the proceedings and the opportunity for growers, processors and seed producers to advocate the need for this technology and vigorously defend farmers’ freedom to plant Roundup Ready sugar beets.

This ruling found no issue with the safety or benefits of Roundup Ready sugar beets.  The sugar from biotech sugar beets is the same as from conventional sugarbeets and sugarcane, and is widely accepted in the United States and worldwide markets.

Farmers in the United States and Canada are choosing to plant Roundup Ready sugar beets on 95 percent of the acreage because of the environmental and economic benefits they bring to farming operations.

 

Updated October 29, 2009

The court plans an initial scheduling conference on December 4, 2009, at which time the parties will learn more about how the judge plans to proceed with the next phase of the case and the timing for future court activities.