Statement by the Sugar Industry Biotech Council on Appellate Court Activity
February 28, 2011
On February 25, 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction that had ordered the destruction of sugar beet stecklings (seedlings) that were genetically modified to tolerate labeled applications of Roundup agricultural herbicides. The Appeals Court said plaintiffs failed to show that the stecklings, being grown under permits from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), “present a possibility, much less a likelihood, of genetic contamination or other irreparable harm.”
The beet sugar industry’s growers, processors, technology providers and seed producers are pleased that the Ninth Circuit, after considering relevant legal precedents and evidence, concluded that the planting of these permitted stecklings was unlikely to cause harm and that deference should be given to APHIS’ “technical expertise and judgments on this score.” The stecklings are intended for research and breeding purposes, as well as basic seed and hybrid seed production for 2012 and future years.
The Appeals Court also said it would address in a separate decision the appeal regarding the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s August 13, 2010, order vacating the deregulation of biotech sugar beets.
In addition, also on February 25, 2011, the District Court judge in San Francisco, whose decision was the subject of the appeal, declined to hear another case brought by the plaintiffs regarding the next stage of Roundup Ready sugar beet cultivation.