Statement by the Sugar Industry Biotech Council on Appellate Court Activity

November 16, 2012

On November 15, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the appeal by the Center for Food Safety and other plaintiffs and affirmed the decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California to dismiss the case concerning permits for the planting of sugar beet stecklings (seedlings) that were genetically modified to tolerate labeled applications of Roundup agricultural herbicides as moot, following a series of legal proceedings.

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 further legal proceedings on this issue have no merit.

Additionally, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s conclusion that the court cannot order any actions after the expiration of the permits since none of the measures proposed by the plaintiffs can provide relief particularly now that Roundup Ready sugar beets have been fully deregulated and can be grown anywhere without a permit.

The court of appeals also affirmed the district court’s conclusion that there is no evidence demonstrating a reasonable expectation that the challenged conduct will recur.

In September 2010, APHIS issued four temporary permits, authorizing sugar beet seed companies to grow sugar beet stecklings. The plaintiffs challenged the permits and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted a preliminary injunction requiring the destruction of stecklings planted under the permits.

On February 25, 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the injunction. 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.”

After the permits expired, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed the case as moot. The plaintiffs appealed and the case returned to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.