A statement from the Sugar Industry Biotech Council, which is serving as a spokesman for sugar companies named as defendants in the lawsuit filed to halt planting of Roundup Ready beet seed, said the stecklings “are intended for research and …
The long battle over whether sugar beet growers can plant Roundup Ready seed in 2011 took another turn in December.
On Dec. 21, the Ninth Circuit court of Appeals extended its stay pending the appeal of Judge Jeffrey White’s ruling in November that sugar beet stecklings, or seedlings grown to produce seed, must be uprooted and destroyed. The stecklings were being grown under permits from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS.
A statement from the Sugar Industry Biotech Council, which is serving as a spokesman for sugar companies named as defendants in the lawsuit filed to halt planting of Roundup Ready beet seed, said 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 consolidated the steckling permit litigation with the appeal of White’s Aug. 13 decision vacating the deregulation of biotech sugar beets. Under a court briefing and hearing schedule, the appeals can be heard in early February. The stay of White’s injunction has been extended to Feb. 28.
“The beet sugar industry’s growers, processors, technology providers and seed producers are pleased that the Court of Appeals will now have sufficient opportunity to consider relevant legal precedents and unrebutted evidence that the planting of these permitted steckling fields is authorized by law and would cause no harm,” representatives of the Sugar Industry Biotech Council said in a written statement.
At issue is whether growers can use Roundup Ready beet seed. The seed and plants are genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate, a main ingredient in Monsanto Co.’s herbicide Roundup. Proponents say it saves time, fuel, labor and equipment costs by aiding in weed control, but opponents say the plants could contaminate other crops — including organic crops — grown nearby.
Growers have said they are not sure whether enough conventional seeds or chemicals exist to allow the crop to be planted in 2011 if Roundup Ready sugar beet seeds are not permitted.