Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Biotech beets: seed production still embattled

Federal Judge Jeffrey White has declined to rule on whether to disrupt the current cultivation of stecklings for biotech sugar beets. The problem, he said in court papers filed late Tuesday, is that the stecklings were already in the ground by the time plaintiffs asked for a restraining order.

But the court could still disrupt cultivation this year. White gave the plaintiffs — enviros and organic producers — another crack at it. He pointed out court papers in which they had asked, upon learning the stecklings had been planted, that they be torn up.

Furthermore, White showed suspicion of USDA, suggesting the agency held back in announcing it had permitted the planting (which was otherwise prohibited under a previous White decision). He ordered the agency to "state under penalty of perjury exactly when and where it made the information public that the permits had been granted."

All of which suggests that White will consider ripping up the stecklings — if plaintiffs again request it when they file new arguments in the next few days. Which means production of Roundup Ready beet seed for the 2012 crop remains uncertain.

Check back for more details.

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