Thursday, September 23, 2010

Seed companies join new battle over biotech beets

Seed developer Monsanto and two seed companies officially entered the legal fray over Roundup Ready sugar beets today by submitting arguments on behalf of USDA.

Environmentalists and organic producers have sued the agency's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for the second time over Monsanto's Roundup Ready seeds.

The most immediate issue involves their request for a restraining order blocking the production of seed stecklings — basically, root stock for future seed plants.

The companies echoed previous arguments by USDA that blocking the order isn't warranted because the stecklings never flower, and therefore pose no cross-pollination danger to other crops.

Moreover, the stecklings were already in the ground by the time plaintiffs requested the order, so it's a moot point, the companies argued.

Federal Judge Jeffrey White is expected to decide on the restraining order after both sides finish submitting arguments. Their final deadline is Monday morning.

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