On Friday, a federal court for the Northern District of California ruled that the USDA had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by approving the Monsanto-engineered biotech crop, Roundup Ready sugar beets, without first preparing an Environmental Impact Statement. Plantiffs in the case included Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and the Sierra Club.
Roundup Ready sugar beets, utilizing the same biotechnology as Roundup Ready corn, soybeans, and cotton, resists the herbicide Roundup, allowing producers to spray without harming the crop. The safety of genetically-engineered seeds, or GMO's, for human consumption or the environment has never been proven. The planiting of these crops has also been blamed for the proliferation of superweeds, or herb resistant weeds.
The court ruing is considered a victory for the organic farmers and the sustainable agriculture community as GMO crops have been proven to contaminate organic crops. Although after this years' harvest, RR sugar beets are not approved for planting in the future, the USDA has indicated that it may complete the required EIS by 2012 in compliance.