Northern Ag Network
posted on October 01, 2012 09:44 :: 375 Views
The following article is from CapitalPress.com:
By MATEUSZ PERKOWSKI
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the partial deregulation of genetically engineered sugar beets, declaring the case moot.
The USDA's decision in July to fully commercialize the crop, which can withstand glyphosate herbicides, has extinguished the partial deregulation measures at the heart of the litigation, the judge said.
Biotech critics and the sugar beet industry tried to keep the lawsuit alive, claiming the USDA's actions still warrant a court ruling because they're "capable of repetition yet evading review."
Transgenic "Roundup Ready" sugar beets were initially fully deregulated by the agency in 2005, but that decision was reversed by a federal judge in 2009.
The USDA then partially deregulated the crop in 2010, which allowed it to be cultivated under certain conditions. Farmers had to maintain isolation distances between biotech sugar beets and sexually compatible crops and monitor their fields to prevent the plants from flowering and going to seed.
Biotech critics filed a legal complaint claiming the partial deregulation was lenient and unlawful. Sugar beet companies also sued, alleging the restrictions were unnecessarily strict.
When the USDA lifted these restrictions and allowed transgenic sugar beets to be fully commercialized, biotech critics urged the court to rule nonetheless on the legality of partial deregulation because the agency could repeat the process with another crop.
U.S. District Judge John Bates in Washington, D.C., rejected this argument, saying there isn't enough evidence to indicate the agency would encounter a equivalent situation or take the same regulatory steps.
Biotech critics can also file another lawsuit against the agency over full deregulation, he said.
Bates also shot down comparable arguments from sugar beet companies and biotech developers -- which claimed the agency could impose similar restrictions on other transgenic crops -- because that possibility was too hypothetical.
Posted by Haylie Shipp