Critics Cry Foul Over Biotech Beets


The following article is from Capital Press:


Biotech critics are accusing the sugar beet industry of using stall tactics in court to ensure transgenic sugar beets seedlings are planted early next year.

“I think that’s been one of their strategies from day one,” said Paul Achitoff, an attorney for the Center for Food Safety.

The group is challenging the USDA’s partial deregulation of glyphosate-tolerant Roundup Ready sugar beets.

The current case is the latest of several lawsuits over the crop in which the sugar beet industry has “attempted to capitalize on any delay” in legal proceedings, according to a court document filed by the group.

Sugar beet companies and biotech developers try to postpone any court orders that could halt planting — then once the crop is in the ground, they argue it would be unfair to stop production, the group said.

The Center for Food Safety claims the industry and USDA have proposed a schedule that ensures sugar beet seedlings, known as stecklings, will be transplanted from greenhouses to fields before the judge can rule on the case.

Under that schedule, court filings wouldn’t be complete until late January 2012, whereas biotech critics prefer a schedule that would wrap up the process this November.

Stecklings are typically transplanted in late January through February.

“The longer this matter is delayed, the more the government and the industry parties will eventually argue that the legal issues in this case will soon be moot, and are not worth the court’s time,” the group said.

Sugar beet companies and biotech developers taking another view of the court schedule.

Nancy Bryson, an attorney for biotech developer Syngenta, said biotech critics are asking for an expedited schedule that’s not rational in light of the lawsuit’s complexity.

“It’s not intuitively a clean way to brief a case,” she said.

Though the industry would prefer final court documents to be filed by late January, it’s open to completing the process in December if that’s what the judge prefers, Bryson said.

Capital Press was unable to reach other attorneys representing sugar beet companies and biotech developers.

In a joint court document, the industry parties argued against the schedule proposed by biotech critics because there’s no reason for an expedited briefing.

The crop has been grown without dramatic environmental harms for several years and stecklings could not cross-pollinate with other crops in early 2012 due to their growth cycle, the filing said.

The 50,000-page administrative record pertaining to the crop’s partial deregulation wasn’t released by USDA until late July, so the parties’ analysis shouldn’t be rushed, the filing said. “Reviewing this massive record will take time.”

Source:  Capital Press

Posted by Haylie Shipp


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x