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Monsanto Wins Reversal of Order to Destroy Sugar Beets
USAgNet - 03/01/2011

Monsanto Co. and the U.S. Agriculture Department won reversal of a judge's order to destroy genetically modified sugar beet seedlings planted in 2010, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled over the weekend.

A three-judge panel, ruling in a lawsuit filed by environmental and organic seed groups over sugar beet plants modified to withstand Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, said the groups hadn't shown that the seedlings were likely to contaminate natural sugar beet plants.

A Nov. 30 order to dig up 256 acres of seedlings has been on hold pending the appeals court review.

Sugar beets, grown on 1.3 million acres in 10 states, provide half the nation's sugar supply, according to the Sugar Industry Biotech Council. The Center for Food Safety, a plaintiff, and organic seed organizations claim wind-blown pollen from the genetically engineered crops will contaminate conventional sugar beets and other closely related plants.

Four seed companies -- American Crystal Sugar Co., Betaseed, Syngenta and SES vanderHave USA -- obtained permits from the USDA in August for limited planting of the modified seedlings. The permits, which expire Feb. 28, don't allow the companies to let the plants flower and produce seed, the ruling said.

St. Louis-based Monsanto is the world's largest seed company.

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