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9th Circuit Stops Destruction of GM Sugar Beets

Wanting readers to think beyond the Feb. 25 decision by his three-member Ninth Circuit Court panel, calling off the destruction of genetically modified sugar beets, Judge Sidney R. Thomas opted to give them an amusing moment.

“As we have noted,” wrote Judge Thomas, “this appeal presents a thin slice of a larger litigation. Perhaps, in the end, the entire controversy will be resolved, and we can say that ‘fair discourse hath been as sugar, [m]aking the hard way sweet and delectable.'”

Thomas gave the appropriate footnote to William Shakespeare, Richard II, act 2, se. 3, before adding: “Needless to say, given the course of the litigation, that is unlikely.”

Thomas is the San Francisco appeals court judge interviewed by President Obama and Vice President Biden last year for possible nomination to the Supreme Court.

In latest sugar beets the ruling, he said the plaintiffs failed to show the likelihood of irreparable injury from the August 2010 plantings of Roundup Ready juvenile sugar beet stecklings in select, remote areas. “Biology, geography, field experience, and permit restrictions make irreparable injury unlikely,” Thomas wrote.

“Thus, without expressing any views on the merits of the ultimate issues in this case or other pending related litigation, we vacate the preliminary injunction, reverse, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion, ” he concluded.

In reversing the decision of District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White, Thomas not only spared stecklings already in the ground in Arizona and Oregon, he demonstrated his considerable knowledge of sugar beet history and genetics along the way.

Here’s some of what he wrote:

“The sugar beet is a biennial crop which develops a sugar-rich tap root in the first year (the vegetative stage) and a flowering seed stalk in the second year (the reproductive stage). Early in its development, it is known as a “steckling,” i.e. a small, juvenile seedling that has grown neither a root nor seeds. When the beet matures, its root is harvested and processed into sugar; the pulp is used for food. Sugar beets grown for their root crop are grown only through the vegetative stage, maximizing their sugar content.

“If allowed to reach the reproductive stage, a sugar beet uses the stored sugar to grow a seed stalk, a process known as “bolting.” Sugar beets are largely wind pollinated, though their pollen may also be dispersed by insects, and they are sexually compatible with certain other beet (beta vulgaris) crops, such as table beets and Swiss chard.

“Weeds significantly reduce sugar beet yields and constitute a serious problem for farmers. Farmers often use herbicides, including “Roundup” products, to stop weeds from germinating.

“In 1988, Monsanto and KWS SAAT AG (“KWS”), the parent company of Betaseed, developed Roundup Ready sugar beets, which are genetically engineered to tolerate glyphosate, the active ingredient in “Roundup” herbicides. Monsanto owns the intellectual property in the gene for glyphosate tolerance; KWS inserted that gene into sugar beets. Together, they developed a particular variety of Roundup Ready sugar beet, called “event H7-1,” by transforming a KWS proprietary line of sugar beets. 

“With the Roundup Ready sugar beet’s glyphosate-tolerant trait, farmers can treat their fields with Roundup products to eliminate weeds without harming the (resistant) sugar beets. 

“The sugar produced from Roundup Ready sugar beets is identical to sugar processed from conventional sugar beets, and has been approved for food safety in the United States and the European Union.”

Roundup Ready sugar beets captured about 95 percent of the market before being challenged by anti-GM crop interests in the courts. These include the Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, Sierra Club, and High Mowing Organic Seeds.

Monsanto Company, American Crystal Sugar Company, Syngenta Seeds Inc., and Betaseed Inc. were intervenors on behalf of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Judge Thomas was appointed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by President Bill Clinton in 1996. He previously practiced law in Billings, MT.

© Food Safety News
  • Doc Mudd

    Oh no. Tbe judge is wise to the ol’ CFS shuck and jive.
    Worse, he seems to respect and understand all of the droll ‘sciency’ stuff that neuters CFS’s emotional arguments.
    And he seems to be a sensible, practical man. Dammit, what were the odds of that? And a Clinton appointee – go figure.
    Worse still, he is only empathetic, not sympathetic and subservient to the addled unfounded opinions of anti-agricutural technology activist cranks and their obedient droning lackeys.
    He expresses no interest in hateful personal opinions, displays of extreme paranoia, or cheesy over-acting of a poorly crafted farce.
    The man is able to discern Shakespeare from the absurdly concocted anecdotal tragi-comedy CSF is acting out in his courtroom. His review is appropriately dismissive.
    What the heck sort of justice is this, anyway?
    Time to crank up the conspiracy rhetoric, campers.

  • foolmeonce

    What the judge has not a clue about are the health implications of his decision. Way to go judge. There is a journal article from Argentina by Carasco et al, detailing the mechanism by which glyphosate (Round-Up) causes birth defects.
    There have been no multi-generational studies performed on laboratory animals eating GMOs analyzing the combination of genetic engineering + Round-Up exposure on pregnant women. It turns out there are villages in Argentina, in which, since introduction of GMOs the rates of birth degects in people quadrupled, and the rates of childhood cancers rose three times. If life was fair, the pregnant female members of the judge’s family would be required by law to eat the crap.

  • Mike Higby

    The content and tone of the Doc Mudd/Alex Avery commentary is just so very predictable.

  • Doc Mudd

    “…is just so very predictable.”
    Yeah, common sense is not an original idea, I’m afraid. My sincerest apologies.

  • Jim Wells

    I say that Doc Mudd knows darn well (unless DM is truly as dumb as some of DM’s detractors would have us believe) that Mike Higby was not referring to DM’s use of common sense, but rather DM’s style of derision.
    I say that Doc Mudd and foolmeonce both failed to comprehend not only what the court’s opinion says for this case, but also what judge Thomas’ opinion was, and what, together, his words more likely suggest about his character and knowledge — and, I expect, what he would think about each of DM’s and fmo’s analyses of his behavior in this case.
    Translation: Both Doc and fool missed the boat, and each of their writings suggest to me that they each missed it for the same reason — they could not see it because they were too distracted by the loud, ideological voices in their heads.

  • Doc Mudd

    “Thomas gave the appropriate footnote to William Shakespeare, Richard II, act 2, se. 3, before adding: ‘Needless to say, given the source of the litigation, that is unlikely.'”
    I dunno, Jimbo, Hizzoner hints pretty strongly he apprehends the underlying purpose of CFS’s court jesters’ tragi-comic prancing and speechifying.
    Sorry, gotta run…they’re calling “all aboard” and fixin’ to haul up the gangplank – wouldn’t want to let your distraction make me miss the damned boat, would we? Then I’d have to jump on the bandwagon with you and ride to Lord knows where.

  • Pretty sure the Opinion said ” given the course of the litigation, not “source” of the litigation

  • farmer Gerald

    Thank the Lord they did this, If you were a beet farmer like myself youd understnd what a blessing this is. And spraying round up 3 times is much much much more eco friendly than the cocktail of chemicals we used to spray 5 or 6 times and all the fuoe burned cultivating so we can feed you people.