APHIS announced the following steps:
* APHIS has received applications from and is issuing permits to sugar beet seed producers to authorize “steckling” (i.e seedlings) production this fall under strict permit conditions that would not allow flowering of the stecklings. APHIS anticipates that issuance of such non-flowering permits can be completed in the next 2 weeks.
* APHIS has also received and is evaluating a request for a partial deregulation of Roundup Ready sugar beets. In connection with this evaluation, APHIS is developing an appropriate environmental analysis to inform its decision making regarding this request to authorize future seed and root crop plantings under a combination of permits, administrative orders, or other regulatory measures. Any regulatory measures taken would include mitigating restrictions consistent with those proposed to the Court as interim measures while APHIS completes the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the petition for determination of non-regulated status for GE sugar beets. APHIS anticipates making decisions on appropriate interim regulatory measures by the end of the year. There will be an opportunity for public comment on any environmental analyses developed.
* APHIS will continue to place a priority on the expedited completion of the EIS, a process that is anticipated to take 2 years.
The Court’s ruling does return genetically engineered sugar beets to regulated status, but does not apply to genetically engineered sugar beet root and seed crops that were planted by August 13, 2010. The genetically engineered sugar beet root crop that has already been planted may be processed and sold as sugar. The genetically engineered sugar beet seed crop that has already been planted may be harvested and stored. The Court’s ruling does not preclude the appropriate exercise of APHIS’ administrative discretion to authorize the future planting of Roundup Ready sugar beets pursuant to USDA’s regulatory authority and biotechnology regulations.
Note to Reporters: USDA news releases and program announcements are available on the Internet and through Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. Go to the APHIS news release page at www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom and click on the RSS feed link. To sign up to receive APHIS releases automatically, send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org and leave the subject blank. In the message, type subscribe press_releases.