SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge has revoked the government's approval of genetically altered sugar beets until regulators complete a more thorough review of how the scientifically engineered crops affect other food.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White Friday means sugar beet growers won't be able to use the modified seeds after harvesting the biotechnology beets already planted on more than 1 million acres spanning 10 states from Michigan to Oregon. All the seed comes from Oregon's Willamette Valley.
Additional planting won't be allowed until the U.S. Department of Agriculture submits an environmental impact statement. That sort of extensive examination can take two or three years.
White declined a request to issue an injunction that would have imposed a permanent ban on the biotech beets, which Monsanto Co. developed to resist its popular weed killer, Roundup. Farmers have embraced the technology as a way to lower their costs on labor, fuel and equipment.
The Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance and Sierra Club have been trying to uproot the biotech beets since filing a 2008 lawsuit.