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USDA Partially Deregulates RR Sugarbeets

10:19AM Feb 07, 2011

A partial deregulation of Roundup Ready sugarbeets has been announced by USDA, with the Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS).

"After conducting an environmental assessment, accepting and reviewing public comments and conducting a plant pest risk assessment, APHIS has determined that the Roundup Ready sugar beet root crop, when grown under APHIS imposed conditions, can be partially deregulated without posing a plant pest risk or having a significant effect on the environment," said APHIS Deputy Administrator for Biotechnology Regulatory Services Michael Gregoire. "This partial deregulation is an interim measure until APHIS is able to complete a full environmental impact statement."

Pursuant to the partial deregulation, USDA said that growers of RR sugar beet rootcrop will be required to enter into a compliance agreement that outlines mandatory requirements for how the crop can be grown. If APHIS determines that the mandatory conditions of the partial deregulation set forth in the compliance agreements are not complied with, APHIS has the discretion to revoke, withdraw, or otherwise cancel the conditional partial deregulation for root crop production.

Further, APHIS may use the full range of its Plant Protection Act authorities to impose civil and/or criminal penalties and remedial measures, including seizure, quarantine, and/or destruction of root crop that is in violation of the mandatory conditions of the partial deregulation. APHIS has also issued its decision to continue to regulate the seed crop through its permitting process.

Farm-state lawmakers were the first to alert that USDA's decision was coming, including Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

"Sugar beets are a major economic driver of Michigan’s agriculture industry," Stabenow said. "Michigan is on the leading edge of national beet sugar production, and this decision comes at a crucial moment when farmers need certainty to efficiently plan their crops. America leads the world in crop production because we lead the world in efficiency and innovation. I appreciate that the USDA has made this decision based on sound science after a careful review. Going forward, we need to create more certainty for growers and fewer delays that hinder their ability to make decisions."

Here's a link to USDA's press release.

Here's a link to Q&As on the decision.