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USDA deregulates Roundup Ready sugar beets

The Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on Thursday announced it had determined that a sugar beet variety genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate is not likely to pose a plant pest risk to agricultural crops or other plants or plant products, and deregulated it.

APHIS noted that it had completed both a thorough environmental impact statement and plant pest risk assessment. Under the Plant Protection Act and APHIS regulations, the USDA was specifically required to evaluate if Roundup Ready sugar beets are plant pests.

APHIS’ final EIS, conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act, evaluated the potential environmental impacts of three alternatives before determining whether to approve the petition for non-regulated status submitted by the developers of Roundup Ready sugar beets.

This is APHIS’ final regulatory determination in this matter, the agency noted. A district court decision in 2009 found that APHIS had not followed a strict enough rule making process, but the announcement said, “APHIS has worked hard to complete this final EIS to ensure it is sound and comprehensive.”