SAN FRANCISCO — A ruling on Aug. 13 by a U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of California has left the sugar beet industry in limbo. In his ruling, Judge Jeffrey White vacated the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service’s decision to deregulate the use of bioengineered sugar beets. The agency must now develop an environmental impact report before it may take future actions.
The decision does not interfere with the harvest and processing of bioengineered sugar beets planted before Aug. 13, 2010. The judge ruled that such crops may be harvested and processed, and sugar from the 2010 sugar beet crop may be supplied to the market without limitation.

More than 1 million acres are currently planted using the bioengineered seeds.