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Published February 04, 2011, 03:07 PM

USDA authorizes spring planting of Roundup Ready sugar beets

ST. LOUIS — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has authorized spring planting of Genuity® Roundup Ready® sugar beets. Last year Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) and KWS SAAT AG petitioned USDA to act with interim measures so farmers could continue to grow Roundup Ready sugar beets while USDA completes an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

ST. LOUIS — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has authorized spring planting of Genuity® Roundup Ready® sugar beets. Last year Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) and KWS SAAT AG petitioned USDA to act with interim measures so farmers could continue to grow Roundup Ready sugar beets while USDA completes an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

"USDA’s decision is a positive step for sugar beet farmers," said Steve Welker, sugar beet commercial lead at Monsanto. "Sugar beet farmers have been busy preparing for spring planting, waiting for USDA’s guidance and hoping it would come in time for spring planting." Monsanto will carefully review the details of these interim measures for continued planting of Roundup Ready sugar beets.

Roundup Ready sugar beets were developed by Monsanto and KWS. KWS and other sugar beet seed companies have Roundup Ready sugar beets seed in stock and ready for sale.

Roundup Ready sugar beets were introduced to farmers during the 2007-2008 crop seasons. The benefits farmers across the U.S. and Canada experienced on their farms have driven the fastest adoption of any biotech crop to date. In 2010, more than 90 percent of the sugar beets grown in North America were Roundup Ready varieties. Sugar beet growers have confirmed that Roundup Ready sugar beets reduce impacts on the environment and enable them to be more productive.

Last year a federal court procedurally voided USDA’s prior authorization of Roundup Ready sugar beets requiring USDA to prepare an EIS. As a consequence the USDA would have to issue interim measures should it decide to allow continued cultivation of Roundup Ready sugar beets while the EIS is being prepared. At issue before the court was USDA’s administrative process. There is no issue as to the safety or efficacy of the product. USDA’s action today authorizes farmers to continue planting Roundup Ready sugar beets in 2011.

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed USDA’s authority to issue interim measures to authorize planting of a crop while USDA is completing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) (Monsanto v Geertson Seed Farms). When this EIS is completed, it is incumbent on USDA to make a decision whether to authorize planting of Roundup Ready sugar beets without conditions.

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