USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has prepared a draft environmental assessment addressing the continued cultivation of Roundup Ready sugar beets. The move is in response to a request from the Monsanto Company for partial deregulation or some similar administrative action. The environmental assessment evaluates three options, including the agency's preferred alternative, which would authorize production of RR sugar beets under strict APHIS permit conditions.
In September the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a ruling invalidating APHIS' decision to grant non-regulated status to RR sugar beets until APHIS prepared a full environmental impact statement supporting its decision. APHIS is currently developing this EIS, which is expected to be completed by the end of May 2012.
Michael Gregoire, deputy administrator for APHIS' biotechnology regulatory services, says they are issuing this environmental assessment to share their decision-making process as transparently as possible and allow for public comment.