The USDA's and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) granted genetically modified sugar beets from Monsanto nonregulated status.

APHIS’ final regulatory determination came after more than 3 years. Court battles plagued the approval process for this variety of sugar beet, which is designed to be resistant to glyphosate herbicide, also known as Roundup. Lawsuits aimed to prevent the release of the variety, and the courts decided to require a thorough environmental impact statement (EIS) and plant pest risk assessment (PPRA).

During the review process, three public meetings were held and thousands of comments were gathered for analysis and consideration before granted the nonregulated status, APHIS stated.

APHIS’ final EIS, conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act, evaluated the potential environmental impacts of three alternatives prior to determining whether to approve the petition for nonregulated status submitted by the developers of RR sugar beets. In its record of decision, APHIS selects the second alternative analyzed in the final EIS; this was the alternative in which RR sugar beets are approved for nonregulated status because the variety is not likely to pose a plant pest risk. APHIS’ selection of the second alternative analyzed is consistent with the agency’s authority with regard to determining the plant pest risk for RR sugar beets.

The decision will likely be met with positive reactions from agricultural groups and farmers and negative reactions for organic and other groups against genetically modified crops.

APHIS’ determination and record of decision on Roundup Ready sugar beets are now available to the public here.