A federal judge in California has denied a motion for a preliminary injunction sought by several environmental groups that would have precluded all further planting, cultivation, processing, or other use of genetically modified (GM) sugar beets or sugar beet seeds and would have required previously planted GM sugar beets to be pulled up. Ctr. for Food Safety v. Schafer, No. 08-00484 (N.D. Cal. 03/16/10). Plaintiffs alleged that the U.S. Department of Agriculture did not do enough to study the environmental impact of the GM crops before it deregulated them and that continued planting and harvesting of the crops would cause “irreparable harm” to conventional crops through cross-pollination.

The court denied plaintiffs’ motion, saying that they had not moved for a preliminary injunction until five years after GM sugar beets were deregulated, three years after filing their complaint and four months after the court granted their summary judgment motion on the merits. In an earlier decision, the court ordered the government to conduct a more thorough review of potential environmental impacts of allowing the GM sugar beets on the market. The court indicated that it will consider whether a permanent injunction is warranted during a hearing in July 2010.