A US judge has ordered a ban on growing genetically modified beets in the United States until the Department of Agriculture fully investigates their environmental impact.
Judge Jeffrey White of the federal court in San Francisco, California, made the ruling on Friday. It bars new cultivation of the genetically modified beets, which represent 90 percent of the US crop.
Beets are the source of half of US sugar production; the rest is from sugar cane.
Experts think the evaluation that was requested will take more than two years. Some fear that could lead to shortages and growers warn there may not be enough of the traditional unmodified seed.
The judge ruled at the request of activists, including the Center for Food Safety, and the Sierra Club, which oppose genetically modified crops.
The US sugar beet crop was worth 1.33 billion dollars in 2007-2008. (Sapa, August 2010)