A federal judge has ordered the destruction of all genetically engineered sugarbeets that seed companies planted in September.

U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White of San Francisco found that USDA improperly granted permission for the plantings without a detailed environmental review. He gave the companies until Dec. 6 to appeal his decision.

His ruling came in a lawsuit filed by environmental groups challenging a decision by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to issue permits to seed companies to plant Roundup Ready sugarbeet stecklings. The permits were issued in September despite an August ruling by White that the seed crop was not to be planted until USDA reviewed the potential impact on other crops.

The environmental groups say the affected fields are in Arizona and Oregon, and that this is the first time a federal court has ordered a biotech crop destroyed.

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