Earthjustice Praises Catholic Healthcare West's New Policy on Genetically-Engineered Sugar

Decision called "a bold and wise step"


Paul Achitoff, Earthjustice, (808) 599-2436 

San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West this week announced a new policy, that “its food purchasing dollars will be focused on promoting sustainable food production practices, in part by seeking alternatives to foods produced with sugar from genetically engineered (“GE”) sugar beets, as well as meat and dairy produced with animal clones.”

Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), headquartered in San Francisco, CA, is a system of 41 hospitals and medical centers in California, Arizona and Nevada.

Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff issued the following statement:

“Catholic Healthcare West has taken a bold and wise step by steering clear of genetically modified foods. Rushed deregulation of these products by the Bush administration will harm organic farmers and consumers seeking organic food, and exacerbate the growing epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds. The Obama administration would do the nation a great service by reconsidering the wisdom of allowing genetically engineered crops into our supermarkets, farmlands, and hospital cafeterias.”

Legal Action to Stop GE Sugar Beets

In 2008, farmers, food safety advocates, and conservation groups filed a suit in federal court challenging the deregulation of herbicide-tolerant “Roundup Ready” sugar beets by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Deregulation of the sugar beets allows them to be grown without any restrictions or requirements whatsoever. Such deregulated “Roundup Ready” crops are likely to cross-pollinate organic or conventional crops, have resulted in increased use of Monsanto’s glyphosate, or Roundup, herbicide to which the GE crops are immune, and have caused the proliferation of glyphosate resistant “superweeds” which evolve quickly in fields continually doused with the herbicide. Farmers then use even more Roundup, or more toxic herbicides, to remove them. Attorneys from the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice are representing plaintiffs Organic Seed Alliance, Sierra Club, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and the Center for Food Safety in the lawsuit, which seeks a thorough assessment of environmental, health, and associated economic impacts of the deregulation as required by federal law.

Read more about the case

Background GE Sugar Beets (PDF)

Additional Resources

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