Last Friday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals came back with a decision in the Roundup Ready Sugar Beet case. Their deliberations hinged on whether or not Judge White was correct in ruling that the sugar beet stecklings (young plants) be destroyed last December. Here is what the court had to say:
“Plaintiffs have not demonstrated that the permitted steckling plants present a possibility, much less a likelihood, of genetic contamination or other irreparable harm. The undisputed evidence indicates that the stecklings pose a negligible risk of genetic contamination, as the juvenile plants are biologically incapable of flowering or cross-pollinating before February 28, 2011, when the permits expire.”
In other words, the appeals court found that the stecklings should not be destroyed because they do not flower and thus cannot cross with other crops. Additionally, the court wrote that “The alleged irreparable harms are little more than an expression that “life finds a way.” Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park 159 (Ballantine 1990). However, an invocation to chaos theory is not sufficient to justify a preliminary injunction.” Applying this story of Jurassic Park to the beet case is surprisingly appropriate:
Dinosaur DNA was harvested from some hardened amber, and the opportunity to bring dinosaurs back to life was made possible. The government approved the development of dinosaur eggs, because, well, eggs are just eggs and they do not in and of themselves make a dinosaur. Concerned citizens sued, citing possible negative aspects of dinosaurs. The courts then said that the eggs did not present any harm, but that the people were welcome to seek an injunction once the eggs hatched. And in the story, of course, no dinosaurs actually hatched from the eggs, and everything was fine, right?
Read the full 21 page court decision here, if you wish.