The sugar beet industry remains in limbo, subject to a court battle with decisions meted out by judges far removed from the actual fields and crops within their jurisdiction.

Judge Jeffrey S. White, United States District for Northern California, has ordered the removal of 256 acres of sugar beets intended for seed production.

Farmers can only watch from the periphery as the court battle continues.

The New York Times reports that suspending the planting of genetically modified sugar beets could result in a sharp decline in American sugar production in the next two years, leading to possible price increases for consumers and food processors. The rulings could force farmers to abandon the genetically engineered beets. Currently, those beets make up nearly all of the United States crop.

For more, please see this NYT article by William Neuman and Andrew Pollack.