A federal judge has ordered the destruction of genetically modified sugar beet crops planted illegally – before the environmental impacts of the engineered plants were fully assessed. Tuesday’s ruling is the latest in an ongoing dispute over whether Monsanto’s Roundup-ready sugar beets, which are genetically engineered to be resistant to herbicides, can be grown commercially.

The Center for Food Safety filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for issuing a permit for the biotech plants to be sold before a proper environmental review had been conducted. The group says this is the first time a judge has ordered biotech plants to be destroyed.

The chief complaints about the herbicide-resistant crops is they result in more toxins washing into waterways, and there aren’t enough controls to keep the crops from cross-pollinating and contaminating other plants.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in California said in the ruling that “there is a significant risk that the plantings pursuant to the permits will cause environmental harm.”

The Center for Food Safety had sent the judge news of a runaway genetically modified crop – the golf-course putting green cover called cheating bentgrass – which was recently found growing along irrigation ditches in Malheur County (not where it belongs).