Biotech Beets Uprooted–For Now

Here’s some news from The Huffington Post: “A federal judge has revoked the government’s approval of genetically altered sugar beets until regulators complete a more thorough review of how the scientifically engineered crops affect other food.”

Really? Somebody’s getting the message in the federal government?

The ruling means sugar beet growers won’t be able to use the modified seeds after harvesting the biotechnology beets already planted on more than 1 million acres spanning 10 states from Michigan to Oregon. And further plantings won’t be allowed until the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) submits an environmental impact statement, which could take two or three years.

Monsanto developed the beets to resist its popular weed killer, Roundup. Farmers have embraced the technology as a way to lower their costs on labor, fuel and equipment but the Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance and Sierra Club have been trying to uproot the biotech beets since filing a 2008 lawsuit.

“Andrew Kimbrell, the Center for Food Safety’s executive director, hailed Friday’s decision as a major victory in the fight against genetically engineered crops and chided the Agriculture Department for approving the genetically engineered seeds without a full environmental review,” reports The Huffington Post. “Hopefully, the agency will learn that their mandate is to protect farmers, consumers and the environment and not the bottom line of corporations such as Monsanto,” Kimbrell said in a statement.

Genetically altered sugar beets provide about one-half of the U.S. sugar supply and some farmers have warned there aren’t enough conventional seeds and herbicide to fill the void. The scientific seeds account for about 95 percent of the current sugar beet crop in the U.S.

“The value of sugar beet crops is critically important to rural communities and their economies,” the Sugar Industry Biotech Council said Saturday.

Organic farmers, food safety advocates and conservation groups contend genetically altered crops such as the sugar beets could share their genes with conventionally grown food, such as chard and table beets.


4 responses to “Biotech Beets Uprooted–For Now

  1. Wow. I didn’t know this: “Genetically altered sugar beets provide about one-half of the U.S. sugar supply.” Yikes!

    Have you ever read this novel? It’s (obviously) a novel, but an important subplot is seeds and biodiversity.

    • Shar, I haven’t heard of that novel before but I just checked it out on Amazon. It looks really interesting. Thanks for the link!

  2. I blogged about this too. It’s great to see. Somehow I can’t see that the ruling could do too much damage to the industrialised sugar beet industry (despite their protestations) – seeing as the industry was doing OK before Monsanto introduced it’s GM beets

    • I agree, Bee. It’s amazing how Big Ag flourishes. I don’t know if it’ll ever feel the blow from the small time foodies and farmers that are just trying to do things the way nature intended.

      Thanks for your comment, and for visiting my blog. Enjoy your spring! I am looking forward to the winding down of a very hot summer up here!

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