Tuesday, November 29, 2011

USDA, Monsanto and Genetically Engineered Sugar Beets

An email action alert I received yesterday from the Center for Food Safety deals with the USDA's continued attempts at foisting genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets on the population. There's a pretty good chance that if you are eating food containing "sugar," the sweetener is from GE sugar beets. And, if the USDA and Monsanto have their way, those chances will skyrocket.

According to Tom Philpott, who writes about food-related issues in Mother Jones:
"Sugar beets provide about half of the sugar consumed in the United States -- and Monsanto controls 95 percent of the sugar beet seed market with its Roundup Ready genes. The company's stranglehold over the beet market demonstrates its insidious market power. When a federal judge demanded in August 2010 that farmers stop planting Monsanto's GM beet seeds pending an impact study, farmers quickly found out that virtually no non-GM seed was available. Between 2005, when the USDA first greenlighted GM beets, and 2010, Monsanto had essentially driven all competition out of the market."
The action alert I received:
"USDA Once Again Pushes for GE Sugar Beet Commercialization—Send Your Comment Today!

"USDA recently released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) proposing a full-scale deregulation of Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready sugar beets and is accepting public comments until 11:59pm EST on December 13, 2011. Unfortunately, it is clear that the USDA continues to dismiss the serious concerns of non-GE farmers and consumers regarding the environmental and socioeconomic effects of such an action. Genetically engineered sugar beets threaten the environment through transgenic contamination and weed resistance; threaten consumers by inhibiting the fundamental right to choose, and; threaten organic and non-GE farmers by placing the burden for contamination prevention on them instead of on the producers of the GE crop.

"As you may remember, in 2008, the Center for Food Safety (CFS), Organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Seeds, and the Sierra Club successfully sued the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its illegal approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready sugar beets. In 2010, the court banned GE sugar beets until USDA prepares a valid environmental impact statement. Since then, CFS has twice gone back to court, because USDA insists on allowing continued commercialization without proper environmental review. The third case is currently pending in federal district court.

"Despite the legal victory by CFS and our allies, USDA has once again failed to adequately analyze the threat that transgenic contamination, glyphosate-resistant weeds, and increased herbicide use poses to farmers, consumers, and the environment. "
Click here to send your comment to the USDA today, urging it not to approve the deregulation of Monsanto’s genetically engineered, “Roundup Ready” sugar beets.


Anonymous said...

Another reason to eat local organic as much as possible, freeze produce for the winter, and when not possible there are some products to consider only buying if organic. Looks like sugar should possibly be one of them. But don't eat/use much sugar, to keep the expense down. Now, read your labels and watch for sugar in cereals. I'm sure it's not organic unless the whole product is organic.

Anonymous said...

Here's another issue about sugar beets -- are the issues related ?

I am watching a TV show about how the Crystal Sugar Company is locking out workers who want a better contract. The CEO has likened a workers' contract to a cancer that has to be cut out. I guess the bottom line is -- greed at the top.