FOOD NEWS: Courtesy of “Sustainable Food News”

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 704)

Sugar beet farmers will be pleased to hear that the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced yesterday, Friday, that genetically modified sugar beets designed to withstand the weedkiller Roundup, can be planted under strict conditions with no threat to the environment and other plants.

Additionally, farmers will be allowed to plant them as the USDA partially deregulates the Roundup Ready beets, while the USDA finished work on a full environmental impact statement.

According to “Sustainable Food News,” a federal judge in California issued an order last summer halting the planting of genetically modified sugar beets until the USDA completed an environmental impact study on how the beets could affect convential crops.  The “News” went on to say that the ruling had a widespread impact since nearly all the nation’s sugar beets come from the genetically altered seed and farmers had worried the USDA wouldn’t finish its work in time for spring planting.

With this decision by USDA, that is no longer a concern.

Sugar beets are planted on more than 1 million acres in 10 states with Idaho, Minnesota and North Dakota being the top producers.  The USDA website lists 18 requirements for farmers planting genetically modified sugar beets.

Paul Atchitoff, of Earthjustice, the group leading the fight against the USDA over the sugar beet deregulation, said the conditons are “not materially different from the way the industry was growing before.  And those conditions resulted in contamination and will continue to result in contamination.”

“Sustainable Food News” is published daily by Hill resident Dan McGovern.  It’s an on-line, daily newsletter emailed to the organic food instury.  For more information, please call Dan at:  (207) 749-5249.