Sunday, August 15, 2010


People love sugar. Sweet corn is very popular and in season right now. I even sprayed corn sweetener on my double crop soybeans last week as a surfactant.

But US sugar beet growers got a shock when a judge ruled that RR sugar beets haven't been studied enough and made a ruling that bans sugar beet planting next year.

" (Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday banned the planting of genetically modified sugar beets engineered by Monsanto Co in a ruling that marks a major setback for the biotech giant.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled in 2009 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had approved Monsanto's genetically modified sugar beets without adequate environmental study.
Sugar beets account for over half of the nation's sugar supply. But conventional sugar beet seeds remain widely available and environmentalists filing suit said the judge's decision should not significantly affect sugar production.

White's decision on Friday to impose the ban did not apply to crops already planted or harvested. It stems from a lawsuit brought by environmentalists over Monsanto sugar beets engineered to be resistant to the weed-killer Roundup.

Roundup is also manufactured by Monsanto and was sold to farmers together with the genetically altered sugar beet seeds.

"It's a victory for farmers, for the environment and for the public," said George Kimbrell, a senior staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety, plaintiffs in the case.
Environmentalists have argued that the "Roundup Ready" crops have increased the use of herbicides and herbicide- resistant weeds.

Monsanto has claimed in court papers that revoking the government's approval of its genetically modified seed could cost the company and its customers some $2 billion in 2011 and 2012.
Agriculture Department spokesperson Caleb Weaver said the USDA was reviewing the judge's order "to determine appropriate next steps."

A Monsanto representative referred reporters to Duane Grant, an Idaho sugar beet farmer and chairman of the Snake River Sugar cooperative. "Before planting next spring's 2011 crop, clearly we are going to have to understand all of the implications of the judge's ruling, and what might be open to us," Grant said.

He said that since White's decision did not apply to sugar beets already planted or harvested, "really there is no immediate impact on sugar availability or cost to the consumer." Sugar beets make up a little over half of the U.S. sugar crop, and 95 percent of sugar beets come from Roundup ready seed, Grant said.

The Center for Food Safety has countered that farmers can easily go back to using conventional sugar beet seeds, which were widely used as recently as two years ago. Most U.S. sugar beets are planted in March, April and May, he said.

The government has valued the sugar beet crop, which is largely grown in 11 states, the bulk of them in the Midwest, at $1.335 billion for 2007-2008.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a separate federal judge's ruling revoking the USDA's approval of Monsanto's genetically modified alfalfa until a full environmental review was completed.

(Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Tom Doggett in Washington.

See All Comments (3) Post Comment
Aug 14, 2010 10:52am EDT
It is about time they start looking into this situation. I personally think GMO’s are more damaging than good. If you look into the process of how it is done you may become ill. To anyone who is not informed on the subject, I would suggest you do some searching and get informed. YOU EAT THIS STUFF. without knowing what goes into it. They are experimenting on you and you don’t even know it.
Would you accept an unwrapped sandwich from a stranger on the street?That is the GMO story in a nutshell. I could go on and on about good versus bad however it won’t educate you as much as if you see for yourself. I suspect this judge has Googled up some facts. Better yet watch a movie called FOOD Inc.ThePup

Aug 14, 2010 7:27pm EDT
Beyond the paranoia behind most of the GMO opposition, the focus of this article should have been on the herbicides and the particular kind of genetic engineering done here, rather than a slant towards opposing ALL GMO crops in general.

This specific modification encourages use of another product supplied by the Monsanto company, in this case a product known to have harmful health effects. Speaking as one who’s prenatal development had been disrupted and altered by herbicide exposure, although the beets can take it, humans have not been so luckily modified.

Instead of encouraging their use Monsanto should (and could) have developed techniques to eliminate need for herbicides. The concern here was sales, not health and food yield. This, along with the use of planned dependency modifications are what is wrong with the direction of GMO’s today, not GMO’s as a principle. Don’t confuse the two."

I included the comments because they are interesting and represent people who post and don't farm. The RR system has been out now for 15 years and we are still getting feedback and rulings like this?

Farmers are confused. Officials said it was safe and legal so we used it. Now they are saying maybe not? How would you like to be a sugar beet grower right now who is lining up next year's seed like the rest of us are for all crops?

The first thing that jumps out at you is the comment we are using more chemicals with the RoundUp Ready system? We thought we were using less of a "safer" chemical! The resistant weed comment is real because glyphosate is so cheap and easy to use that over 85% of the US corn, soybean and sugar beet crops are RoundUp Ready. We should have been more careful with it as an industry but we weren't.

I assume this will be investigated, settled and farmers will plant RR sugar beets next spring. Right now they cannot. It makes for a big confusing mess and farming is already confusing and messy enough as it is.



  1. I never used to be against GMO crops, though I WAS a bit leery of them. Seeing how Mansanto has treated the farmers since their grab to control the international market, I think it would have been best if they'd never been invented.

  2. A lot of farmers are thinking the same thing, Gorges. They got so big so fast because their products work. Do they work so well because they change the environment and food so much they were over used or shouldn't have been licensed without more study? That is what this judge is saying but the cat has been out of the bag for over a decade! I don't know what the answer is but I know I am confused and so are a lot of other people. Life isn't simple anymore and we made it a lot more complicated with these so called simple products. They are very complex and now we more fully understand the complexities. Enough to be dangerous?

  3. ed, i view gmos as similar to the fda and the regulation of rx drugs. they are approved, come on the market, adverse effects surface, and they are removed. its my understanding that very little testing of gmos and license was granted under the "generally regarded as safe" gras for short, principle. humans have never been subjected to such a combination of proteins. this is the largest human health experiment in the history of mankind. if you shop in a grocery store you are exposed. add in the fact that roundup degrades in the soil to a substance called ampa, that cannot be removed by any known method. this is one experiment that will not end well. but maybe thats what they wanted in the first place, too many humans is the problem.