GMO News Sugar Beet Production

Published on April 6th, 2009 | by Gina Munsey

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Obama’s Administration Refuses to Halt Production of Monsanto’s Genetically-Modified Roundup-Ready Sugar Beets

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Recent data showing sugar’s rising popularity over high fructose corn syrup is good news, right?  Not if that sugar is genetically-modified.  In fact, if you’ve purchased beet sugar recently, there’s a very good chance that you’ve unintentionally consumed a genetically-modified product. Industry statistics show that more than half of the sugar beets grown in the US in 2008 were genetically-modified varieties.

If that isn’t enough to make you cringe, consider the following: most of those engineered beets were Roundup-resistant, courtesy of agri-tech giant Monsanto.  Last autumn under the Bush administration, the USDA approved the Monsanto seed without preparing a standard Environmental Impact Statement.   But certainly President Obama, with an organic garden on the White House Lawn, would have done things differently.

Wouldn’t he?

In January of 2008, the Center for Food Safety –along with several other organizations including the Organic Seed Alliance and the Sierra Club– filed a suit against the government, insisting the USDA prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on the Roundup-Ready Sugar Beets. The lawsuit asked the government to halt the production of the modified beets until further information regarding the crop’s safety was released.

In addition to citing obvious concerns regarding the safety of the genetically-modified modified beet itself, the suit pointed out that the pesticide-resistant quality is affecting more than the just the engineered crops.  Data shows that the modified beets have been consistently contaminating the plants grown nearby.  Less than ten years ago, no Roundup-resistant weeds were documented; now, nearly two and half million acres of US farmland are home to Roundup-resistant plants.

It’s obvious Monsanto –who also developed Roundup, by the way–  knows how to talk the talk.  A sizable chunk of the Monsanto corporate website is devoted to their supposed commitment to sustainable agriculture.

While Monsanto can’t pull the wool over the eyes of savvy consumers such as the Seeds of Deception organization, the corporation somehow continues to fool the United States government.  Despite the lawsuit brought against them, the USDA refused to release an Environmental Impact Statement on Monsanto’s beet seed, effectively giving the go-ahead for unregulated production.

But with a new president and a new agenda on the horizon, those fighting Monsanto looked to President Obama for hope. Days ago in a race against time, the Center for Food Safety asked the United States re-assess its previous decision “in light of the change in administration.”

Tragically, the USDA held its ground, and has refused to halt the production of genetically-engineered beets.

What does this mean for you, as a consumer? According to Beet Sugar Development Foundation, the decision means that genetically-modified beets will make up 90 to 95% of the 2009 crop — an astronomical increase, considering the 2008 growing season marked the very first harvest of altered beets.

And yes, sugar from the engineered beets is headed straight into food products destined for your supermarket and pantry shelves. Since genetically-modified ingredients aren’t required to be labeled as such, you will have no way of knowing whether or not you are consuming sugar from genetically-altered beets.

The good news is that list of corporations who have vowed to keep genetically-modified beet sugar out of their products continues to grow. To date, more than seventy companies have publicly signed the Non-GM Beet Sugar Registry.

The bad news? Despite President Obama’s winds of change, genetically-modified pollen is still circulating just as strongly as it ever has.

Image via karma-police on Flickr under a Creative Commons license.


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About the Author

Gina was born in Mexico, but spent her early childhood years in Eastern Europe. She gained her Associate and Bachelor degrees from schools in California and Michigan, respectively, and was mostly recently employed in the Business Systems field in California. Diagnosed with a corn allergy in her early twenties, Gina has taken on the challenge of living corn-free -- as well as dairy, wheat, and gluten-free -- in a corn-saturated world. She currently lives in beautiful Northern California. Gina loves her husband, watering her plants, writing poetry and blog posts, creating collages, browsing art galleries, eliminating toxic chemicals, reading the Bible, doing laundry, reading cookbooks and substituting ingredients in recipes, collecting broken shells from the beach, repurposing everyday objects, and watching curtains dance over open windows. Follow her on Twitter @gmunsey.



12 Responses to Obama’s Administration Refuses to Halt Production of Monsanto’s Genetically-Modified Roundup-Ready Sugar Beets

  1. Rick says:

    Has no one seen what this will do to our economy. These beets now represent 95% of the beets grown. If they decide to get rid of these beets, there will be no beet sugar in the country for at least a full year. I personally know that if there is no bio beets, most farmers will actually stop growing beets and just plant something else. It is not worth it to them to go back to conventional seed. The cost of going backwards is too high. Bio seed yields almost 20% more and there are less costs. no one wants to grow something that will require more work and cost for less income.

  2. Tess says:

    I see the monsanto stooges are here in full force trying to discredit the article. Who else really knows or cares if the picture is sugar beets or red beets. The disturbing fact is that the governments are allowing monsanto free rein to take over our food supply with untested potentially dangerous technology. Even if – a big if – the technology is safe in itself, the increase in toxic chemicals used to grow it, and the environmental desecration caused by it is not safe. Plus the fact that they are sneaking it into the food without labeling it just shows that they know people don’t want it and have an inherent distrust of it. Monsanto is greedy and evil and the world will be better off when it disappears from existence. They are the real terrorists, unfortunately they have deep enough pockets to cover up their crimes… only for the time being.

  3. james says:

    Monsanto = Goodbye Democracy. It’s not that the beets are bad, It’s that Monsanto has America by the nuts – and it’s starting to squeeeeeze. Goodbye Democracy! Hello Corrupt Facism! Anyone who thinks otherwise is simply a naive moron.

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  5. Karen Ott says:

    It’s obvious this article is an opinion piece posing as something more.

    Why else would the author have used a picture of a redbeet in place of a real sugarbeet.

    Could it be Ms.Munsey, and Green Options Media, didn’t know the difference? And what does that say about them…and the authenticity of this article?

    The internet nurtures vast fields of flim-flam…if you beleive what’s written above you’ve just been hoodwinked.

  6. organicchem says:

    The truth is… all sucrose sold is exactly the same formula – C12 H22 O11. The GMO is entirely refined out of the product. There is not a single chemical difference whether sucrose is from cane sugar, beet sugar or even (gasp!) those nasty roundup ready beets.

    The true sadness lies in the effort our farmers make to produce more food per acre and the growing effort their customers make to suppress them.

  7. tee says:

    I love hearing the common folk talk about biochem. I only wish you all would get a biochem degree. Monsanto’s sugar beat have been growing since 2005 without a single problem. A single judge in CA with no degree in science decided this was bad or evil for people to eat. Very funny

  8. Bill Jordan says:

    You could try using a photo of an actual sugar beet; I guess you enjoy misleading people along with your phony story.

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  11. Miruka says:

    Ahh Monsanto… They’re the ones who brought us NutraSweet (aspartame) which is likely an excitotoxin and fought to keep Stevia out of the market as sweetener — such wonderful people.

    I’ve personally made the transition to using only unrefined cane sugars (such as turbinado/demerara sugar and evaporated cane juice) in my personal cooking years ago — I prefer the flavor, and additional nutrient content compared to refined beet sugars. Here in SoCal, you can find varieties from Mexico, namely Zulka brand Azucar Moreno — an unrefined cane sugar, for about $0.50/lb.

  12. Busa says:

    I had absolutely no idea things were this bad! Sadly, once again, government decisions are based upon the almighty dollar, not the health of the citizens!

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