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Monsanto GMO Sugar Beets to be Destroyed, According to Judge’s Orders

Field of sugar beets

Have you been following the continuing Monsanto sugar beet saga?

The FDA approved the genetically modified sugar beets back in 2005, then in 2009 a judge in San Francisco ruled that the approval was illegal, due to a “significant effect” from cross-contamination. Basically, the risk of GM sugar beets contaminating non-GMO beets and Swiss chard crops was too high.

This August, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White upheld the ban, citing the original issue with cross-contamination as well as a concern that Roundup Ready crops actually cause farmers to use more pesticides in the long term, as Roundup resistant weeds start popping up.

That brings us to yesterday, when a federal judge ordered beets planted after that August ruling needed to be destroyed.

Beets Planted After the Ruling?

Yep. The USDA, in its infinite wisdom, issued permits allowing GM beet plantings.

According to Reuters:

Earthjustice, a consumer group that brought the case against the USDA and had asked the judge to order the young plants be destroyed, said the action was the first court-ordered destruction of a GMO crop.

“We had to run into court and ask the judge to stop them,” said Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff. “He said you’ve got to tear up the plants, which was what we asked him to do. It’s an extreme sort of a thing … but the circumstances were such that there really wasn’t any alternative. They basically had dared the court to stop them.”

Monsanto is arguing that it needs planting permits in order to continue research and development of GM sugar beets. They’re betting that the ban GM sugar beets won’t last, and they want to be able to maintain their GM seed supply so that they can sell them if they ever become legal.

Sugar beets make up about half of the U.S. sugar supply, and before the ban, many farmers were using the GM sugar beets so that they could spray Roundup for weed control.

What are your thoughts about the ban on GM sugar beets?

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by sanmartin

18 comments
  1. louis

    the two biggest killers in the world are ignorance and stupidity. smoking, obesity, drinking, not exercising, ect ect ect kill more people each year than sugar beats. i haven’t had a single friend die from sugar beats. these people need to crawl back into their 14th century cave with the rest of the if man had wings crowd.

    1. Becky Striepe

      The concern with GM sugar beets isn’t that they will kill you. It’s that they are a threat to biodiversity and that Roundup resistant GM crops encourage farmers to use more and more toxic pesticides over time. While this might not be as apparent and immediate a threat as something that will kill you, it is a long-term threat to our environment and to our food security.

      1. Bob Bischoff

        I would suggest that you research your comment on “more and more toxic pesticides over time”. By using Roundup Resistant Sugar Beets, farmers are using less chemical on Sugar Beets than they have ever used. Normal application of RR Sugar Beets is 24 oz. per acre of Roundup. Conventional sugar beets use up to 4 pints (64 oz.) of herbicides. RR sugar beets use less than 1/2 of the herbicides that conventional sugar beets do.

        1. Becky Striepe

          I’ve done quite a bit of reading on the topic. Yes, they use fewer pesticides at first. Over time, however, as Roundup-resistant weeds develop, they require more and more of the pesticide.

          1. patrick uzzell

            But the worst part of it is that it is wrong to patent life. Monsanto just wants us to pay them royalties on God’s Creation.

            Secondly, if it is not genetically a beet, Monsanto has know right to call it a beet. No telling what vileness it has been crossed with!!

            It is not a beet but rather a beast. A Beast of the Apocalypse!

            1. Nancy

              wow, nothing like fear and illogical thinking huh… seriously do people really believe that biotechnology is all about creating “vileness”…? why not do some individual research from actual reliable sources…

  2. Nancy

    the vast impact of this judge’s ruling reaches beyond the destruction of a crop, this judge has refused to see and recognize the scientific facts, he has also shown disregard for biotechnology for crop production…. somehow these people believe farmers can feed the world with organic grown only which is moving backward in food production not forward… sad day when a single judge can rule whether a farmer can farm or not in America… agriculture has been the foundation of this great Nation… when sugar from beets is placed next to sugar from cane there is no difference, they are exactly the same components… I suggest those who are misinformed about farming practices to visit a farm in person and see for yourself what it takes to grow a crop, and then take a tour through a sugarbeet factory to see how they get the sugar out of those beets.

    when you name the reading you have done, where and who and what is your source… that makes all the difference in what kind of information you will get, truthful facts or someone’s opinion with no scientific background, Judge White has no scientific background and has ruled on the misrepresented info the plantiffs provided…

    1. mperry

      Judge White may not have a scientific background but he certainly has a legal one. The fact remains that in September, he ordered the USDA to produce an Environmental Impact Statement, as required by law, before they permitted the planting of these GM beets. The USDA basically thumbed its nose at the court’s ruling and issued the permit, thus violating federal law (the National Environmental Policy Act).

      Judge White’s ruling has nothing to do with misrepresented information – it just means that the USDA is expected to comply with the law, just like everyone else.

      1. Nancy

        …there is confusion in that the ruling to destroy the stecklings is a separate issue, stecklings are grown for seed by seed companies, that ruling does not involved producers who grow beets as a crop, it is not yet known if growers will be allowed to grow the Roundup Ready beets…, yes the Judge has a legal background but that does not mean his ruling is good and made with wisdom, just as some laws are not created and passed with wisdom…

  3. Katrina

    The beets should be destroyed, period. Monsanto is a typical evil corporation who has no business producing frankenstein-esque crops that could potentially cause cancer and other horrific diseases down the road. These caustic corporations need to stop messing with Mother Nature and leave the farming to families, not agribusinesses.

    P.S. Nancy, you really need to get ahold of a copy of “Food Inc” and wake up. Oh, and I grew up on a farm, by the way.

    1. Nancy

      I have watched the Food Inc., sadly it is not accurate and it is filled with misleading information. Growing up on a farm does not make one an expert or knowledgable about agriculture…

      Unfortunately most of the general public does not understand agriculture, especially when propaganda such as Food Inc. is promoted as fact or science.

      Visit the website called The Hand That Feeds U.S.

      http://www.thehandthatfeedsus.org

  4. Meg Chandler

    GM sugar beets along with every other Monsanto product ought to be destroyed. Monsanto Company, which poisons people, ought to be sued for endangerment to the human race. The company leaders ought to be arrested for criminal activity.

      1. Becky Striepe

        Hi Meg,

        I’m the editor here at Eat Drink Better. We moderate comments to ensure that we maintain a civil, spam-free debate.

        I try to approve comments as quickly as possible, and I do apologize if our commenting policy caused you an inconvenience. Thanks so much for reading! We love hearing from our readers.

        Thanks,
        Becky

  5. Mark

    Monsanto and its clones Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont and Dow, are simply terrorist organizations guilty of crimes against the environment and humanity and should be treated as such.

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