Agriculture | Ecotrope

Feds: Yes, you can plant modified sugar beets

Ecotrope | Feb. 4, 2011 6:53 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:41 p.m.

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A sugar beet fresh from the field.

A sugar beet fresh from the field.

Today, the US Department of Agriculture announced it will allow Roundup-ready sugar beets to be planted this spring, which was anticipated after last week’s decision to deregulate genetically modified alfalfa (part of Obama’s promise to review and eliminate unnecessarily burdensome regulations). The genetically modified sugar beet seeds are grown in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and environmental groups worry they will cross-pollinate organic table beets and Swiss chard without proper regulation.

Environmental Justice, which has been pressing the feds to document the environmental impacts of the modified crop on organic farms, today announced it will sue the feds and try to get another court-ordered injunction against planting the crop this spring. Even though the USDA is requiring isolation distances around the plantings of modified beets to prevent cross-pollination, said Earth Justice attorney Paul Achitoff, those distances do not offer enough protection.

From Reuters:

“U.S. agricultural regulators on Friday said despite a court ban, they would allow commercial planting of genetically modified sugar beets under closely controlled conditions.

The move marks the second-such boost by the United States for contested biotech crops in a week, and underscores U.S. determination to expand the use of GMO crops amid rising global fears over food security and surging prices.”

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