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Earlier this month, a federal judge in San Fransisco ruled that farmers can grow genetically modified sugar beets, at least for the near future. Environmentalists have tried to stop the growth of these beets, saying that their seeds would contaminate un-modified sugar beets and related species, like swiss chard. But 95 percent of all sugar beets grown here are modified — accounting for half of the nation's sugar supply — and an immediate ban would cause 1.5 billion dollars in losses. These GMO (genetically modified organism) beets were created to resist a particular herbicide, and were patented by Monsanto. The Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice and several other groups and organic farmers brought the suit against GMO sugar beets. They sued the USDA over its approval of the new plant, and Monsanto over its development and distribution. And the legal challenges aren't over yet; it's possible that a ban on GMO sugar beets might come down the road.
A GMO bill that died in the House during the regular session has been resurrected in the horse trading regarding the special session.