January 22, 2019

Genetically Modified Beets Approved For Planting But Not Without Another Fight

sugar beets

Sugar beets engineered to stand up to Roundup have been approved for planting this season

Genetically modified sugar beets that are designed to stand up against the weed killer Roundup can be planted under new strict regulations, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Farmers had been waiting patiently to hear the decision so they could begin their spring plantings. Farmers in 10 states plant sugar beets. Idaho, Minnesota and North Dakota are the top producing states. The sugar beets that they grow provide the nation with half of it’s sugar. About 95% of that is grown with a Roundup Ready strain.

For farmers, this decision was not only timely, but it was very positive, it’s their livelihood after all.

The USDA website lists all 18 requirements for farmers that will be planting sugar beets. They were worried about other crops that were not genetically modified being contaminated, but the USDA has put in planting restrictions that include a 4-mile distance between crops.

A year ago, a California judge outlined concerns with this type of planting. Friday’s announcement does nothing to address those concerns. The group leading the case, Earthjustice, will continue to fight against the USDA on this issue.

Organic Valley, which is the nation’s largest organic farming cooperative, released this statement on Friday, “This is a clear indication the USDA is more interested in protecting the biotech industry than the health, safety, environment and property rights of U.S. farmers and consumers who choose not to grow or consume (genetically modified crops).”