Thursday, February 19, 2009

GM Beet Sugar

Last year nearly the entire nation's supply of sugar beets was planted using Monsanto's Round Up Ready GM sugar beet seeds. There wasn't a broad industry announcement about this conversion, but rather the change slipped quietly, almost secretly, into fruition. A lawsuit set for April 3rd petitions the court to stop the sale of GM beet seed and require the USDA to conduct a thorough investigation of the safety of these seeds.

Read more on this at The Organic & Non-GMO Report.

A registry exists for companies who pledge to avoid GM beet sugar. If you operate a business and would like to vow not to buy GM beet sugar, I urge you to voice your concern here:

Non-GM Sugar Beet Registry

The more companies that express the desire for non-GMO beet sugar, the more likely there will be beet producers willing to plant the non-GMO seeds. GMO sugar beet crops are being planted close to other types of beets and chard, other plants of the same species, that risk cross-pollination. Cross-pollination presents immediate danger to those farmers planting non-GMO crops near GM sugar beets.


Anonymous said...

Is there any specific reason to be concerned about this? Or is it just a general uneasiness about something new?

Anonymous said...

You tell me. We are reducing a plant's biodiversity to one seed manufactured by one company. Monopoly on beet sugar? Perhaps.

Moreso, the USDA has not conducted extensive research on the safety of these seeds and their impact on the environment. Farmers who make a living selling other types of beets, those not genetically modified, are at risk of being put out of business if cross-pollination from the genetically modified crops occurs in their crop. This will happen, undoubtedly. It's nature's way.

Like Jurassic Park, we are genetically manipulating life without a full understanding of the repercussions of our actions. I do not believe that there is conclusive evidence that what we are doing is harmful or not - but I think we need to get closer to a safe conclusion before unleashing our manmade plants on mother nature. What we are doing isn't Mendel's selective breeding, but taking DNA from other species and introducing them to plants without any understanding of the ripple down effects.

Aside from environmental concern, there are health concerns surrounding GM crops. Hidden allergens may pose a risk if, say, the gene from a peanut plant were inserted into sugar beets. Could the sugar beet then induce a reaction in those allergic to peanuts? Studies have shown people having allergic reations to only GM varieties of certain crops.

Further, these plants are being designed with attention to disease resistance, yield, and pesticide tolerance. Little attention is being paid to nutrient content or flavor. Nutritional values of food may be at risk. Studies have shown diminished nutritional value of fruits and vegetables since we began selecting them based on the above factors, ignoring nutrition.

So you tell me, should we be concerned?

Anonymous said...

Thanks. It would have been more to the point to just say "general uneasiness," though.

Anonymous said...

Very nice article thanks for sharing...........

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