Federal Judge says no to GMO sugar beets

GMU.S. District Judge Jeffrey White says the government illegally approved a genetically modified, herbicide-resistant strain of sugar beets without adequately considering they might contaminate other beet crops.

In 2005, the Department of Agriculture began allowing Monsanto to sell their “Roundup Ready” sugar beets.

White said that in concluding that the new crop posed no significant environmental effects, the USDA discounted the likelihood that wind-borne pollen would spread to fields where conventional sugar beets, table beets and the beet variety known as Swiss chard are grown.

Planting genetically-modified sugar beets has a “significant effect” on the environment, White said in his ruling Monday, because of “the potential elimination of a farmer’s choice to grow non-genetically engineered crops, or a consumer’s choice to eat non-genetically engineered food.

Though White said the agency must prepare an environmental impact statement that includes public input, he didn’t prohibit the immediate distribution of the genetically modified sugar beets.

So far, over 70 companies have pledged to not use genetically modified sugar beets in their products, and the courts have ruled in their favor.

The ruling “sends a very clear message to the USDA to protect American farmers and consumers and not the interests of Monsanto,” said Kevin Golden, a San Francisco attorney for the nonprofit Center for Food Safety, which opposes genetically modified foods and supports organic farming.

For more details on this story see http://3.ly/GGC.

With the mounting evidence of potential problems posed by GMO food crops, this is a step in the right direction. Stay tuned to see how this serious melodrama plays out.