Death to the GM sugar beets

Death to the GM sugar beets


I heartily applaud Federal Judge Jeffrey White’s ruling that the planting of hundreds of acres of Monsanto genetically modified sugar beet seedlings was illegal and that the beets be pulled.  The beets had been approved for planting by the US Department of Agriculture in August even though a previous ruling had put the beets on “controlled” status requiring more research.  

According to the New York Times, “White found USDA's authorization of the young beets without even a partial deregulation was highly suspect.” The legality of [the] defendants' conduct does not even appear to be a close question," he wrote. Therefore, he added, the seedlings "shall be removed from the ground."

The plaintiffs, including the Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance and Sierra Club, argued that the GM crop posed significant environmental, health and socioeconomic impact.

According to, Paul Achitoff of Earthjustice, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said “USDA thumbed its nose at the judicial system and the public by allowing this crop to be grown without any environmental review.  Herbicide resistant crops just like this have been shown to result in more toxic chemicals in our soil and water.  USDA has shown no regard for the environmental laws, and we’re pleased that Judge White ordered the appropriate response.”

Yes, this is a seminal ruling and a big step in the right direction, but don’t get too excited, Monsanto has already appealed White’s decision. "We will spare no effort in challenging this ruling on the basis of flawed legal procedure and lack of consideration of important evidence,”said David Snively, general counsel for Monsanto, in a news release.

The bottom line: Even supporters of genetically modified technology should support more thorough, longitudinal studies before we use this technology. When introducing a farming method that can adulterate all future farming, with the possibility of no turning back, shouldn’t due diligence be given to research on this method? The argument of feeding the world is certainly a valid one, but let’s start with proactive healthy solutions like eating less meat before we serve up GM foods.


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