Judge Uproots GE Beets in Oregon

Healthy, organic table beets like these are threatened by potential cross-contamination with Monsanto's genetically engineered 'herbicide ready' sugar beets.

In a major blow for Monsanto and the USDA over deregulation of genetically engineered seeds and plants, US District Judge Jeffery White on November 30 ordered the immediate uprooting of 256 acres of genetically engineered (GE) beets in Oregon and Arizona, citing the irreparable harm of cross-contamination of GE plants with normal ones.

Roughly half of the nation’s sugar supply comes from sugar beets, and much of this seed is actually produced in Oregon. Due to USDA unlawfully permitting GE sugar beet seed to flood into the market since 2007, 95 percent of the 1.1 million acre sugar beet crop is now grown using seeds that have been genetically engineered to resist heavy spraying of the Monsanto pesticide Roundup. The GE crops run the risk of cross-contamination with traditional sugar beets, table beets and other vegetables, and the environmental and public health consequences of this have never been seriously considered by the USDA. Here are some recent news articles:

Court Orders Uprooting of Monsanto Biotech Sugar Beets – Environment News Service, November 30, 2010

Judge Orders destruction of genetically modified beets – New York Times, December 1, 2010

GM Sugar beets “shall be removed from the ground” says US Judge – Nature, December 1, 2010

The Center for Food Safety, Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Organic Seed Alliance and local farmers brought the suit against the USDA.

With the GE beets scheduled to be destroyed next week Monsanto has already announced it will appeal, and despite the USDA repeatedly getting caught skirting the law on GE beets, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is seeking ways to keep the GE beets alive.

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