This spring, commercial sugar beet farmers in the western U.S. will begin planting Roundup Ready sugar beets, which are genetically engineered to survive multiple direct applications of the weed killer, Roundup. At the request of Monsanto, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency increased the allowable amount of glyphosate residues on sugar beetroots by a whopping 5,000% — glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup. Sugar is extracted
from the beet’s root and the inevitable result is more glyphosate in our sugar. GE sugar beets are wind pollinated, and there is a strong possibility that pollen from Roundup Ready sugar beets could contaminate non-GE sugar beets and important food crops such as chard, and red and yellow beets (or “table beets”). Such biological contamination would also be devastating to organic farmers, who face debilitating market losses if their crops are contaminated by a GE variety. Contamination also reduces the ability of conventional farmers to decide what to grow, and limits consumer choice of natural foods.
The sugar produced will be mixed in with other types of sugar, unlabeled and untraceable. You couldn’t avoid sugar from Roundup Ready beets even if you tried.
But David Berg, president of American Crystal Sugar Co.
, the country’s largest beet sugar manufacturer, is confident that food processors will accept GM sugar. “We have not run into resistance…”
What can you do about it? Nothing. Roundup Ready sugarbeets will be available in 2008, saving farmers a whopping $80 per acre, and the hassles of hiring questionable laborers to hand weed their fields.