Thursday, November 17, 2011
Genetically modified crops - contamination without representation
By April Scott
November 17, 2011
If Oregon allows GM sugar beets to be deregulated, we may not stand a chance against full federal deregulation of all GM crops
(SALEM, Ore.) - A public hearing is being held in Corvallis, Oregon this Thursday, November 17th to determine if Genetically Modified sugar beets will be deregulated in Oregon.
Meanwhile, the public comment period maybe just a local distraction giving way to full federal deregulation without any representation of organic and conventional crop farmers.
Let us not forget that the U.S House of Representatives, Committee on Agriculture held a formal hearing on Genetically Modified (GM) Alfalfa on Jan 20, 2011.
The hearing corresponded with an open 30-day comment period, designed to provide relevant testimony with regard to deregulation of Genetically Modified Alfalfa.
The democratic process neglected to include a single organic or conventional farming representative. Throughout the two hour hearing various legislators publicly humiliated the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsak for even suggesting any compromise through talks with the organic and conventional communities. They all but ordered him to stand down his conversations with anyone but pro-GM enthusiasts.
Representatives left no seed unturned in honor of their allegiance to biotech crops and complete penetration into all foreign and domestic markets. In fact, Minnesota’s Representative Collin Peterson referred to organic producers and consumers as “our opponents”.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Draft EIS for beets released
By Cindy Snyder
October 20, 2011
TWIN FALLS - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has met its first deadline on the way to issuing a final decision regarding Roundup Ready sugar beets.
The federal agency released its draft environmental impact statement on the genetically modified crop last week. The document is similar to the one prepared for Roundup Ready alfalfa before that crop was deregulated in January 2011. Like the alfalfa EIS, the beet document evaluates three alternatives in the 700-plus page document.
Option one is to not allow any planting of the genetically modified seed. Option two is to continue with the partial deregulation that the industry is operating under this year. That includes maintaining the rules, field checks and detailed record keeping. The third option is to grant non-regulated status to the crop.
Deregulation is the USDA’s preferred option. But, the agency must complete the comment period and carefully consider those comments before a final rule can be issued, said Mark Duffin, executive director of the Idaho Sugarbeet Growers Association.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Plaintiffs hail dismissal of appeal in GM sugar beet case
By Caroline Scott-Thomas
May 26, 2011
A US court of appeals has said that Monsanto must produce further studies examining the environmental impact of its genetically modified (GM) sugar beets before they can be planted on a commercial scale.
The dismissal of Monsanto’s appeal from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has been welcomed by plaintiffs in the suit, who have hailed it as a benchmark case meaning the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will have to prepare a thorough review of its sugar beets, which have been engineered for resistance to Monsanto’s Roundup-brand insecticide, before they can re-enter commercial production. The USDA has said it expects to complete an Environmental Impact Statement by mid-2012.
Center for Food Safety (CFS) attorney George Kimbrell said in a statement that the order, passed on Friday, “cements a critical legal benchmark in the battle for meaningful oversight of biotech crops and food.”
He said: “Because of this case, there will be public disclosure and debate on the harmful impacts of these pesticide-promoting crops, as well as legal protections for farmers threatened by contamination.”
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
USDA partially deregulating biotech sugar beets
By Carey Gillam and Chuck Abbott
February 4, 2011
KANSAS CITY/WASHINGTON - U.S. agricultural regulators on Friday said despite a court ban, they would allow commercial planting of genetically modified sugar beets under closely controlled conditions while they complete a full environmental impact statement.
The move marks the second-such boost by the United States for contested biotech crops in a week, and underscores U.S. determination to expand the use of GMO crops amid rising global fears over food security and surging prices.
After approving genetically altered alfalfa last week in the face of bitter protest and after court rulings against an earlier sugar beet approval, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it would allow Monsanto Co’s “Roundup Ready” sugar beets back in the fields this spring.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Farmers And Conservationists Challenge Latest Federal Approval Of Genetically Engineered Sugar Beets
Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice
February 4, 2011
San Francisco, CA — Today the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a new decision to allow the U.S. sugar beet industry to continue growing Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready,” genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets. The decision will be immediately challenged in court by a coalition of farmers and conservation groups: the Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and the Sierra Club. This is the same coalition that in August of last year had APHIS’s previous decision to allow planting thrown out because it violated environmental laws. The coalition declared the new decision unlawful as well, and vowed to overturn it.
The sugar beets are genetically engineered by Monsanto to tolerate repeated applications of that company’s weed killer Roundup, or glyphosate. Judge Jeffrey White of the federal district court for the Northern District of California found in earlier rulings that growing the GE sugar beets is likely to cause irreparable harm to the groups’ members and the environment, and “may cross-pollinate with non-genetically engineered sugar beets and related Swiss chard and table beets,” and ordered the federal government to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as required by the National Environmental Policy Act before allowing the GE sugar beets to be grown. The USDA is continuing to work on the court-ordered EIS, but considers today’s documents sufficient to allow growers to continue growing the controversial crop illegally planted in defiance of the earlier court ruling.
“There is clear evidence of harm to the environment from GE sugar beets,” said Paige Tomaselli, Staff Attorney for the Center for Food Safety. “Because USDA continues to bow to industry pressure and permits further commercial production of Roundup Ready sugar beets, without first preparing an EIS or protecting the public, the Center for Food Safety will once again seek to halt the planting in court.”