Readers of this blog will know about The Ann Arbor Sugar Beet Project. The idea of the project is to empower home gardeners to grow their own beets and have more power where their food comes from.
I found this article which reports on the current state of GMO-Sugar Beet Production. The news is not good, and affirms the need for an organic/non-GMO practice of growing sugar beets, and sugar beet sugar.
GMO beet yield drops in US; Monsanto raises seed price 22 pct
At the World Association of Beet and Cane Growers (WABCG) conference held in Cambridge, UK July 19-21, US growers, where 95% of beets are genetically modified, admitted that GMO beets showed reduced yields and cost more to produce than last year.
A June 2010 US Department of Agriculture report shows that yields dropped from 26.8 tons per acre in 2008-09 to 25.7 tpa in 2009-10. Worsening conditions for farmers, the cost of production went up after Monsanto raised seed prices 22%.
William Baldwin, a director at the American Crystal Sugar Company, called the price increase “brutal,” reports AgriMoney.
WABCG, which promotes genetically engineered crops, reported that 130 delegates from over 20 nations attended its tenth conference.
Monsanto denied all negative comments about its product, reports AgriMoney.
Monsanto’s GM beets came under fire last year when a Northern California district court ruled that the USDA had unlawfully deregulated Monsanto’s sugarbeets, which are genetically engineered to withstand its herbicide Roundup.
Despite that the court found that Roundup Ready sugar beets “may cross-pollinate with non-genetically engineered sugar beets and related Swiss chard and table beets,” and “may significantly affect the environment,” in March, Judge Jeffrey White allowed planting to go forward while the federal government prepares an Environmental Impact Statement.
The court will hear arguments in August on whether to ban the GM beets.
AgriMoney, “Monsanto hits back at claims over biotech beet,” 28 Jul 2010. http://www.agrimoney.com/news/monsanto-hits-back-at-claims-over-biotech-beet–2038.html
Rady Ananda, “USDA opens public comments on Monsanto’s H1-7 GM beet,” 19 Jun 2010.http://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/usda-opens-public-comments-on-monsanto%e2%80%99s-h1-7-gm-beet/
Center for Food Safety, “Court Rules in GMO Sugar Beet Case,” 16 Mar 2010 http://truefoodnow.org/2010/03/16/court-rules-in-gmo-sugar-beet-case/
USDA Beet Yields, Table 14:http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Sugar/Data.htm
World Association of Beet and Cane Growers, “Final Statement: 10th World Sugar Conference,” n.d. http://www.wabcg10.com/content-62