Look Out for GeneticallyEngineered Sugar Beets
Over half of the sugar in processed foodscomes from beet sugar, a crop grown in westernNebraska. In December 1998 the UDSA approvedMonsanto's first patent for GE sugar beets forcommercial planting and sale, but major candymakers rejected using this sugar due to consumerpressure. A newer version is on its way and commercialfood processors are no longer promisingto avoid it. Roundup Ready sugar beets, geneticallyengineered to withstand applications of theherbicide glyphosate made by Monsanto, willlikely be entering the food supply in the comingmonths. Consumers will not be able to identifywhether their foods are sweetened with GE sugar.
There are many potential risks associatedwith genetic engineering. Data shows the emergenceof the trend to more frequent applicationof more toxic and persistent use of herbicidesover time to maintain weed control. A coalition offarmers, consumer advocates and environmentalgroups filed suit in federal court this past Januaryto challenge the deregulation of Roundup Readybeets.
Organic farmers and seed producers havemore concerns. Since beets are wind-pollinatedand the most of the U.S. sugar beets are producedin the Willamette Valley in Oregon, organicproducers are worried GE beets will cross-pollinatewith organic table beets and other relatedspecies, like chard. Learn more this issue and howyou can take action at www.centerforfoodsafety.org