Fighting Frankenbeets

Blame it on the pollen, but a lawsuit has been filed against the Monsanto Roundup Ready sugar beets (or should that be Sugar Beets®?). A collection of plaintiffs, including the Organic Seed Alliance, the Sierra Club, and the Center for Food Safety (CFS), claims that the USDA failed to adequately weigh the environmental impact when it decided to approve the genetically modified beets in 2005.

The concern is that pesky pollen and the possibility that the genetically modified beets might cross-pollinate with conventional beets and chard and compromise the seed pool, especially organic seeds.

According to the Center for Food Safety, about half of the sugar used in America is from sugar beets. In 2001, a number of large confection companies promised not to use genetically engineered sugar. Now that the beets are within a season of being harvested, there are no such assurances forthcoming. The CFS is collecting signatures to help persuade the sweets makers to stick to the pledge. Anyone who wants his favorite candy bars to remain free of pesticide-resistance tinkering is urged to sign.

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