A Victory Against GMO’s

December 7th, 2010 | Simcha Weinstein | 2 Comments »

Last week a Federal judge ordered 256 acres of genetically modified sugar beets developed by Monsanto Co. to be pulled from the ground. U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White, in San Francisco, granted a request from the consumer group, Earthjustice, for a preliminary injunction, barring the continued growing of beets in Arizona and Oregon. The plants were to be used to produce genetically altered seeds for the 2012 sugar beet crop. The judge had banned the planting and selling of Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” genetically altered sugar beets after determining that their approval in 2005 by the USDA was illegal. He said the government must conduct a thorough environmental review before approving the crop to comply with the law. In complete violation of the ruling, the USDA and Monsanto went ahead with the planting. The USDA issued permits allowing companies to plant seedlings to produce seed for future GMO sugar beet crops. Sugar beets account for more than half of the nation’s sugar supply, and Monsanto’s Roundup Ready beets have been popular with farmers as they have been genetically altered to withstand sprayings of the chemical herbicide Roundup, making weed management easier for producers. Round-Up Ready sugar beets have been planted on more than 1 million acres in 10 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces, accounting for 95% of the 2010 crop.

The plaintiffs, led by the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C., successfully proved that “there is a significant risk that the plantings pursuant to permits will cause environmental harm” by contaminating or cross-pollinating other crops, White said.

The legal complaint accused the principal defendant, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack, of issuing permits that allowed the sugar beet planting without conducting a legally required environmental review.

Lead counsel for the plaintiffs, Paul Achitoff of Earthjustice, stated USDA thumbed its nose at the judicial system and the public by allowing this crop to be grown without any environmental review. Herbicide resistant crops just like this have been shown to result in more toxic chemicals in our soil and water. USDA has shown no regard for the environmental laws, and we’re pleased that Judge White ordered the appropriate response.

It’s nice to see the ‘little guy” win one over the mighty powers for a change. Let’s hope this trend continues. Of course, Monsanto will appeal the ruling, but this is still a nice victory.

If you want to read more about Genetically Modified Foods, you can read from one of my previous posts about GMO’s or visit our Organic College.