Judge rules against genetically modified sugarbeets


MPR file photo

A federal judge in California dealt another blow to genetically modified sugarbeets this week. The judge ruled Monsanto must destroy seedlings planted to produce seed for

the herbicide resistant beet plants. Monsanto says it will appeal.

Earlier this year the same judge ruled the USDA did not perform proper environmental review before approving Monsanto’s Roundup Ready sugarbeets. Farmers have embraced the genetically modified beets because it’s easier to control weeds in their fields and that means a bigger crop at harvest.

Minnesota and North Dakota grow more than half the sugarbeets produced in the nation, and for the past couple of years, more than 90 percent of all the beets planted were the herbicide resistant variety.

As a result, the companies that produce seeds that aren’t genetically modified cut back their production because of falling demand for their seeds.

It’s now looking like the legal case will drag well into next year, so farmers who want to be sure they can plant sugarbeets next year will need to buy seeds that are NOT genetically modified.

Companies don’t talk much about seed supply for obvious competitive reasons, but industry insiders expect a scramble as farmers try to lock up the best varieties which might be in limited supply. This is the time of year farmers typically buy seed for next spring.

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