|Wednesday What's New: GMO Sugar Beets|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Wednesday, 27 March 2013|
Did you know that about 50 percent of the sugar consumed in the US is derived from sugar beets and not sugar cane? I’ve never given it much thought really--until now. Recently controversy has erupted over the use of genetically modified sugar beets here in the US.
Our friend the GMO giant Monsanto is of course behind this new and improved sugar beet, which actually made its debut in 2004 and was approved by the USDA in 2005. Dubbed ROUNDUP READY (RR) sugar beets, they tolerate significant levels of glyphosate in the herbicide RoundUp. For the record, Monsanto also makes the herbicide RoundUp; however it is no longer under patent. Due to fears of consumer backlash the GMO beets were shelved until this year when the majority of this year's sugar beet crop would be derived from the GMO sugar beet seeds.
Monsanto reps argue that sugar is not affected because it is a refined product. Maybe so, but what about the fact that sugar beet residue is widely used as a fertilizer on fields for other crops and sugar beet juice (mixed with salt) is now being touted as a biodegradable de-icing compound on winter roads. And, more importantly, what about the ability to cross pollinate with beets that we do eat? And, while glyphosate may be deemed “safe” by the EPA, do we really need to add more of it to our environment?