Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

USDA Issues Draft Environmental Assessment of GM Sugar Beets

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Agriculture and Climate Resource Center, page on USDA Watch and Millions Against Monsanto page.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) of genetically modified sugar beets, including an option to permit planting of the beets under certain conditions.

A federal district judge ruled in August that the planting of GM sugar beets should be halted until the USDA completes an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), expected to be completed by the end of May 2012. However, the USDA said that it would allow limited planting of the sugar beets while the EIS was prepared and issued permits to four companies, which are understood to have already planted seedlings to produce seed for the 2012 crop - a move that the court ruled was illegal last month.

The USDA said its EA has been drafted in response to a request from KWS SAAT AG and Monsanto - currently the only supplier of GM sugar beets - for administrative action to allow continued cultivation of Roundup Ready sugar beets under certain conditions.

Deputy administrator for the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service APHIS biotechnology regulatory services Michael Gregoire said in a statement: "APHIS takes its role in protecting plant health very seriously and is well aware of the importance of this decision for sugar beet growers and processors. We are issuing this environmental assessment to share our decision-making process as transparently as possible and allow for public comment."

Three alternatives

The draft EA puts forward three alternatives: Deny the request for partial deregulation or similar action, halting production until the EIS is completed; authorize production under APHIS-imposed conditions to limit potential plant pest risks; or allow partial deregulation "under conditions imposed by Monsanto/KWS through technology stewardship agreements, contracts or other legal instruments."

Under this third alternative, APHIS would no longer regulate Roundup Ready sugar beets. 
Get 20% off Mercola products, plus 20% of the sale goes to Organic Consumers Association.

Get Local

Find News and Action for your state:
Regeneration International

Cool the planet.
Feed the world.