USDA to Allow GE Sugar Beet Plantings: Comment Today!

USDA Plans to Ignore Court and Allow GE Sugar Beet Plantings: Make Your Voice Heard Today!

Comment period ends December 6, 2010

Organic Seed Alliance, with the help of the Center for Food Safety, enjoyed a major success in federal court this year in keeping genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets out of American fields. Though a legal victory, organic and non-GE seed producers could still find themselves fearing contamination this spring. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing commercial production of GE sugar beets – before the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) ordered by the court is completed – even though the court determined that GE sugar beets are once again a regulated crop, and revoked approval for planting pending the results of a full EIS (expected in 2012). The agency recently released an Environmental Assessment that proposes “partial deregulation” and is now receiving public comments through December 6, 2010.

Tell USDA to honor the federal court’s ruling and look out for the interests of organic and non-GE farmers over those of the biotechnology industry.

View talking points and sample letters for organic farmers and consumers here.

Submit comments (Docket No. APHIS-2010-0047) here.

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One Response to USDA to Allow GE Sugar Beet Plantings: Comment Today!

  1. I think the recent Supreme Court alfalfa ruling is relevant to the discussion of the sugar beet issue. I read the entire hearing transcript and the resulting decision for the alfalfa case, and they made it clear that the USDA may partially deregulate a crop with an environmental assessment. They did not rule on the issue, mind you, but mentioned it as current policy. If you read the Center for Food Safety site, they claim that the high court ruled that a partial deregulation would require a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is not true.

    My understanding of the beet case and the recent developments is that due to the supreme court ruling, an injunction against all plantings was determined to be overkill (I still don’t know why the OSA still argued for such an injunction post-supreme court because it was clearly delineated in that decision). The rulings of the judge in the beet case apply to full deregulation, not partial deregulation, so partial deregulation is not dis-honoring the judge’s decision as is said here, nor is it illegal as the Center for Food Safety has been saying.

    What troubles me about the debate over the regulation of GE crops, at least from those opposed to them is that the law is being wielded not as a means to figure out how to properly regulate the crops and allow different farming systems to co-exist, but instead only to try to keep one type of farming from existing for the perceived benefit of another. While framed as farmers vs biotech companies, it is leaving out the farmers that do want to grow GE crops – it is as much farmer vs farmer although not explicitly stated as such. Consider what it would be like if someone tried to ban organic farming because of pest pressures that organic farms may exert on neighboring conventional farms, which I understand for organic potato farms in the midwest may be an issue.

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