(image courtesy Aine D on Flickr)
Did you know that nearly half the sugar we bake those heart-shaped cookies with comes not from sugar cane, but sugar beets? Additionally, by next year, much of that beet sugar could be from genetically-engineered beets? The new beet seed was created by Monsanto to be able to withstand direct application of the herbicide Roundup, which has the active ingredient glyphosate.
The Environmental Protection Agency has enabled Monsanto in releasing the new GE crop by increasing the allowable residue of the herbicide by FIVE THOUSAND percent. Beets, being a root vegetable, are especially susceptible to retaining chemical residue.
The Center for Food Safety has a petition you can sign that will urge some leading food manufacturers not to use the GE beet sugar. You can sign the petition and get more information on the issue at their site. Because sugar, like corn and soy, is a common ingredient in processed foods, it is very likely that consumers will be eating yet another additional genetically-engineered ingredient without any warning or labeling.
The Center for Food Safety and the Sierra Club along with two organic seed groups have also filed a lawsuit to block the USDA approval of the GE sugar beet. Specific points in the suit state that the wind-pollinated biotech sugar beets will cross-pollinate and contaminate other crops such as conventional sugar beets, organic chard and table beet crop. Additionally, the GE variety could contribute to the increase of weeds resistant to herbicide, a phenomenon which has been reported on 2.4 million acres of U.S. cropland.
[This post was written by Beth Bader.]