USDA OKs GMO Sugar Beets

February 8, 2011

Despite a September 2010 federal ruling which banned the sale and planting of genetically-modified (GMO) sugar beets, the USDA now says it will allow for the cultivation of GMO sugar beets under “carefully tailored measures.”

Despite a September 2010 federal ruling which banned the sale and planting of genetically-modified (GMO) sugar beets, the USDA now says it will allow for the cultivation of GMO sugar beets under “carefully tailored measures.”

Monsanto Co. (St. Louis) and German seed developer KWS developed RoundUp Ready sugar beets to be resistant to the herbicide RoundUp.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) made its announcement last Friday.

“After conducting an environmental assessment, accepting and reviewing public comments and conducting a plant pest risk assessment, APHIS has determined that the Roundup Ready sugar beet root crop, when grown under APHIS imposed conditions, can be partially deregulated without posing a plant pest risk or having a significant effect on the environment,” said Michael Gregoire, deputy administrator for APHIS' biotechnology regulatory services. “This partial deregulation is an interim measure until APHIS is able to complete a full environmental impact statement.”

An environmental impact statement to determine the safety of RoundUp Ready sugar beets is not expected to be completed until 2012.

APHIS states that mandatory requirements will have to be met in order for the companies to cultivate the beet; failure of compliance would result in potential canceling of the deregulation agreement.

The agency’s decision to partially deregulate GMO sugar beets comes just one month after the USDA said it would foster coexistence of genetically-modified alfalfa with conventional and organic alfalfa. The GMO alfalfa is another RoundUp Ready product from Monsanto Co.

In other GMO news, Mexico Weekly reports that the Mexican government has put a hold on Monsanto’s plans to cultivate GMO corn in the country.