A federal judge has ruled that the government illegally approved "Roundup Ready" sugar beets in 2005, without adequately addressing the likelihood that wind-borne pollen would contaminate non-GM crops.
The full story is covered in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle.
What this means is unclear. The USDA will now have to conduct a review, including public input. In the meantime, sales of GM sugar beets have not been prohibited, but the plaintiffs in the case may yet seek an injunction prohibiting such sales.
Could it be the tide is beginning to turn against Monsanto's irresponsible and greedy practices? Let's hope so. This is at least a step forward.
Last year, I had to switch back to cane sugar after they introduced the Roundup Ready sugar beets. Sugar beets are a major crop in my county and it would be nice to support my local farmers. But I see the trucks going past town, all mounded up with sugar beets, heading to the sugar mill in Fort Morgan. And I know once they get there they get dumped into gigantic piles --and no one is sorting the GM beets from the non-GM beets. So even if pollen from the GM sugar beets isn't contaminating the non-GM crops (unlikely), it wouldn't matter because all the beets get mingled in the end anyway.
Hopefully GM sugar beets will eventually be outlawed. If the plaintiffs in this case seek an injunction the damage could be limited to just these first two seasons of use, while the case proceeds. And once the proper review has been done let's hope it will be glaringly obvious there's no place in agriculture for GM sugar beets.