Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Activists fighting against the Monsanto led world wide GM foods onslaught were delighted to hear the judgment regarding GM sugar beet planting in the US which barred the farmers from cultivating this modified crop till an environment impact report is prepared by the concerned agency. It is a puzzle as to why the concerned agency gave approval in the first instance for country wide planting of this controversial crop without carrying out such an impact study. Probably the vanquished parties might go for appeal because of a potential sugar crisis looming ahead as there is a perceived shortage of traditional seeds that could have been planted in lands which were under the GM crop earlier.

"The decision, by Judge Jeffrey S. White of Federal District Court in San Francisco, appears to effectively ban the planting of the genetically modified sugar beets, which make up about 95 percent of the crop, until the Agriculture Department prepares an environmental impact statement and approves the crop again, a process that might take a couple of years. The decision could cause major problems for sugar beet farmers and sugar processors. In the past the sugar industry has warned there might not be enough non-engineered seeds available. However, the judge ruled that crops currently in the ground can be harvested and made into sugar, so the effects will not be felt until next spring's planting season.Beets supply about half the nation's sugar, with the rest coming from sugar cane. Sugar beet growers sold the 2007-8 crop for about $1.335 billion, according to government data. The decision came in a lawsuit organized by the Center forFood Safety, a Washington advocacy group that opposes biotech crops.Judge White ruled last September that the Agriculture Department's approval of the beets violated the National Environmental Policy Act, but he did not specify a remedy. Earlier this year, he denied a request by the plaintiffs to prohibit the planting of the engineered seeds this year, saying that would be too disruptive. But he warned farmers to move toward using conventional seeds. In his order Friday, the judge granted the plaintiffs' request to formally vacate the approval of the beets. That would bar farmers from growing them outside of a field trial".

Recent reports of GM plants of Canola becoming weeds on the side of high ways near the growing area highlight the potential for massive contamination from GM crops, the cultivators being helpless in controlling such wide spread crossing of the seeds from their farms into the environment. It is a tribute to the judicial system of this country that what ever damage is done by the irresponsible policy of the government is sought to be checked through the courts. In India also the Supreme Court played an important role in checking the government policy on clearing GM crops.


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