By Marino Eccher
A California judge said this week that the latest round of “Roundup Ready” sugar beet seeds likely shouldn’t have been planted, the newest development in an ongoing legal battle over the use of biotech beet crops.
Opponents of genetically engineered beets lauded the move, and said they’ll continue to press for the destruction of such seed crops that have been planted already. Red River Valley beet growers, meanwhile, said they’ll continue to fight for genetically modified crops, which they consider a boon to production.
The dispute centers on sugar beets designed by Monsanto Co. to resist Roundup-brand herbicide (another Monsanto product), which would otherwise kill crops and weeds alike.
The stakes are high because the modified beets, introduced in 2007, are popular with farmers. Today, 95 percent of sugar beet growers use Roundup Ready crops, according to David Berg, president and chief executive of American Crystal Sugar Co. in Moorhead. Growers have cited the biotech beets as one of the driving factors in this year’s record beet crop.
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