Monsanto admits their technology doesn’t work!

Hard to believe. However, this won’t stop them from trying to force it down our throats one way or another, by law if necessary.


This was my Saturday’s lyrics to breakfast in sunny Bangalore: Monsanto has decided to tell the truth about something: its technology doesn’t work!, reports The Hindu. I’m going to need a second cup of chai to digest this, Monsanto speaking honest!? Indian farmers and scientist have been seeing this in their Bt cotton fields for a few years: pests become resistant to Monsanto’s genetically engineered toxins and thus farmers apply huge amounts of pesticides. Monsanto has always denied this, has the recent massive rejection of its Bt brinjal in India woken up its senses?

For years Monsanto has been shouting that the main – read only – benefit of Bt cotton in India (the only genetically engineered crop planted here) was the reduction in pesticide use. Well, it seems they have just admitted this is not true. Pink bollworm, a serious pest for cotton farmers in India, is now resistant to the toxin in Bt cotton. Meaning that this bug is now sort of a super-pest that farmers will have to work harder and harder to avoid.

What is Monsanto’s solution to this? Maybe you have guessed it: use Monsanto’s next weapon – same technology – Bt cotton 2.0. With double the amount of toxins (and almost double the price of non-Bt seeds). Hmmm? I need another cup of chai! This is looking too much like an arms-race, which due to rapid pest evolution of resistance could reach a battle of infinite proportions… followed closely by Monsanto’s profits, of course. Indigestible! -my stomach shouts-, because along with Monsanto’s profits from selling their special seeds I see also the struggle of debt and the threats to the livelihoods of the many farmers I’ve met.

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U.S. Antitrust Investigation of Monsanto


Oh sure.

Obama Chooses Monsanto Creature, Tom Vilsack, for Secretary of Agriculture

Obama Chooses Former Monsanto Lobbyist for Food Safety Post

Has anyone tried to calculate how much public money Monsanto winds up with each year due to corrupt, broken and bat shit insane agricultural subsidies?

I’d guess that the answer to that question would be even more ridiculous than believing that the Obama regime would do anything at all to rein in Monsanto.

Via: Washington Post:

For plants designed in a lab a little more than a decade ago, they’ve come a long way: Today, the vast majority of the nation’s two primary crops grow from seeds genetically altered according to Monsanto company patents.

Ninety-three percent of soybeans. Eighty percent of corn.

The seeds represent “probably the most revolutionary event in grain crops over the last 30 years,” said Geno Lowe, a Salisbury, Md., soybean farmer.

But for farmers such as Lowe, prices of the Monsanto-patented seeds have steadily increased, roughly doubling during the past decade, to about $50 for a 50-pound bag of soybean seed, according to seed dealers.

The revolution, and Monsanto’s dominant role in the nation’s agriculture, has not unfolded without complaint. Farmers have decried the price increases, and competitors say the company has ruthlessly stifled competition.

Now Monsanto — like IBM and Google — has drawn scrutiny from U.S. antitrust investigators, who under the Obama administration have looked more skeptically at the actions of dominant firms.

During the Bush administration, the Justice Department did not file a single case under antimonopoly laws regulating a dominant firm. But that stretch seems unlikely to continue.

This year, the Obama Justice Department tossed out the antitrust guidelines of its predecessor because they advocated “extreme hesitancy in the face of potential abuses by monopoly firms.”

“We must change course,” Christine Varney, the Obama administration’s chief antitrust enforcer, said at the time.

Of all the new scrutiny by Justice, the Monsanto investigation might have the highest stakes, dealing as it does with the food supply and one of the nation’s largest agricultural firms. It could also force the Obama administration, already under fire for the government’s expanded role in the economy, to explain how it distinguishes between normal rough-and-tumble competition and abusive monopolistic business practices.

Monsanto says it has done nothing wrong.

“Farmers choose these products because of the value they deliver on farm,” Monsanto said in a statement. “Given the phenomenally broad adoption of these technologies by farmers, such questions are normal and to be expected.”

Vilsack Mistakenly Pitched “GMOs-Feed-The-World” to an Audience of Experts–Oops

From The Huffington Post:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was getting lots of appreciative applause and head nods from the packed hall at the Community Food Security Coalition conference today, held in Des Moines, Iowa. He described the USDA’s plans to improve school nutrition, support local food systems, and work with the Justice Department to review the impact of corporate agribusiness on small farmers. But then, with time for only one more question, I was handed the microphone.

“Mr. Secretary, may I ask a tough question on GMOs?”

He said yes.

“The American Academy of Environmental Medicine this year said that genetically modified foods, according to animal studies, are causally linked to accelerated aging, dysfunctional immune regulation, organ damage, gastrointestinal distress, and immune system damage. A study came out by the Union of Concerned Scientists confirming what we all know, that genetically modified crops, on average, reduce yield. A USDA report from 2006 showed that farmers don’t actually increase income from GMOs, but many actually lose income. And for the last several years, the United States has been forced to spend $3-$5 billion per year to prop up the prices of the GM crops no one wants.
“When you were appointed Secretary of Agriculture, many of our mutual friends–I live in Iowa and was proud to have you as our governor–assured me that you have an open mind and are very reasonable and forward thinking. And so I was very excited that you had taken this position as Secretary of Agriculture. And I’m wondering, have you ever heard this information? Where do you get your information about GMOs? And are you willing to take a delegation in D.C. to give you this hard evidence about how GMOs have actually failed us, that they’ve been put onto the market long before the science is ready, and it’s time to put it back into the laboratory until they’ve done their homework.”

The room erupted into the loudest applause of the morning.

Secretary Vilsack knew at once what kind of crowd he was dealing with. Or so I thought.

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Gates: GM foods conflict threatens Foundation’s effort

Quick rule of thumb: if Bill Gates is for it, you should be against it. Seriously, the man behind the most crappy, insecure, bug-ridden operating system should not be the spokesman for Genetically Modified foods.

From Raw Story:

Bill Gates, speaking at a World Food Prize forum in Iowa on Thursday, told global food leaders that an “ideological wedge” threatens his global effort to help farmers.

Gates and his wife have focused in recent years on helping alleviate hunger and poverty by giving small farmers the tools to produce more. The Gates Foundation has given more than $1.4 billion to agricultural development, and on Thursday announced nine new grants worth $120 million aimed at raising yields and farming expertise in the developing world.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the most under-nourished region in the world, with almost 42% surviving on less than $1 per day. A combination of decades-long drought, regional conflict, and a burgeoning population contribute to the world’s worst hunger situation.

The $120 million announced on Thursday is intended to help develop genetically modified crops that are more drought-resistant and productive in marginal conditions. Nitrogen-fixing legume crops, sorghum and millet, and sweet potatoes are all undergoing genetic experimentation sponsored by the Gates Foundation.

Genetically modified(GM) crops have been a topic of intense agricultural debate since their creation. GM crops undergo genetic manipulation in a laboratory, usually for the purpose of increasing crop yield or pest resistance. In many countries in Europe, vendors are legally required to clearly label GM foods; there is skepticism about the science behind genetic manipulation.

Many believe that GM crops will lead to even greater crop homogenization and threaten the stability of the global food supply. Wendell Berry, one of America’s most prominent agricultural researchers, told the Washington Post, “The inevitable aim of industrial agri-investors is the big universal solution… And the kind of agriculture we’re talking about that leads to food security and land conservation is locally adapted agriculture.”

In his speech on Thursday, Gates rejected what he saw as a false dichotomy between sustainability and productivity, but avoided mentioning genetic modification. “The technology and new approaches that are transforming agriculture in other parts of the world can be applied in new ways, and help Africa flourish too,” Gates said. “This global effort to help small farmers is endangered by an ideological wedge that threatens to split the movement in two. On one side is a technological approach that increases productivity. On the other side is an environmental approach that promotes sustainability. It’s a false choice, and it’s dangerous for the field.”

The World Food Prize honors people who have contributed to ending hunger worldwide. More about the forum and Gates’ speech can be found here.

GM industry’s strong-arm tactics with researchers


Are the crop industry’s strong-arm tactics and close-fisted attitude to sharing seeds holding back independent research and undermining public acceptance of transgenic crops?

~Emily Waltz

The increasingly fractious relationship between public sector researchers and the biotech seed industry has come into the spotlight in recent months. In July, several leading seed companies met with a group of entomologists, who earlier in the year had lodged a public complaint with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over restricted access to materials. In a letter to the EPA, the 26 public sector scientists complained that crop developers are curbing their rights to study commercial biotech crops. “No truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions involving these crops [because of company-imposed restrictions],” they wrote.

In turn, the seed companies have expressed surprise at the outcry, claiming the issue is being overblown. And even though the July meeting, organized by the American Seed Trade Association in Alexandria, Virginia, did result in the writing of a set of principles for carrying out this research, the seed companies are under no compunction to follow them. “From the researchers’ perspective, the key for this meeting was opening up communication to discuss the problem,” says Ken Ostlie, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, who signed the complaint. “It will be interesting to see how companies implement the principles they agreed upon.”

What is clear is that the seed industry is perceived as highly secretive and reluctant to share its products with scientists. This is fueling the view that companies have something to hide.

Who’s in control?

It’s no secret that the seed industry has the power to shape the information available on biotech crops, referred to variously as genetically engineered or genetically modified (GM) crops. Commercial entities developed nearly all of the crops on the US market, and their ownership of the proprietary technology allows them to decide who studies the crops and how. “Industry is completely driving the bus,” says Christian Krupke, an entomologist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Company control starts with a simple grower’s contract. Anyone wishing to buy transgenic seeds has to sign what’s called a technology stewardship agreement that says, among many things, that the buyer cannot conduct research on the seed, nor give it to someone else for research. This means scientists can’t simply buy seeds for their studies, and farmers can’t slip them some on the side. Instead, scientists must get permission from the seed companies or risk a lawsuit. “You need permission from industry and you have to specify what you want to do with the plants,” says Bruce Tabashnik, an entomologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Seed companies can refuse a research request for any reason, and they get fairly inventive. In 2002, Paul Gepts, a plant geneticist at the University of California, Davis, wanted to check for the presence of transgenic maize in Mexican households after reports that DNA from GM maize had transferred to local varieties.

He requested seed samples from three companies, explaining that he wanted to compare them to the seeds from the Mexican households to see if they contained the same genetic material. “I thought naively that that would be a courtesy and I could get a small sample. But they didn’t really want to do it,” Gepts says. According to emails reviewed by Nature Biotechnology, Monsanto, based in St. Louis, told Gepts to get a powder sample from Europe, which didn’t work well for the experiment, Gepts says. Gan-Yuan Zhong, a researcher at the time at Johnston, Iowa–based Pioneer Hi-Bred, told Gepts that the company didn’t have the “appropriate material” to share. And Syngenta, in Basel, suggested Gepts collaborate with the Mexican government, which was investigating the issue.

How often these kinds of rejections are happening is unclear. Some may be isolated instances; others result from company policies. For example, Syngenta recently implemented a rule prohibiting any study that compares its commercial crops to other companies’ crops, according to Paul Minehart, a spokesperson for Syngenta. One scientist affected by the change, Minnesota’s Ostlie, wanted to compare how three companies’ insect-resistant corn varieties fared against local species of rootworms. All three products had been commercialized, and Syngenta, Monsanto and Pioneer gave Ostlie permission to do the study for the 2007 growing season. But for the 2008 season, Syngenta backed out. “In late 2007, we changed our policies on research,” says Minehart. “We decided not to get involved in any comparison studies,” he says. Many Syngenta products contain components licensed from other companies, and Syngenta has agreements with those companies that they won’t compare their products, Minehart says.

The idea of having to get permission from companies to do studies is a deterrent in itself. “There are three strategies that people take,” says Elson Shields, an entomologist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. “Some are just not doing the research. Some are changing their experimental protocols so that they are acceptable to industry – which may or may not be a good thing,” he says. “And some are just going out and buying the seeds and doing the research in violation of the technology agreements.”

Requesting permission from the companies can be daunting. The requester usually has to describe in detail the design of the experiment— information scientists may not want to divulge. Some researchers object to revealing their hypotheses because it provides companies with a head start in preparing a rebuttal. Once the company and the scientist agree on the design, they must negotiate the terms of the research agreement. Negotiations tend to break down when companies want to limit or control publication of the study. “When you are funded by state and federal dollars, you have an obligation that the research you conduct is public and published,” says Beverly Durgan, dean of extension services at the University of Minnesota. “So signing research secrecy agreements is something we really can’t do,” she says. The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) research arm, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), has a similar policy. “We can sometimes agree to some limitations on publishing like having the company review the results X days before publication,” says Kalpana Reddy, in the office of tech transfer at ARS. “But we won’t agree to any sort of blanket approval, which would limit our right to publish.”

Negotiations in 2008 between Monsanto and two universities—North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota— broke down when Monsanto insisted on approving publication of any data on its newly commercialized transgenic sugar beets, according to Durgan. The university had proposed “the general type of research our faculty would conduct with any new crop variety,” she says. “Monsanto wanted the right to approve all publications, and we said that was not possible,” she says. As a result, no sugar beet research was conducted by Minnesota or North Dakota State University in the 2008 growing season. A Monsanto spokesperson claims that “it became necessary to manage research agreements more carefully” when separately, Monsanto’s sugar beet became an object of litigation. Monsanto and the two universities came to a compromise for the 2009 growing season.

Studying crops hasn’t always been this difficult. “Before biotech came around, when new varieties came out, local groups would get together and have a local trial,” says Alan McHughen, a plant biotechnologist at the University of California, Riverside. Crop clubs, composed of local farmers and university scientists, would do agronomic studies to see which varieties perform best and how they interact with the local environment. “If it was okay in the past, I don’t see why companies would object to it now,” says McHughen.

Most major seed companies seem to have made an effort to enable scientists to do such agronomic research. Pioneer, Monsanto, Syngenta and Indianapolis-based Dow AgroSciences say they have negotiated multiyear agreements with major universities that give those scientists the freedom to conduct and publish most agronomic research without having to get permission from the company for every study (Box 1). But the limits of these agreements are often unclear. A group at Penn State generated a list to “put in front of companies to find out what kind of research falls under these agreements,” says Dennis Calvin, an entomologist at the university. The new principles drafted by the seed trade association this summer may help clarify, and possibly expand, these limits. The group aims to finalize the draft by the end of the year.

Keeping tabs

Industry spokespeople say they were surprised by the scientists’ complaint to the EPA. “It’s clear that academics have an issue that needs some attention,” says Eric Sachs, director of global scientific affairs at Monsanto, who attended the July meeting. “But some scientists we’ve talked to think this issue has been blown way out of proportion,” he says. “The language in that letter seemed to suggest that some products on the market may very well be unsafe because they haven’t been adequately tested. That’s going too far in my mind,” he says.

The companies say they have to keep tabs on public sector research because they want to make sure the studies are done with good stewardship practices and in accordance with regulations. If there is an adverse event with a precommercial product, seed makers could be liable, even if the event occurred under the watch of a public sector scientist. Any adverse events with commercial products have to be reported to regulatory authorities as well.

Industry spokespeople also say they want to be mindful of the integrity of US grain exports so that products that haven’t received approval in some countries aren’t sent there. Companies also want to protect their intellectual property (IP) and their investment in the product. They are particularly averse to allowing the public sector to breed crops or to characterize the genetic composition of the plant. After all, a biotech crop can cost up to $100 million to develop, according to industry estimates. “Where would you stand if this were your product?” asks Carol Mallory-Smith, a weed scientist at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

And, companies want the studies done right. “If you do some poorly organized research proposal, a company might not be inclined to give you the seeds because they’re afraid it won’t cast a favorable light on their product,” says Rick Goodman, a food scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a former Monsanto researcher. “The consequences can be huge,” he says. Biotech crops are intensely scrutinized, and any negative study that comes out tends to be widely disseminated by vocal anti-GM groups. Companies have spent countless hours defending themselves from such groups. “Critics are looking for any little problem with the technology,” adds Tabashnik.

Industry spokespeople say they want strong relationships with academics because they depend on their expertise. In fact, seed companies frequently pay academics to study precommercial products, similar to consulting arrangements or discovery work carried out in academia for big pharma. Monsanto, for example, will pay anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to do a single-field study to a couple hundred thousand dollars to do more complex laboratory work or an animal feeding study. “If industry wasn’t sponsoring this research there would be much fewer data than there is now,” says Blair Siegfried, an entomologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Shoddy studies?

A potential check on industry’s control over the data is the role that regulatory agencies play on product approval. But some scientists worry that these agencies aren’t asking for the right safety tests. “Companies put in mountains of data but there’s no devil’s advocate – no other side,” says Krupke at Purdue.

In the US, under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938, the FDA is responsible for ensuring that food is safe to eat, although by statute, it regulates only food additives. By that definition, most crops are exempt from FDA approval, although companies tasked with ensuring their products are safe often voluntarily submit a considerable amount of information. Certain types of commercialized crops also fall under the jurisdiction of the USDA and the EPA: the USDA is concerned with minimizing gene flow, the EPA regulates crops containing pesticides, such as those with insect-resistance traits. Transgenic and conventional crops with other traits – herbicide tolerance or nutritional enhancement – could enter the marketplace with almost no review of the potential health impacts1. The EPA also regulates unintended effects on nontarget insects, although a review of published studies identified problems that limit their usefulness2,3. The fact that much of the data submitted to regulatory agencies remains confidential business information that is not shared with the research community means that for many crops (transgenic or otherwise), little information on human or environmental toxicity is known. Certainly, there is a paucity of such studies in the literature. Spanish researcher Jose Domingo, at Rovira i Virgili University in Reus, conducted a literature review of toxicity studies conducted on commercialized GM crops. So few research papers turned up in his search that he asked, “Where is the scientific evidence showing that GM plants/food are toxicologically safe?”4.

In some instances, university scientists have raised concerns about data submitted to regulatory agencies, but had no recourse. In 2001, for example, Pioneer was developing a transgenic corn variety that contained a binary toxin, Cry34Ab1/Cry35Ab1, to fend off rootworms. The company asked some university laboratories to test for unintended effects on a lady beetle. The laboratories found that nearly 100% of lady beetles that had been fed the crop died after the eighth day in the life cycle. When the researchers presented their results to Pioneer, the company forbade them from publicizing the data. “The company came back and said ‘you are under no circumstances able to publicize this data in any way’,” says a scientist associated with the project, who asked to remain anonymous. Because the product had not yet been commercialized, the research agreement gave Pioneer the right to prevent publication of their results.

Two years later, Pioneer received regulatory approval for an antirootworm corn variety with the same toxin—Cry34Ab1/Cry35Ab1. But the data submitted to the EPA had no sign of potential harm to lady beetles, even though Pioneer had followed common EPA testing protocols. In one study, the company fed purified toxins to the lady beetles only through the seventh day of their life cycle – one day short of what was found to be their most susceptible stage. In a second study, the company followed the lady beetles through the end of their life cycle but used a different mode of feeding, through a homogenized powder consisting of half prey and half pollen, and didn’t see any effect, according to Jim Register, a scientist at Pioneer. Register also says that although Pioneer’s commercialized product contains the same toxin as the one the universities studied, it is a different construct—key genes were integrated into a different place in the genome.

The anonymous researcher maintains that Pioneer’s studies are flawed. The EPA was made aware of the independently produced data, but opted not to act, according to the anonymous source. Pioneer would also not give the scientists permission to redo the study after the crop was commercialized.

Scientists can in theory review the data companies file with regulatory agencies. “Independent scientists mostly want to review the data to see if it’s good science or regulatory junk science and also to conduct their own research,” says Bill Freese, an analyst at the Center for Food Safety in Washington, DC. But roadblocks exist to this as well. Scientists have to submit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, which can take months, and allows access only to information that is not confidential business information. In this regard, the USDA has been accused by a National Academy of Sciences committee of allowing companies to make excessive claims of confidential business information5.

Companies have been known to take the confidentiality of data on their GM crops to even greater extremes. Tabashnik says a Dow AgroSciences employee once threatened him with legal action if he published information he received from the EPA. The information concerned an insect-resistant variety of maize known as TC1507, made by Dow and Pioneer. The companies suspended sales of TC1507 in Puerto Rico after discovering in 2006 that an armyworm had developed resistance to it. Tabashnik was able to review the report the companies filed with the EPA by submitting a Freedom of Information Act request. “I encouraged an employee of the company [Dow] to publish the data and mentioned that, alternatively, I could cite the data,” says Tabashnik. “He told me that if I cited the information…I would be subject to legal action by the company,” he says. “These kinds of statements are chilling.”

Many think that companies aren’t helping their image with these strong-arm tactics and a close-fisted attitude to materials sharing. The industry has taken a lot of hits over the years, particularly from activist groups ready to pounce on any sliver of anti-GM information. “If there’s a sense that a problem is being swept under the carpet, then that only fuels the fear,” says Tabashnik. “I think it’s better to be open about it,” he says. “It’s not as if one problem with one variety means the whole technology isn’t useful.”

1. Freese, W. & Schubert, D. Biotechnol. Genet. Eng. Rev. 21, 299–324 (2004).
2. Marvier, M. Ecol. Appl. 12, 1119 –1124 (2002).
3. Marvier, M. et al. Science 316, 1475–1477 (2007).
4. Domingo, J. Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr. 47, 721–733 (2007).
5. Committee on Environmental Impact Associated with Commercialization of Transgenic Plants, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences. Environmental Effects of Transgenic Plants: The Scope and Adequacy of Regulation (The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2002).

Judge Rejects Approval of Biotech Sugar Beets

From The New York Times:

Published: September 22, 2009

A federal judge has ruled that the government failed to adequately assess the environmental impacts of genetically engineered sugar beets before approving the crop for cultivation in the United States. The decision could lead to a ban on the planting of the beets, which have been widely adopted by farmers.

In a decision issued Monday, Judge Jeffrey S. White of Federal District Court in San Francisco, said that the Agriculture Department should have done an environmental impact statement. He said it should have assessed the consequences from the likely spread of the genetically engineered trait to other sugar beets or to the related crops of Swiss chard and red table beets.

The decision echoes another ruling two years ago by a different judge in the same court involving genetically engineered alfalfa. In that case, the judge later ruled that farmers could no longer plant the genetically modified alfalfa until the Agriculture Department wrote the environmental impact statement. Two years later, there is still no such assessment and the alfalfa, with rare exceptions, is not being grown.

In the new case, Judge White has not yet decided on the remedy. A meeting to begin that phase of the case is scheduled for Oct. 30.

But the plaintiffs in the lawsuit said they would press to ban planting of the biotech beets, arguing that Judge White’s decision effectively revoked their approval and made them illegal to grow outside of field trials.

“We expect the same result here as we got in alfalfa,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, a Washington advocacy group that was also involved in the alfalfa lawsuit. “It will halt almost any further planting and sale because it’s no longer an approved crop.”

The Center for Food Safety was joined in the suit by the Sierra Club, the Organic Seed Alliance and High Mowing Organic Seeds, a small seed company. The defendant, the Department of Agriculture, said it was reviewing the decision.

Some beet farmers and sugar processors declined to comment Tuesday on the decision, saying they needed more time to analyze it. But they said that the genetically engineered sugar beets had proved immensely popular since first being widely grown in 2008.

The beets contain a bacterial gene licensed by Monsanto that renders them impervious to glyphosate, an herbicide that Monsanto sells as Roundup. That allows the herbicide to kill weeds without harming the crop.

“Growers have embraced this technology,” said Duane Grant, a farmer in Rupert, Idaho, who said industry surveys suggested that 95 percent of the sugar beets planted this year were genetically modified.

Mr. Grant, who is also the chairman of the Snake River Sugar Company, a grower-owned cooperative, said easier weed control allowed farmers to reduce tillage, which in turn saved fuel and fertilizer and reduced erosion.

Mr. Grant, as well as some other growers, sugar processors and seed companies like Monsanto, had sought to intervene in the case. Judge White said that other than filing a friend-of-the-court brief, they could not participate in the phase of the lawsuit examining whether the Agriculture Department fulfilled its obligations under environmental law.

However, those groups are expected be allowed to take part in the next round of the case, involving the remedies. “We’re going to use that opportunity to advocate the need for that technology and vigorously defend our growers’ freedom to plant Roundup Ready sugar beets,” said Luther Markwart, executive vice president for the American Sugarbeet Growers Association.

Beets supply about half the nation’s sugar, with the rest coming from sugar cane. About 10,000 farmers grow about 1.1 million acres of sugar beets, Mr. Markwart said. That makes it a small crop compared to staples like soybeans and corn.

The Agriculture Department did conduct an environmental assessment before approving the genetically engineered beets in 2005 for widespread planting. But the department concluded there would be no significant impact, so a fuller environmental impact statement was not needed.

But Judge White said that the pollen from the genetically engineered crops might spread to non-engineered beets. He said that the “potential elimination of farmer’s choice to grow non-genetically engineered crops, or a consumer’s choice to eat non-genetically engineered food” constituted a significant effect on the environment that necessitated an environmental impact statement.

In March, Judge White had asked the federal government if the Obama administration would take a different stance in the case than the Bush administration had. The new administration said there would be no change.

David Berg, president of American Crystal Sugar Company, the nation’s largest sugar beet processor, said food companies had accepted sugar from the biotech beets. “They’ve been a big nonevent in terms of customer acceptance,” he said.



US House and Senate are about (in a week and a half) to vote on bill that will OUTLAW ORGANIC FARMING (bill HR 875). There is an enormous rush to get this into law within the next 2 weeks before people realize what is happening.

Main backer and lobbyist is Monsanto – chemical and genetic engineering giant corporation (and Cargill, ADM, and about 35 other related agri-giants). This bill will require organic farms to use specific fertilizers and poisonous insect sprays dictated by the newly formed agency to “make sure there is no danger to the public food supply”. This will include backyard gardens that grow food only for a family and not for sales.

If this passes then NO more heirloom clean seeds but only Monsanto genetically altered seeds that are now showing up with unexpected diseases in humans.

Read the rest: