Jill Richardson broke the news. Richardson, a tirelessly accurate researcher and environmental writer (as well as, apparently, a tireless reader), found the information quite by accident on the Boulder Daily Camera’s online news page.
Essentially, the article tells the story of six farmers who threaten bankruptcy and other dire events if Boulder County Commissioners don’t let them plant genetically-modified (GM) sugar beets.
The farmers – who are attempting to meet quotas set by the Western Sugar Cooperative, which buys their product to make sugar for U.S. tables and food manufacturers – want to plant Roundup Ready sugar beets, another fine subterfuge from Monsanto to control world food supplies under the guise of insuring world food supplies.
The most vociferous proponent of GM sugar beets is Paul Schlagel, who predicts no beets if the group can’t use the “frankenseeds” developed by Monsanto. His threatening statement is backed by a Boulder County staff report which shows that more than 90 percent of the nation’s sugar beet crop has already been rolled over into GM beet seeds. Schlagel even believes that seed companies will stop selling normal sugar beet seeds, given the reported popularity of the frankenfood variety.
Seeds of Malcontent
The popularity of GM seeds can easily be drawn into question. Farmers are often offered enormous incentives to try them, and now face equally enormous fines if the seeds crossbreed and are found in fields not licensed by Monsanto.
In any case, approval will likely ensue for the Colorado beet growers. This is in spite of a suit filed almost a year earlier against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal Plant Health Inspection Service. The suit charged that USDA broke federal law when it deregulated the GM beets seeds without a complete review. The suit, filed Jan. 23, 2008 in U.S. District Court, says that growing GM beets could harm the organic seed industry by contaminating chard and table-beet seed varieties, since beets tend to cross-pollinate quite readily. The suit remains stalled.
In the mean time, a pro-GM bill called HR 875 was introduced by Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). Her husband, Stanley Greenburg, incidentally works for Monsanto. HR 875 made the rounds of the House and died a quiet death… only to come back in the form of HR 2749.
The June 2008 newsletter by the Organic Seed Alliance exposes the agenda behind GM beet seeds in particular, and GM seeds in general. This agenda, masquerading as increased crop yields and greater food safety in the face of worldwide starvation, in fact delivers less than a 10-percent improvement in yields. This threatens food and seeds everywhere with a loss of genetic diversity as GM crops overtake native varieties, as they have in the case of Mexican maize.
A report entitled Failure to Yield demonstrates the failure of Monsanto, ADM, Cargill and other agribusiness giants to deliver GM seeds that actually improve yields. This is especially true for GM corn (corn engineered with Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt corn). Here, yields have risen a mere 3 to 4 percent, while the threat of genetic singularity – the opposite of genetic diversity – has risen four-hundred fold.
Why is genetic diversity important? In Homo sapiens species, a lack of diversity caused by intermarriage creates genetic defects and eventual sterility. The same is true in the plant world. If there is only one species of corn (or soybeans, or beets), the risk of a single bacteria or virus wiping it out is multiplied exponentially. Even if GM crops survive death from bacterial or viral agents, their lack of sufficient genetic material makes them an evolutionary dead-end.
If that’s not scary enough, what happens when genetically diverse humanity eats genetically impoverished crops like corn? We don’t know, and won’t for another four generations at least, but some GM crops are already causing changes at the genetic level among Western nations where GM crops are largely consumed.
Genetic changes and anomalies aside, GM foods are known to cause or exacerbate allergies, and may cause physical changes in organs like the digestive system. The worst part remains that we simply don’t know yet, and by the time we find out it will be too late to go back.
That said, those with a sweet tooth should be aware that GM sugar beets now make up 95 percent of the U.S. sugar beet crop, which means your next piece of candy, cake, or soda is almost entirely made from a GM food whose ultimate effects are literally unknown.
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