seed production for chard and beets including organic
There has been a back-and-forth legal battle over GM
beets. Last August, a federal court overturned approval of
GM beets. Despite the ruling, USDA allowed plantings of
sugar beet seedlings in September in the hopes they could
be used to produce seed for this year’s crop. The Center
for Food Safety sued to stop the plantings, and the same
federal court ordered that the seedlings be destroyed. In
December, Monsanto appealed and a federal appeals court
delayed the destruction. In February, USDA announced a
partial deregulation of GM beets, allowing them to be
grown with restrictions. The plaintiffs said they would challenge that decision in court.
More Lawsuits, Rays of Hope
With USDA backtracking on its coexistence plan with alfalfa, organic farmers and processors will turn to the courts
for solutions to the contamination threat. “If the biotech
developers are not willing to genuinely participate in this
discussion then the court system becomes the default option,” says Dag Falck, organic program manager at Nature’s
Path Foods. Others agree.
“Instead of settling this issue, USDA’s decision regrettably guarantees further rounds in the courts,” Senator
“Clearly the biotech industry will ultimately be held re-
sponsible for negative impacts of their technology,” Ben-
brook says. “It may take lawsuits or class action lawsuits.”
Despite the setback on alfalfa, Siemon sees rays of hope.
In a letter following the decision, Siemon wrote: “The fact
that the USDA even considered the impact of Roundup
Ready Alfalfa on other forms of agriculture is a big change
given the USDA’s usual ‘rubber stamp’ approval with mini-
mal regulatory review of most anything biotech.”
The battle will continue, says Siemon. “We will keep en-
gaging and challenging the USDA in a meaningful conver-
sation about coexistence and protection of non-GMO
farming. We are counting on our consumers to vote with
their dollars and show the USDA that the future of agricul-
ture is more than GMO food. Now more than ever, organic
is the best choice.”
Encouraging consumers to write letters to governmental
leaders and to support groups leading this fight is also
going to play a large role in this battle. The more con-
sumers voice their concerns, the less the USDA will be able
to ignore their pleas.
Organic? We go way back!
At Taylor Brothers Farms, we started growing organically
long before the word became a household term. Today, our third-generation operation has matured into the world’s leading organic
prune grower and processor, with business relations throughout
America, Europe and Asia.
Ken Roseboro is editor of The Organic & Non-GMO
Report and The Non-GMO Sourcebook
( www.non-gmoreport.com). He can be reached at