Idaho Beet Crop Harvest Continues Under Dark Legal Cloud
Wilder--A Federal District Court judge in Portland, Oregon will meet with the US Department of Agriculture officials and Environmental groups to decided whether to place an injunction on Roundup Ready seed for the 2010 season; while Idaho farmers continue the 2009 harvest with record yields.
Oregon environmental groups and organic farmers filed the suit in Portland over fears of cross pollination with organic crops in the Willamette Valley. Insiders say their lawyers are expected to ask federal Judge Jeffrey White October 30th for the injunction barring Roundup Ready seed until the Department of Agriculture can do an environmental and economic impact study.
Roundup Ready beets consist of broad-spectrum glyphosate herbicides manufactured by Monsanto. Growers can use Roundup to kill weeds without damaging their crops. "With those weeds you can lose three, four-ton less per acre," said long time farmer Grant Wyatt of Burley.
Controlling weeds is a farmers nightmare because the chemicals that kill weeds also can kill beets. Before Roundup n farmers had to carefully apply low doses of herbicide twice a month and then walk a tightrope protecting the beets. What herbicide didn't kill, migrant workers are hired at a premium had to do the rest.
Roundup ready beets are genetically modified and immune to most weeds. Still some weeds still get through but are easily handled without harming the beets. Sugar industry representatives say that just over 90-percent of the sugar beets planted this year were Roundup Ready created by Monsanto. Farmers say Roundup provides a demonstrated and clear-cut edge in weed control. Farmers are also making fewer passes over their fields, using far less fuel and chemicals.
The US and Canada are the only countries using Roundup Ready sugar beets.