Beets Get Okay--Again.
Washington--Roundup Ready sugar beets will be approved for planting by day's end, according to Monsanto.
Just after noon today U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack notified stakeholders of the partial approval.
This partial deregulation allows beets to be planted while USDA completes a court-ordered environmental impact statement on the crop. Organic seed companies sued USDA over the biotech beets, arguing that cross pollination threats hadn't been considered before Roundup Ready beets were approved a few years ago.
The biotech beets have been engineered to survive sprayings of the herbicide Roundup. That trait, according to farmers, allows the crop to grow strong as weeds in the field are killed off. Better harvest and lower production costs have made the beets lucrative.
Last week, Senator Max Baucus of Montana notified Vilsack that delaying approval of the biotech crop would jeopardize the crop.
Sugar beets account for half the sugar produced in the United States. Roundup Ready beets are what 95 percent of farmers plant.