Ground Zero in the Battle Over Genetically Engineered Sugar Beets
Roughly half of the nation’s sugar supply comes from sugar beets, and much of this seed is produced in Oregon. In 2007 the USDA started allowing genetically modified sugar beet seed to flood the market. Now 95% of the sugar beet crop is grown using seeds that have been genetically engineered to resist heavy spraying of the Monsanto pesticide Roundup. The Center for Food Safety and other advocacy groups sued to ban the beets, pointing out that an environmental impact statement has not yet been completed, as the law requires. Last November, a U.S. District Judge ordered the immediate uprooting of 256 acres of genetically modified beets in Oregon and Arizona, citing the irreparable harm of cross-contamination of these plants with normal ones.
On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Frank Morton, of Shoulder to Shoulder Farm in Philomath, who is involved with the lawsuit against Monsanto and the USDA.
Frank Morton is a pioneer in preserving and innovating seed strains of rare edible plants. He and his wife Karen co-ordinate the seed production program within the overall farm system of Gathering Together Farm, just down the road from their farm Shoulder To Shoulder, outside of Philomath, Oregon. Breeding new varieties for organic farmers is part of the Morton's work on their own farm, and Wild Garden Seed from Gathering Together Farm brings their creative effort into the public domain seed marketplace.