Legal tussle over modified sugar beets

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Legal tussle over modified sugar beets
Deborah K. Rich, Special to The Chronicle

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Home gardeners seldom grow sugar beets, but the commercialization of Roundup Ready sugar beets could toss genetically engineered DNA into many a garden-fresh salad unless a lawsuit prevails.

The suit, filed by the Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds and the Sierra Club, is expected to be heard April 3 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. It seeks to halt the planting, sale and use of Roundup Ready sugar beets until the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducts an in-depth environmental study of this latest genetically engineered crop. Roundup Ready sugar beets – which can withstand repeated applications of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide – gain their chemical tolerance from a gene that Monsanto plucked from a soil bacterium and pasted into the sugar beet genome.

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