Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More Than 70 Companies Vow to Avoid Genetically Modified Sugar Beets

More than 70 companies have signed a pledge promising to avoid using sugar from genetically modified sugar beets "wherever possible." Genetically modified sugar beets, engineered by the Monsanto Corporation to be resistant to its herbicide Roundup, were first harvested in fall 2008. By now, sugar from those beets has likely entered the food stream. Critics of genetic engineering have raised concerns that the modified beets could produce food allergies, threaten wildlife and spread herbicide resistance or other modified traits to closely related species, including chard or table beets. "We need to avoid the all-too-common situation of finding out a product is harmful after it has been approved and widely distributed," said Jeffrey Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology, one of the organizations sponsoring the pledge. "Requiring that GM foods be labeled is the only protection consumers have if they want to avoid eating GM foods." More than 73 food producers and retailers have agreed to "seek to avoid wherever possible using [genetically modified] beet sugar in our products." The signatories have also urged the sugar industry to avoid using the genetically modified beets altogether. "The registry shows the food industry's increasing apprehension about the government's ability to adequately regulate food production technologies," said the Center for Food Safety, another pledge sponsor. The organization said that food companies have been made skittish by recent food scandals such as the contamination of high fructose corn syrup with mercury. Tom Stearns of High Mowing Organic Seeds, another sponsor, noted that genetically modified crops are also a risky investment, as products containing them may not be allowed in certain countries. "Overseas markets have already rejected other GM products, so the economic future of many of our nation's farmers is being needlessly risked," he said. A full list of companies that have pledged to avoid the beets can be found at Source -

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