Consumer Backlash Against GMO Crops Threatens Beet Farmers


by Chris Prentice, Reuters


America's sugar beet growers are under siege as U.S. food companies increasingly shun genetically modified (GMO) crops.

In the past seven years, the farmers – many in Minnesota, North Dakota, Michigan, and Idaho – have all switched to GMO seeds created by Monsanto Co and sold by others as they seek to increase yields and cut costs. Genetically Modified Organisms include plants that have had been created through gene splicing — the introduction of DNA from a different species to make a new one.

Now, as public sentiment moves against GMO crops and imports of cane sugar rise, sugar beet growers have seen their share of the U.S. sugar market slip to the smallest on record. Critics believe GMO crops contribute to the industrialization of farming and question promises of safety.

Beets' share of all U.S. sugar deliveries – which represent total demand to major users and customers – fell to less than 41 percent of the U.S. total of 11.8 million tons (10.7 million tonnes) in the last fiscal year, a record low, down from 47 percent of 10.4 million tons in the 2008 crop year, the year the biotech seeds were introduced on a commercial scale, according to U.S. government data dating from 1992.

Beets will account for almost 60 percent of this year's 8.8 million tons of sugar production in the United States. Any difference between what's been produced and what's been sold is generally inventoried and/or sold the following year. Though it's not clear that the erosion in demand comes from reaction against GMO food, industry sources said the trend is beginning to pressure the beet industry.


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Source:  Reuters




Sugar Beet Harvest by ClizBiz, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  ClizBiz 

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