Articles

Good Enough For Government

In Good Enough For Government, Matt on November 12, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

 The USDA

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), a branch of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), announced on November 2nd that it has prepared an early draft Environmental Assessment on sugar beet crops grown from genetically modified seeds, in hope, to achieve partial deregulation of their use, after a federal court a levied ruling against the agency’s decision to institute total deregulation without the lawful preliminary evaluation known as an EIS.

On September 21, 2009, a federal judge, Jeffrey White of the U.S. District Court of Northern California in San Francisco, ruled that APHIS had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by failing to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, before fully deregulating the genetically modified sugar beet seeds known by the brand name Genuity®Roundup Ready®.

The issue is the threat of cross-pollination contaminating neighboring non-GMO (which stands for genetically modified organism) crops, altering their yields and infringing on other farmers rights to not grow plants with modified genes. Not to mention, there’s the possible liability for copy-right infringement, since Monsanto’s Roundup Ready seeds are patented. The other issue is that APHIS expects the EIS will be completed in 2012, so the restriction of the sale of Genuity could result in a drastic reduction in our sugar supply.

Interpolated pile of related facts:

  1. One-half of the country’s sugar comes from sugarbeets.-USDA Plan Could Partially Lift sugar beet ban, 11/10/10, AP
  2. The price of refined sugar has gone up from 24.5 cents to 55 cents in the last two years.-Ibid
  3. 95% of the sugar beets in this country are grown using Roundup Ready seeds on about 1 million acres of farmland.-Ibid
  4. 50% of are grown in Minnesota and North Dakota.-Sugarbeet growers in limbo, 11/10/10, Minnesota Public Radio
  5. Sugar beet seeds are planted around November and harvested in the Spring.-Ibid
  6. Monsanto is a corporation that produces and sells seeds, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and farm equipment.
  7. Roundup is a herbicide.
  8. Roundup Ready seeds have had their genotype altered in a lab to make their phenotype resistant to Roundup.
  9. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of maintaining a ban on GM alfalfa on June 21, 2010.-Supreme Court rules against Monsanto in Roundup Ready Alfalfa case, June 21, 2010, Food CEO
  10. GM corn, a.k.a MON810, was banned in Germany, which was upheld by its judicial system in May 2009.-German court rules against Monsanto in GM corn ban, May 6,2009, Functional Ingredients
  11. APHIS granted “nonregulated status” to Roundup Ready sugar beets in 2005.-USDA Prepares Draft Environmental Assessment on Regulatory Options for Roundup Ready Sugar Beets, November 2, 2010, APHIS website
  12. The suit was brought by four organizations, Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, Sierra Club, and High Mowing Organic Seeds, in 2005.-Center For Food Safety, et al. v Thomas J. Vilsack, et al., August 13, 2010, U.S. District Court of Northern California ruling, pg. 1

APHIS will be taking public comments and incorporating them into their environmental assessment until December 6th, which doesn’t seem to make much sense since the planting season will be just about over.

Now, it’s disingenuous to simply pair up a sober account of an impasse in one sector of the farming industry, with broad interlocular implications for our nation’s agricultural economy, with an assessable, funny, loosely connected yet, ultimately, deflatingly incongruous clip of recognizable pop-culture entertainment.

But since you’re not going to remember this anyway (this is not meant to be condescending, although it definitely sounds that way. Believe me, I will most likely have trouble remembering it.), and you wouldn’t even read this if it weren’t attached to some kind of palatable visual anecdote or joke (probably didn’t even read it anyway, in which case, you wouldn’t have come to this blog at all without said entertaining component…again, no condescension intended. I’m not better. I’d be likely to skip over this if I hadn’t forced myself to write it), I present, our dire and desperate future prospects in sugar economy portrayed by Homer.

-Matt

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