GM Sugar Beets

October 21, 2010

October 21, 2010

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Wal-Mart Stores, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

There is no limit to the mischief that the environmental whackos can cause. You never know where they will strike. They have found a judge in the U.S. District Court of Northern California to reverse the USDA approval of genetically modified sugar beet seeds. The judge said USDA had not done enough research into the environmental impact.

Our sugar beet farmers have been using genetically modified seeds for five years now. Sugar from sugar beets represents 60% of our domestic supply of sugar. We don’t have the seeds to plant next year’s crop with traditional seeds. It will take two years to produce enough traditional seed to grow next year’s crop. Global supplies of sugar are already very tight. Prices have doubled since last spring.

We have been using genetic engineering in the production of crops for nearly 20 years – corn, soybeans, cotton. The production efficiency delivered by genetic engineering is nothing short of a modern-day miracle. Now, we have a judge from California (should we be surprised?) – from Northern California, probably San Francisco. And the judge requires more research.

USDA estimates that it will take two years to do the additional research.

The Department of Agriculture is trying to find a way around the judge’s ruling in hopes that GM seeds could be used for planting next March – only four months away.

Environmental groups are just waiting for USDA to make a move to allow planting of GM seeds. They will sue again. Paige Tomaselli, a lawyer for the Center for Food Safety, has this to say: “As the law stands, they can’t plant GM seeds.”

There you have it. The forces out there that oppose commercial agriculture are relentless. We never know where they will strike next. We cannot feed this hungry world without using modern technology. Food prices will skyrocket. Millions will starve. Have they thought about that? Do they care?

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.