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US Sugar Giants Ban GE Sugar Beets

US Sugar Giants Ban GE Sugar Beets

Red River Valley co-ops avoiding biotech sugar beets
Thursday May 17, 2001
Associated Press

Fargo, ND - Concerns over consumer opposition to genetically modified
crops have kept engineered sugar beets out of Red River Valley fields.

"The industry is very hesitant because the acceptance with the
consumer isn't there," said Craig Halfmann, president of the Red River
Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association.

Halfmann said sugar refiners advise growers not to plant genetically
modified sugar beet seed, which has been approved for use in the
United States but faces opposition from environmental and consumer
groups that are concerned about the safety of engineered commodities.

The crops known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are bred
to be more resistant to disease or more tolerant of pesticides.

Moorhead, Minn.-based American Crystal Sugar Co. and Minn-Dak Farmers
Cooperative of Wahpeton do not allow their growers to use genetically
modified sugar beet seed, company officials said.

While genetically modified sugar beets would help farmers by allowing
them to control weeds with fewer chemicals, the potential damage to
their market because of resistance to the technology outweighs the
benefit, American Crystal spokesman Jeff Schweitzer said.

"That's too high a risk for us to take as a company," Schweitzer said.

The cooperative monitors demand for and opposition to genetically
modified sugar and could change its policy if the marketplace improves
for growers, he said.

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