Are You Eating GMO Sugar? Are You Sure?

A Little Roundup in Your Sugar?

Spoonful of GMO sugar?

Spoonful of GMO sugar?

Last Thursday, July 19, 2012, the USDA completely deregulated GMO sugar beets for unrestricted planting in the US. The GMO sugar beets, from which table sugar is derived, pose no pest risk according to the USDA. It is interesting that the focus is on “pest risk”, as there are other serious concerns with this move. A few of the immediately obvious concerns are the introduction of Roundup (known as glyphosate) into our sugar supply, as the new “Roundup Ready” varieties are not really “Roundup resistant” as advertised by Monsanto, but are “Roundup tolerant”; meaning that they are not killed off by the spraying of glyphosate on the fields. Sugar beets, corn and anything else labelled Roundup Ready are simply able to absorb the glyphosate and not die, unlike the weeds they are targeting. Where does that Roundup go, what happens to it after the plant absorbs it? Glyphosate is a “persistent herbicide”, remaining in the soil and water several seasons after its application, tying up minerals and nutrients that the plants need. It is reasonable to expect that the glyphosate is also present in the plants themselves, and thus in the sugar that is processed from the sugar beets. Thus, in eating GMO sugar, you can expect to eat Roundup!

Speaking of weeds, that brings up the second big concern. Superweeds. These herbicide-resistant weeds are reported to have reached 60 million acres in the USA, rendering Roundup largely ineffective. The weeds have developed enzymes that break down the herbicide and have passed that trait to their seeds.The USDA admits that GMO sugar beets will cause an increase in superweeds, but say they don’t have the authority to regulate the GMO sugar beets. Well, if the USDA doesn’t have the “authority” to regulate an agricultural crop, just who does?

Another concern of the deregulation is that the GMO sugar beets will outcross to other beets and Swiss chard, which is in the same family. Part of this concerns stems from the fact that most of the beets are grown in the Northwest, along with much of the Swiss chard and table beet seed crops, thus the increased chance of outcrossing of the GMO varieties into our food supply.

Since 2005 when the GMO sugar beets were first approved for planting, the amount of sugar grown from these beets has skyrocketed to 95%. Yes, you read that right – only 5% of our sugar supply derived from sugar beets is from non-GMO sources. This catches many people by surprise, as it is not widely reported.

How can you make sure you’re not feeding GMO sugar to your family? The old adage of “Buy Organic” has its place here, as Certified Organic cannot contain GMO ingredients. Cane sugar has not been genetically modified, so look for that as the “made from” ingredient on the label.

USDA Announces Decision to Deregulate Genetically Engineered Sugar Beets

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6 Responses to Are You Eating GMO Sugar? Are You Sure?

  1. Trina Werner August 26, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    Thank you for this important update! Who will watch over us? I guess it will have to be EACH OTHER. I don’t trust the USDA anymore, not just because of this, but for many other similar situations. I only buy organic sugar, and have for the last couple of years. I am so disgusted with the slow insidious take-over of our food supply by poisons for profit, marketed as scientific breakthroughs. My whole family supports all things science. Our entertainment choices, my son’s job in the Air Force, and many conversations are based on our surrounded by lovely science. So it bothers me greatly when people like us are accused of “not supporting science” when we don’t support GMO’s. This is completely ludicrous! Intelligent people know when something untested is being forced on this world and and our bodies, and can up-rise and rightfully decline to participate in the madness. You are doing important work getting the word out! A side note, I have a backyard garden, and save my seeds. I can barely stand the sad tomatoes when I eat at a restaurant. No Monsanto, you won’t tell me I can’t save my seed.

    • Stephen August 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

      Good to hear from you, Trina! Thanks for the kind words and glad to hear you are gardening.

    • Laughton Browne March 9, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

      We are confronted with what is undoubtedly the single most potent technology the world has ever known – more powerful even than atomic energy. Yet it is being released throughout our environment and deployed with superficial or no risk assessments – as if no one needs to worry an iota about its unparalleled powers to harm life as we know it – and for all future generations.

      • Stephen March 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

        There would be many that would debate whether GMO technology is more potent than nuclear energy, especially the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasake where there is still a “throwaway” rate of newborn babies even after more than 65 years have passed. Fukushima residents would chime in as well. What we don’t know about GMOs are the long-term effects, something that we have at least a little knowledge of with nuclear energy. Unfortunately, we are the test subjects on this and future generations will be able to study the effects on us and our descendants.

  2. jullie March 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    Really informative!….stopped buying table sugar a long time ago!….BUT Im sad to hear about the threat to Kale, beets, etc- soo nutrient rich!…how do I add u to my facebook favs, btw?

    • Stephen March 11, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

      Hello Jullie, cane sugar is still ok, as is certified organic sugar as it will preclude any GMOs. You can join our FaceBook page at Terroir Seeds FB page!

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