Deadline nears for comments on sugar beet seed
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting comments on the environmental assessment of the use of Roundup Ready sugar beet seed on an interim basis for the 2011 growing season.
The deadline for submitting comments is Dec. 6.
The USDA approved Roundup Ready sugar beets for use in 2005. They were widely adopted over the next five years and planted on 95 percent of all sugar beet acreage in a 10-state area, including Colorado. The use of the seed eliminates much of the hand labor required to remove weeds from sugar beet fields, allowing farmers to use chemicals as weed control.
However, a lawsuit brought by the Center for Food Safety and others earlier this year voided the original USDA approval for the seed. According to industry officials, the court ruling took away farmers’ choice to use the technology, even though there has been no finding of harm to the environment or to farmers who choose not to use the technology.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service then published a draft environmental assessment Nov. 4 that provides an analysis of any environmental impacts associated with actions the agency is considering for the sugar beets.
The draft environmental assessment examines the alternatives that USDA reviewed to give farmers the choice to plant Roundup Ready sugar beets until the full environmental impact statement is completed.
Farmers may develop a comment and get information on how to submit it at http://www.supportsugarbeets.com.
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