Beet planting season begins

Tim Hearden|Capital Press

At the expense of consumers, Oregon beet farmers are lining up in droves to participate in Monsanto's GMO program.

Farmers in Idaho and Eastern Oregon have begun receiving USDA-mandated training required to grow Roundup Ready sugar beets.

Growers, cooperatives and seed companies are racing to meet strict regulations governing the transportation, handling and growing of the crop put in place since the biotech beets were re-regulated as a result of ongoing litigation filed by environmentalists.

A large gathering of growers attended a training session on March 22 in Idaho’s Magic Valley, and the Snake River Sugar Cooperative is offering the sessions online, said Duane Grant, the co-op’s board chairman.

Growers who receive the instructions and get their compliance agreements signed may receive seed and begin planting, Grant said.

Companies have delivered Roundup Ready seed to distribution points throughout the co-op area, and some growers were set to begin planting this week, he said.

“Calendar-wise, we’re well within the planting window today, especially in the western part of the company’s growing area, so it’s time to plant,” said Grant, a farmer in Rupert, Idaho.

Rain has delayed farmers’ ability to plant until now, and growers and seed companies have also been wading through an extensive list of USDA requirements for handling and planting the biotech seeds and growing the root crop.

Interim regulations put in place by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on growers and seed companies include geographic restrictions on planting, surveillance and monitoring requirements, equipment-handling procedures, personnel training, reporting, and movement and handling standards. The regulations came after a federal judge ordered the department to conduct a more detailed environmental study of the crop.

The USDA issued permits in February allowing seed companies to produce and ship Roundup Ready sugar beet seeds. The permits were issued just days before a federal appeals court struck down a lower court’s order the Roundup Ready sugar beet stecklings — the seedlings that will produce seed for next year’s crop — be destroyed.

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Millions Against Monsanto this Saturday

“Rally for the Right to Know” on 26 March across the US: Genetically Modified Foods need to be labeled…

(WASHINGTON D.C.) – Rallies to raise awareness of the danger of Monsanto are planned around the nation this Saturday, March 26th.

They are being organized by The Organic Consumers Association, Millions Against Monsanto campaign.

The events are designed to spread awareness of genetically modified foods and Monsanto’s increasing monopoly of our foods.

The main rally will be at the White House, with others being held around the United States.

Current events are listed below. New locations are being added, so please check the campaigns’ Facebook page for updates in your area/location:

MAIN EVENT: Washington, D.C., 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, The White House Sidewalk (The White House Sidewalk is the sidewalk between East and West Executive Avenues on the South side of Pennsylvania Avenue NW) 11am- 3pm

Dates for ALL locations is Saturday March 26, 2011 and include (alphabetically):