Published online: Nov 25, 2010
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As a member of the American agricultural community, it is very important that growers weigh in with the USDA on the choice to plant Roundup Ready sugarbeets (also known as "GE sugar beets" in the Federal Register) in 2011. The USDA is currently conducting a public comment period on interim regulatory measures that would authorize planting of Roundup Ready sugarbeets. Comments may be submitted until Dec. 6.

Although Roundup Ready sugarbeets were approved in 2005, widely adopted over the past five years and planted on 95 percent of all sugarbeet acreage across 10 states in the U.S., a lawsuit brought by the Center for Food Safety and others voided USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's (APHIS) original deregulation. The court ruling took away growers' choice to use this technology, even though there has been no finding of harm to the environment or to growers who choose not to use this technology.

On Nov. 4, after receiving a request for partial deregulation on some similar administrative action from Monsanto and KWS, USDA's APHIS published a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) on the Federal Register (
http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-27970.pdf), which provides an analysis of any environmental impacts associated with actions the agency is considering for Roundup Ready sugarbeets. Any action that the agency would take in response to the request for partial deregulation would be an interim measure until APHIS completes a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The USDA is receptive to public input. Supportive letters are important to counter potential negative comments. Letters should be unique, as the USDA counts multiple form letters as a single comment. You can develop an effective comment and get information on how to submit it at:
www.supportsugarbeets.com. You can review the USDA's draft Environmental Assessement and comment online at http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#submitComment?R=0900006480b80cec.