As consumers shift to non-GMO sugar, farmers may be forced to abandon environmental and social gains

Dan Charles at NPR has recently done two interesting pieces about sugar production. In the first, he uses sugar as a proxy to look at the environmental costs and trade-offs of growing food in different places. It makes for an interesting comparison because there are two completely different crops (sugarcane and sugarbeet) that can be grown to produce the exact same product, refined sugar. The two crops have very different climatic needs, pest management requirements, and growing seasons. It is an …

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Does the debate about genetically modified food matter?

Over at Grist, Nathanael Johnson has been writing an excellent series of pieces on genetically engineered crops, called “Panic-free GMOs.” The series as a whole has been excellent, and that is not just my opinion. Keith Kloor, another journalist who has often waded in to the GMO debate, said of Johnson’s Grist series: The overwhelming consensus judgement of science journalists is that Johnson has done a spectacular job of sifting through all the claims and counterclaims and the technical density of …

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Using ethofumesate when irrigating for emergence

by Andrew Kniss & Abdel Mesbah At a recent meeting in Powell, I was asked how to best use ethofumesate (active ingredient in Nortron SC and other herbicides) in fields that must be furrow irrigated for sugarbeet emergence. This is a difficult question. Ethofumesate (and almost all soil applied herbicides) require soil moisture to be effective. Ideally, residual herbicides should be applied to the soil shortly before either rainfall or overhead irrigation. Growers who have sprinkler systems in their field …

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Social benefits of biotech crops

Ask any sugarbeet grower in the US how their lives have changed since the commercialization of Roundup Ready beets. Really. Ask them. Before you rail against the technology, or denounce the evil corporations for creating them. Before you argue on twitter or Facebook about how good or bad the technology is for society. Before you write your next post for the New York Times or Grist. Ask a farmer who uses the technology. And then think about what they say. Don Lilleboe at …

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EIS for Roundup Ready sugarbeet released

In 2012, at least 95% of sugarbeet acres in the U.S. were planted to Roundup Ready varieties, meaning they are resistant to glyphosate. Growers have overwhelmingly adopted this technology for a variety of reasons. Due to some recent litigation, however, sugarbeet growers have been required to follow some very strict guidelines on how these varieties can be grown and handled. These requirements stem from the USDA’s decision to “partially deregulate” Roundup Ready sugarbeet while a full environmental impact statement (EIS) …

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