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No Valley Decision Yet On Roundup Ready Beets

No Valley Decision Yet On Roundup Ready Beets

USDA says its okay to plant biotech seed this year, if lots of conditions are followed. But cooperatives are still weighing risks.

The Red River Valley's sugarbeet cooperatives are said to be weighing whether to allow shareholders to plant Roundup Ready sugarbeets this spring.

USDA has approved its use this year, but production is subject to lots of conditions. Growers will have keep detailed records on how they handled biotech seed and roots, and verify that they checked fields regularly during the growing season and removed plants that bolted.

For American Crystal Sugar Company and Min-Dak Farmers Cooperative shareholders, the question of whether to plant Roundup Ready beets in 2011 seems to boil down to risk. If they plant biotech beets, could something happen in court that would force them to abandon the crop?

Luther Markwart, executive vice-president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, says he can't speculate on the possibility. The ASGA is currently involved in several lawsuits over Roundup Ready beets. Markwart spoke at the recent International Sugarbeet Institute in Fargo.

American Crystal may be making a decision on the question soon. Its board of directors meets at the end of the month.

Min-Dak is said to telling its growers about compliance rules in its planting meetings.

A final decision on the future of biotech beets isn't expected until May 2012, when USDA completes the court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement, Markwart says.

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