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USDA partially deregulating biotech sugar beets

U.S. agricultural regulators on Friday said despite a court ban, they would allow commercial planting of genetically modified sugar beets under closely controlled conditions while they complete a full environmental impact statement.

 After approving genetically altered alfalfa last week in the face of bitter protest and after court rulings against an earlier sugar beet approval, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it would allow Monsanto Co.'s "Roundup Ready" sugar beets back in the fields this spring. Reuters said the move underscores U.S. determination to expand the use of GMO crops amid rising global fears over food security and surging prices.

Click here to read the rest of the story from Reuters.

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, said the Agriculture Department is trying to avoid a sugar shortage in the U.S. More than half of the nation's granulated sugar — the stuff that consumers buy in supermarkets for baking — has in recent years come from beet plants that are genetically modified in the same way as most of the corn, soybeans and cotton grown in the U.S. The other half comes from sugar cane.

Click here to read The Wall Street Journal story.

For more background on the controversy, click here to check out Harvest Public Media's coverage from Nebraska last year.