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Published March 20, 2010, 12:00 AM

Farmers OK to plant Roundup Ready seeds

Red River Valley sugar beet farmers will be able to plant genetically modified sugar beets again this spring after a San Francisco judge denied a request to ban them.

Red River Valley sugar beet farmers will be able to plant genetically modified sugar beets again this spring after a San Francisco judge denied a request to ban them.

Judge Jeffrey White, a federal district court judge, denied earlier this week a preliminary injunction motion by organic farmers and environmentalists to ban planting of genetically modified sugar beets pending an environmental review.

White’s decision allows sugar beet growers to continue planting Monsanto’s genetically engineered Roundup Ready sugar beet seeds this spring. The next court hearing is set for July 9.

“We are pleased that the court denied the request and recognized the significant impact that an immediate ban on planting would have caused growers, processors, rural communities and the U.S. sugar supply,” according to a statement on the Web site of Moorhead-based American Crystal Sugar.

“We are preparing for the next phase of the court proceedings where we will present evidence about potential choices for our shareholders going forward,” the statement continues.

American Crystal President David Berg said Friday that he could not comment on the ruling at the advice of corporate attorneys.

David Roche, president of Wahpeton, N.D.-based Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative, said his group is “heartened” by the judge’s decision denying an injunction.

“But we’re concerned with his advice to the industry that we should be planning on planting conventional seed for 2011,” Roche said.

Minn-Dak will be evaluating contingency plans for 2011. There are serious issues regarding sugar beet seed availability and necessary herbicides to maintain crop weed control, he said.

Last year, 95 percent of Minn-Dak sugar beet farmers planted Roundup Ready sugar beets and

99 percent plan to do so this coming year, Roche said. “That was due to the lack of conventional seed,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502

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