Statewide: June 4, 2012 Archive
Posted at 10:37 AM on June 4, 2012
by Dan Gunderson
Filed under: Farms
The U.S. Department of Agriculture may deregulate Roundup Ready sugar beets, a move that would allow farmers to plant the genetically modified seeds without restriction.
USDA officials recommended the change after the agency completed court-ordered environmental assessments on Roundup Ready sugar beets. Because the seeds are partially regulated now, farmers must keep records of where they are planted.
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service(APHIS) did two assessments, a Final Environmental Impact Statement and Plant Pest Risk Assessment before the agency made its recommendation. The agency will take public comment for 30 days before releasing its final decision.
The herbicide resistant sugar beet plants are already used by nearly all sugar beet growers, but USDA was forced to complete a full environmental assessment after environmental groups and organic growers sued the USDA in 2008.
They contend genetically modified beets will cross pollinate with organic crops, particularly in the pacific northwest, where much of the sugar beet seed is grown.
A federal judge subsequently ruled USDA must complete an environmental assessment of the genetically modified crop.
USDA will likely announce it's final decision to deregulate Roundup Ready sugar beets this summer. The legal wrangling may continue much longer.
The largest sugar beet producing area in the country is in the Red River Valley of northwest Minnesota and eastern North Dakota.
Former U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar endorsed Rick Nolan today in the Democrats' bid to reclaim the seat from the man who surprised Oberstar two years ago -- GOP newcomer Chip Cravaack. But the two politicians shared the moment with a groundbreaking woman who kept politicians in line for nearly half a century -- Veda Ponikvar.
MPR Photo/Dan Kraker
Ponikvar turned 92 on June 4. She became the first and the youngest female newspaper publisher in the country in 1946, when she founded the Chisholm Free Press at 28. According to the Minnesota History Center, political leaders from Hubert Humphrey to Rudy Perpich looked to her as a leader and interpreter of Iron Range political opinion.
Nolan and Oberstar held their event at the Minneosta Museum of Mining in Chisholm, inside Ponikvar's reconstructed office. The two men spoke in front of the original hand-crank offset press newspaper press that Ponikvar used to print the paper. Oberstar said his first job growing up in Chisholm was to deliver the paper to every house on the north side of town.
And when Oberstar said he asked the 92-year-old whether she could still operate the offsett press, she quickly replied, "Yes I can!"