Almost 100% of all the white sugar beet grown in Canada – used for sugar processing (and some animal feed) – is now genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered). There are no GM red table beets on the market.
The sugar beet has been genetically modified to be resistant to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup. The GM trait is currently applied to white sugar beet that are grown for processing into sugar and it is not applied to red table beets.
Sugar beets are wind pollinated, and there is a possibility that pollen from GM sugar beets could contaminate non-GM sugar beets as well as chard, and red and yellow beets (or “table beets”). Read the concerns in CBAN’s letter to Lantic Inc.
Lantic Inc. (now owns Rogers Sugar) is the only company in Canada that processes sugar beet. GM sugar beets were first planted in Alberta in 2009 by farmers on contract to Lantic.
Avoid sugar from GM sugar beets
Don’t buy Rogers Sugar and Lantic brand sugar products. Instead you can buy:
- Organic Sugar from other companies. Organic farming prohibits the use of genetically modified seeds. (Lantic has its own brand of organic sugar)
- Cane sugar (cane sugar has not yet been genetically modified)
- Redpath Sugar – Redpath products use only cane sugar
- Other sweeteners like honey and maple syrup
December 1, 2010, CBAN letter to Lantic sugar company: Request for Lantic to phase out GE sugar following US court-ordered destruction of Monsanto’s genetically engineered sugarbeets
Press Release April 15, 2009: Canadian Sugar Company Chooses Genetically Modified Sugar Beet: Lantic Inc. chooses Monsanto’s GM sugar despite consumer concerns
GM Sugar Beets for Biofuels
The company Atlantec BioEnergy plans to produce biofuels in Atlantic Canada from sugar beets or “energy beets.” However when, after public protest, the PEI government announced public consultations about the project, the company moved its plans to open a sugar beet biofuels plant to the TrentonWorks site in Pictou County, Nova Scotia by fall 2009. The company wants to convince Nova Scotia farmers to produce 6,070 hectares of sugar beets – these will likely be Monsanto’s GM sugar beets. This will create an entirely new market for Monsanto’s new GM sugar beet as Nova Scotia’s farmers do not currently grow sugar beet.
Atlantec BioEnergy Corp. received some federal funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada to build a 300,000 litres per year pilot scale ethanol biorefinery in Atlantic Canada, using locally grown sugar beets as the main feedstock.
Press Release – February 2008: P.E.I Biofuels Plant Under Fire at House of Commons Agriculture Committee Hearing
GM Sugar Cane?
Approximately 10% of sugar that Lantic processes in Canada comes from sugar beet, and the rest from imported cane sugar.
“The success of the RR [Monsanto’s GE] sugar beet launch has positive implications for sugarcane, (80% of global sugar production is from cane) for which several biotech traits are at an advanced stage of development in several countries.” – industry biased ISAAA (2008)