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Sugar avoids debate

Published on December 31, 1969 3:01AM

Last changed on September 9, 2013 7:26AM

One pervasive food ingredient seems to have flown under the radar of opponents of genetically modified crops.

There's been little said about GMO sugar, yet half of the U.S. sugar supply comes from sugar beets, and at least 95 percent of the nation's sugar beets are engineered to resist Monsanto's Roundup herbicide.

In Idaho all of the sugar beets planted are GMO. Rupert, Idaho, grower Duane Grant, chairman of Snake River Sugar Co-op, believes sugar beets have avoided the target of GMO opponents largely because sugar produced by genetically engineered plants is chemically identical to conventional sugar.

"Not a consumer or a chemist in the world can tell the difference," Grant said.

Grant said a lack of consumer awareness about biotech sugar may also play a role.

"Perhaps because most of the sugar is consumed as an ingredient in other foods, it may enjoy a degree of anonymity to the consumer," Grant said.

GMO sugar beets were the subject of litigation when first introduced but the lawsuits have largely been resolved.

-- John O'Connell


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