Why Sugar Beets

When you go grocery shopping, do you read the food labels on the products you purchase?

If so, have you ever noticed that when listed, it just states sugar, and have you ever wondered where that sugar comes from?

Well, it might not come from where you think it does.

According to multiple sources, approximately 50 to 60 percent of all sugar comes from sugar beets, a genetically modified organism (GMO).

Why sugar beets?

According to Sugar Nutrition UK, a group that researches the science of sugar, whether it comes from sugar cane or a sugar beet, the sugar produced is exactly the same.

Additionally, the use of sugar beets helps reduce costs for growers and limits the amounts of emissions.

‘In general, biotechnology offers growers alternative ways to control weeds, insects and plant diseases and reduce herbicide applications, which means fewer trips across the field resulting in reduced fuel usage, reduced emissions, and reduced soil impact,” according to the Sugar Industry Biotechnical Council (SIBC). “Biotechnology thus allows growers to produce the highest-quality product in a cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable way, which is important to rural communities and their economies.

Though the production of sugar beets is a positive, there is opposition to its production and use, and the opposition’s biggest concern stems from the unknown.

“GMOs are being put in American food without long-term testing and without labeling,” Elizabeth O’Connell,  the GMO Inside campaign director for Green America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping build healthier and safer communities. “The American public should have the right to an informed choice on whether or not to eat GM food, as they do in more than 60 other countries.”

It is true that most GMOs do not undergo long-term testing, and there are currently no laws regarding labeling of GMOs. based upon research, when it comes to sugar, consumers do not appear concerned.

Consumer research shows that 73 percent of responses to a survey regarding from genetically-enhanced sugar beets were positive, and respondents considered its use acceptable, according to the SIBC.

In the end, both sides of this argument have one goal in mind: to make the world, specifically our crops, better.

For more information about why the use of sugar beets to produce sugar is important to growers across the globe, check out this sugar beet magazine.

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