August 3, 2009

sugar beet specklings

In my 15 years of farming I have never heard the term "speckling"...I can't find a definition of what they are referring to ...anyone?

GM sugar beets found in soil mix sold to gardeners
from the organic and nongmo report

Contamination incident highlights challenges of containing GM beets

In May, genetically modified sugar beet plants were found in a soil mix sold to gardeners at a landscape supply business in Corvallis, Oregon. The contamination incident raises doubts about the ability of the sugar beet seed industry to keep GM sugar beets from contaminating non-GMO sugar beets and related plants.

Discovered in soil mix
The GM Roundup Ready sugar beet plants, called “specklings,” were found in Fertile Mix, a soil mix called sold by Pro Bark. Business owners Jeff and Julie Jackson said they had no idea the plants were in the soil mix.

An unidentified individual purchased the mix, found the sugar beet specklings, and contacted Carol Mallory-Smith, a professor of weed science at Oregon State University. Smith took samples from 10 plants, tested those using protein-based GMO “strip” tests, and found that about half tested positive for the genetically modified Roundup Ready gene.

Following the discovery, Pro Bark stopped selling Fertile Mix, but the Jacksons don’t know how much of it had already been sold.

“Extremely difficult to prevent pollen movement”
The source of the soil mix is in question. According to one report, a farmer sold the soil containing the specklings to a materials handling company who in turn sold it to Pro Bark. The farmer may have been growing the GM sugar beet specklings for seed and accidently mixed the specklings with soil.


Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

I think it is steckling, which is the plants held over for replanting for seeds in biennial crops.

Most seed is grown from seed to seed though, and steckels are considered too labor intensive - hence the poor seeds offered of many varieties. No rogueing for off characteristics etc.

anne said...

ok possibly, but it would be the beet itself replanted to produce seed and I can't imagine how they would get into a bag of soil.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Probably because the "compost" sellers here are crap anyway - they take anything. Most people have no clue what composts properly or how long it will take, or even what is acceptable for food. We have had people (unknown to us)bring corn stalks and old vegetables and throw them over the fence to our cattle. Of course all the old boards, and carpet in their pickup beds get tossed in the pasture too!

But back on topic, I lift the beets I want for seed saving, and sometimes some get missed in the harvesting, and I till with a tractor and rotavator which cuts up anything in it's path. The resulting beet chunks act like a potato, if part of the crown and a portion of the beetroot is still there it will try to grow and set seed. So maybe it wasn't too large of pieces, or maybe no one will admit how the beets actually got in the compost now.