Farmers Say Time Is Right for Biotech Beets


種植基改甜菜 農民指時機成熟


By ANDREW POLLACK
Published: November 27, 2007


Each growing season, like many other sugar beet farmers bedeviled by weeds, Robert Green repeatedly and painstakingly applies herbicides in a process he compares to treating cancer with chemotherapy.
每逢耕作季節,羅伯特‧葛林一如為雜草所苦的其他許多甜菜農,一再辛苦使用除草劑,他把這個過程比做用化療治癌症。

Robert Green will plant the modified sugar beets on his farm in North Dakota next spring.


In his right hand, Duane Grant holds a genetically engineered sugar beet, next to a conventional beet. Once refined, the sugar from each would be the same, sucrose.

“You give small doses of products that might harm the crop, but it harms the weeds a little more,” said Mr. Green, who plants about 360 hectares in beets in St. Thomas, North Dakota.
葛林說:「噴灑少量除草劑,可能傷害農作物,但傷害雜草多一點。」他在北達科他州聖湯瑪斯種了約360公頃甜菜。


But next spring, for the first time, Mr. Green intends to plant beets genetically engineered to withstand Monsanto’s powerful Roundup herbicide. The Roundup will destroy the weeds but leave his crop unscathed, potentially saving him thousands of dollars in tractor fuel and labor.
但明年春天,葛林首次打算改種基因改造甜菜,這種甜菜耐得住孟山都公司的強力除草劑Roundup。Roundup會摧毀雜草,但不致傷害作物,可望幫他省下數千美元牽引機燃料費和勞力。


For Mr. Green and many other beet farmers, it is technology too long delayed. And the engineered beets could clear the way for the eventual planting of other biotech crops like wheat, rice and potatoes, which were also stalled.
對葛林和其他許多甜菜農,那是姍姍來遲的科技。基改甜菜可為未來種植小麥、稻米、馬鈴薯等其他生物科技作物鋪路,那些基改作物也擱置了很久。


Seven years ago, beet breeders were on the verge of introducing Roundup-resistant seeds. But they had to pull back after sugar-using food companies like Hershey and Mars, fearing consumer resistance, balked at the idea of biotech beets. Now, sensing that those concerns have subsided, many processors have cleared their growers to plant the Roundup-resistant beets next spring.
七年前,甜菜育種業者準備引進抗Roundup的種子。但因賀喜、瑪氏等使用糖的食品公司擔心消費者抗拒,對種植生技甜菜的想法猶豫不前,育種業者只好打退堂鼓。現在,他們發覺那些關切已平息,很多加工業者已同意旗下甜菜農明春種植抗除草劑Roundup的甜菜。


It would be the first new type of genetically engineered food crop widely grown since the 1990s, when biotech soybeans, corn and a few other crops entered the market.
這將是1990年代生技黃豆、玉米和其他少數作物進入市場以來,第一個廣泛種植的新基改食用作物。


“Basically, we have not run into resistance,” said David Berg, president of American Crystal Sugar, the nation’s largest sugar beet processor. “We really think that consumer attitudes have come to accept food from biotechnology.”
「基本上,我們沒有遇到阻力,」全美最大甜菜加工業者「美國冰糖公司」總裁大衛‧柏格說:「我們真的認為,消費者的態度已經能夠接受生技食品。」


A Kellogg spokeswoman, Kris Charles, said her company “would not have any issues” buying such sugar for products sold in the United States, where she said “most consumers are not concerned about biotech.”
家樂氏公司發言人克莉絲‧查爾斯說,她的公司買這種糖來製作在美國銷售的產品,「不會有任何問題」。她說,美國「多數消費者不在意生物科技」。


Both Hershey and Mars declined to comment. When it comes to genetically modified crops, there is a reason to keep the introduction of them out of the public eye – to avoid protests. Some opponents of biotechnology are only now getting notice that the sugar beets have been resurrected.
賀喜和瑪氏兩公司都拒絕置評。只要涉及基改作物,為了避免抗議,大有理由不讓民眾知道引進這種作物。有些反對生物科技的人士直到現在才注意到基改甜菜已經敗部復活。


“When I first saw this I said, ‘No, it can’t be,’” said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association. “I thought we had already dealt with this.”
「第一次看到這個時,我說:『不對,不可能。』」全美有機消費者協會主任羅尼‧卡明茲說:「我還以為我們已經搞定這件事。」


His organization issued a call to arms and thousands of identical e-mail messages were sent to Mr. Berg at American Crystal Sugar warning that “profit margins of your company and its supporting farmers” would be hurt by consumer resistance.
他的組織號召準備戰鬥,成千上萬內容相同的電子郵件寄給美國冰糖公司的柏格,電郵警告說,「貴公司的獲利率和協力農民」將因消費者抗拒而受到損害。


Mr. Berg said he still believed that most consumers would accept biotech crops. Mr. Cummins, however, said he would next try to persuade consumers to pressure food companies to boycott the sugar.
柏格說, 他仍然認為,大多數消費者會接受生技作物。但卡明茲說,他接下來會努力說服消費者對食品公司施壓,要他們抵制這種糖。


The genetically engineered seeds will cost at least twice as much as conventional seeds. But Duane Grant, who grows about 2,000 hectares of sugar beets in Rupert, Idaho, said the extra seed outlays would be offset by other savings. He said his annual herbicide costs would drop to $90 a hectare, from $180, and he would no longer have to hire migrant workers to pull weeds by hand.
基改種子的成本至少是傳統種子的兩倍。但在愛達荷州魯伯特種了大約2,000公頃甜菜的杜恩.葛蘭特說,種子的額外花費會因其他方面省錢而抵銷。他表示,他每年花在除草劑上的費用將從每公頃180美元降到90美元,他也不再需要雇用外勞來拔除雜草。


Mr. Grant, who was designated by the national beet growers’ association as its spokesman on this issue, also said Roundup would have to be sprayed only two or three times during the spring-to-fall growing season, while the existing herbicides must be sprayed five times or more.
獲美國甜菜種植者協會指派為基改作物問題發言人的葛蘭特還說,在春天到秋天的種植季,Roundup只須噴灑兩三次,現有的除草劑卻至少要噴灑五次。


Beets account for about half the United States’s sugar supply, with the rest coming from sugar cane. The sugar from beets and cane, generally considered interchangeable, is used in candies, cereals, cakes and numerous other products.
甜菜占美國糖供應量的大約一半,另一半來自甘蔗。甜菜和甘蔗製造的糖公認可以互換,用在糖果、穀片、糕餅和其他很多產品上。


When genetically engineered versions of soybeans and corn – as well as cotton and canola – were introduced in the mid-1990s, farmers quickly adopted them. But opposition to genetically engineered crops then took hold, particularly in Europe. Food companies, fearing protests or loss of customers, pressured farmers not to grow the crops.
基改黃豆、玉米及棉花、油菜在1990年代中期引進時,農民迅速採用。但當時反對基改作物的觀念根深柢固,尤其是歐洲。食品公司擔心民眾抗議或失去消費者,施壓迫使農民不種這些作物。


Alan G. Dexter, a sugar beet specialist at North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota, said that in a survey he conducted, 57 percent of beet growers cited weeds as their biggest problem. “The sugar beet growers are going to adopt this technology immediately,” he said.
北達科他州立大學及明尼蘇達大學甜菜專家艾倫.戴克塞特說,在他所做的一項調查中,57%的甜菜農指出,雜草是他們最大的問題。他說:「甜菜種植者將立刻採用這種科技。」


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  • The genetically modified (GM) seeds are known as Roundup Ready because they are not [url=http://www.actual-exams.com/EX0-101-practice-exam.htm]EX0-101[/url] affected by the herbicide, a powerful mixture that kills field weeds which otherwise diminish beet production and require additional costly herbicide treatments.
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