Today, Corn Commentary features a guest post from Michigan CommonGround blogger Barbara Siemen. A passionate agvocate who blogs at farmbarbie.com, Barbara shares the insight a once city girl turned farmer has on why moms across the country can feel excited filling Easter baskets.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Easter Basket: The Sugar Is the Same
By Barbara Siemen
Barbara is a city girl turned country chick. She and her husband, a fourth-generation farmer, raise dairy, beef, corn, wheat, hay and sugar beets in Michigan.
Right around the corner is one of my favorite holidays: Easter! Our clever Easter Bunny hides baskets filled with toys, books, bubbles, sidewalk chalk and candy. Chocolate candy to be exact.
Since I’m a farmer, moms come to me with questions about food and how it’s raised, and that includes chocolate. On our farm, we don’t grow chocolate, but we do grow sugar beets, which provide a main source of sugar in chocolate. Sugar beets are also one of the eight commercially available genetically modified crops (GMOs) in the U.S.
Lately, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about GMOs, so I wanted to give you some facts and resources to help ease any concerns you might have, because nobody should be afraid of the chocolate in their Easter basket.
GMOs have been extensively tested.
GMOs are repeatedly and extensively tested for consumer and environmental safety and have been for about 20 years. In the U.S., those tests are reviewed by the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration.
World-renowned health and safety organizations have deemed GMOs safe.
On average, it takes 13 years to bring a GMO seed to market because of the extensive research, testing and regulatory processes required. People have eaten countless meals containing GMOs over the last few decades, and no ill side effects on human health have been reported. Additionally, every regulatory agency and major scientific body in the world has deemed GMO foods to be safe. Foods from genetically engineered plants must meet the same food-safety requirements as foods derived from traditionally bred plants.
Now let’s talk about sugar beets in particular.
Sugar is sugar.
Last year, an independent testing organization tested every sugar beet processing plant in the U.S. and Canada and found the sugar derived from GMO sugar beets is indistinguishable from non-GMO sugar beets. The sugar is the same. Sucrose is identical, whether it comes from sugar cane, conventional sugar beets or GMO sugar beets.
Growing GMO sugar beets on our farm helps the environment.
On our farm, we grow GMO sugar beets. Planting these sugar beets has been great for our farm and helped us become more sustainable in many ways. For example, we have reduced the amount of products we apply to protect against weeds, bugs and disease by around 55 percent, and our fuel consumption has dropped by 50 percent. The fewer products we need to apply, means less tractor trips across all of our fields. That’s a savings in not only fuel but also environmental impact.
As a farmer, a mom and a chocolate lover, I hope that Bunny will deliver a bounty of chocolate goodies to you on Easter morning. And I hope you can trust that I will deliver the best and safest sugar possible to make those chocolates. If you have any questions about sugar beets or GMOs, please leave a comment or connect with us on Facebook to keep the conversation going.