by John Upton / Grist.org
Some experimental GMO crops were torn out of a field in Oregon this month. That means it’s time for the federal government to freak the fuck out and do its best to clamp down again on eco-activism.
The sugar beet plants, which were genetically engineered by Syngenta to survive applications of the herbicide Roundup, were uprooted in the middle of the night from a couple of fields, presumably by anti-GMO activists. The destruction of the experimental crops occurred in the same state where a strain of Monsanto’s illegal herbicide-resistant wheat recently showed up in a farmer’s field, threatening America’s multibillion-dollar wheat export market.
Guess which crime the FBI is desperate to crack?
That’s right: The sugar beet one. The agency announced that it “considers this crime to be economic sabotage and a violation of federal law involving damage to commercial agricultural enterprises.” According to the FBI, a $10,000 reward is being offered for clues by Oregonians for Food and Shelter, a corporate forestry and agriculture group that lobbies for pro-GMO and pro-pesticide legislation.
The Oregonian reports that 1,000 genetically engineered sugar beet plants were uprooted from land leased by Syngenta on June 8:
“Three nights later, the destruction continued on another property, where another 5,500 plants were ruined.
“It doesn’t look like a vehicle was used. It looks like people entered the field and destroyed the plants by hand,” said Paul Minehart, head of corporate communications in North America for Syngenta, a global agriculture corporation based in Basel, Switzerland.
Estimates for the damage were not specified but the financial losses are significant, according to FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele.”
Meanwhile, Monsanto is continuing to push its claim that its genetically engineered wheat turned up on an Oregon farm because of an act of sabotage. That claim is drawing skepticism from the expert whose tests first confirmed that the rogue wheat was developed by Monsanto. From a report in The Guardian:
“While Monsanto’s chief technology officer suggested eco-activists were to blame, [Oregon State University weed sciences professor Carol] Mallory-Smith said deliberate contamination was the least likely scenario:
‘The sabotage conspiracy theory is even harder for me to explain or think as logical because it would mean that someone had that seed and was holding that seed for 10 or 12 years and happened to put it on the right field to have it found, and identified. I don’t think that makes a lot of sense.'”
We may learn more about the cause of the GMO wheat contamination after the U.S. Department of Agriculture completes an investigation.
But let’s get back to the sugar beets case. If you happen to know who uprooted those plants, The Oregonian has a request for you:
“Ring the local offices of the FBI at (541) 773-2942 during normal business hours or call the FBI in Portland anytime at (503) 224-4181
Tips may also be emailed to email@example.com.”