Sustainability Benefits of Bioengineered Sugarbeets

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Since universal adoption of bioengineered sugarbeets by the United States sugarbeet industry eleven years ago, we have achieved a quantum leap forward in sustainability.  Our industry has delivered on sustainability before it became a buzzword.  We are proud to have the most sustainable beet sugar production in the world.

With bioengineered sugarbeets we now are able to use fewer, safer pesticides, having reduced ecotoxicity and environmental risk by 92% and 98%, respectively.  As a recent Lancet study determined, increased yield should be the central goal in food system transformation towards environmental health. Adoption of bioengineered sugarbeets has allowed for increases in land use efficiency two-fold over comparable non-bioengineered production systems in Europe over the same time period.

Furthermore, vastly increased yield requires fewer inputs, including less water and fuel.  Better weed control through bioengineering has allowed for the adoption of conservation tillage practices that have cut soil-based carbon emissions over 80% while promoting improved soil and microbiome health.  Farming emissions are even further reduced since conservation tillage and better weed control enabled by bioengineering requires sugarbeet farmers to take fewer trips across the field.

The food value chain is beginning to request the types of achievements that we have been delivering for a decade and we are more than happy to share our success stories.  We are committed to being good stewards of the land and delivering the highest quality sugar in the world in the most environmentally responsible and sustainable way possible.  As an industry, our farmers are also continuing to invest in research that enables continuous improvement and will potentially uncover the next “quantum leap” technology of the future.


By Luther Markwart, Executive Vice President of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association and Brian Baenig, CEO of the United States Beet Sugar Association

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