Sugar beet
Overview
Sugar beet, a cultivated plant of Beta vulgaris, is a plant whose tuber
Tuber
Tubers are various types of modified plant structures that are enlarged to store nutrients. They are used by plants to survive the winter or dry months and provide energy and nutrients for regrowth during the next growing season and they are a means of asexual reproduction...

 contains a high concentration of sucrose
Sucrose
Sucrose is the organic compound commonly known as table sugar and sometimes called saccharose. A white, odorless, crystalline powder with a sweet taste, it is best known for its role in human nutrition. The molecule is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose with the molecular formula...

. It is grown commercially for sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

 production. Sugar beets and other B. vulgaris cultivars such as beetroot
Beetroot
The beetroot, also known as the table beet, garden beet, red beet or informally simply as beet, is one of the many cultivated varieties of beets and arguably the most commonly encountered variety in North America, Central America and Britain.-Consumption:The usually deep-red roots of beetroot are...

 and chard
Chard
Chard , is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking. While the leaves are always green, chard stalks vary in color. Chard has been bred to have highly nutrious leaves at the expense of the root...

 share a common wild ancestor, the sea beet
Sea beet
The sea beet, Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima , is a member of the family Chenopodiaceae. Carl Linnaeus first described Beta vulgaris in 1753; in the second edition of Species Plantarum in 1762 he divided the species into wild and cultivated varieties, giving the name Beta maritima to the wide...

 (Beta vulgaris maritima).

The European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, the United States, and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 are the world's three largest sugar beet producers, although only the European Union and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 are significant exporters of sugar from beets.
Encyclopedia
Sugar beet, a cultivated plant of Beta vulgaris, is a plant whose tuber
Tuber
Tubers are various types of modified plant structures that are enlarged to store nutrients. They are used by plants to survive the winter or dry months and provide energy and nutrients for regrowth during the next growing season and they are a means of asexual reproduction...

 contains a high concentration of sucrose
Sucrose
Sucrose is the organic compound commonly known as table sugar and sometimes called saccharose. A white, odorless, crystalline powder with a sweet taste, it is best known for its role in human nutrition. The molecule is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose with the molecular formula...

. It is grown commercially for sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

 production. Sugar beets and other B. vulgaris cultivars such as beetroot
Beetroot
The beetroot, also known as the table beet, garden beet, red beet or informally simply as beet, is one of the many cultivated varieties of beets and arguably the most commonly encountered variety in North America, Central America and Britain.-Consumption:The usually deep-red roots of beetroot are...

 and chard
Chard
Chard , is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking. While the leaves are always green, chard stalks vary in color. Chard has been bred to have highly nutrious leaves at the expense of the root...

 share a common wild ancestor, the sea beet
Sea beet
The sea beet, Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima , is a member of the family Chenopodiaceae. Carl Linnaeus first described Beta vulgaris in 1753; in the second edition of Species Plantarum in 1762 he divided the species into wild and cultivated varieties, giving the name Beta maritima to the wide...

 (Beta vulgaris maritima).

The European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, the United States, and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 are the world's three largest sugar beet producers, although only the European Union and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 are significant exporters of sugar from beets. The U.S. harvested 1,004,600 acres (4 065 km²) of sugarbeets in 2008. Beet sugar accounts for 30–35% of the world's sugar production.

Culture

Sugar beet is a hardy biennial plant
Biennial plant
A biennial plant is a flowering plant that takes two years to complete its biological lifecycle. In the first year the plant grows leaves, stems, and roots , then it enters a period of dormancy over the colder months. Usually the stem remains very short and the leaves are low to the ground, forming...

 that can be grown commercially in a wide variety of temperate climates. During its first growing season, it produces a large (1–2 kg) storage root whose dry mass
Mass
Mass can be defined as a quantitive measure of the resistance an object has to change in its velocity.In physics, mass commonly refers to any of the following three properties of matter, which have been shown experimentally to be equivalent:...

 is 15–20% sucrose
Sucrose
Sucrose is the organic compound commonly known as table sugar and sometimes called saccharose. A white, odorless, crystalline powder with a sweet taste, it is best known for its role in human nutrition. The molecule is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose with the molecular formula...

 by weight
Weight
In science and engineering, the weight of an object is the force on the object due to gravity. Its magnitude , often denoted by an italic letter W, is the product of the mass m of the object and the magnitude of the local gravitational acceleration g; thus:...

. If the plant is not harvested at this time, then during its second growing season, nutrients in the root will be used to produce flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s and seed
Seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

s and the root will decrease in size. In commercial beet production, the root is harvested after the first growing season.
In most temperate
Temperate
In geography, temperate or tepid latitudes of the globe lie between the tropics and the polar circles. The changes in these regions between summer and winter are generally relatively moderate, rather than extreme hot or cold...

 climates, beets are planted in the spring and harvested in the autumn. At the northern end of its range, growing seasons as short as 100 days can produce commercially viable sugarbeet crops. In warmer climates, such as in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

's Imperial Valley, sugarbeets are a winter crop, planted in the autumn and harvested in the spring. In recent years, Syngenta
Syngenta
Syngenta AG is a large global Swiss agribusiness company which notably markets seeds and pesticides. Syngenta is involved in biotechnology and genomic research. The company is a leader in crop protection, and ranks third in total sales in the commercial agricultural seeds market. Sales in 2010 were...

 has developed the so-called tropical sugar beet. It allows the plant to grow in tropical and subtropical regions. Beets are planted from a small seed; 1 kg of beet seed comprises 100,000 seeds and will plant over a hectare
Hectare
The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres , and primarily used in the measurement of land. In 1795, when the metric system was introduced, the are was defined as being 100 square metres and the hectare was thus 100 ares or 1/100 km2...

 of ground (1 lb will plant about an acre
Acre
The acre is a unit of area in a number of different systems, including the imperial and U.S. customary systems. The most commonly used acres today are the international acre and, in the United States, the survey acre. The most common use of the acre is to measure tracts of land.The acre is related...

).

Until the latter half of the 20th century, sugarbeet production was highly labor-intensive, as weed control was managed by densely planting the crop, which then had to be manually thinned two or three times with a hoe
Hoe (tool)
A hoe is an ancient and versatile agricultural tool used to move small amounts of soil. Common goals include weed control by agitating the surface of the soil around plants, piling soil around the base of plants , creating narrow furrows and shallow trenches for planting seeds and bulbs, to chop...

 during the growing season. Harvesting also required many workers. Although the roots could be lifted by a plough
Plough
The plough or plow is a tool used in farming for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting. It has been a basic instrument for most of recorded history, and represents one of the major advances in agriculture...

-like device which could be pulled by a horse team, the rest of the preparation was by hand. One laborer grabbed the beets by their leaves, knocked them together to shake free loose soil, and then laid them in a row, root to one side, greens to the other. A second worker equipped with a beet hook (a short-handled tool between a billhook
Billhook
The billhook is a traditional cutting tool known and used throughout the world, and very common in the wine-growing countries of Europe, used widely in agriculture and forestry The billhook (also bill hook – although this more usually refers to either a metal or plastic hook used to hold bills,...

 and a sickle
Sickle
A sickle is a hand-held agricultural tool with a variously curved blade typically used for harvesting grain crops or cutting succulent forage chiefly for feeding livestock . Sickles have also been used as weapons, either in their original form or in various derivations.The diversity of sickles that...

) followed behind, and would lift the beet and swiftly chop the crown and leaves from the root with a single action. Working this way, he would leave a row of beets that could be forked into the back of a cart.

Top Ten Sugar Beet Producers - 2005
(million metric tons)
29
25
25
22
16
14
12
11
8
7
World Total 242
Source:
UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO)


Today, mechanical sowing, herbicide
Herbicide
Herbicides, also commonly known as weedkillers, are pesticides used to kill unwanted plants. Selective herbicides kill specific targets while leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed. Some of these act by interfering with the growth of the weed and are often synthetic "imitations" of plant...

 application for weed control and mechanical harvesting have displaced this reliance on manual farm work. A root beater uses a series of blades to chop the leaf and crown (which is high in non-sugar impurities) from the root. The beet harvester lifts the root, and removes excess soil from the root in a single pass over the field. A modern harvester is typically able to cover six rows at the same time. The beets are dumped into trucks as the harvester rolls down the field, and then delivered to the factory. The conveyor then removes more soil.

If the beets are to be left for later delivery, they are formed into clamps
Storage clamp
A storage clamp is used in the agricultural industry for temporary storage of root crops such as potato, turnip, rutabaga, mangelwurzel, sugar beet etc....

. Straw bales are used to shield the beets from the weather. Provided the clamp is well built with the right amount of ventilation, the beets do not significantly deteriorate. Beets that freeze and then defrost produce complex carbohydrates that cause severe production problems in the factory. In the UK, loads may be hand examined at the factory gate before being accepted.

In the US, the fall harvest begins with the first hard frost, which arrests photosynthesis
Photosynthesis
Photosynthesis is a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight. Photosynthesis occurs in plants, algae, and many species of bacteria, but not in archaea. Photosynthetic organisms are called photoautotrophs, since they can...

 and the further growth of the root. Depending on the local climate, it may be carried out over the course of a few weeks or be prolonged throughout the winter months. The harvest and processing of the beet is referred to as "the campaign", reflecting the organization required to deliver the crop at a steady rate to processing factories that run 24 hours a day for the duration of the harvest and processing (for the UK the campaign lasts approximately 5 months). In the Netherlands this period is known as "de bietencampagne", a time to be careful when driving on local roads in the area while the beets are being grown. The reason for this is because the naturally high clay
Clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

 content of the soil tends to cause slippery roads when soil falls from the trailers during transport.

Sebewaing, Michigan
Sebewaing, Michigan
Sebewaing is a village in Huron County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 1,974 at the 2000 census. The village is within Sebewaing Township. This small community is known as the Sugar Beet Capital, due to the Michigan Sugar slicing mill located within the village and the yearly...

 is known (to Americans) as the sugar beet capital of the world. Sebewaing lies in the Thumb
The Thumb
The Thumb is a region and a peninsula of Michigan, so named because the Lower Peninsula is shaped like a mitten; thus the Thumb is the area that looks like the thumb of the mitten. The Thumb is generally considered to be in the Mid-Michigan area of the state, located east of Flint/Tri-Cities...

 region of Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

; both the region and state are major sugar beet producers. Sebewaing is home to one of three Michigan Sugar Company
Michigan Sugar Company
Michigan Sugar Company is an agricultural cooperative, based in Bay City, Michigan, that specializes in the processing of beet sugar. Founded in 1906, Michigan Sugar sells beet sugar under the brand names Big Chief and Pioneer....

 factories. The town sponsors an annual "Michigan Sugar Festival".

Arthur Stayner
Arthur Stayner
Arthur Stayner was an English horticulturist who emigrated to the United States and became important in the founding of the sugar beet industry in Utah.-Beet sugar:...

, because of his energetic work in experimenting with the growing of sugar beets in alkali soils
Alkali soils
Alkali, or alkaline, soils are clay soils with high pH , a poor soil structure and a low infiltration capacity. Often they have a hard calcareous layer at 0.5 to 1 metre depth. Alkali soils owe their unfavorable physico-chemical properties mainly to the dominating presence of sodium carbonate...

, is regarded as the "father and founder of the movement that made the manufacture of sugar in Utah a success."

Reception

After they are harvested, beets are hauled to a factory. In the UK, beets are transported by a hauler, or by a tractor and a trailer by local farmers. Railways and boats are no longer used. Some beets were carried by rail in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, until the shutdown of sugar beet production in 2006 after the end of the government subsidies.

Each load is weighed and sampled before it gets tipped onto the reception area, typically a "flat pad" of concrete, where it is moved into large heaps. The beet sample is checked for
  • soil tare - the amount of non beet delivered
  • crown tare - the amount of low sugar beet delivered
  • sugar content ("pol"
    Polarimetry
    Polarimetry is the measurement and interpretation of the polarization of transverse waves, most notably electromagnetic waves, such as radio or light waves...

    ) - amount of sucrose in the crop
  • nitrogen content - for recommending future fertilizer use to the farmer.


From these elements, the actual sugar content of the load is calculated and the grower's payment determined.

The beet is moved from the heaps into a central channel or gulley, where it is washed towards the processing plant.

Diffusion

After reception at the processing plant, the beet roots are washed, mechanically sliced into thin strips called cossettes, and passed to a machine called a diffuser to extract the sugar content into a water solution.

Diffusers are long vessels of many metres in which the beet slices go in one direction while hot water goes in the opposite direction. The movement may either be caused by a rotating screw or the whole rotating unit, and the water and cossettes move through internal chambers. There are three common designs of diffuser: the horizontal rotating 'RT' (Raffinerie Tirlemontoise, manufacturer), inclined screw 'DDS' (De Danske Sukkerfabrikker), or vertical screw "Tower". Modern tower extraction plants have a processing capacity of up to 17,000 metric tons per day. A less common design uses a moving belt of cossettes, with water pumped onto the top of the belt and poured through. In all cases the flow rates of cossettes and water are in the ratio one to two. Typically cossettes take about 90 minutes to pass through the diffuser, the water only 45 minutes. These are all countercurrent exchange
Countercurrent exchange
Countercurrent exchange is a mechanism occurring in nature and mimicked in industry and engineering, in which there is a crossover of some property, usually heat or some component, between two flowing bodies flowing in opposite directions to each other. The flowing bodies can be liquids, gases, or...

 methods that extract more sugar from the cossettes using less water than if they merely sat in a hot water tank. The liquid exiting the diffuser is called raw juice. The colour of raw juice varies from black to a dark red depending on the amount of oxidation, which is itself dependent on diffuser design.

The used cossettes, or pulp, exit the diffuser at about 95% moisture but low sucrose content. Using screw press
Screw press
A screw press is a type of machine press in which the ram is driven up and down by a screw. The screw shaft can be driven by a handle, or a wheel. It works by using a coarse screw to convert the rotation of the handle or drive-wheel into a small downward movement of greater force. The overhead...

es, the wet pulp is then pressed down to 75% moisture. This recovers additional sucrose in the liquid pressed out of the pulp, and reduces the energy needed to dry the pulp. The pressed pulp is dried and sold as animal feed, while the liquid pressed out of the pulp is combined with the raw juice, or more often introduced into the diffuser at the appropriate point in the countercurrent process. The final byproduct, Vinasse
Vinasse
Vinasse is a byproduct of the sugar industry. Sugarcane or Sugar beet is processed to produce crystalline sugar, pulp and molasses. The latter are further processed by fermentation to ethanol, ascorbic acid or other products. After the removal of the desired product the remaining material is...

, is used as fertilizer or growth substrate for yeast cultures.

During diffusion, there is a degree of breakdown of the sucrose into invert sugars. These can undergo further breakdown into acids. These breakdown products are not only losses of sucrose but also have knock-on effects reducing the final output of processed sugar from the factory. To limit (thermophilic) bacterial action, the feed water may be dosed with formaldehyde
Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is an organic compound with the formula CH2O. It is the simplest aldehyde, hence its systematic name methanal.Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a characteristic pungent odor. It is an important precursor to many other chemical compounds, especially for polymers...

 and control of the feed water pH
PH
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at . Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline...

 is also practiced. There have been attempts at operating diffusion under alkaline conditions, but the process has proven problematic. The improved sucrose extraction in the diffuser is offset by processing problems in the next stages.

Carbonatation

Carbonatation
Carbonatation
Carbonatation is a chemical reaction in which calcium hydroxide reacts with carbon dioxide and forms insoluble calcium carbonate:The process of forming a carbonate is sometimes referred to as "carbonation", although this term usually refers to the process of dissolving carbon dioxide in...

 is a procedure which removes impurities from raw juice before it undergoes crystallization. First, the juice is mixed with hot milk of lime (a suspension of calcium hydroxide in water). This treatment precipitates
Precipitation (chemistry)
Precipitation is the formation of a solid in a solution or inside anothersolid during a chemical reaction or by diffusion in a solid. When the reaction occurs in a liquid, the solid formed is called the precipitate, or when compacted by a centrifuge, a pellet. The liquid remaining above the solid...

 a number of impurities, including multivalent anions such as sulfate
Sulfate
In inorganic chemistry, a sulfate is a salt of sulfuric acid.-Chemical properties:...

, phosphate
Phosphate
A phosphate, an inorganic chemical, is a salt of phosphoric acid. In organic chemistry, a phosphate, or organophosphate, is an ester of phosphoric acid. Organic phosphates are important in biochemistry and biogeochemistry or ecology. Inorganic phosphates are mined to obtain phosphorus for use in...

, citrate
Citrate
A citrate can refer either to the conjugate base of citric acid, , or to the esters of citric acid. An example of the former, a salt is trisodium citrate; an ester is triethyl citrate.-Other citric acid ions:...

 and oxalate
Oxalate
Oxalate , is the dianion with formula C2O42− also written 22−. Either name is often used for derivatives, such as disodium oxalate, 2C2O42−, or an ester of oxalic acid Oxalate (IUPAC: ethanedioate), is the dianion with formula C2O42− also written (COO)22−. Either...

, which precipitate as their calcium salts and large organic molecules such as protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

s, saponin
Saponin
Saponins are a class of chemical compounds, one of many secondary metabolites found in natural sources, with saponins found in particular abundance in various plant species...

s and pectin
Pectin
Pectin is a structural heteropolysaccharide contained in the primary cell walls of terrestrial plants. It was first isolated and described in 1825 by Henri Braconnot...

s, which aggregate in the presence of multivalent cations. In addition, the alkaline conditions convert the simple sugars, glucose
Glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

 and fructose
Fructose
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple monosaccharide found in many plants. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Fructose was discovered by French chemist Augustin-Pierre Dubrunfaut in 1847...

, along with the amino acid glutamine
Glutamine
Glutamine is one of the 20 amino acids encoded by the standard genetic code. It is not recognized as an essential amino acid but may become conditionally essential in certain situations, including intensive athletic training or certain gastrointestinal disorders...

, to chemically stable carboxylic acid
Carboxylic acid
Carboxylic acids are organic acids characterized by the presence of at least one carboxyl group. The general formula of a carboxylic acid is R-COOH, where R is some monovalent functional group...

s. Left untreated, these sugars and amines would eventually frustrate crystallization of the sucrose.

Next, carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 is bubbled through the alkaline sugar solution, precipitating the lime as calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks in all parts of the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, coal balls, pearls, and eggshells. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime,...

 (chalk
Chalk
Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores....

). The chalk particles entrap some impurities and absorb others. A recycling process builds up the size of chalk particles and a natural flocculation
Flocculation
Flocculation, in the field of chemistry, is a process wherein colloids come out of suspension in the form of floc or flakes by the addition of a clarifying agent. The action differs from precipitation in that, prior to flocculation, colloids are merely suspended in a liquid and not actually...

 occurs where the heavy particles settle out in tanks (clarifiers). A final addition of more carbon dioxide precipitates more calcium from solution; this is filtered off, leaving a cleaner, golden light-brown sugar solution called thin juice.

Before entering the next stage, the thin juice may receive soda ash to modify the pH and sulphitation with a sulfur
Sulfur
Sulfur or sulphur is the chemical element with atomic number 16. In the periodic table it is represented by the symbol S. It is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow...

-based compound to reduce colour formation due to decomposition of monosaccharides under heat.

Evaporation

The thin juice is concentrated via multiple-effect evaporation to make a thick juice, roughly 60% sucrose by weight and similar in appearance to pancake syrup
Maple syrup
Maple syrup is a syrup usually made from the xylem sap of sugar maple, red maple, or black maple trees, although it can also be made from other maple species such as the bigleaf maple. In cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and roots before the winter; the starch is then...

. Thick juice can be stored in tanks for later processing, reducing load on the crystallization plant.

Crystallization

Thick juice is fed to the crystallizers. Recycled sugar is dissolved into it, and the resulting syrup is called mother liquor
Mother liquor
A mother liquor is the part of a solution that is left over after crystallization. It is encountered in chemical processes including sugar refining....

. The liquor is concentrated further by boiling under a vacuum in large vessels (the so-called vacuum pans) and seeded with fine sugar crystals. These crystals grow as sugar from the mother liquor forms around them. The resulting sugar crystal and syrup mix is called a massecuite, from "cooked mass" in French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. The massecuite is passed to a centrifuge
Centrifuge
A centrifuge is a piece of equipment, generally driven by an electric motor , that puts an object in rotation around a fixed axis, applying a force perpendicular to the axis...

 where the liquid is removed from the sugar crystals. The remaining syrup is rinsed off with water and the crystals are dried in a granulator using warm air.

The remaining syrup is fed to another crystallizer from which a second batch of sugar is produced. This sugar ("raw") is of lower quality with a lot of color and impurities and is the main source of the sugar that is dissolved again into the mother liquor. The syrup from the raw is also sent to a crystalliser. From this, a very low-quality sugar crystal is produced (known in some systems as "AP sugar") that is also redissolved. The syrup separated is molasses
Molasses
Molasses is a viscous by-product of the processing of sugar cane, grapes or sugar beets into sugar. The word molasses comes from the Portuguese word melaço, which ultimately comes from mel, the Latin word for "honey". The quality of molasses depends on the maturity of the sugar cane or sugar beet,...

, which still contains sugar but contains too much impurity to undergo further processing economically.

Actual procedure may vary from the above description, with different recycling and crystallisation processes.

Beverages

In a number of countries, most notably the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

, sugar from sugar beet is used to make a type of rum
Rum
Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice, by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak barrels...

 which is now known as tuzemak. On the Åland Islands, a similar drink is made under the brand name Kobba Libre. In some European countries, especially in the Czech Republic and Germany, sugar beet is also used to make rectified spirit
Rectified spirit
A rectified spirit, rectified alcohol, or neutral spirit is highly concentrated ethanol which has been purified by means of repeated distillation, a process that is called rectification. It typically contains 95% alcohol by volume...

 and vodka
Vodka
Vodka , is a distilled beverage. It is composed primarily of water and ethanol with traces of impurities and flavorings. Vodka is made by the distillation of fermented substances such as grains, potatoes, or sometimes fruits....

.

Sugar beet syrup

An unrefined sugary syrup can be produced directly from sugar beet. This thick, dark syrup is produced by cooking shredded sugar beet for several hours, then pressing the resulting sugar beet mash and concentrating the juice produced until it has the consistency similar to that of honey
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

. No other ingredients are used. In Germany, particularly the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

 area, this sugar beet syrup (called Zuckerrüben-Sirup in German) is used as a spread for sandwiches, as well as for sweetening sauces, cakes and desserts.

Commercially, if the syrup has a Dextrose Equivalency
Dextrose equivalent
Dextrose equivalent is a measure of the amount of reducing sugars present in a sugar product, relative to glucose, expressed as a percentage on a dry basis. For example, a maltodextrin with a DE of 10 would have 10% of the reducing power of dextrose , while sucrose, with a DE of 120, would have...

 above 30 DE, the product has to be hydrolyzed
Hydrolysis
Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction during which molecules of water are split into hydrogen cations and hydroxide anions in the process of a chemical mechanism. It is the type of reaction that is used to break down certain polymers, especially those made by condensation polymerization...

 and converted to a high-fructose syrup, much like high-fructose corn syrup, or iso-glucose syrup in the EU.

In Saint John, New Brunswick
Saint John, New Brunswick
City of Saint John , or commonly Saint John, is the largest city in the province of New Brunswick, and the first incorporated city in Canada. The city is situated along the north shore of the Bay of Fundy at the mouth of the Saint John River. In 2006 the city proper had a population of 74,043...

, sugar beet molasses is used as a de-icing product on the Harbour Bridge. The molasses has a lower melting point (-34 Celsius) than road salt and reduces corrosiveness.

Many road authorities in North America now use de-sugared beet molases as de-icing or anti-icing products in winter control operations. The molases is typically combined with liquid chlorides and can either be applied directly to road surfaces or used to treat the salt spread on roads. The addition of the liquid to rock salt has several benefits; it reduces the bounce or scatter of the rock salt (keeping it where it is needed), it lowers the freezing point of the salt brine mix (so the de-icers remain effective at lower temperatures) and it reduces the activation time of the salt to begin the melting process. The molases used for this application is a waste product created when sugar beets are used to make commercial grade sugar.
Reference: http://www.cas.org/newsevents/connections/beetmolasses.html

Betaine

Betaine can be isolated from the by-products of sugar beet processing. Production is chiefly through chromatagraphic
Chromatography
Chromatography is the collective term for a set of laboratory techniques for the separation of mixtures....

 separation, using techniques such as the "simulated moving bed".

Uridine

Uridine
Uridine
Uridine is a molecule that is formed when uracil is attached to a ribose ring via a β-N1-glycosidic bond.If uracil is attached to a deoxyribose ring, it is known as a deoxyuridine....

 can be isolated from sugar beet. Uridine in combination with omega-3 fatty acid
Omega-3 fatty acid
N−3 fatty acids are essential unsaturated fatty acids with a double bond starting after the third carbon atom from the end of the carbon chain....

s has been shown to alleviate depression
Depression (mood)
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless...

 in rats.

Alternative fuel

There are plans by BP
BP
BP p.l.c. is a global oil and gas company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the third-largest energy company and fourth-largest company in the world measured by revenues and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors"...

 and Associated British Foods
Associated British Foods
Associated British Foods plc is a global food, ingredients and retail company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. Its ingredients division is the world's second largest producer of both sugar and baker's yeast and a major producer of other ingredients including emulsifiers, enzymes and lactose...

 to use agricultural surpluses of sugar beet to produce biobutanol in East Anglia
East Anglia
East Anglia is a traditional name for a region of eastern England, named after an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom, the Kingdom of the East Angles. The Angles took their name from their homeland Angeln, in northern Germany. East Anglia initially consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, but upon the marriage of...

 in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

.

The feedstock-to-yield ratio for sugarbeet is 56:9. Therefore it takes 6.22 kg of sugarbeet to produce 1 kg of ethanol (approximately 1.27 l at room temperature).

History

A large root vegetable in 4000-year-old Egyptian temple artwork may be a beet. Although beets have been grown as vegetables and for fodder since antiquity, their use as a sugar crop is relatively recent. As early as in 1590, the French botanist Olivier de Serres
Olivier de Serres
Olivier de Serres was a French author and soil scientist whose Théâtre d'Agriculture was the text book of French agriculture in the 17th century..Serres was born at Villeneuve-de-Berg, Ardèche...

 extracted a sweet syrup from beetroot
Beetroot
The beetroot, also known as the table beet, garden beet, red beet or informally simply as beet, is one of the many cultivated varieties of beets and arguably the most commonly encountered variety in North America, Central America and Britain.-Consumption:The usually deep-red roots of beetroot are...

, but the practice was not widely used. The Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

n chemist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf
Andreas Sigismund Marggraf
Andreas Sigismund Marggraf was a German chemist and pioneer of analytical chemistry from Berlin, which was then the capital of Brandenburg, a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire. He isolated zinc in 1746 by heating calamine and carbon...

 used alcohol to extract sugar from beets (and carrots) in 1747, but the methods did not lend themselves to industrial scale production.

Marggraf's former pupil and successor Franz Karl Achard
Franz Karl Achard
Franz Karl Achard was a German chemist, physicist and biologist. His principal discovery was the production of sugar from sugar beets.- Life and work :...

 began selectively breeding sugar beet from the White Silesian fodder beet in 1784. By the beginning of the 19th century, his beet was approximately 5–6 percent sucrose by (dry) weight, compared to around 20 percent in modern varieties. Under the patronage of Frederick William III of Prussia
Frederick William III of Prussia
Frederick William III was king of Prussia from 1797 to 1840. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel .-Early life:...

, he opened the world's first beet sugar factory in 1801, at Cunern in Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

.

The beet sugar industry in Europe rapidly developed after the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

. In 1807, the British began a blockade
Blockade
A blockade is an effort to cut off food, supplies, war material or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or totally. A blockade should not be confused with an embargo or sanctions, which are legal barriers to trade, and is distinct from a siege in that a blockade is usually...

 of France, which prevented the import of sugarcane
Sugarcane
Sugarcane refers to any of six to 37 species of tall perennial grasses of the genus Saccharum . Native to the warm temperate to tropical regions of South Asia, they have stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar, and measure two to six metres tall...

 from the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

. Partly in response, in 1812 Frenchman Benjamin Delessert devised a process of sugar extraction suitable for industrial application. In 1813, Napoleon
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 instituted a retaliatory embargo
Embargo
An embargo is the partial or complete prohibition of commerce and trade with a particular country, in order to isolate it. Embargoes are considered strong diplomatic measures imposed in an effort, by the imposing country, to elicit a given national-interest result from the country on which it is...

. By the end of the wars, over 300 sugar beet mills operated in France and central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

.

Sugar beet was not grown on a large scale in the United Kingdom until the mid-1920s when 17 processing factories were built, following war-time shortages of imported sugar cane. One factory had, however, been built by the Dutch at Cantley in Norfolk in 1912. Sugar beet seed from France was listed in the annual catalogues of Gartons Agricultural Plant Breeders
Gartons Agricultural Plant Breeders
This is a short history of the United Kingdom's first agricultural plant breeding business.Dr John Garton, of the firm of Garton Brothers of Newton-le-Willows in the United Kingdom was the Originator of Scientific Farm Plant Breeding. He is credited as the first scientist to show that the common...

 from that firm's inception in 1898 until the first of their own varieties was introduced in 1909.

The first sugar beet mill in the U.S. opened in 1838, and the first commercially successful mill was established by E. H. Dyer
E. H. Dyer
Ebenezer Herrick Dyer was an American businessman who established the first successful commercial beet sugar mill in the U.S., and as such was called the "father of the American beet sugar industry"....

 in 1879.

An injunction in the base Center for Food Safety v. USDA in September 2010 prevented farmers from planting Roundup Ready sugar beets across the United States until a remedial environmental impact report could be filed, prompting some fear of a sugar shortage.

Agriculture

Sugar beet is an important part of a rotating crop cycle
Crop rotation
Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of dissimilar types of crops in the same area in sequential seasons.Crop rotation confers various benefits to the soil. A traditional element of crop rotation is the replenishment of nitrogen through the use of green manure in sequence with cereals...

.

Sugar beet plants are susceptible to rhizomania ("root madness") which turns the bulbous tap root into many small roots making the crop economically unprocessable. Strict controls are enforced in European countries to prevent the spread, but it is already endemic in some areas. It is also susceptible to the beet leaf curl virus
Beet leaf curl virus
Beet leaf curl virus is a plant pathogenic virus of the family Rhabdoviridae.The host range for this virus includes species of Atriplex, Beta, Chenopodium and Spinacia and also Tetragonia tetragonioides. The most important hosts however are sugarbeet and fodder beet...

 which causes crinkling and stunting of the leaves.

Continual research looks for varieties with resistance as well as increased sugar yield. Sugar beet breeding research in the United States is most prominently conducted at various USDA
United States Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...

 Agricultural Research Stations, including one in Fort Collins, Colorado
Fort Collins, Colorado
Fort Collins is a Home Rule Municipality situated on the Cache La Poudre River along the Colorado Front Range, and is the county seat and most populous city of Larimer County, Colorado, United States. Fort Collins is located north of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. With a 2010 census...

, headed by Linda Hanson and Leonard Panella; one in Fargo, North Dakota
Fargo, North Dakota
Fargo is the largest city in the U.S. state of North Dakota and the county seat of Cass County. In 2010, its population was 105,549, and it had an estimated metropolitan population of 208,777...

, headed by John Wieland; and one at Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Michigan State University is a public research university in East Lansing, Michigan, USA. Founded in 1855, it was the pioneer land-grant institution and served as a model for future land-grant colleges in the United States under the 1862 Morrill Act.MSU pioneered the studies of packaging,...

 in East Lansing, Michigan
East Lansing, Michigan
East Lansing is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. The city is located directly east of Lansing, Michigan, the state's capital. Most of the city is within Ingham County, though a small portion lies in Clinton County. The population was 48,579 at the time of the 2010 census, an increase from...

, headed by J. Mitchell McGrath.

Other economically important members of the Chenopodioideae
Chenopodioideae
The Chenopodioideae is a subfamily of the flowering plant family Amaranthaceae, formerly classified in family Chenopodiaceae.Food species include several Chenopodium species , Orache , and Spinach .-Genera:The subfamily includes about 25 genera.* Tribus Atripliceae C. A...

 subfamily:
  • Beetroot
    Beetroot
    The beetroot, also known as the table beet, garden beet, red beet or informally simply as beet, is one of the many cultivated varieties of beets and arguably the most commonly encountered variety in North America, Central America and Britain.-Consumption:The usually deep-red roots of beetroot are...

  • Chard
    Chard
    Chard , is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking. While the leaves are always green, chard stalks vary in color. Chard has been bred to have highly nutrious leaves at the expense of the root...

  • Mangelwurzel
    Mangelwurzel
    Mangelwurzel or mangold wurzel , also called mangold, mangel beet, field beet and fodder beet, is a cultivated root vegetable derived from Beta vulgaris...

    or Fodder Beet

History

In the United States, genetically modified sugar beet, engineered for resistance to glyphosate, a herbicide
Herbicide
Herbicides, also commonly known as weedkillers, are pesticides used to kill unwanted plants. Selective herbicides kill specific targets while leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed. Some of these act by interfering with the growth of the weed and are often synthetic "imitations" of plant...

 marketed as Roundup, was developed by Monsanto
Monsanto
The Monsanto Company is a US-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world's leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed in the "Roundup" brand of herbicides, and in other brands...

. Glyphosate controls weed
Weed
A weed in a general sense is a plant that is considered by the user of the term to be a nuisance, and normally applied to unwanted plants in human-controlled settings, especially farm fields and gardens, but also lawns, parks, woods, and other areas. More specifically, the term is often used to...

s by interfering with the 5-enolypyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate 5-enolypyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate (EPSP) synthase enzyme, which is involved in the production of amino acids. These amino acids, tryptophan
Tryptophan
Tryptophan is one of the 20 standard amino acids, as well as an essential amino acid in the human diet. It is encoded in the standard genetic code as the codon UGG...

, tyrosine
Tyrosine
Tyrosine or 4-hydroxyphenylalanine, is one of the 22 amino acids that are used by cells to synthesize proteins. Its codons are UAC and UAU. It is a non-essential amino acid with a polar side group...

 and phenylalanine
Phenylalanine
Phenylalanine is an α-amino acid with the formula C6H5CH2CHCOOH. This essential amino acid is classified as nonpolar because of the hydrophobic nature of the benzyl side chain. L-Phenylalanine is an electrically neutral amino acid, one of the twenty common amino acids used to biochemically form...

, are synthesized in plants and bacteria, not humans or animals. Glyphosate-resistant sugar beet contains a biosynthetic gene that protects it from the effects of glyphosate when it is applied to the crop as a means to control weeds. In 2005, the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS
Aphis
Aphis may refer to:* Aphis, a genus of aphid species* Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service , organizational unit of the USDA* HMS Aphis , Royal Navy insect class gunboat...

) deregulated glyphosate-resistant sugar beet after it conducted an Environmental Assessment and determined glyphosate-resistant sugar beet were highly unlikely to become a plant pest.

Public Acceptance

Sugar from glyphosate-resistant sugar beet has been approved for human and animal consumption in the European Union and the United States. Studies have concluded that sugar from glyphosate-resistant sugar beet has the same nutritional value as sugar from conventional sugar beet (not genetically modified or non-GMO
GMO
A GMO is a genetically modified organism.GMO may also refer to:* Gell-Mann–Okubo mass formula in particle physics* General Medical Officer, a designation for United States Army soldiers* Generalised molecular orbital theory, in chemistry...

). Potential weed resistance and scientific evidence of super weeds
Genetically modified food controversies
The genetically modified foods controversy is a dispute over the relative advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified food crops and other uses of genetically-modified organisms in food production. The dispute involves biotechnology companies, governmental regulators, non-governmental...

 has hindered public acceptance of glyphosate-resistant sugar beet.

Role of Glyphosate-Resistant Sugar Beet in the United States

Glyphosate-resistant sugar beet plays an important role in the United States' sugar industry. The United States imports 10% of its sugar from other countries, while the remaining 90% is extracted from domestically grown sugar beet and sugarcane. Of the domestically grown sugar crops, half of the extracted sugar is derived from sugar beet, and the other half is from sugarcane. After deregulation in 2005, glyphosate-resistant sugar beet was extensively adopted in the United States. By the 2010 growing season, 95% of sugar beet acres were planted with glyphosate-resistant sugar beet seed.

Glyphosate-resistant


The ability to effectively and efficiently control weeds in glyphosate-resistant sugar beet is one of the many reasons why glyphosate-resistant sugar beet has been widely adopted in the United States. Elimination of weeds is important in sugar beet fields because they compete with the crop for water, nutrients and light. Weeds may be chemically controlled using glyphosate (Roundup
Roundup
Roundup is the brand name of a systemic, broad-spectrum herbicide produced by the U.S. company Monsanto, and contains the active ingredient glyphosate. Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the USA, and Roundup has been the number one selling herbicide worldwide since at least 1980...

) without harming the crop. After planting sugar beet seed, weeds emerge in fields and growers apply glyphosate to control them. Glyphosate is commonly used in field crops because it controls a broad spectrum of weed species and has a low toxicity
Toxicity
Toxicity is the degree to which a substance can damage a living or non-living organisms. Toxicity can refer to the effect on a whole organism, such as an animal, bacterium, or plant, as well as the effect on a substructure of the organism, such as a cell or an organ , such as the liver...

.

Conventional

Prior to glyphosate, growers used other herbicides to control weeds in conventional sugar beet fields. While these chemicals are still available in small quantities, they are not as effective as glyphosate and require stricter application procedures. They also tend to injure the sugar beet crop.

Since herbicide options are limited in conventional sugar beet fields, growers rely on different methods to control their weeds. One method to reduce weed populations is mechanical control. Mechanical control uses tillage
Tillage
Tillage is the agricultural preparation of the soil by mechanical agitation of various types, such as digging, stirring, and overturning. Examples of human-powered tilling methods using hand tools include shovelling, picking, mattock work, hoeing, and raking...

 equipment to move soil and disturb weeds. Tillage equipment is necessary in both glyphosate-resistant and conventional sugar beet fields, but it is used more frequently in conventional systems. This may be problematic because greater use of tillage equipment directly correlates to higher input production costs as more fuel is required to run the equipment.

In addition to greater use of tillage equipment in conventional sugar beet fields, hand labor is another useful approach to control weeds. Each year, thousands of migrant workers travel around the United States to work in agricultural fields, including sugar beet fields. The widespread adoption of glyphosate-resistant sugar beet however has decreased the demand for migrant workers. Unlike conventional sugar beet, there is greater weed control in glyphosate-resistant sugar beet fields and migrant workers are no longer needed.

Yield

Glyphosate-resistant sugar beet allows growers to achieve higher yields and more recoverable white sucrose than conventional sugar beet. Higher yields are achieved from greater weed control in glyphosate-resistant sugar beet field.

Weed Resistance

Many weeds in the United States and worldwide are resistant to glyphosate. Resistance develops when growers use the same herbicide, or mode of action
Mode of action
Historically, pesticides have often been classified according to their chemical groups and this is useful for understanding the properties of a given compound. However, it is the Mode of Action group which possibly represents the most useful pesticide classification for biologists...

, every year to control their weeds. Applying different herbicide modes of action reduces the risk of resistance.

The introduction of glyphosate-resistant sugar beet may contribute to the growing number of glyphosate-resistant weeds because sugar beet may be rotated with other glyphosate-resistant crops, such as soybean
Soybean
The soybean or soya bean is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean which has numerous uses...

. If using all glyphosate-resistant crops, growers may control their weeds every year solely using glyphosate - a weed control strategy that is not recommended because it increases the likelihood of resistance.

Monsanto
Monsanto
The Monsanto Company is a US-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world's leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed in the "Roundup" brand of herbicides, and in other brands...

 has developed a program to encourage growers to use different herbicide modes of action to control their weeds in all cropping systems. Growers receive financial support when purchasing multiple herbicides.

Preventing Glyphosate-Resistant Sugar Beet

On January 23, 2008 the Center for Food Safety
Center for Food Safety
The Center for Food Safety is a U.S. non-profit organization, based in Washington, D.C., that also maintains an office in San Francisco, CA...

, the Sierra Club
Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president...

, and the Organic Seed Alliance and High Mowing Seeds filed a lawsuit against USDA-APHIS
Aphis
Aphis may refer to:* Aphis, a genus of aphid species* Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service , organizational unit of the USDA* HMS Aphis , Royal Navy insect class gunboat...

 regarding their decision to deregulate glyphosate-resistant sugar beet in 2005. The organizations expressed concerns regarding glyphosate-resistant sugar beets' ability to potentially cross pollinate with conventional sugar beet.

On September 21, 2009 U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
The United States District Court for the Northern District of California is the federal United States district court whose jurisdiction comprises following counties of California: Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San...

, ruled that USDA-APHIS had violated Federal law in deregulating glyphosate-resistant sugar beet without adequately evaluating the environmental and socio-economic impacts of allowing commercial production.. The USDA estimated a sugar shortage would cost consumers $2.972 billion in 2011.

On August 13, 2010 Judge White revoked the deregulation of glyphosate-resistant sugar beet and declared it unlawful for growers to plant glyphosate-resistant sugar beet in the spring of 2011. As a result of this ruling, growers were permitted to harvest and process their crop at the end of the 2010 growing season, yet a ban on new plantings was enacted. After the ruling, glyphosate-resistant sugar beet could not be planted until USDA-APHIS filed an Environmental Impact Statement
Environmental impact statement
An environmental impact statement , under United States environmental law, is a document required by the National Environmental Policy Act for certain actions "significantly affecting the quality of the human environment". An EIS is a tool for decision making...

. The purpose of an Environmental Impact Statement is to determine if environmental issues have negative effects on humans and the environment, and it may take two to three years to complete the study. After the Environmental Impact Statement is completed, USDA-APHIS may petition to deregulate glyphosate-resistant sugar beet.

After Judge White's ruling, USDA-APHIS prepared an Environmental Assessment seeking partial deregulation of glyphosate-resistant sugar beet. The Assessment was filed based on a request received from Monsanto
Monsanto
The Monsanto Company is a US-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world's leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed in the "Roundup" brand of herbicides, and in other brands...

 and KWS SSAT AG, a German seed company. Both companies, as well as the sugar beet industry employees and growers, believed a sugar shortage would occur if glyphosate-resistant sugar beet could not be planted. As a response to this concern, USDA-APHIS developed three options in the Environmental Assessment to address the concerns of environmentalists, as well as those raised by the industry. The first option was to not plant glyphosate-resistant sugar beet until the Environmental Impact Statement was completed. The second option was to allow growers to plant glyphosate-resistant sugar beet if they obtained a USDA-APHIS permit and followed specific mandates. Under the third and final option, glyphosate-resistant sugar beet would be partially deregulated but monitored by Monsanto and KWS SSAT AG. USDA-APHIS preferred the second option. They placed the Environmental Assessment in the Federal Register
Federal Register
The Federal Register , abbreviated FR, or sometimes Fed. Reg.) is the official journal of the federal government of the United States that contains most routine publications and public notices of government agencies...

on November 4, 2010 and received public comment for thirty days.

On February 4, 2011 the USDA-APHIS announced glyphosate-resistant sugar beet had been partially deregulated and growers would be allowed to plant seed from spring 2011 until an Environmental Impact Statement is completed. USDA-APHIS developed requirements that growers must follow if handling glyphosate-resistant sugar beet and will monitor growers throughout the partial deregulation period. The requirements are classified into categories which include planting glyphosate-resistant sugar beet for seed production, planting for sugar production, and transporting sugar beet across state lines. Failure to follow the requirements set by USDA-APHIS may result in civil or criminal charges and destruction of the crop. The lawsuit is an ongoing case and changes are expected to continue until the Environmental Impact Statement is complete.

External links

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