FBI investigates GM sugar beet destruction

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is trying to solve who destroyed fields of genetically modified sugar beets in southern Oregon.

The crops were destroyed over two separate nights in June. It is unknown if the plots were destroyed by an individual or a group. The GM sugar beets were engineered to withstand glyphosate, and were being grown on plots of land leased and managed by Syngenta.

OregonLive.com reports, "The first act of what the FBI considers ‘economic sabotage and a violation of federal law involving damage to commercial agricultural enterprises,' took place during the night of June 8, when about 1,000 sugar beet plants on one property were destroyed. Three nights later, the destruction continued on another property, where another 5,500 plants were ruined.

A spokesperson for Syngenta says the plants appeared to be destroyed by hand and that it didn't appear that vehicle was used.

Although estimates of the damage have not been released, it is believed that the financial losses are significant.

Oregonians for Food and Shelter is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the identification, arrest and conviction of the culprits.

"To my knowledge, this is the first time someone has deliberately taken the cowardly step of uprooting high value plants growing in our state. Regardless of how one feels about biotechnology, there is no justification for committing these crimes and it is not the kind of behavior we expect to see in Oregon agriculture, said Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba in a statement.

If you have information about the destruction, call 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 be e-mailed to [email protected]