Federal investigators are asking the public to help solve middle-of-the-night crimes that left ruined fields of genetically engineered sugar beets in rural Jackson County.
The crop destruction took place over the course of two separate nights in early June, when an unknown individual or group destroyed about 6,500 sugar beet plants genetically engineered to stand up to the herbicide Roundup on a pair of privately-owned plots of land leased and managed by Syngenta.
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.
“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.
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