Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
By JULIA MOSKIN
Published: February 08, 2012
SILENT in flannel shirts and ponytails, farmers from Saskatchewan and South Dakota, Mississippi and Massachusetts lined the walls of a packed federal courtroom in Manhattan last week, as their lawyers told a judge that they were no longer able to keep genetically modified crops from their fields.
The hearing is part of a debate that is coming to life around the country, in courtrooms and Occupy sites, in boardrooms and online, with new petitions, ballot initiatives and lawsuits from California to Maine.
Last year, according to the Department of Agriculture, about 90 percent of all soybeans, corn, canola and sugar beets raised in the United States were grown from what scientists now call transgenic seed. Most processed foods (staples like breakfast cereal, granola bars, chicken nuggets and salad dressing) contain one or more transgenic ingredients, according to estimates from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, though the labels don't reveal that. (Some, like tortilla chips, can contain dozens.)