British Farmer Returns From USA
To Launch Film On Realities Of GM Agriculture

'GM Crops - Feeding Or Fooling The World?'
Two One Day Conferences In The UK's West Country
Shaftesbury, Dorset, 30/31 October 2010

October 2010

GM Crop Film Launch At UK Conference 30/31 October
The New DVD Every Farmer And Rural Policy Maker Needs To See

"Tickets are selling fast for a Westcountry conference being run by the anti-GM foods movement .... The two-day event, entitled GM Crops — Feeding or Fooling the World? is being organised by GM-Free Dorset, GM Freeze, and the South West Genetic Engineering Network. It takes place at Springhead Fontmell Magna, near Shaftesbury on the weekend of October 30 and 31.... Michael Hart, Cornish farmer and co-ordinator of the Small and Family Farm Alliance, will be on the panel talking about the launch of his new film Farmer to Farmer. This documents his recent visit to the US to talk to farmers about their experiences during ten years of GM crop cultivation.... Mr Hart said: 'I spent three weeks, covering nine states and 6,000 miles, talking to fellow farmers, scientists, and consumers about GM crops some ten years after their introduction. Have they lived up to the promises made on their introduction of higher yields, lower chemical use, food security, and most critically, profitability for farmers? British farmer's should see the film and hear the personal experiences of the farmers growing these crops and their thoughts on them, and if American farmers believe GM crops have worked for them.' Mr Hart will show his film and answer questions and free copies of his DVD will be available. Anyone unable to attend the conference and wanting to view the DVD can email him on for either a free DVD, to ask questions, or to arrange a screening for a local or regional group.... Other panel members include GM Freeze director Pete Riley, GM Free Cymru spokesman Dr Brian John, former Organic Research Centre director Lawrence Woodward, GeneWatch UK executive director Dr Helen Wallace, and Food for Life Partnership manager James Cleeton.... The event will be chaired by Somerset farmer Oliver Dowding."
Anti-GM foods conference proves that issue has not 'gone away'
'This Is Devon', 22 September 2010

Why Not Organise A Film Showing In Your Own Area?
For free copy of new 'Farmer to Farmer' DVD on the realities of GM crop growing in USA
send email to Michael Hart at

In This Bulletin

West Country GM Crop Conference
30/31 October 2010

'Fooling The World'
GM Crop Technologies Have Started To Break Down

How Science And Government Got Misled Into
A Misplaced Obsession With Transgenic (GM) Crops

The Solution To The GM Debate
'I Have Seen The Future And It Works'

West Country GM Crop Conference
30/31 October 2010

gmfreedorsetconferenceS2.jpg (105992 bytes)

Learn More

Full Text Version Of Conference Programme And Speakers
Click Here

"Come and learn how to avoid GM in your diet. Listen to 6 of the UK’s leading experts set out a clear case as to why GM will NOT feed the world, highlighting better and more sustainable alternatives.

Learn how your local school or catering business can join ’FOOD FOR LIFE PARTNERSHIP’ (

There will be plenty of opportunities for audience interaction. The event will be chaired by Farmer and Blackmore Vale Magazine food and farming columnist Oliver Dowding."

To Book Tickets Call 01747 811853

The British Government's Own Controversial 'GM Dialogue' Project Has Been Discontinued
But The New UK Science Minister Still Says 'It Is Vital To Engage People Of All Ages' On Scientific Issues
So Why Not Take A Break And Travel To Shaftesbury In The Heart Of Thomas Hardy Country
And Do Just That At The End Of October?

"Ministers have announced the Food Standards Agency's GM dialogue project will not continue in its current format. The FSA set up the steering group to organise a public dialogue on the use of genetic modification, but was accused in May 2010 of spending 500,000 on a PR exercise on behalf of the GM crop industry, by one of it's own members. Helen Wallace, director of campaign group GeneWatch UK, stepped down from the group saying she was convinced the 'FSA process was set up from the outset to provide free reputation management to the GM industry at taxpayers' expense'. In a statement released on Friday, University and Science Minister David Willetts said: 'The GM dialogue project will not continue in its current format. However, it's vital to engage people of all ages on scientific issues, so that they have a real say about developments which can affect all of us.'"
GM dialogue project abandoned
Farmers Weekly Interactive, 17 September 2010

'Fooling The World'
GM Crop Technologies Have Started To Break Down

Special Internet Resource On GM Crops

'Will GM Crops Deliver Benefits To Farmers?'
Click Here

"I've worked in agriculture for 30 plus years. I've never seen anything that's going to have this kind of [adverse] impact on our agriculture."
Professor Ken Smith, weed scientist, University of Arkansas

on the spread of glyphosate resistant weeds in GM 'Roundup Ready' Crops
Super Weed Can't Be Killed
ABC News, 10 June 2009

View Videos Of Out Of Control Glyphosate Resistant Weeds In GM Crops In The United States
ABC News - June 2009
Arkansas Farm Bureau - November 2009

Technology Breakdown In USA - 'Roundup Ready' GM Crops
How Genetic Engineering Is Destroying The Usefulness Of The World's Most Popular Herbicide

"Hardy superweeds immune to the Farm Belt's most effective weedkiller are invading fields, prompting a counterattack from agribusiness that could leave farmers using greater amounts of harsh old-line herbicides. The flagging weedkiller is Roundup. Its developer, Monsanto Co., also sells [genetically engineered] seeds for corn, soybean and cotton plants unaffected by the chemical... Some 40% of U.S. land planted to corn and soybeans is likely to harbor at least some Roundup-resistant superweeds by the middle of this decade, executives at DuPont estimate. .... At least nine species have developed immunity to [Roundup]. They've spread to millions of acres in more than 20 states in the Midwest and South. Ron Holthouse, a farmer who grows cotton and soybeans on 8,600 acres near Osceola, Ark., says he spends hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on the herbicide. But after 10 years of use on his land, Roundup no longer controls pigweed, which ran rampant in his fields last year. The weed, which can grow six feet high on a stalk like a baseball bat, is tough enough to damage delicate parts of his cotton-picking equipment. Mr. Holthouse had to hire a crew of 20 laborers to attack the weeds with hoes, resorting to a practice from his father's generation. For the first time in years, Mr. Holthouse used some of an older, highly poisonous weedkiller called paraquat. Many Southern farmers are spending twice as much on killing weeds as it typically cost them just a few years ago. 'It is getting a lot harder and expensive to run a big farm,' says Mr. Holthouse. 'This is nerve-racking.'"
Superweed Outbreak Triggers Arms Race
Wall Street Journal, 4 June 2010

"Genetically modified cotton crops in the United States are becoming useless, as weeds evolve a resistance to the herbicide glyphosate. In the southern cotton crops, mutant weeds are becoming so bad mechanical harvesters are being damaged, and weed control must be done by hand [view ABC News USA video clip here]. A scientific study has found that the herbicide resistant weed population could threaten GM crop technology. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal."
GM cotton crops in US useless
ABC (Australia), 12 January 2010

"I stood side-by-side with a North Carolina [GM] grower looking at a field overrun with glyphosate-resistant weeds. He said that [glyphosate resistant] pigweed isn't his No. 1 problem; it's his No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 problems. It was at the point where he was determining whether or not that property could be used for farming.
Chuck Foresman, manager of weed resistance strategies for Syngenta
Delta Farm Press, 30 May 2008

"Eight years of planting genetically modified maize, cotton and soya beans in the US has significantly increased the amount of herbicides and pesticides used, according to a US report which could influence the British government over whether to let GM crops be grown. The most comprehensive study yet made of chemical use on genetically modified crops draws on US government data collected since commercialisation of the crops began...... Charles Benbrook, the author of the report, who is also head of the Northwest Science and Environment Policy Centre, at Sandpoint, Idaho, found that when first introduced most of the crops needed up to 25% fewer chemicals for the first three years, but afterwards significantly more. In 2001, the report states, 5% more herbicides and insecticides were sprayed compared with crops only of non-GM varieties; in 2002 7.9% more was sprayed; and in 2003 the estimated rise was 11.5%. In total, 73m lb [pounds weight] more agrochemicals were sprayed in the US during 2001-2003 because of GM crops, says the report, which was commissioned by Iowa State University, the Consumers' Union and others. During 2002-2003, an average of 29% more herbicide was applied per acre on GM maize. But this trend was not sustained over the eight years. Overall, modest reductions in insecticide usage with maize and cotton were recorded..... [Former executive director of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Board on Agriculture] Dr Benbrook said: 'The proponents of biotechnology claim GM varieties substantially reduce pesticide use. While true in the first few years of widespread planting ... it is not the case now. There's now clear evidence that the average pounds of herbicides applied per acre planted to herbicide-tolerant varieties have increased compared to the first few years."
GM crops linked to rise in pesticide use
Guardian, 8 January 2004

USDA Data On Rising Pesticide Applications On GM Crops
Click Here

Technology Breakdown In China - Bt GM Crops

"Growing cotton that has been genetically modified to poison its main pest can lead to a boom in the numbers of other insects, a ten-year study in northern China has found. In 1997, the Chinese government approved the commercial cultivation of cotton plants genetically modified to produce a toxin from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that is deadly to the bollworm Helicoverpa armigera. ....  Numbers of mirid bugs (insects of the Miridae family), previously only minor pests in northern China, have increased 12-fold since 1997, they found. 'Mirids are now a main pest in the region,' says Wu. 'Their rise in abundance is associated with the scale of Bt cotton cultivation.' Wu and his colleagues suspect that mirid populations increased because less broad-spectrum pesticide was used following the introduction of Bt cotton. 'Mirids are not susceptible to the Bt toxin, so they started to thrive when farmers used less pesticide,' says Wu. The study is published in this week's issue of Science. 'Mirids can reduce cotton yields just as much as bollworms, up to 50% when not controlled,' Wu adds. The insects are also emerging as a threat to crops such as green beans, cereals, vegetables and various fruits. The rise of mirids has driven Chinese farmers back to pesticides — they are currently using about two-thirds as much as they did before Bt cotton was introduced. As mirids develop resistance to the pesticides, Wu expects that farmers will soon spray as much as they ever did. Two years ago, a study led by David Just, an economist at Cornell University at Ithaca, New York, concluded that the economic benefits of Bt cotton in China have eroded. The team attributed this to increased pesticide use to deal with secondary pests. The conclusion was controversial, with critics of the study focusing on the relatively small sample size and use of economic modelling. Wu's findings back up the earlier study, says David Andow, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota in St Paul. 'The finding reminds us yet again that genetic modified crops are not a magic bullet for pest control,' says Andow. 'They have to be part of an integrated pest-management system to retain long-term benefits.'.... Wu stresses.... that pest control must keep sight of the whole ecosystem."
GM crop use makes minor pests major problem
| Nature |13 May 2010

The GM Crop Mirage

“A controversial report claims that traits introduced to food crops by genetic engineering (GE) have had, at best, a minor impact on yield. The report, Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Modified Crops, published on April 14 by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), argues that the adoption of expensive, GE-based approaches to agriculture has been at the cost of cheaper alternatives that carry less environmental risk. ‘We’re not saying GE should not be part of the mix at all. We just think it’s been way overemphasized,’ says the report’s author, Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist at the Cambridge, Massachusetts–based science policy advocacy group. The report claims to be ‘the first to evaluate in detail the overall, or aggregate, yield effect of GE after more than 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization in the United States,’ by attempting to tease out the contribution to yield made by transgenic crops, such as insect-resistant (IR) or herbicide-tolerant (HT) soy and corn varieties. It extrapolates from controlled field trials, in which transgenic varieties are compared with conventionally bred, near-isogenic (close) relatives, to total national output. The report argues that yield boosts obtained since the mid-1990s result from conventional breeding and crop management and that the emphasis in public-sector agriculture research spending should be shifted accordingly. ‘I’m just not convinced the benefits we get out of it will balance out the costs, the potential risks and some of the other factors that concern us, such as intellectual property, which has led to a concentration of the seed industry,’ says Gurian-Sherman….Although the report ( ) is limited to the US—because, Gurian-Sherman says, of the greater availability of data—he argues that its findings are generally applicable. The scope of the study was limited to food crops, motivated by the sharp increase in global food prices during 2007 and 2008.”
Report claims no yield advantage for Bt crops
Nature Biotechnology, Volume 27 number 7, July 2009

'Failure To Yield'
Click Here To Download UCS Report

"GE crops available for commercial use do not increase the yield potential of a variety... the adoption of herbicide-tolerant soybeans does not have a statistically significant effect on net returns.... the soybean results appear to be inconsistent with the rapid adoption of this [GE] technology....An analysis using broader financial performance measures (including net farm income and return on assets) did not show GE crops to have a significant impact..... Perhaps the biggest issue raised by these results is how to explain the rapid adoption of GE crops when farm financial impacts appear to be mixed or even negative.....Even more puzzling, the adoption of herbicide-tolerant soybeans and Bt corn has been rapid, even though we could not find positive financial impacts in either the field-level nor the whole-farm analysis.....the adoption of Bt corn had a negative impact on the farm financial performance....the total herbicide pounds used on [GE] soybeans actually increased as glyphosate was substituted for conventional herbicides... the data indicate that an estimated 13.4 million pounds of glyphosate substituted for 11.1 million pounds of other synthetic herbicides..... Change in pesticide use from the adoption of herbicide-tolerant cotton was not significant.....Availability, since the 1980s, of postemergent herbicides that could be applied over a crop during the growing season has facilitated the use of no-till ... using herbicide tolerant seed did not significantly affect no-till adoption. "
'The Adoption of Bioengineered Crops'
US Department of Agriculture Report, May 2002

USDA Report Exposes GM Crop Economics Myth
Click Here

Who Benefits?

"Many of the top people in world sugar congregated in Cambridge last week. It was the first time in 27 years that the World Association of Beet and Cane Growers had held a conference in the UK ..... Before I left the event I asked some American growers how their GM beet was faring. 'Well, we're 100% Roundup Ready this year,' they replied, 'and agronomically they're doin' good. But Monsanto charges $60/acre for seed and another $70/acre GM 'tech fee' and that went up 22% this year, cancelling out savings on other sprays.' I despair at the greed and insensitivity of some multinational companies."
David Richardson - World markets are a stick for beet producers
Farmers Weekly, 30 July 2010

"....  your magazine reported (Arable, 6 February) very disappointing results results on the first year of GM beet growing in America, citing data presented at Broom's Barn by US university extension agronomist, Mohamed Khan. In 2008 all ‘Roundup Ready’ GM beet seed was sold out, with Monsanto claiming 2-3 t/ha yield increases. But according to Khan, 'we haven't noticed any differences'. In fact the accompanying data table for America's biggest beet growing region showed a reduced yield of more than 1 t/ha for GM production. ... While herbicide applications were reduced [for the sugar beet], the cost saving was less than that of the technology, so that total costs were more than for conventional beet. Besides the serious implications for consumers, lower yields and higher costs do not add up to more a competitive approach to feeding the world. Khan described GM growers as 'addicted' to Roundup Ready and warned that glyphosate resistant weeds are 'not a matter of if, but when'. US Department of Agriculture data for other GM crops show that initial herbicide reductions steadily erode until eventually usage is higher than under conventional systems. Today GM crop-induced glyphosate resistance affects millions of acres in the US, with Monsanto even offering rebates to GM growers to deploy other herbicides. This is all embarrassingly at odds with the standard GM crop narrative. So it is perhaps not surprising that last year the USDA ceased collecting data on pesticide use."
Letter - GM beet results disappointing
Farmers Weekly, 13 March 2009

USDA Data On Rising Pesticide Applications On GM Crops
Click Here

GM Myth-Making

"A claim that GM technology is helping deliver higher crop yields in Africa was wrong, the Government's chief scientist has been forced to admit. Professor Sir David King recently caused uproar with his assertion that GM crops could help feed the hungry of the Third World. He called on the Government to campaign for the adoption of GM technology and said the Daily Mail's campaigning stance against it was holding up progress. Yesterday however he was accused of 'letting off blasts of hot and sometimes rancid air' after it emerged his latest GM crop claims were wildly innaccurate.  Dr Richard Horton, the editor of medical journal The Lancet said Sir David took his faith in science into 'the realms of totalitarian paranoia'. Writing in his online blog he said: 'If he lost the debate on GM, it was because his arguments failed to convince people. 'King seems biased and even antidemocratic. It seems he would prefer the media not to exist at all. That is a troubling position for the Government's chief scientist to adopt.'.... The chief scientist had used the example of crop trials around Lake Victoria in Kenya to boast how useful GM farming could be in feeding the Third World. He claimed scientists had discovered the identity of a chemical in food plants that attract pests such as root borers. Sir David suggested it had been possible to 'snip' the gene responsible for this chemical out of the food crop and then insert it into grass that is grown alongside it. He said the pests then eat the grass rather than the food. He told Radio Four's Today programme: 'You interplant the grass with the grain and it turns out the crop yield goes up 40-50 per cent. A very big advantage.' The only problem is Sir David failed to accurately describe the research in Africa, which did not involve the use of any GM technology at all. The research actually involved finding plants that can be cultivated alongside food crops and provide a natural solution to boosting yields. Researchers identified one set of plants that naturally deters parastic weeds, while another set, a species of grass, attracts the pests. The net result of this 'push and pull' regime is that the food crop can grow more easily and produce a much higher yield."
Scientist who claimed GM crops could solve Third World hunger admits he got it wrong
Daily Mail, 18 December 2007

Who Are The GM Mythmakers?
The GMWatch A-Z Listing Of The People And Groups Behind The Push For GM
Click Here

"There are hundreds of thousands of acres of genetically modified (GM) crops being grown around the world, but they are not at present addressing key agricultural problems for poor farmers... This journal champions biotech research, so we are not downbeat on its prospects to, one day, generate products that will heal, fuel and feed the world. That is, nevertheless, an outrageous act of faith bordering on the religious. And the fact is that biotech approaches must be used in the context of other technical and nontechnological solutions. Thus, reason dictates that proponents should be very careful about overhyping what biotech can do now and overpromising what it can do in the is time that the industry and its lobby organizations learnt that pushing one-dimensional hype about biotech solutions is counterproductive.... let [politicians and the general public] come to their own conclusions about the solution to the problems that society faces. This will mean outlining the problems accurately."
Join the Dots - Pushing biotech as the 'solution' to the world's problems is doing more harm than good
Nature Biotechnology 26, 837 (August 2008)

Farmer Dissatisfaction Spreads

"As recently as late December, Monsanto was named 'company of the year' by Forbes magazine. Last week, the company earned a different accolade from Jim Cramer, the television stock market commentator. 'This may be the worst stock of 2010,' he proclaimed. ... The latest blow came last week, when early returns from this year’s harvest showed that Monsanto’s newest product, SmartStax corn, which contains eight inserted genes, was providing yields no higher than the company’s less expensive corn, which contains only three foreign genes. Monsanto has already been forced to sharply cut prices on SmartStax .... Sales of Monsanto’s Roundup, the widely used herbicide, has collapsed this year under an onslaught of low-priced generics made in China. Weeds are growing resistant to Roundup, dimming the future of the entire Roundup Ready crop franchise. And the Justice Department is investigating Monsanto for possible antitrust violations. Until now, Monsanto’s main challenge has come from opponents of genetically modified crops, who have slowed their adoption in Europe and some other regions. Now, however, the skeptics also include farmers and investors who were once in Monsanto’s camp. 'My personal view is that they overplayed their hand,' William R. Young, managing director of ChemSpeak, a consultant to investors in the chemical industry, said of Monsanto. 'They are going to have to demonstrate to the farmer the advantage of their products.'.... SmartStax seed for planting next year will be priced about $8 an acre more than other seeds, down from about a $24 premium for this year’s seeds, Mr. Begemann said. The company will also offer credits for free seed to farmers who planted SmartStax this year and were disappointed. Monsanto has also moved to offer farmers more varieties with fewer inserted genes. Some farmers have said they often have to buy traits they do not need — such as protection from the corn rootworm in regions where that pest is not a problem — to get the best varieties. This issue has surfaced in the antitrust investigation."
After Growth, Fortunes Turn for Monsanto
New York Times, 4 October 2010

Special Internet Resource On GM Crops

'Will GM Crops Deliver Benefits To Farmers?'
Click Here

How Science And Government Got Misled Into
A Misplaced Obsession With Transgenic (GM) Crops

Professor Denis Murphy's book 'Plant Breeding and Biotechnology: Societal Context and the Future of Agriculture' was published by Cambridge University Press in 2007

Previously a departmental director at PBI (Britain's top plant breeder prior to privatisation, especially for wheat) and subsequently Head of Oilseeds and Brassicas at the John Innes Centre (regarded by many as Europe’s premier research centre in plant science), he is now Professor of biotechnology at the University of Glamorgan and is widely published. He is an adviser to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the UK Government and the European Parliament.

Murphy is not a critic of the biosafety profile of recombinant DNA used in transgenic crops ('GM crops'), nor of its role as a basic plant science research tool. However, he is a strong critic of what he regards as the overstated capacity of recombinant DNA to deliver utility in real-world crop development applications.

Murphy is of the view that, although there may be some limited valid applications for GM crops, in general terms there are typically faster and more cost effective methods of delivering progress in applied crop improvement programmes (including the use of Marker Assisted Selection - 'MAS'). However, this delivery is being prejudiced by the excessive deployment of scientific and financial resources skewed towards investment in transgenic technology, much of which is predicated by the business models of biotech companies that hinge around the pursuit of intellectual property rights (IPR).

This scale of scientific resource deployment on transgenic methods is not justified, he argues, by the relative merits of the technology. Indeed, he says that "an over-fixation on a single technology, such as transgenesis, is not just scientifically unsound, it can actually impede progress towards crop improvement."

His commentary provides some useful insights into how we got into this unsatisfactory situation, including the adverse consequences of the privatisation of important public sector plant breeding institutions and the negative role played by recombinant DNA IPR. Essentially he argues that this situation is slowing us down, with the net result being reduced delivery of agricultural utility and productivity.

In short, this situation is compromising our ability to maximise food production.

Particularly because the arrival of transgenic GM technology is resulting in better options being sidelined, Murphy concludes that "transgenesis is neither necessary nor sufficient for the greatest forthcoming challenge to world agriculture, i.e. how to feed adequately an extra 2.6 billion people over the coming half century".

Some excerpts from Murphy's book are provided below.


" the 1960s, new opportunities arose for the private sector with the enactment of legislation establishing stronger forms of legal protection for new seed varieties. In the 1980s and 1990s, yet more opportunities came from genetic engineering technologies, whereby transgenic varieties could be granted utility patents, just like mechanical devices. The ability to patent new plant varieties meant that the private inventor of a transgenic variety had a form of legal protection which was much stronger than the 1960s version of plant breeders' rights. In turn, this gave inventors an enhanced means of extracting profit from the new plant varieties. The congruence of this new 'high-tech' approach to crop improvement, with the ability to patent the resulting transgenic seed varieties, stimulated much of the private sector renaissance in the agribusiness sector. Between the mid-1980s and the late 1990s, the private sector duly emerged as the dominant force in many aspects of crop research and breeding across the industrialised world.... the major driving force behind the massive private sector expansion into crop development of the 1980s and 1990s was the development of transgenic crops. Unlike other types of crops, transgenic varieties could be protected via the utility patent route, which gave a much more powerful form of ownership than plant breeders' rights. Companies who wished to develop transgenic crops were further assisted by a relatively lax patenting regime, especially before 1995. During this period, many patents were granted that, even at the time, were recognised as being of inordinate breadth in the scope of their claims. Therefore, the emergence of the private sector as the dominant player in crop breeding was stimulated by the conjunction of new legislation and new technologies, the combination of which allowed companies to develop potentially lucrative business models in a hitherto rather unprofitable are of agricultural commerce."
Denis Murphy - Professor of Biotechnology, University of Glamorgan
Plant Breeding and Biotechnology: Societal Context and the Future of Agriculture'
Cambridge University Press, 2007


"Government organisations involved in implementing the privatisations of the 1980s and 1990s did not appreciate that private sector firms had neither the capacity nor the desire to assume all the functions of the institutions that they were purchasing. Rather, companies sought to acquire access to high-quality breeding lines from the public laboratories, into which they could insert their own proprietary genes of interest.... This led to the entirely new perception that a single form of creating novel genetic variation, i.e. transgenesis, was more or less the be-all and end-all of crop improvement. As we saw in Chapter 3, this viewpoint is very far from an accurate version of the reality of practical breeding. Nevertheless, genetic engineering soon acquired a unique cachet that seduced scientists, entrepreneurs, investors, governments and even those who opposed it, with its promise of virtually unlimited power to transform agriculture...... In no country were the resulting cutbacks in public sector plant breeding more far reaching than in the UK. In a period of a little over a decade, the UK lost virtually all of its public plant breeding infrastructure and much of the related scientific expertise. This process was duly exported to other nations and has even engulfed some developing countries. In December 1989, I was appointed as Head of one of the three departments of the former Plant Breeding Institute (PBI) that stayed in the public sector while the rest of the organisation was privatised. This gave me something of an insider's view of the effects of privatisation and its effects on public sector plant breeding in the UK."
Denis Murphy - Professor of Biotechnology, University of Glamorgan
Plant Breeding and Biotechnology: Societal Context and the Future of Agriculture'
Cambridge University Press, 2007


"During the 1990s, transgenic crop technology was hyped up by everybody, from university scientists anxious for research funding to company PR staff in search of venture capital. Even today, many of the agbiotech companies still tell us that their products will usher in a new Green Revolution. Some companies go even further and say that the only way of averting global famine over the next fifty years is to embrace their technology and, by extension, their business model and their products..... A great deal of hope has been pinned by many plant scientists, companies and politicians on the potential of transgenic crops and other forms of agbiotech to usher in a new twenty-first century agricultural revolution.... Meanwhile, the validity of the agbiotech paradigm itself is coming under increasing scrutiny, not only from anti-GM protestors, but also from more sober and impartial observers in business and academia... In my own case, I was approached by several foreign governments, multinational oil companies, chemical manufacturers, and some rather dubious businessmen. All had substantial funds to offer and we discussed many projects, most of which were based on totally unrealistic expectations of GM technology..... Our infectious enthusiasm and boundless optimism were soon communicated to the public via the various media, who were often only too willing to compound our own modestly hyped-up aspirations with their own brand of sensationalism... The new 'dumbed down' commercial version of genetic engineering was used to manipulate some of the most basic and scientifically simple production traits, such as herbicide tolerance and insect resistance. As we all knew, these particular traits had already been successfully manipulated by non-transgenic methods. This meant that, in breeding terms at least, there was little qualitative novelty involved in the new developments. Therefore herbicide tolerance and insect resistance traits tended to be of little interest to most researchers. However, despite their lack of any particularly innovative qualities (in scientific terms), these new transgenic crop varieties were much more easily patentable, simply by virtue of being transgenic ....The trouble with this particular manifestation of transgenesis was that, although it was being used in a relatively trivial and non-innovative manner, it still carried all the hyped-up baggage that had been generated by the earlier ambitious expectations of radical and revolutionary manipulations of crops. In a sense, therefore, we had collectively created a kind of monster of expectations."
Denis Murphy - Professor of Biotechnology, University of Glamorgan
Plant Breeding and Biotechnology: Societal Context and the Future of Agriculture'
Cambridge University Press, 2007

"Moreover, companies rarely accord new crop varieties developed by non-transgenic methods the same sort of prestige and publicity that is granted to new transgenic varieties. The former therefore tend to remain relatively invisible, while the transgenic varieties gain the spotlight of both company and media attention. One of the best exemplars of the seeming obsession with the agbiotech paradigm in a leading company is former Monsanto CEO, Bob Shapiro. It was Shapiro who seized upon the technology with an almost religious fervour and duly launched the first major wave of transgenic crop varieties in the mid-1990s. According to former Pioneer Hi-Bred CEO, Tom Urban: 'Shapiro has this messianic sense about him. If he said it once, he said it three or four times: Put us together and we'll rule the world. We are going to own the industry. Almost those exact words. We can be a juggernaut. Invincible.'"
Denis Murphy - Professor of Biotechnology, University of Glamorgan
Plant Breeding and Biotechnology: Societal Context and the Future of Agriculture'
Cambridge University Press, 2007

Poor Understanding Sidelines Better Approaches

"The main problem, for both research scientists and those with whom they communicate (e.g. politicians, media, business leaders and society at large), is that this optimistic conclusion about the potential of GM technology is, theoretically speaking, quite true: but it also happens to be immensely misleading in actual practice... The trouble with these aspirations was that the translation from theoretical possibility to real-world application took far longer than any of us had ever imagined.... much of what we have learned over the past decade or so about plants has merely shown us how much more still lies undiscovered about these apparently simple, but in reality very complex, organisms.  Despite the much proclaimed successes of agbiotech in manipulating a few simple input traits by transgenesis, it is almost certainly the case that the more significant, and normally quite unremarked achievements of modern high-tech breeding has been in the use of marker-assisted technologies. In the words of Jorge Dubcovsky, a wheat molecular geneticist at the University of California, Davis: 'Fortunately, biotechnology has provided additional tools that do not require the use of transgenic crops to revolutionize plant breeding.'....  It is a pity that the sober judgements of such highly respected independent scientists as Goodman, Dubcovsky and many others, who have nothing against agbiotech per se but who recognise its current limitations, seems to have been drowned out by the many shrill voices from those vested interests that seem to dominate all sides of the public discourse about agbiotech...... even after well over a decade of commercialisation, only a couple of simple input traits have been developed, and only four major transgenic crops are grown. We may therefore wish to ponder whether, by decimating public sector plant science and relying on an immature and increasingly biotech focused private sector, we have not ended up with the 'worst of all possible worlds' for the future of agriculture.... "
Denis Murphy - Professor of Biotechnology, University of Glamorgan
Plant Breeding and Biotechnology: Societal Context and the Future of Agriculture'
Cambridge University Press, 2007

"... an over-fixation on a single technology, such as transgenesis, is not just scientifically unsound, it can actually impede progress towards crop improvement.... We need to nurture a new generation of researchers who can see beyond the next grant proposal or high-impact publication. The alternative is to hand over our future by default to the agbiotech companies. This would be bad enough for richer countries, but it would be far worse for the disenfranchised poor of the world who surely deserve to share the fruits of our hard-won, taxpayer funded scientific knowledge... Metaphorically speaking , we have become obsessively fixated on a few paltry trees to the exclusion of the surrounding bountiful forest of opportunities. Rather than focusing so much on the doings of a few agbiotech companies and the existence of farmland weeds, we should concentrate on the reform and empowerment of plant breeding as a whole."
Denis Murphy - Professor of Biotechnology, University of Glamorgan
Plant Breeding and Biotechnology: Societal Context and the Future of Agriculture'
Cambridge University Press, 2007

'Neither Necessary Nor Sufficient'

"So why does the agbiotech industry not develop these more valuable traits? The answer is, of course, they would love to do this, but genetically complex characters like yield and fungal resistance are still proving very difficult to manipulate by transgenesis, whereas they have been successfully modified by alternative breeding techniques for many decades.....  If the same traits can be delivered by other, more accessible, breeding technologies, especially at lower cost and with less regulatory encumbrance, then, all things being equal, transgenesis may not necessarily be the favoured route.... Such choices should be dictated by criteria such as cost, timescale, feasibility, utility and in the case of the private sector, potential profitability.... For almost twenty years, the appearance of a large number of sometimes radical new transgenic crop traits has supposedly been just around the corner, but none of these 'wonder products' has yet made it to large-scale commercial cultivation... while transgenesis may give breeders a few additional options, it is no panacea for the many challenges that confront twenty-first century agriculture. Indeed, transgenesis is neither necessary nor sufficient for the greatest forthcoming challenge to world agriculture, i.e. how to feed adequately an extra 2.6 billion people over the coming half century."
Denis Murphy - Professor of Biotechnology, University of Glamorgan
Plant Breeding and Biotechnology: Societal Context and the Future of Agriculture'
Cambridge University Press, 2007

The Solution To The GM Debate
'I Have Seen The Future And It Works'

Consigning The GM Debate To The Past
As We Enter The Era Of Genomics

"From a scientific perspective, the public argument about genetically-modified organisms, I think, will soon be a thing of the past. The science has moved on and we're now in the genomics era."
Professor Bob Goodman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Former head of research and development at Calgene, creators of the flavr savr tomato, the world's first GM food
Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 18 February 2001

The British Science Minister Says It Is Vital To Engage The Public

"In a statement released on Friday, University and Science Minister David Willetts said:  'The GM dialogue project will not continue in its current format. However, it's vital to engage people of all ages on scientific issues, so that they have a real say about developments which can affect all of us.'"
GM dialogue project abandoned
Farmers Weekly Interactive, 17 September 2010

But The Public Is Already Engaged

"More than one million signatures have been gathered in a legal bid to 'freeze' GM crop cultivation in the European Union..... Environmental campaigners Greenpeace and Avaaz announced that the online petition target had been crossed, seeking to use a new citizen charter created under the European Union's Lisbon Treaty to put authorisations on hold..... Under Lisbon, if a million citizens from a broad base of EU countries lend their names to moves to change the law, the European Commission, the bloc's day-to-day executive, is obliged to consider the grievance. The idea was to bring Europe closer to the people. Campaigners were planning to hand the petition file -- launched in March -- to commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday, and are specifically seeking a moratorium while independent ethical and scientific experts consider the impact of GM cultivation. 'European citizens have given president Barroso more than a million reasons to listen to the public and act with precaution rather than cave to the private interests of the GM industry,' said Ricken Patel of Avaaz. 'The commission cannot ignore them,' added Greenpeace's Jorgo Riss."
Anti-GM crop petition tops million signatures
AFP, 6 October 2010

"Greenpeace and Avaaz, the organization which collected the signatures, said the petition will become the EU's first 'citizens' initiative,' a provision foreseen by the bloc's Lisbon treaty."
EU to face one-million-strong petition against GM crops
Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 6 October 2010

Ending The GM Hype

"For now, at least, the hype is muted. Yesterday's Royal Society report takes care not to repeat the claims, put forward by some proponents of the technology that genetic modification can itself end world hunger. Indeed it condemns such simplistic stances, noting that past debates 'have failed to acknowledge that there is no technological panacea'. That is welcome for, as Prof James Specht of the University of Nebraska has pointed out, the 'hype-to-reality ratio' has at times reached 'infinity'. Instead the Royal Society, which has long supported GM crops and foods, backs a mixture of traditional farming techniques and new technology, merely asking that none 'should be ruled out'. Such an approach, if maintained, should open the door to a much more constructive debate.... Contrary to widespread belief, they [GM crops] do not generally increase crop yields, and may actually cut them."
Royal Society accepts GM is not the only answer
Daily Telegraph, 21 October 2009

"Yields were suppressed  with GR [Glyphosate Resistant GM] soybean cultivars.....The work reported here demonstrates that a 5% yield suppression was related to the gene or its insertion process [yield 'drag'] and another 5% suppression was due to cultivar genetic differential [yield 'lag']. Producers should consider the potential for 5-10% yield differentials between GR and non-GR cultivars as they evaluate the overall profitability of producing soybean.....Based on our results from this study and those of Elmore et al., 2001, the yield suppression appears associated with the GR gene or its insertion process rather than glyphosate itself."
Elmore et al, Glyphosate-Resistant Soybean Cultivar Yields Compared with Sister Lines
Agronomy Journal, 2001 93: 408-412

Building A Consensus Over The Proper Role Of Modern Agricultural Biotechnology

'Under The Control Of The Crop's Genome'
As We Enter The Era Of Genomics It's Time To Examine What Really Delivers In Acceptable Fashion

"One area where both sides of the GM divide could meet is on emerging technologies such as Marker Assisted Selection (MAS), which is currently the subject of heavy funding and research. It is being used to develop new crops at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre and has won the blessing of anti-GM groups the Soil Association and Greenpeace as well as the major biotech firms. MAS uses a series of genetic markers to highlight genes of interest in a plant, allowing scientists to combine genetics with conventional breeding. Once a gene of interest has been highlighted, scientists can cross it with another plant and then test for presence of the highlighted gene in the new plant to see whether the trait has been passed on. The technique uses knowledge built up through GM research and applies it to conventional breeding to produce a new plant. The major difference is that MAS introduces the new gene under the control of the crop’s genome, avoiding the ‘unpredictable effects’ of GM often cited by campaigners."
Marker Assisted Selection - a genetic compromise
Farmers Guardian, 28 November 2008

'Smart Breeding'
Marker-Assisted Selection: A Non-invasive Biotechnology
Alternative To Genetic Engineering Of Plant Varieties

Greenpeace International Report August 2009
Click Here

Genomics - The New 'Green Revolution'

"GM is only one easily recognised byproduct of genetic research. The quiet revolution is happening in gene mapping ['genomics'], helping us understand crops better. That is up and running and could have a far greater impact on agriculture.... There really are no downsides, particularly in terms of public perception... [By contrast in the case of GMOs] there are public perception problems and the technology itself is still not optimised, with antibiotic and herbicide resistance genes still needed and bits of bacterial DNA hanging about. Whether that poses any danger is debatable, but it is not desirable."
Professor John Snape, Head Of Crop Genetics, John Innes Centre
'Gene mapping the friendly face of GM technology'
Farmers Weekly, 1 March 2002

The Fundamental Scientific Error
Of Pursuing Transgenics Before Competency In Genomics

Click Here

".... genomic science's biggest contribution is likely to be through providing markers and understanding to conventional plant breeding.... to date, very few breeders can quantify the genetic advances they have made in terms of known genes for any complex trait. The current advances in our knowledge of genomics and genetics of our crops has the potential to dramatically change this situation, and, ultimately, to change the plant breeder's 'art' into an objectively based plant breeding science... Good genetic maps, based on molecular marker technologies are now available for all major, and for many minor, species. The major use of genetic maps is to locate genes of interest so that the maps can be fully annotated with the locations of genes, be it for quality, agronomic performance, disease resistance, adaptability, or any other trait.... In this millennium, genomics research has the potential to define the total extent of the genetic variation for simple and complex characters within our crop plants. This will allow our plant breeders, using high-through-put molecular marker systems, to produce 'designer' varieties. ...As well as leading to economic prosperity, this research can also make an important contribution to world food security through development of varieties much more resistant to pest and diseases both in major crops, and in 'orphan' crops of the less developing world through comparative approaches. Clearly we have only just started to see the fruits of this genomics revolution leading, hopefully, to the evolution of a new Green Revolution."
Arable Agriculture and the Genomics Revolution
Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, Volume 163, 2002 (p12-20)

"In a low-slung building amid farm fields, agriculture's second biotechnology revolution is, according to this story, dawning. The story describes how rows of robotic devices are deciphering the DNA in slices of thousands of corn plants sent daily from as far away as Chile and Hawaii. Scientists here search the results for subtle genetic differences that explain why a particular plant is better than others at tolerating cold, repelling insects, surviving drought or making more seed. Armed with this knowledge, crop breeders can create better corn. But not by gene-splicing, the method that has stirred resistance, especially in Europe, to crops spiked with DNA from other organisms. The new technology usesm old-fashioned selective breeding -- finding plants with desirable traits and mating them. Except that in this case, selective breeding is turbocharged. Thanks to the decoded genetic blueprints, seed producers can know with precision which plants carry a desired trait and which genes cause it. Just as important, once they've planted seeds from such a plant, they can learn quickly through gene tests whether its offspring sprouting in a test field have inherited the trait. George Kotch, research director of Syngenta AG's North American vegetable seeds business, was quoted as saying, 'The public is lukewarm on GMO products. Now we have a technology that doesn't have an image problem.' Using it, Syngenta, the big Swiss biotech company that operates the Iowa laboratory, is developing drought-resistant corn, which someday could open up more of the Great Plains to the crop. DuPont Co.'s Pioneer Hi-Bred unit is developing corn that resists a Midwestern bane called Anthracnose stalk rot. Monsanto Co. has developed soybeans whose oil stands up to repeated reheating, as in fast-food restaurants, without having to be hydrogenated, which creates artery-clogging trans fats."
Seed firms bolster crops without GM
Wall St Journal, 31 October 2006

"Biotechnology rather than genetic modification is the key to improving wheat varieties, says Monsanto. Although GM techniques may develop some traits, most will stem from conventional breeding backed by sophisticated biotech tools. Biotech to aid conventional wheat breeding is already attracting 10 to 20 times more effort than the [GM] genetic transformation of the crop, says US-based Tom Crosbie, Monsanto's global head of plant breeding. '[GM] Genetic transformation is just one particular wrench in the biotechnology tool box. We have lots of other [non-GM] tools to accelerate the development of new wheat varieties,' he says.... Genetic transformation can only be used to introduce one segment of novel genetic material to a variety at a time, but biotech tools can be used to enhance a host of existing traits. 'It's a numbers game and ultimately non-transformation biotech offers the greatest potential.' Monsanto now has the best wheat breeding material in the world Mr Crosbie claims.  Biotech methods such as gene mapping and molecular markers will transform conventional breeding, effectively turning the lights on where breeders previously worked in the dark, Mr Crosbie adds. 'Aligning 20 segments of desired genetic material using conventional breeding would take a one-in-a-trillion chance. Using molecular markers we can achieve it in three cycles.’"
Farmer's Weekly, 25 February 2000

".....yesterday Monsanto's Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans were approved, or granted deregulated status, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.... Based on the research we have done to date, Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans will deliver a 7% to 11% increase in yield over Roundup Ready.....  it was made possible by technology we didn't have when Roundup Ready soybeans were developed. The biotech tools we use to make crop advances continue to get better and increase the possibilities for benefits we can deliver to farmers. Often these tools do not involve the insertion of a novel gene. Instead, they help us identify important areas on the plant genome that deliver better yields or other beneficial characteristics. Technical advances in plant biotechnology and molecular-assisted breeding have enabled Monsanto to develop Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans. The 7-11% yield increase was achieved by gene mapping. Gene mapping allowed us to identify specific DNA regions in soybeans that have a positive impact on yield."
Roundup Ready 2 Yield
Monsanto Media Conference Call, 31 July 2007

The Importance Of Using Methods Which Are Publicly Acceptable

"Scientists, faced with the major challenge of  boosting productivity of staple crops for ensuring world’s food and  nutritional security, are now looking at effectively deploying biotechnological tools to develop crops which would not be transgenics or  genetically modified (GM) ones. Transgenics or GM crops, they say, have generated much controversy across  the globe. It has to pass through rigorous regulatory process before commercial release and hence it’s time consuming. Rather the better option would be to deploy biotechnological tools like marker-aided selection.... 'Scientists are exploring the possibilities of deploying modern biotech  tools for developing high yielding crops with high nutrition content,' director-general of the International Rice Research Institute Robert S Zeigler says. 'We have effective biotechnological tools at our disposal such  as improved rice crops which would not be transgenic crops. Development of  transgenic crop is only one of the many options.”
Hiking rice yield, biotechnology to the rescue
Scientists say transgenics or genetically modified crops cumbersome, biotech tools can boost harvest of non-GM crops
Indian Express, 27 October 2006

'A Way Out Of The Contentious Debate'
The Face Of Acceptable And Effective Modern Biotechnology

"As the controversy surrounding genetically modified foods intensifies, scientists are trying to use the rapidly growing knowledge about genes to enhance conventional breeding of crops and livestock rather than implant genes from one species into another..... a number of companies are turning to the approach because it avoids the regulatory reviews required of genetically modified foods and is not expected to stir resistance from consumers. The approach is called marker-assisted breeding because it uses genetic markers to guide the process. 'Marker-assisted selection is the first choice if we can solve the problem,' said Wally Beversdorf, head of plant science and agribusiness for Syngenta, which was formed by the merger of the agricultural businesses of Novartis and AstraZeneca. Some newly formed companies are deliberately steering clear of genetic engineering. AniGenics, a start- up in Concord, Mass., aims to identify genes associated with higher milk production, more tender meat and other desirable traits of cattle and other livestock. But that knowledge would be used to guide conventional breeding, not to create genetically altered herds. 'It may or may not be faster biologically,' said Steven M. Niemi, the president. 'It's certainly faster politically.' .... scientists say that many important traits — bigger fruit, higher yield, disease and pest resistance — can often be found within the crop species itself..... The advantage of this technique is that the markers can be used even if the breeders have not identified the gene. Genetic engineering can be done only if the gene is known and isolated. It is also possible to use markers to follow numerous traits through the breeding process. Genetic engineering is at present limited to transferring only one or a few genes. Yet many traits, like the yield of a crop, are governed by multiple genes.... One of the biggest opportunities presented by marker-assisted selection is to improve the harnessing of wild relatives of crops. Human beings domesticated plants by selecting for obvious traits, like bigger fruit. But over time, the genetic variation in commercial crops has become limited, so when breeders cross these crops, the possible outcomes are also limited. 'We've left behind in this process a huge reservoir of natural variation,' said Steven D. Tanksley, professor of plant breeding and plant biology at Cornell. All the commercially grown tomatoes in the world, from the tiniest cherry tomato to the beefiest beefsteak, have less genetic variation than the wild tomatoes in a single valley in Peru, he said.... even small, green tomatoes can contain some genes for redness and large fruit. The marker studies allow these genes to be found.... Robert Goodman, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Wisconsin, said there was still a risk that marker-assisted breeding could run into the same opposition as transgenic crops because people might fail to make any distinction. But if that does not happen, he said, the breeding approach could provide a way out of the contentious debate. 'Maybe in five to eight years we'll look back on this argument over transgenics and say, 'How arcane,' ' said Dr. Goodman, who once headed research at Calgene, the company that marketed the first genetically modified crop, a tomato. 'Not because it became unpopular but simply because it got bypassed by the advances made by breeding powered by genomics.'"
Gene Research Finds New Use in Agricultural Breeding
New York Times, 6 March 2001

Solution To The GM Debate
'The Acceptable Face Of Ag-Biotech'
What Is 'Marker Assisted Selection' Or 'Molecular-Assisted Breeding'?

And Why Is It Important?

Click Here

And Science Minister Willets Himself Already Seems To Know What The Solution Is
With Yield Increases Set To Surge As Genome Sequencing Moves Ahead

"New and improved varieties of wheat that will help to feed the world have been promised by scientists after the staple food’s genetic code was read for the first time by a British team. The achievement will transform plant breeders’ ability to develop hardier and higher-yielding strains of wheat, leading to greater food security and lower prices, researchers said.... Anthony Hall, of the University of Liverpool, a leader of the research team, said: 'It is predicted that within the next 40 years world food production will need to be increased by 50 per cent. Developing new, low-input, highyielding varieties of wheat will be fundamental to meeting these goals. Using this new DNA data we will identify variation in gene networks involved in important agricultural traits such as disease resistance, drought tolerance and yield.' Professor Mike Bevan, of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, another team member, said: 'This immediately allows you, so to speak, to sort the wheat from the chaff in breeding experiments. It will accelerate the speed and accuracy of plant breeding.' David Willetts, the Universities and Science Minister, welcomed the advance. 'By using gene sequencing technology developed in the UK we now have the capability to improve the crops of the future by simply accelerating the natural breeding process to select varieties that can thrive in challenging conditions.'
UK scientists crack code to feed world
London Times, 27 August 2010

".... the average annual wheat yield increase from new varieties could more than double from one per cent extra a year to at least two per cent, through increased use of gene mapping and marker technology. According to breeder Monsanto PBIC, work at its Cambridge base will allow breeders to develop from the outset varieties combining high yields with improved grain quality and agronomic characteristics.   'Designer' wheats will soon be under development to meet specific needs for current and future markets.  Dr Xavier Delannay, Monsanto's international molecular breeding programme chief, says these first benefits will boost conventional breeding, with significant spin-off  benefits for growers.  Developing marker technology involves detailed molecular studies of what makes wheat plants 'tick' and how individual genes interact. By mapping them, technologists can provide tools to tailor varieties to specific needs. 'The new technology will highlight which genes to use to design a variety,' said Dr Delannay. 'The key ones are those controlling yield, grain quality and disease resistance, with those affecting other agronomic characteristics also important. 'This means designing wheats to suit specific geographic areas, growing conditions and markets. A variety could be targeted at bread making, distilling, specialist starch production, or many other industrial uses. With a full set of tools, breeders could access a broader range of genetic variation than can be tackled at present.  'They tend to stick to gene pools they know and are reluctant to look elsewhere for characteristics they need for fear of complicating programmes. The big international gene pools could be a treasure trove of genes that haven't so far been exploited in the appropriate combinations. It should be possible to make even greater use of genes from wild species.' Monsanto PBIC's Dr Peter Jack said that the company's molecular experience in other crops, including corn and rice, was being adapted to help wheat breeding.  'There may be some mechanisms common to all crops that contribute to major characteristics, such as yield, but genes that control yield are complex. In the past, the number of samples that could be analysed limited exploitation of DNA marker technology. Automation has greatly increased throughput, so projects that until recently seemed impossible are now feasible.' Using the technology involves plugging recently mapped genes into existing breeding   programmes to design crops as required."
'Designer' wheats are on their way
Farming News, 10 May 2001

"Now that wheat has had its genome sequenced [which has been completed in 2010], we can expect swift progress.... GM wheat may be one spin-off of the genome research, but it is far from the only one. The earliest benefits are likely to emerge from conventional breeding, assisted by DNA markers. The wheat genome map will allow breeders to link desirable traits to segments of DNA, helping them to pick plants for crossing and to identify which hybrids have inherited positive qualities. The rice and maize genomes have already driven significant improvements in marker-assisted breeding of these crops. Wheat is now next in line."
Why Monsanto is betting on GM future
London Times, 27 August 2010

The Heart Of The Debate
'I Have Seen The Future And It Works'

"Oliver Walston (1 January) encountered a remarkable genomic analysis machine at Monsanto, reporting, 'What would have taken months - and maybe years - can now be done in days. I have seen the future and it works.' This 'Marker Assisted Selection' (MAS) process is the most significant modern molecular plant development technology. It can readily handle groups of genes. Acceptable to most stakeholders (including Greenpeace) it is even more important politically. These claims cannot be made for GM. GM in soya enables use of a particular herbicide but does not improve yield potential. However, Monsanto has released Roundup Ready 2 soya which does, achieved by applying MAS to the background genetics. This progress has not come from GM. This goes to the heart of the ag-biotech debate. MAS offers modern biotechnology's most important benefits, while avoiding the risks (real or imagined) of GM. Neither does it necessitate maintaining two food streams, GM and non-GM, with attendant costs and legal difficulties. MAS is clearly the route forward for making the fastest technical and political progress with modern plant varieties. As Walston says, 'I have seen the future and it works.'"
Letter - Acceptable Biotechnology
Farmers Weekly, 29 January 2010

GM Crop 'Reality Check' Archives

'Will GM Crops Deliver Benefits To Farmers?'

USDA Report Exposes GM Crop Economics Myth

More USDA Data On Rising Pesticide Applications On GM Crops

The Fundamental Scientific Error
Of Pursuing Transgenics Before Competency In Genomics

Solution To The GM Debate? - 'The Acceptable Face Of Ag-biotech'

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