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On Management And Performance Problems Of GM Crops
Press Reports 1996 - 2010
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"The popularity of genetically
modified (GM) maize is waning among cereal growers in the Iberian peninsula, according to
data published this week. Three-quarters of
commercial cultivation in the EU is concentrated in Spain and Portugal."
"Insects expected to drop dead
after feeding on genetically modified cotton plants have instead been found for the first
time in India to be thriving and even successfully breeding on the plants. Government entomologists have detected natural bollworms pests of
cotton capable of feeding, surviving and reproducing on commercial varieties of GM
cotton, and spawning progeny that can also complete a full life cycle on the plants. The
entomologists at the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Raichur, Karnataka, say
their observations coming within eight years after the start of commercial cultivation of
GM cotton in India put a question mark on the wisdom of relying heavily on GM plants,
particularly to fight crop pests. 'We saw virtually no differences between the biology of
insect populations reared on the GM cotton and the non-GM cotton,' said Aralimarad
Prabhuraj, associate professor of agricultural entomology at the UAS. The results of their studies appeared yesterday in the journal
Current Science, published by the Indian Academy of Sciences. The GM cotton plants are designed to produce a bacterial protein that is
toxic to bollworms. But the bollworm larvae picked up by the UAS researchers from their
experimental farms in Raichur defiantly survived the toxins produced by the plants.
Previous studies from the US, China and India have shown that bollworms can feed on GM
cotton plants. But the new study is the first to demonstrate that bollworms can breed on
the GM cotton and produce fertile offspring that also have the same capability..... The UAS researchers said their study did not probe whether the
bollworms survived because they have turned resistant to the toxin in the GM cotton plants
or because the amount of the toxins in the plants are below a minimum level needed to kill
the insects. 'The damage caused by the bollworms to
the GM cotton plants suggests that rather than banking on GM technology alone, we need to
lay emphasis on integrated pest management, or IPM,' said Yerbahalli B. Srinivasa, a team
member at the Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bangalore. In IPM, farmers are
encouraged to use multiple strategies to combat pests. Prabhuraj and Srinivasa say that
without IPM, the population of insects capable of surviving GM plants may grow beyond a
tipping point where the crop losses would be significant.... The
UAS study observed survival and breeding of bollworms on both first-generation as well as
a second-generation GM cotton. The second-generation
varieties are loaded with two toxins, and thus viewed as a superior alternative to GM
cotton with only one toxin."
|"Monsanto recently announced
that glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed had been identified in more soybean fields near
Windsor. Until a small number of plants had been
identified one field in 2008, Ontario has not had any glyphosate-resistant weeds. The first case of what was then a suspected case of
glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed was found in 2008 by the University of Guelph, and
confirmed in 2009. The resistant plants were found
in a field in Essex County, near Windsor, Ontario. Follow-up this summer has found the
glyphosate-resistant ragweed in 16 fields out of 57 tested, Monsanto confirmed in a press
release. All identified cases were located in Essex County. Speaking for Monsanto from the
Winnipeg office, Dr. Mark Lawton reassured farmers who plant Monsanto's roundup ready soy
beans, saying 'With the 2010 field research findings, we have a plan in place to follow-up
with the growers in order to relay the findings and more importantly, suggest solutions
for control. It is also important for the researchers to gather field history that may
help explain the presence of this resistance in the impacted fields.' The two University of Guelph researchers who originally found the
glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed announced their find in 2009 in a press release said
the find was significant because it was the first instance of glyphosate-resistant weeds
in Canada. It is believed the giant ragweed is the
only weed species in Canada that is resistant to Roundup. In comparison, the United States
has about 15 different weed species exhibiting resistance to glyphosate."
Glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed has spread in southern Ontario
Digital Journal, 23 November 2010
|"On Tuesday, [Brazilian
Agricultural Research Corporation] Embrapa
launched a program to increase the production of non-GM soybean seeds, as genetically
modified varieties marketed by biotech corporations are taking conventional versions off
the market. The program's focus is the production of
Mato Grosso, the main [soy] producing state. Soy
farmers complain about the difficulty of obtaining non-GM seeds in sufficient quantity to
supply the market, which pays a premium for a
product that is not modified. 'There's a war market in Mato Grosso, where (biotechnology
companies) are almost pulling out its conventional seeds, so we are getting into it now,'
said Alexander Cattelan, director of the soybean sector of the Brazilian Agricultural
Research Corporation (Embrapa), a public institution linked to the Ministry of
Agriculture. Brazil is the second largest producer globally of soybeans. The harvest was
68 million tons this year, about 65 percent of which was GM soy produced mainly from seeds
that incorporate technologies developed by Monsanto, a leader in this market in Brazil,
Bayer CropScience and BASF. Companies receive royalties for the use of such technology,
and farmers fear that the scarcity of non-GMO seeds leave them at the mercy of those
companies....Embrapa, which launched the program at its headquarters in Brasilia, will
develop various kinds of conventional seeds, adapted to different growing conditions, and
expand its own production facilities through partner companies. The program has the
support of the Brazilian Association of Non-GMO Grain Producers (ABRANGE) and the
Association of Soy Producers of Mato Grosso (Aprosoja). The
technical director of ABRANGE, Ivan Paghi, said it would be possible to reverse the
current trend and in the future grow 70 percent of in Mato Grosso soybeans as
non-GM, depending on demand from Europe and Asia."
Embrapa launches program to support non-GM soy
Reuters, 9 November 2010
"With the extensive use of glyphosate, many farmers have noted visual
plant injury in RR soybean varieties after glyphosate application. A new generation
designated as 'second generation RR2' has been recently developed and these RR2 cultivars
already are commercially available for farmers and promoted as higher yielding relative to
the previous RR cultivars. However, little information is currently available about the
performance of RR2 soybean beyond commercial and farmer testimonial data. Thus, an evaluation of different glyphosate rates applied in different
growth stages of the first and second generation of RR soybeans, revealed a significant
decrease in photosynthesis. In general, increased glyphosate rate and late applications
(V6) pronounced decrease photosynthetic parameters and consequently decreased in leaf area
and shoot biomass production. In contrast, low rate
and early applications were less damage for the RR soybean plants, suggesting that with
early applications (V2), plants probably have more time to recover from glyphosate or its
metabolites effects regarding late applications.... Glyphosate
caused undesirable effects on photosynthesis and biomass production in both first and
second generation RR soybean. Results suggest that
management strategies are needed to minimize these effects in the field, which could
include using lower glyphosate rates as possible and early applications, with
consideration of weed populations and the critical period of weed control, to assure
optimum crop growth."
"Monsanto Co. is paying farmers
to increase the number of herbicides theyre using. The rebate program is designed to
prevent more acrage from getting infested with weeds that are resistant to one
particularly popular herbicide, Roundup. Monsanto announced today that its offering
herbicide rebates for the first time for soybeans and increasing rebates for use on cotton
fields, where the resistant problem is the worst. Farmers
can earn the rebates for using herbicides other than Roundup, which is the trade name for
glyphosate. Roundup is used on most of the soybean, corn and cotton acreage in the country
because of the development of biotech seed varieties that are immune to the weedkiller.
However, the overuse of Roundup has led to the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds,
particularly in the South. Scientists say that farmers need to use a broader array of
weedkillers to control the resistance problem and stop relying exclusively on Roundup.
Monsanto is offering soybean growers rebates next year of as much as $6 an acre for the
use of two additional weedkillers. The rebates would offset about 25 to 35 percent of the
cost of the extra herbicides. Even if farmers use more herbicides next year as Monsanto is
trying to get them to do, they likely wont increase their total weed-control
expenses since the price of Roundup has fallen, said Monsanto official Randy Barker. Most
cotton and corn growers already are applying multiple herbicides, but 60 to 70 percent of
soybean growers are using Roundup exclusively, he said. 'Wed like to see that jump
up to where corn and cotton is at,' he said. The herbicides that qualify for rebates
include Monsanto products such as Warrant as well as chemicals made by competitors. The
use of additional herbicides will not only control Roundup-resistant weeds but add to
farmers profits by increasing their soybean yields, said Michael Owen, an Iowa State
University weed specialist who has been working on a multi-state study on the weed
resistance issue funded by Monsanto. One recent
analysis in Iowa found that weeds early in the growing season could cut soybean yields 6
to 8 bushels per acre, he said."
"A House hearing on herbicide-resistant weeds shed light and
generated heat but, unfortunately, provided little in the way of concrete solutions to the
burgeoning problem in U.S. row crop fields. Provocatively titled 'Are
superweeds an outgrowth of USDA biotech policy?' the House Committee on
Government Oversight and Reform, Domestic Policy Subcommittee hearing Sept. 30 was chaired
by Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich.... Kucinich, in an attempt to determine what oversight and
powers the USDA has or believes itself to have with regard to resistant
weeds and herbicide-tolerant crops, tangled early on with Ann Wright, USDA deputy
undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs.... Monsanto,
which brought farmers wildly popular Roundup Ready crops starting in the mid-1990s, has
come in for criticism as the corporate vector in the current rise of glyphosate-resistant
weeds. When Roundup Ready crops were first
introduced, the company downplayed warnings that an increase in resistant weeds would
surely follow.... Steve Smith, director of agriculture for Red Gold Tomato (the largest
privately-held canned tomato processor in the United States), told the subcommittee the
problem will only be exacerbated if more herbicide-tolerant crops are grown. He was
especially worried about dicamba-tolerant soybeans in the Midwest. 'Our concerns about the
upcoming increased use of dicamba arent just about tomatoes but all fruit and
vegetable crops and rural homeowners living near local farms,' said Smith. 'The use of
dicamba isnt new its effective, is a great weed-killer and economical
to apply. So, many may wonder why a product thats effective, proven and economical
isnt the number one herbicide in use today. Its very simple: dicamba has also
proven itself to move off-target and injure adjoining crops. So, it isnt currently
widely in use.' New agricultural technologies should be pursued but 'must be examined for
unintended consequences,' said Smith, who reminded that conventional wisdom once said 'it
was a good idea to use lead in paint. The theory of dicamba-tolerant soybeans may appear
sound on the surface. Its ability to kill weeds is proven. But the potential damage to
sectors of agriculture and rural homeowners demands we take a closer look at this
particular advance.'... Bill Freese, Center for Food Safety science policy analyst,
wasnt buying claims made during the hearing that herbicide-tolerant crops would
lessen world hunger and boost crop productivity. 'Actually, Roundup Ready crops do not
have higher yields,' testified Freese. 'Basically, they are designed to save time, labor
and help farmers get bigger. And there is also an increase in the use of pesticides with
these crops rather than a decrease. As for the conservation tillage benefits mentioned,
conservation tillage was mostly adopted before the introduction of Roundup Ready crops.'
Freese reminded the subcommittee that in 1997, just as Roundup Ready crops were being
introduced, 'Monsanto scientists published a paper in which they presented all the many
reasons weeds were not likely to evolve resistance to glyphosate. That wasnt the
first time theyve been wrong and, of course, they turned out to be disastrously wrong.'
Now, companies involved with crops tolerant to multiple herbicides 'assure us' the
technology 'is the solution to glyphosate-resistant weeds. DuPont, for instance, envisions
a single crop resistant to seven or more different classes of herbicides. Hundreds of
millions of dollars are being invested in resistance genes to about every herbicide
imaginable, including paraquat. About half of the genetically engineered (GE) crops
pending deregulation at USDA are herbicide-resistant. 'We shouldnt let ourselves be
misled once again. These new herbicide-resistant crops are the wrong response to
glyphosate-resistant weeds. One reason: they simply wont work. At best, well
get a short-term reprieve until nature cleverly evolves resistance to the new, multiple
herbicides deployed against them.'
"The weather over the last month has allowed for extensive field
preparations for 2011 behind corn, soybean, rice, and even cotton in some cases....growers in areas with a history of glyphosate-resistant Italian
ryegrass should begin to make preparations for another onslaught of this weed. Last year,
glyphosate-resistant Italian ryegrass began emerging during July or August, and this early
emergence complicated management programs....
Because so few options exist for controlling glyphosate-resistant Italian ryegrass in the
spring, we have begun to focus most of our management strategies on fall applications of
residual herbicides. Among the labeled herbicides for which we have multiple years of
data, fall applications of Dual Magnum, Treflan, and Command have provided the best
residual control of glyphosate-resistant Italian ryegrass."
"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 years harvest showed that
Monsantos newest product, SmartStax corn, which contains eight inserted genes, was
providing yields no higher than the companys less expensive corn, which contains
only three foreign genes. Monsanto has already been forced to sharply cut prices on
SmartStax .... Sales of Monsantos 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, Monsantos 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 Monsantos 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 years 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. Monsantos arch rival, DuPonts
Pioneer Hi-Bred, has also capitalized on the lack of options under a campaign called
'right product, right acre.' 'If they dont have a need for rootworm then we
wont have that trait in that product,' Paul E. Schickler, the president of Pioneer,
said in an interview."
"A genetically modified (GM)
crop has been found thriving in the wild for the first time in the United States.
Transgenic canola is growing freely in parts of North Dakota, researchers told the
Ecological Society of America conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, today. The scientists behind the discovery say this highlights a lack of proper
monitoring and control of GM crops in the United States. US farmers have dramatically
increased their use of GM crops since the plants were introduced in the early 1990s. Last
year, nearly half the world's transgenic crops were grown in US soil Brazil, the
world's second heaviest user, grew just 16%. GM crops have broken free from cultivated
land in several countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan, but they have
not previously been found in uncultivated land in the United States. 'The extent of the
escape is unprecedented,' says Cynthia Sagers, an ecologist at the University of Arkansas
in Fayetteville, who led the research team that found the canola (Brassica napus, also
known as rapeseed). Sagers and her team found two
varieties of transgenic canola in the wild one modified to be resistant to
Monsanto's Roundup herbicide (glyphosate), and one resistant to Bayer Crop Science's
Liberty herbicide (gluphosinate). They also found some plants that were resistant to both
herbicides, showing that the different GM plants had bred to produce a plant with a new
trait that did not exist anywhere else. Sagers says the previous discoveries in other
countries of transgenic canola populations growing outside of cultivation were often in or
near fields used for commercial transgenic canola production. By contrast, her research
team found feral populations of herbicide-resistant canola growing along roads, near
petrol stations and grocery stores, often at large distances from areas of agricultural
production. The researchers took samples of
plants at 8-kilometre intervals along roads in North Dakota from 4 June to 23 July 2010.
The number of B. napus plants in each sample plot was counted, and one plant was collected
and tested for the presence of proteins that could give it resistance to either of the
herbicides. The team found B. napus at nearly half of the 288 sites tested. Of
these, 80% had at least one herbicide-resistant transgene (41% were resistant to Roundup
and 40% resistant to Liberty). They also found two plants that contained both transgenes.
Sagers says the discovery of plants that are resistant to both herbicides shows that
'these feral populations of canola have been part of the landscape for several
generations'. Further studies are needed to establish whether these escaped GM canola
plants have any ecological consequences. But those
that have evolved resistance to both herbicides could become a weed problem for farmers,
|"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
"Farmers in the South started noticing the problem before anyone
else. When they sprayed their fields with Roundup weed killer, weeds kept growing anyway.
In some areas, fields became so choked with weeds that farmers abandoned them. Midwestern
farmers have been watching the troubles in the South. Roundup, or its ingredient,
glyphosate, is used with crops genetically modified to withstand the herbicide and has
become the most ubiquitous product in American farming. It has meant less pesticide use.
Less environmentally damaging tillage. And it has helped catapult Creve Coeur-based
Monsanto, the developer of the Roundup Ready system, into the most dominant player in the
seed industry. But now, this silver bullet of American agriculture is beginning to miss
its mark. The herbicide-resistant weeds that have plagued Southern farmers are emerging in
Missouri with similar tenacity. 'It's a serious, serious problem,' said Blake Hurst, a
corn and soy farmer in northwestern Missouri and vice president of the board of the
Missouri Farm Bureau. 'The further north you get, the less of a problem it's been so far.
Farmers here are denying it's going to happen to them. But guess what? It's on the way to
your farm.' So far, glyphosate-resistant weeds have
been found in at least 22 states. Last month,
University of Missouri researchers confirmed that herbicide resistant giant ragweed has
been found on 12 farms, bringing the total count of herbicide-resistant weeds in the state
to five..... Monsanto and other biotech industry players have been working with university
extensions and farm groups to urge farmers to use different herbicides that work in
different ways. Monsanto is even offering subsidies
to Southern farmers - of about $12 an acre - as an incentive to use other companies'
products to keep Roundup viable. The company also
recently announced the launch of a new herbicide, Warrant, which can be used on cotton and
soybeans and has been effective in some areas. Meanwhile, the biggest drag on Monsanto's
profitability has been the decline in its Roundup business. In the last quarter,
Monsanto's Roundup and glyphosate business fell 56 percent. The reason: a flood of
Chinese-made generic weed killer saturating the U.S. market that forced Monsanto to slash
prices....Some farmers say they are turning to conventional varieties of herbicides
because they are unwilling to pay a higher price for a Roundup system that isn't working
as it once did. But some younger farmers have never farmed any other way."
"The cotton insect situation has changed a lot in the last couple of
weeks, and has reached something of a turning point, says Angus Catchot, associate
Extension professor of entomology and plant pathology at Mississippi State University.....
Last year, Catchot says, 85 percent of the cotton that was planted in Mississippi was
two-gene Bt varieties, and 'this year, its probably 95 percent. 'Were seeing
massive bollworm egg lays across most areas theyre everywhere in the
landscape, and growers need to keep in mind that sometimes even
these dual gene Bt varieties may need treatment for worms. The mixtures with pyrethroids
we are recommending for plant bug control can provide something of a safety net for these
" Several years ago, pigweed found the weakness and breached the defense that Georgia cotton growers
used to control it. It now threatens to knock them out, or at least the ones who want to
make money, says a University of Georgia weed expert. 'Its been devastating in a lot
of ways,' said Stanley Culpepper, a weed specialist
with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences whos taken a lead in fighting the weed in Georgia. 'Its
without a doubt the largest pest-management problem that any of our agronomic growers are
facing, especially our cotton producers.' If not killed early, pigweed also called
Palmer amaranth can grow as tall as a small shade tree in fields, gobble nutrients
away from cotton plants, steal yields and in severe cases make harvest difficult or
impossible. In 1997, farmers started planting cotton
that was developed to stay healthy when sprayed with glyphosate herbicide, commonly sold
under the brand name Roundup. They could spray the
herbicide over-the-top of this cotton, killing weeds like pigweed but not the cotton.
Virtually all Georgia cotton grown now is 'Roundup Ready' because it saves farmers time
and money. But relying on one tool to do the job can lead to problems. In 2005, the first
case of pigweed resistant to glyphosate was confirmed in middle Georgia, the first
confirmed case in the world. At the time, it was localized to a few fields on about 500
acres. The resistance has since spread across 52
counties, infesting more than 1 million acres. Within the next year or two, Culpepper
said, it will likely be in every agronomic county in the state. Its also confirmed
in most other Southeastern states..... According to a survey last year, half of Georgias 1 million
acres of cotton was weeded by hand for pigweed, something not normally done, costing $11
million. Growers went from spending $25 per acre to control weeds in cotton a few years
ago to spending $60 to $100 per acre now. 'Were talking survival, at least economically speaking, in
some areas' Culpepper said, 'because some growers arent going to survive this.' Growers in middle Georgia whove battled the resistance for several
years now are aggressively attacking the weed. Growers in other regions need to get on
board. 'If they dont have resistance yet they will,' he said."
|"A type of wild Cruciferae
growing near a national highway in Mie Prefecture has been found to have genes of a
genetically modified rapeseed, possibly a result of
crossing between the wild plants and imported rapeseeds that had fallen during
transportation, a survey by a civic group said Friday. There have been cases of
interbreeding between genetically modified rapeseeds and normal rapeseeds for
horticultural purposes in the past, the group said, but the latest finding of crossing
between the wild plant, whose academic name is Rorippa indica which grows in the Southeast
Asia regions including Japan, and the artificially modified ones could be the first case
of intercrossing found in the wild in Japan. Modified genes found in wild plant, possibly
cross between GMOs."
Modified genes found in wild plant, possibly cross between GMOs
Kyodo News International, 2 July 2010
"As glyphosate-resistant weeds
sink ever deeper roots into the Mid-South, farmer interest in conventional soybeans is
picking up. Theres been a 'definite' uptick in conventional soybean queries, says
Jeremy Ross, Arkansas Extension soybean specialist, 'especially in the last several years. The interest in conventional really picked up when the resistant pigweed
problem took off.' Roundup Ready crops which, in the mid-1990s, ushered in an era
of unprecedented glyphosate use and subsequent weed resistance still have a good
fit for some farms, says Ross. 'But Ive heard growers say, Well, if I have to
use conventional herbicides to control weeds in my Roundup Ready beans, why pay the extra
money for tech fees? Why not just go conventional?' For the last couple of years,
farmers that have grown conventional soybeans have often gotten premiums on delivery.
However, that enticement may be beginning to play out 'because enough conventional are
coming into the market that companies dont have to pay a premium.' There are other
upsides for conventional soybeans. 'One is, with university varieties, growers can keep
seed for use the next year. That saves seed costs. And if youve got to use
conventional herbicides on your Roundup Ready varieties, why pay the tech fee? Save that
money and use it later towards an additional fungicide/herbicide application.'
"The widening specter of glyphosate-resistant pigweed throughout the
Southeast will force producers to get more creative in terms of crop decisions, says one
scientist. For now, one thing is certain. Resistant pigweed is spreading rapidly through
different parts of Alabama. 'It's just a matter of time perhaps before every field in
south Alabama will have resistant pigweed,' says Michael Patterson, an Alabama Cooperative
Extension System weed scientist and Auburn University professor of agronomy and soils.
'We're not going to stop it, which means it's going to have to be managed using herbicides
with different modes of action and crop rotation.' For many of them, a potentially
attractive option remains corn production. Why? Partly because it can be grown using
atrazine, which remains an effective weapon against pigweed..... With cotton, the weeds
between rows have not been the biggest challenge the ones within the rows have.
While the weeds between the rows can be dealt with using hooded sprayers and directed
sprays, weeds within the rows are virtually impossible to control. This growing season, as the reality of glyphosate resistance is
brought home to many of these producers, 2010 will likely be remembered as a critical year
in the struggle against this growing menace. 'A lot
of growers are beginning to realize they have this resistant weed and that they can't kill
it with Roundup,' Patterson says. 'So, if they are growing cotton and they don't change
their production practices this year, namely using residual herbicides from the very
beginning, they may lose their crop. 'That's what growers in Georgia discovered three
"The Attorney General's office said in the letter that
investigators have reviewed several studies by agricultural experts showing that
Monsanto's advertised claims of higher yields for its high-priced new soybean seed, called
Roundup Ready 2 Yield, have not been realized. As well, U.S. Department of Agriculture
statistics show no increase in the state's average yield for the last harvest. West
Virginia officials said that farmers had relied on advertising claims by Monsanto that its
Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybean seeds would yield 7-11 percent more than Monsanto's original
Roundup Ready soybeans. 'My office is concerned that West Virginia farmers are paying much
higher prices for soybeans with the Roundup Ready 2 trait when the yields do not live up
to the claims and do not justify the increased prices,' the letter from West Virginia
Attorney General Darrell McGraw Jr. states. Officials said if Monsanto's yield claims
cannot be substantiated, it is violating West Virginia consumer protection laws and is
subject to 'injunctive relief, restitution and disgorgement, as well as civil penalties.'
'We believe the West Virginia's Attorney General letter is based on a misunderstanding of
our national marketing materials,' said Monsanto spokesman Lee Quarles. 'Monsanto can
provide data demonstrating the performance of the Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield.' Quarles
said that more than 40,000 soybean yield records collected between 2007 and 2009 showed
the 'rolling average yield benefit' of its own Roundup Ready 2 seed variety was 3.6
bushels or more than 7 percent compared to competitors' seeds also engineered to tolerate
Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. West Virginia is only
one of several states that have been looking into similar concerns over Monsanto's seed
pricing strategies and product marketing, with a
particular focus on the company's handling of the release last year of its new Roundup
Ready 2 Yield soybean seeds. The U.S. Department of
Justice has also been scrutinizing Monsanto's moves in the U.S. seed industry amid
allegations by competitors and others of unfair pricing and antitrust violations. The
company has repeatedly said its conduct is above-board and its products are priced fairly
for the value they deliver to farmers. But the company last month said it was examining
and adjusting its seed pricing across the marketplace and taking farmer complaints to
heart. 'Every year, dozens of seed companies advance
new varieties that offer the potential of higher yield. These companies stake their
reputation on meeting grower expectations. This is no different for Monsanto,' Quarles
said. Roundup Ready soybeans, which are genetically altered to tolerate the company's
herbicide, have been wildly popular with U.S. farmers and for years have been the soybean
seeds of choice, planted on the vast majority of U.S. soybean acreage. But Monsanto's patent on the product is expiring in 2014 and Monsanto has been trying to convince customers to move to the newer
version, which have been priced, by some accounts, more than 40 percent higher."
"And waterhemp makes seven seven as in the
number of weeds in the Mid-South with documented resistance to glyphosate herbicide.
Glyphosate-resistant waterhemp was confirmed in early June by Delta Research and Extension
Center weed scientist Vijay Nandula, from seed collected in 2008 from a field of Roundup
Ready soybeans on a farm in southern Washington County, near Hollandale, Miss. The seed were planted and subsequent offspring screened for resistance to
glyphosate.... Waterhemp, or Amaranth tuberculatus, is closely related to Palmer
amaranth, noted Jason Bond, DREC weed scientist and Delta Farm Press contributor.
In fact, the two are often confused for one another. Both are dioecious, meaning they have
male and female plants. Waterhemp and Palmer pigweed frequently cross pollinate with one
another. This makes chasing down resistant biotypes in the Mid-South a bit like shooting
at a moving target, say weed scientists. Open pollination, which is characteristic of
dioecious plants, 'facilitates moving genes around,' noted DREC weed scientist Tom Eubank.
'A lot of genetic information gets exchanged in a dioecious plant versus a
self-pollinating species like morningglory.' 'Its rare that you see a true
waterhemp, or a true Palmer amaranth. You end up with weeds with characteristics of both,'
"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 seeds for corn, soybean and cotton plants unaffected by the
chemical, enabling farmers to spray it on freely without fear of harming their crops.
Farmers now do so en masse, using 'Roundup Ready' crop varieties for 90% of the soybeans
and 80% of the corn grown across the U.S. The rise of Roundup, more than a decade ago,
sent older herbicides that damage both weeds and crops into deep eclipse. But now, as
nasty invaders with names like pigweed, horseweed and Johnsongrass develop immunity to the
mighty Roundup, chemical companies are dusting off the potent herbicides of old for an
attack on the new superweeds. And big chemical companiestaking a page from
Monsanto's bookare engineering crop varieties that will enable farmers to spray on
the tough old weedkillers freely, instead of having to apply them surgically in order to
spare crops. Dow Chemical Co., DuPont Co., Bayer AG, BASF SE and Syngenta AG are together
spending hundreds of millions of dollars to develop genetically modified soybean, corn and
cotton seeds that can survive a dousing by their herbicides, many decades old. 'It will be
a very significant opportunity' for chemical companies, says John Jachetta, a scientist at
Dow Chemical's Dow AgroSciences and president of the Weed Science Society of America. 'It
is a new era.' The bioengineering push is causing controversy, though. Some of the old
pesticidesin particular, those called 2,4-D and dicambahave a history of
posing more risks for the environment than the chemical in Roundup. That's partly because
they have more of a tendency to drift on the wind onto neighboring farms or wild
vegetation. Roundup tends to adhere better to the ground. The chemical companies are
betting their biotech investments will pay off in two ways: Farmers will buy more of their
herbicides, and will pay big premiums for the new seeds. 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. The new herbicide-tolerant seeds 'would make controlling weeds very easy
for farmers,' says David Mortensen, a weed scientist at Pennsylvania State University. As
a result, he says, the amount of herbicide sprayed on just one major crop, soybeans, could
climb roughly 70%.....The St. Louis company has cut its earnings outlook recently to
reflect both generic competition and a backlash by farmers against the steep prices it
charges for genetically modified seeds. Its stock has dropped 39% this year. Monsanto also
is facing the 2014 expiration of the patent on the key gene in seeds for soybeans tolerant
of the weedkiller.... The new seeds meant farmers could leave behind the risk and
guesswork of choosing the right herbicides to spray, at exactly the right time, on the
right weeds. Weed control became so easy that many farmers sold off their weed-tilling
implements and stopped buying other pesticides....But
weeds are adapting. At least nine species have developed immunity to it. 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.'"
"Resistant giant ragweed doesnt get the media
attention of other resistant weeds like Palmer pigweed and horseweed. But it is becoming more and more of a problem in west Tennessee, the
Missouri Bootheel and northeast Arkansas, according
to University of Tennessee weed scientist Larry Steckel."
|"Glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth pigweed knows no boundaries,
just ask farmers in Alabama. For a while now, growers in the state have wearily watched
their neighbors across the river in Georgia, where resistant pigweed has established a
stronghold and is expected to be present in every crop-producing county by the end of this
year. Historically speaking, glyphosate-resistant pigweed hasnt been a problem in
Alabama cotton fields, but as of now, it is. Most
recently, in 2009, it was documented on a farm in east-central Alabamas Barbour
County, where approximately 2,000 acres were infested, says Mike Patterson, Auburn
University Extension weed scientist. Reports of additional fields containing escaped
pigweed in Roundup Ready cotton indicates, he says, that this problem will spread across
south Alabama fields in the next few years. A field of soybeans infested with Palmer
amaranth was discovered in the Tennessee Valley region of north Alabama in 2009, where the
weed was not controlled with applications of glyphosate. A further investigation of this
infestation will be conducted this year..... Glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth had
already emerged in many cotton fields in Georgia by late April, according to Stanley
Culpepper, University of Georgia Extension weed scientist. 'It is critical that growers
control these emerged plants before planting their cotton crop. If the Palmer amaranth
population is resistant to Roundup, then one of the more effective mixtures would be an
application of paraquat (Gramoxone, others) plus diuron (Direx, others) plus crop oil,' he
Resistant pigweed crosses into Alabama
Southeast Farm Press, 28 May 2010
"Its no secret the increased usage of Bt corn and cotton has
dramatically reduced the use of organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides, nor that this decrease has created an
explosion of stinkbug pressure in the Southeast over the past
decade. How to manage these stinky pests has proven
to be more challenging than expected. Challenging, not just for production farmers, home
gardeners, even homeowners, but likewise challenging for veteran entomologists who are
trying to find economically and environmentally sound systems to manage these pests.
Organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides which were used on virtually every crop grown
in the Southeast, are effective in reducing most stink bugs. Subsequently, they were not
an economically significant pest on any crop in earlier times. That led to two distinct
problems: The dramatic decline in use of these two once popular insecticide families
created a positive environment for stink bugs in a wide range of host plants. And, the
lack of stink bug pressure in the decades of the 1980s and1990s meant university
researchers and chemical company product developers focused their attention on other more
pressing insect problems. The end result has been an
explosion of stink bug pressure across a wide range of crops in the Southeast. How to put the proverbial genie back in the bottle is an ongoing
challenge for entomologists across the region.... The good news is that green stink bugs
are easy to manage with insecticides. Growers routinely kept numbers low while spraying
organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides for other, more economically damaging, insect
"A battle is quietly being waged between the industry that produces
genetically modified seeds and scientists trying to investigate the environmental impacts
of engineered crops. Although companies such as Monsanto have recently given ground,
researchers say these firms are still loath to allow independent analyses of their
patented and profitable seeds. In February 2009, frustrated by industry
restrictions on independent research into genetically modified crops, two dozen scientists
representing public research institutions in 17 corn-producing states told the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the companies producing genetically modified
(GM) seed 'inhibit public scientists from pursuing their mandated role on behalf of the
public good' and warned that industry influence had made independent analyses of
transgenic crops impossible. Unprepared for the scientists public protest and the
press accounts that followed it, the industry, through its American Seed Trade Association
(ASTA), met with crop scientists. Late last year, ASTA agreed that, while still
restricting research on engineered plant genes, it would allow researchers greater freedom
to study the effects of GM food crops on soil, pests, and pesticide use, and to compare
their yields and analyze their effects on the environment. While many scientists expressed
optimism about the agreement, questions remain over whether and how soon it
will alter what has been a research environment rife with obstructions and suspicion... 'I
have talked to dozens of scientists who have gone through incredible machinations to do
their research,' says Charles Benbrook, the chief scientist with The Organic Center who
served from 1984 to 1990 as executive director of the National Academy of Sciences Board
on Agriculture. And when their data presents a challenge to the companies, he says, these
scientists 'have found themselves under personal and professional threats.' Among research
that has faced industry disapproval, says Benbrook, are studies on evolving weed
resistance, on plant pathogens, and on susceptibility of non-pest insects to the Bacillus
thuringiensis (Bt)-derived toxins that protect the GM plants against insect pests.
'Scientists are clearly intimidated,' says Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist for the
Union of Concerned Scientists Food and Environment Program.... At a meeting in
December 2009, the companies said that while they would not agree to remove the bag-tag
restrictions on research 'for reasons of competitiveness in the marketplace,' they would
agree to enter into blanket research agreements called Academic Research Licenses (ARLs)
with public institutions. These ARLs would make it unnecessary for scientists to apply to
do research on a case-by-case basis. The language in these agreements approved by
the companies, ASTA, and the Biotechnology Industry Organization would supersede
that of the bag-tag. Research could include agronomic and yield comparisons, comparative
efficacy studies, pest biology and resistance management studies, and studies on the
interactions of introduced traits with the environment.... What is not included in the
agreement with ASTA and the companies are studies related to the patent-protected genetics
of the plant itself, such as breeding, reverse gene engineering, and modifications to the
genetic traits. Universities must still negotiate terms of the ARLs with each company. Each company remains free to decide how fully it will adopt the
principles. A single 'non-player,' the scientists wrote last month, could still prevent
comparative studies or restrict entire categories of research. A divide already exists
between those companies that will allow scientists to develop insect-resistant colonies
for research purposes and those that will not. 'The agreement is broad and vague,' says
Gurian-Sherman. 'Its voluntary, and theres no meaningful enforcement. Im
concerned that industry will allow scientists it favors to have seeds which in
itself will be some improvement but that scientists industry is wary of will still
have problems getting those seeds.' The result, he said, may be the illusion that research
is now open to all, while creating a divide among scientists and the dilution of science
on transgenic crops. For instance, he points out that conducting experiments that test the
yields provided by GM crops against yields using the original non-GM variety, or against
crops grown using sustainable farming methods, will remain difficult. In a report for the Union of Concerned Scientists, Gurian-Sherman
recently questioned the validity of industry claims that increased crop yields are the
result of increased planting of GM crops. Improvements made by conventional breeding, he
says, have had more effect on yield than any engineered genes.... Benbrook, too, remains
unconvinced that the agreement will alter the research landscape. 'If you dont
expect to still face vigorous challenges to the quality of your science,' he says,
'youre just naïve.'"
"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. Outbreaks of
larvae of the cotton bollworm moth in the early 1990s had hit crop yields and profits, and
the pesticides used to control the bollworm damaged the environment and caused thousands
of deaths from poisoning each year. More than 4
million hectares of Bt cotton are now grown in China. Since the crop was approved, a team
led by Kongming Wu, an entomologist at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in
Beijing, has monitored pest populations at 38 locations in northern China, covering 3
million hectares of cotton and 26 million hectares of various other crops. 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, however, that pest
control must keep sight of the whole ecosystem."
Scientists are calling for the reassessement of the long-term impact of GM crops at a 'landscape level' as millions of hectares of Bt cotton in China become infested with secondary pests (Guardian, 13 May 2010):
"Scientists are calling for the long-term risks of GM crops to be reassessed after field studies revealed an explosion in pest numbers around farms growing modified strains of cotton. The unexpected surge of infestations 'highlights a critical need' for better ways of predicting the impact of GM crops and spotting potentially damaging knock-on effects arising from their cultivation, researchers said. Millions of hectares of farmland in northern China have been struck by infestations of bugs following the widespread adoption of Bt cotton, an engineered variety made by the US biotech giant, Monsanto. Outbreaks of mirid bugs, which can devastate around 200 varieties of fruit, vegetable and corn crops, have risen dramatically in the past decade, as cotton farmers have shifted from traditional cotton crops to GM varieties, scientists said. Traditional cotton famers have to spray their crops with insecticides to combat destructive bollworm pests, but Bt cotton produces its own insecticide, meaning farmers can save money by spraying it less. But a 10-year study across six major cotton-growing regions of China found that by spraying their crops less, farmers allowed mirid bugs to thrive and infest their own and neighbouring farms. The infestations are potentially catastrophic for more than 10m small-scale farmers who cultivate 26m hectares of vulnerable crops in the region studied.The findings mark the first confirmed report of mass infestations arising as an unintended consequence of farmers using less pesticide a feature of Bt cotton that was supposed to save money and lessen the crops' environmental impact. The research, led by Kongming Wu at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, is published in the US journal, Science. 'Our work highlights a critical need to do ecological assessments and monitoring at the landscape-level to better understand the impacts of GM crop adoption,' Dr Wu told the Guardian....Dr Wu's team monitored insecticide use from 1992 to 2008 at 38 farms throughout the six northern Chinese provinces of Henan, Hebei, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong and Shanxi. They also kept records of mirid bug populations at the farms between 1997 and 2008."
Roundup Ready GM crops have lead to at least nine species of weed developing resistance to glyphosate to the point where some farmers can no longer control weed infestations (New Scientist, 13 May 2010):
"The world's most popular herbicide is losing its knockout punch. More and more weeds are evolving resistance to glyphosate - originally marketed by Monsanto as Roundup ..... In 1996, Monsanto began selling crop varieties genetically modified to contain a gene for glyphosate resistance. This enabled farmers to spray glyphosate - lethal to plants yet non-toxic to animals - on their fields to kill weeds without damaging the crops, even during the growing season. Today nearly 100 million hectares worldwide are planted with glyphosate-resistant crops. In much of the south-eastern US, as well as Brazil and Argentina, farmers grow glyphosate-resistant corn, soybeans and cotton year after year and have come to rely almost exclusively on this herbicide. This has encouraged at least nine species of weed to evolve their own glyphosate resistance, to the point where some farmers can no longer control weed infestations."
The widespread use of 'Roundup Ready' crops in the United States has led to the emergence of 10 resistant weed species in at least 22 states affecting millions of acres (New York Times, 3 May 2010):
"Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds. To fight them, Mr. Anderson and farmers throughout the East, Midwest and South are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing. 'Were back to where we were 20 years ago,' said Mr. Anderson, who will plow about one-third of his 3,000 acres of soybean fields this spring, more than he has in years. 'Were trying to find out what works.'..... 'It is the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen,' said Andrew Wargo III, the president of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts. The first resistant species to pose a serious threat to agriculture was spotted in a Delaware soybean field in 2000. Since then, the problem has spread, with 10 resistant species in at least 22 states infesting millions of acres, predominantly soybeans, cotton and corn. The superweeds could temper American agricultures enthusiasm for some genetically modified crops. Soybeans, corn and cotton that are engineered to survive spraying with Roundup have become standard in American fields. However, if Roundup doesnt kill the weeds, farmers have little incentive to spend the extra money for the special seeds..... farmers sprayed so much Roundup that weeds quickly evolved to survive it. 'What were talking about here is Darwinian evolution in fast-forward,' Mike Owen, a weed scientist at Iowa State University, said. Now, Roundup-resistant weeds like horseweed and giant ragweed are forcing farmers to go back to more expensive techniques that they had long ago abandoned. Mr. Anderson, the farmer, is wrestling with a particularly tenacious species of glyphosate-resistant pest called Palmer amaranth, or pigweed, whose resistant form began seriously infesting farms in western Tennessee only last year. Pigweed can grow three inches a day and reach seven feet or more, choking out crops; it is so sturdy that it can damage harvesting equipment. In an attempt to kill the pest before it becomes that big, Mr. Anderson and his neighbors are plowing their fields and mixing herbicides into the soil. That threatens to reverse one of the agricultural advances bolstered by the Roundup revolution: minimum-till farming. By combining Roundup and Roundup Ready crops, farmers did not have to plow under the weeds to control them. That reduced erosion, the runoff of chemicals into waterways and the use of fuel for tractors.... So far, weed scientists estimate that the total amount of United States farmland afflicted by Roundup-resistant weeds is relatively small seven million to 10 million acres, according to Ian Heap, director of the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds, which is financed by the agricultural chemical industry. There are roughly 170 million acres planted with corn, soybeans and cotton, the crops most affected.... Monsanto, which once argued that resistance would not become a major problem, now cautions against exaggerating its impact. 'It's a serious issue, but it's manageable,' said Rick Cole, who manages weed resistance issues in the United States for the company. Of course, Monsanto stands to lose a lot of business if farmers use less Roundup and Roundup Ready seeds. 'You're having to add another product with the Roundup to kill your weeds,' said Steve Doster, a corn and soybean farmer in Barnum, Iowa. 'So then why are we buying the Roundup Ready product?' Monsanto argues that Roundup still controls hundreds of weeds. But the company is concerned enough about the problem that it is taking the extraordinary step of subsidizing cotton farmers' purchases of competing herbicides to supplement Roundup. Monsanto and other agricultural biotech companies are also developing genetically engineered crops resistant to other herbicides."
Cotton growers in Louisiana are finding that Monsanto's second generation Bollgard II Bt cotton is not providing the levels of pest control required and are increasing their pesticide applications in response (Delta Farm Press, 14 April 2010):
"Even with rising cotton prices and new technologies on the market, Louisiana cotton producers remain worried that cotton has become too risky and too costly to manage. Who can blame them? First there were the disastrous seasons of 2008 and 2009, when the states cotton crop suffered through harvest-time hurricanes and/or wet weather that reduced yield from 2007 by 43 percent and 31 percent. Those who were able to absorb the losses arent looking forward much to 2010 either, pointing to the lack of a proven cotton variety and higher costs associated with managing pest-resistant technologies. Their concerns have gotten the attention of Monsanto, which markets Bollgard II and Roundup Ready Flex. The company conducted a number of listening sessions around the Cotton Belt this winter focusing on grower concerns. One of those concerns is the phasing out of cotton varieties containing original Bollgard, and their replacement by varieties containing Bollgard II. Growers in Louisiana who planted Bollgard II in 2009 arent sure the technology is worth a higher price, considering the sprays they made in Bollgard II for cotton bollworm last year. Many were expecting that the dual gene technology in Bollgard II would significantly reduce or eliminate these sprays. Cotton producer Donovan Wiley, who farms around Jonesville, La., said the appearance of bollworms in his Bollgard II cotton in 2009 was frustrating and an added cost on top of Mother Nature-related damage. 'There were a sustained number of bollworms out there, just below threshold. But they were there for longer than we could tolerate at the sub-threshold level.' Wiley sprayed for bollworms in the cotton two times, 'because we were also going after plant bugs and stink bugs. We took care of them before they caused any damage.'
Evidence from government funded research in America indicates that the widespread use of Roundup-Ready GM crops is adversely affect root growth and soil microbes (Reuters, 13 April 2010):
"'Robert Kremer, a U.S. government microbiologist who studies Midwestern farm soil, has spent two decades analyzing the rich dirt that yields billions of bushels of food each year and helps the United States retain its title as breadbasket of the world.... recent findings by Kremer and other agricultural scientists are raising fresh concerns about Monsanto's products and the Washington agencies that oversee them. The same seeds and chemicals spread across millions of acres of U.S. farmland could be creating unforeseen problems in the plants and soil, this body of research shows. Kremer, who works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), is among a group of scientists who are turning up potential problems with glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup and the most widely used weed-killer in the world. 'This could be something quite big. We might be setting up a huge problem,' said Kremer, who expressed alarm that regulators were not paying enough attention to the potential risks from biotechnology on the farm, including his own research. Concerns range from worries about how nontraditional genetic traits in crops could affect human and animal health to the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds....Back in his USDA laboratory, Kremer's assigned government work is focused on general soil quality. As a side project in support of that research, he has spent the last several years studying soil and plant growth tests that appear to show ravaged root systems in biotech 'Roundup Ready' plants. The crops have been subjected to glyphosate applications and on the surface appear to be impervious to the weed-killing treatments as the genetic alteration allows. But the roots seem to tell a different story. 'This is supposed to be a wonderful tool for the farmer ... but in many situations it may actually be a detriment,' Kremer said. 'We have glyphosate released into the soil which appears to be affecting root growth and root-associated microbes. We need to understand what is the long-term trend here,' he said....some scientists say there are indications of increased root fungal disease as well as nutrient deficiencies in Roundup Ready crops. They say manganese deficiency in soybeans in particular appears to be an issue in key farming areas that include Indiana, Michigan, Kansas and Wisconsin."
There are now nine weed species in the United States that have developed resistance to glyphosate (AgWeb, 9 April 2010):
"The first U.S. resistance to glyphosate was detected in 1998 in rigid ryegrass in California. Since then, nine weed species in the U.S. now have confirmed resistance to glyphosate. Among these weeds are strains of common ragweed, common waterhemp, giant ragweed, hairy fleabane, horseweed, Italian ryegrass, johnsongrass, Palmer amaranth and rigid ryegrass. Most of the species that have evolved resistance to glyphosate also demonstrate multiple resistances to other herbicide mechanisms of action. States with confirmed outbreaks include: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. To view listing of weed resistance by biotypes and mode of action, go to: www.weedscience.org."
Insecticide applications on Bt cotton crops in Mississippi have been rising over the last five years as secondary pest move into the void vacated by bollworms (Delta Farm Press, 7 April 2010):
"Plant bugs have rushed into the void left by the removal of worms and weevils from cotton fields with the advent of Bt cotton and boll weevil eradication. The result has been a steady increase in foliar insect control costs for Mississippi cotton producers over the last five years."
With the spread of Roundup Ready crops the first case of a glyphosate-resistant weed (giant ragweed) in Canada has occurred (Strarphoenix (Canada), 6 April 2010):
"Glyphosate has multiple uses. It's used extensively as a weed burn-off before crop emergence. It's applied on Roundup Ready crops of canola, corn and soybeans. It's used for chem-fallow and it's applied pre-harvest and post-harvest for perennial weed control.......The first case of a glyphosate-resistant weed in Canada has just been confirmed. University of Guelph researchers working in conjunction with Monsanto Canada have confirmed glyphosate resistance in a population of giant ragweed in Ontario.The finding is the result of research that began in late 2008 when a resistant population was first suspected. Not only do the plants survive increased rates of glyphosate, but they also have the ability to pass the trait along to the next generation. At this point, the resistance has only been confirmed from a single field site. Other giant ragweed populations in southwestern Ontario are being tested. Monsanto says there are a total of 17 weed species in countries around the world with confirmed resistance to glyphosate. Ten of those species are in the United States. While this is the first case in Canada, it won't likely be the last."
Farmers' uptake of GM crops in the United States has been influenced by powerful marketing, but the spread of the technology is leading to weed resistance (now including giant ragweed), greater costs, and lower yields (Iowa Independent, 11 March 2010):
"Iowa crop farmers are battling an old problem with potentially new and devastating repercussions for the entire state's agricultural economy: Herbicide-resistant weeds.The phenomenon is not all that new, said Mike Owen, a weed specialist at Iowa State University who has been discussing herbicide-resistant weeds since the 1980s. But widespread adoption of certain biotech advances have made matters much more complicated. Despite the concerns voiced by some, and increasingly aggressive tactics by Monsanto to protect its seed patents, use of the Roundup Ready crop brands were widely adopted by farmers in Iowa and throughout the nation. While each individual grower had his or her own specific reasons for changing to the Roundup Ready system, Owen believes that larger scale operations' search for simplicity and convenience as well as corporate marketing played key roles. '[P]art of this is definitely the issue of scale. Growers are looking at time management. They are looking for simplicity and convenience because of the scale that agriculture has achieved over the past 10 years,' Owen said. 'We also need to look at how the marketing has influenced the growers' decisions. Certainly marketing campaigns are very influential in the decisions that growers make. They are very persuasive, and they are very pervasive in the marketplace.' From television to radio to numerous ag-specific print publications, Iowa's rural community has been bombarded by a wealth of advertising by corporations that need growers to adopt their systems. As agriculture has grown, and larger growing plots have become more time-consuming for producers, the companies have successfully highlighted the aspects of their products they believe will most appeal to producers.....'These are very powerful and very desirable things in the marketplace. Convenience and simplicity are both very useful and very important; however, they are also something that have considerable risks associated,' he explained........ Although glysophate-based herbicide had been on the market for a number of years, the 1996 Field Crops Summary conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicated that less than 1 million pounds of the herbicide were applied to roughly 15 percent of Iowa soybean fields a figure well below what was being used at the same time by farmers in Illinois and Indiana. In 2006, however, use by Iowa farmers had skyrocketed to more than 12 million pounds on nearly 90 percent of all soybean acreage and had out-paced use by any other Midwestern state known for soybean production. Not only had the percent of Iowa's land use for soybean production increased during that time frame, but the statistics clearly show that producers were more than doubling the amount of glyphosate that was initially used for weed control. Just as diseases can evolve resistance to antibiotics, weeds can evolve resistance to herbicides, prompting more frequent application to provide adequate control and maintain crop yield potential. Glyphosate-resistant weeds are now established in 19 states and deemed a serious economic concern - both for the increased cost to destroy the weed, and for the potential to drag crop yield. Currently there are at least 15 different types of herbicide-resistant weeds in Iowa. The first, Kochia scoparia, was reported in 1985 with a resistance to atrazine. The most widespread glyphosate-resistant weed in the state is common waterhemp, which infests an estimated 1,000 to 10,000 acres. The most recently discovered glyphosate-resistant weed, identified just last year, is giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida). It is estimated by state weed scientists that there are 1,210 sites and more than 12,400 acres invested with herbicide resistant weeds in Iowa, and that they infest corn, railways and soybeans. Although those figures may seem striking to a person who is not familiar with the problem of resistant weeds, the truth is that Iowa has fared much better than Southeast states. For instance, producers in Macon, Georgia abandoned about 10,000 acres of cropland in 2007 following an infestation of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth, a member of the pigweed family. For now, there are other options available to farmers options they should use wisely, Owen said. Despite the initial cost of using a soil residual pre-emergent herbicide, Owen believes there is a significant yield boost associated with the application. He and his colleagues at Iowa State University have developed a 2010 Herbicide Guide for Iowa Corn and Soybean Production that outlines and highlights some of the best practices they have used for maintaining crop profits. 'Just as an estimate, if growers are only using glyphosate, and if they are making application at only particular instances, they are likely losing five or so bushels of soybeans per acre. And there are similar, if not higher, numbers of bushels of corn being lost,' he said. 'If you project that over all the acres five bushels of soybeans over 9 million acres of soybeans produced then you are looking at 45 million bushels of soybeans that may be lost because of poor timing of weed management. Although that's just a 'back-of-the-envelope' projection, it seems reasonable based on some of the modeling routines that we've done. 'Suffice it to say that it is a butt-load of money.'"
Seed prices for farmers in Central Illinois have nearly tripled since 2000 (Medill Reports, 10 March 2010):
"Illinois farmers have been enjoying higher profit margins in recent years because of a steady climb in commodity prices. But their costs have been rising too, particularly when it comes to buying seeds. Seed prices for central Illinois farmers have nearly tripled since 2000, while the U.S. inflation rate over the same period rose just 28 percent. Seed companies such as Monsanto Co. say the increase in price is due to advances in seed biotechnology that help farmers achieve higher yields....Yet soybean yields have hardly risen. In fact, over the past decades yields have grown less than 1 percent, according to research by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign..... In 2009, Monsanto released a seed called Roundup Ready 2 Yield, designed to replace the original Roundup Ready. The new seed is expected to do the same job as the original Roundup Ready but produce a 7 percent to 11 percent increase in yields. The research and development investment into creating this enhancement is the reason why Monsanto raises its prices, Ricketts said. 'In 10 years we have gone from introducing single products to double-stacked products to triple-stacked products. So as we have introduced more products to the market, the value of those products has changed,' Ricketts said. Yet studies done by the University of Illinois show Roundup Ready 2 Yield has not delivered on its promise of higher yields. 'The Roundup Ready 2 Yield, yielded basically the equivalent to the better Roundup Ready variety,' said Vince Davis, University of Illinois soybean specialist. 'We did not observe any kind of additional step-wise increase in yield for the extra money that was spent on that technology.'"
Monsanto has acknowledged that pink bollworm resistance has been confirmed in Bt Cotton in India (Times of India, 6 March 2010):
"In what is bound to strengthen environment minister Jairam Ramesh's stand that GM crop technology should be handled with precaution, Monsanto on Friday admitted that its Bt cotton variety had failed to control pests in four districts of Gujarat. Monsanto said that during field monitoring in 2009, the Bt cotton variety used in four Gujarat districts -- Amreli, Bhavnagar, Junagarh and Rajkot -- was found to attract the pink bollworm, a major pest that attacks cotton plantations. Bt cotton carrying the Cry1Ac gene is sold as a solution to the bollworm pest but Monsanto's admission that the insect had been become resistant to the anti-pest protein could come as a shot in the arm for green activists. Several environmental and public health organisations have for years been claiming that adequate tests have not been carried out in India on the GM crops to test for long-term resistance to pests as well as impacts on public health. The controversy had reached a high pitch recently when Ramesh imposed a temporary moratorium on commercial cultivation of Monsanto and Mayhco's Bt brinjal -- the first GM food crop that would have been introduced in the country. Ramesh had demanded further tests that could last up to 1-2 years to check for long-term impacts on environment as well as public health before introducing the GM crop in India.....Monsanto said it had informed the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee -- the agency under the environment ministry that clears GM crops for cultivation and monitors its impact -- about pests attacking Bt cotton in the four Gujarat districts. Trying to allay fears of the pest attack being widespread, the company said, 'Single-protein Cry1Ac products continue to control bollworm pests other than pink bollworm in the four districts in Gujarat where pink bollworm resistance has been confirmed.'"
Glyphosate resistance has spread to kochia weed populations in Kansas with GM driven glyphosate resistance in general estimated to be affecting nearly 11 million acres in the US (Reuters, 26 February 2010):
"Scientists said on Friday they have confirmed expanding weed resistance to a key ingredient in Monsanto's widely used Roundup herbicide, a troubling development for farmers and fresh fodder for Monsanto critics. Kansas State University said scientists had found five kochia weed populations in western Kansas that have been confirmed to have become resistant to glyphosate. Kochia, also called fireweed, is a drought-tolerant weed commonly found on land in the western United States and Canada where crops are grown and cattle are grazed. 'This complicates and may increase control costs for those growers who may have a resistance problem, but there are other herbicides,' said Kansas State weed scientist Phil Stahlman. Stahlman and other university researchers are recommending farmers use other herbicides to try to control the weeds. Monsanto said it was working with university scientists on a multi-state effort to keep evaluating the problem and advise farmers how to respond. The company declined to answer questions about how significant the resistance problems are to date, and if resistance is expected to expand further. Weed resistance to glyphosate, a key ingredient in Roundup herbicide, has been mounting across the United States in recent years as Monsanto's genetically modified 'Roundup Ready' corn, soybeans and other crops have gained popularity with farmers.... Experts estimate glyphosate-resistant weeds have infested close to 11 million acres. 'All being driven by Roundup Ready crop systems,' said Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety."
Pesticide applications on Bt Cotton in India are rising as new pests attack GM varieties (Telegraph (Calcutta) 16 February 2010):
"Crop scientist Keshav Kranthi would hate being labelled campaigner against genetic engineering. He says he supports plant biotechnology and wants India to pursue the myriad promises it offers. But in the polarised debate on the genetically modified (GM) brinjal, Kranthi has aligned himself with groups calling for caution before its release, citing little-known but serious trouble with cotton rarely articulated before. Kranthi, acting director of the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) in Nagpur, has warned that poor management of the technology has spawned an abundance of predictable and unexpected problems. The rapid adoption of GM cotton by farmers across the country has coincided with the rise of hitherto unknown insect pests, increased pesticide applications by farmers, and declining cotton productivity over the past three years, he has told the government. Indian regulators approved GM cotton engineered with a bacterial gene to resist an insect based on technology similar to that in GM brinjal in 2002. Kranthi asserts there are no scientifically-authenticated safety issues over GM cotton from anywhere. Farmers have adopted the GM cotton, which now makes up 90 per cent of the crop in some areas, and virtually eliminated its target pest bollworms. Indias annual cotton output has jumped from 3 billion kg to 5.3 billion kg over the past decade. But new insects, including one called a mealybug, not known as cotton pests, have spread, causing significant economic losses, Kranthi said in a report sent to the ministry of environment and forests with his comments on GM brinjal. 'Cotton is a tricky crop we should have been more careful,' Kranthi said. 'There are lessons to be learnt from this experience for future genetically modified crops, brinjal or anything else,' he told The Telegraph.... a mealybug named Phenacoccus solenopsis, not observed earlier in India, has spread across northern, central and western states after it was first recognised as a cotton pest about five years ago, Kranthi said. In desperation, farmers have begun to spray 'extremely hazardous' pesticides on the cotton to fight the insect, which has a waxy coating over its surface that makes it hard to kill with less toxic pesticides, he said. The reduced use of pesticides on GM cotton and the proliferation of GM cotton hybrids that are susceptible to these insects may have contributed to the emergence of these pests, according to Kranthis report. 'The inappropriate choice of hybrids and the arbitrary and prolific spread of GM cotton hybrids have created conditions congenial for the rapid multiplication of these new insects.' Kranthi sees himself as an insider, a biotechnology believer, urging caution. 'Someone has to point this out,' said Kranthi, a 47-year-old entomologist who had articulated similar concerns five years ago in the journal Current Science from the Indian Academy of Sciences..... Kranthi says 90 per cent of the current GM cotton hybrids appear susceptible to mealybugs and whiteflies. Insecticide use in cotton appears to have increased from Rs 640 crore in 2006 to Rs 800 crore in 2008, his report said. A wrong choice of hybrids, Kranthi said, may be contributing to this drop."
Bollgard II GM cotton in Louisiana is failing to control bollworms properly (AgFax.Com, 28 February 2010):
"....insect resistance management for bollworms that are 'slipping'
through Bollgard II cotton and must be treated with pyrethroids that are becoming less
effective with each application. We were supposed to have enough control of bollworms with
BGII to not have to treat for bollworms."
About 20 companies are bringing 40-50 products or services to market in Tennessee to try and deal with the rise of glyphosate-resistant weeds (The Commercial Appeal, 26 February 2010):
"Weeds have always bedeviled farmers, but as planting season begins, Palmer pigweed -- called a 'monster weed' -- is expected to be an agricultural 'game changer.' That's because it has become resistant to Monsanto's ubiquitous Roundup herbicide, a glysophate-based weed killer that has been the top-selling herbicide for decades.....Larry Steckel, a University of Tennessee weed specialist in Jackson, Tenn., said farmers are now turning to herbicides used in the 1980s and 1990s to weed their fields. While Roundup costs farmers about $10 per acre per season, these other chemicals can cost $35-$40 per acre per season, shaving already thin profit margins. He said the problem is top of mind for Mid-South farmers on both sides of the Mississippi River from the Missouri Bootheel to Tunica County. 'Their fear is that it's going to be on huge acres of fields this year and I think it most likely will be,' Steckel said. 'It's changed everything.'....While one crop-input problem rarely gets a spotlight at the annual Mid-South Farm and Gin Show, this year's show will feature a special seminar solely devoted to glysophate-resistant weeds. 'Sometimes an issue comes along that we think merits a highlight,' said Timothy Price, the show's manager. 'Our industry openly and honestly looks at challenges and tries to find solutions.' Price said about 20 companies will bring a total of 40-50 products or services to deal with glysophate-resistant weeds."
Scientists have voiced support for research which shows rising levels of pesticide applications on GM crops in the United States (Nature Biotechnology, February 2010):
"A recent report published by the Organic Center, an organic farming advocacy organization headquartered in Foster, Rhode Island, claims that the use of herbicides in weed control has risen sharply since transgenic crops commercial introduction in 1996. The reports findings on herbicides are in stark contrast to the standard agrochemical industry line that transgenic crops have reduced the chemical load on the environment. Several critics have questioned the assumptions underlying the analysis and any significance that can be drawn from it, particularly as the report comes from an advocacy group seeking to 'communicate the verifiable benefits of organic farming and products to society.' Rising glyphosate resistance is a plausible explanation for the increasing use of herbicides, however. Among plant scientists, there is little disagreement on the problem of glyphosate-resistant weeds. ...The issue of herbicide resistance has already become acute in some US states.... The report is based on extrapolations of pesticide use survey data compiled by the US Department of Agricultures (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Benbrook relies on annual trait acreage data compiled by St. Louisbased Monsanto to disaggregate transgenic crops from the total crop acreage. However, no NASS data on corn or soy are available for 2007 or 2008, years for which Benbrook posits unusually large pesticide increases of 20% and 27%, respectively..... In the meantime, several scientists have voiced support for the general thrust of the study. 'Theres nothing surprising there,' says Matt Liebman, who holds the H.A. Wallace chair for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University in Ames..... Monsanto and its competitors are responding to the problem by offering farmers subsidies to include third-party herbicides in their weed control systems. They are also stacking additional tolerance traits that can be paired with other herbicides, such as dicamba (3,6-dichloro-2-methoxybenzoic acid), glufosinate (phosphinothricin) and 2,4-d (dichlorophenoxyacetic acid).... 'If you want to keep this tool available and effective there has to be some way, short of fallowing a field, of delaying the development of resistant weeds,' says Robert Kremer, of the USDAs Agricultural Research Service at Columbia, Missouri. The market dominance of transgenic crop varieties limits some of the options, however. 'Its very difficult to go and find nontransgenic soybean,' he says."
Although Bt crops in America helped reduce the use of insecticides in cotton crops initially, in Mississippi spraying has begun rising again resulting in total costs to farmers which are increasingly uneconomic (Delta Farm Press, 15 January 2010):
"The boll weevil and tobacco budworm are no longer economic pests in most areas of the Cotton Belt, but theyve been replaced by secondary pests like the tarnished plant bug, which are proving to be costly bugs to control as well. Additional insect control costs are coming from increasing foliar sprays, higher technology fees and pest resistance, according to Jeff Gore, research entomologist at the Delta Research and Extension Center, speaking at the 2010 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in New Orleans. Gore adds that decisions growers make on insect control are changing, too, based on developments such as the shift from granular, at-planting insecticides to neonicitinoid seed treatments and the transition from single gene Bt cottons to dual Bt gene cottons. 'We also have a more of a diversity of crops. In Mississippi, were growing a lot more corn and soybeans than weve ever grown in the past, and weve reduced our cotton acreage. This is also impacting the pests that were dealing with in cotton.' When these costs are added to other rising input costs such as fertilizer, fuel and equipment, technology frees and seed treatments, 'were essentially spending a lot more on cotton production than we ever have in the past.' Gore said that in 1995, the cost of planting an acre of cotton ranged from $12.75 an acre to $24 an acre depending on at-planting insecticide and fungicide treatments. 'In 2005, if you had planted Bollgard, Roundup Ready cotton varieties with a Cadillac seed treatment, you would have spent about $52 an acre. Now in 2010, with Bollgard II and Roundup Ready Flex, youll be spending $85 or more an acre. This is also impacting our insect management throughout the season because were front loading so much of our cost, and its becoming more and more difficult to make those insecticide applications later in the year.' And with the weed resistance likely to increase our weed control costs at the beginning of the year, it could also impact some of the decisions later in the season in terms of insect management.' Research indicates that Mississippi cotton producers are starting to increase foliar applications directed at the bug complex, according to Gore. 'The trend line for foliar costs dropped significantly with boll weevil eradication and Bt cotton. But for the past four or five years, were seeing a significant upward trend on foliar costs. Its approaching where we were before Bt cotton and boll weevil eradication. In Mississippi, we have growers who are spending well over $100 for foliar insect control. You add that onto technology fees and seed treatments, you understand why our cotton acreage is decreasing.' Varieties with no traits or single traits 'are becoming extremely limited,' Gore said. At the same time, 'two-gene Bt products are definitely not bulletproof. Were still having to make some applications, although fewer, on caterpillar pests'
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that the occurrence of glyphosate resistant weeds in America could threaten the sustainable use of GM crop glyphosate herbicide-resistant technology (ABC, Australia, 12 January 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."
American scientists have discovered that the use of GM glyphosate resistant crops is stimulating detrimental pathogens in the soil according to Robert Kremer, microbiologist with the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and adjunct professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri (The Organic & Non-GMO Report, January 2010):
"This system [of GM Roundup Ready crops] is altering the whole soil biology. We are seeing differences in bacteria in plant roots and changes in nutrient availability. Glyphosate is very systemic in the plant and is being released through the roots into the soil. Many studies show that glyphosate can have toxic effects on microorganisms and can stimulate them to germinate spores and colonize root systems. Other researchers are showing that glyphosate can immobilize manganese, an essential plant micronutrient. The most obvious impact is on rhizobia, a bacterium that fixes nitrogen. It has been shown that glyphosate can be toxic to rhizobia. Weve taken field surveys and seen an increase in Fusarium with the use of glyphosate. Some Roundup Ready varieties even without using glyphosate tend to be more susceptible to being impacted by Fusarium....The big assumption for claims that glyphosate is benign is that it isnt immediately absorbed by the soil. But research is showing that isnt necessarily true; that it is still available in the soil....We have eight different species of glyphosate resistant weeds in Missouri. Some species of Johnson Grass are found in fields where Roundup is used year after year. It is a very aggressive weed.... If we continue to use glyphosate in the same fields year after year, its a matter of time until microbial communities in the soil will shift to more detrimental species. The use of glyphosate stimulates detrimental pathogens in the growing season but they go back down after the growing season. Eventually, they may build up in the soil and not go back down.... I was working with USDA-ARS to publish a news release about these [five] studies [published in the European Journal of Agronomy in October 2009]. Ive gone all the way to the administrators, but they are reluctant to put something out. Their thinking is that if farmers are using this (Roundup Ready) technology, USDA doesnt want negative information being released about it. This is how it is. I think the news release is still sitting on someones desk.....Were looking at some methods that could be used to overcome negative effects if we continue to use Roundup Ready crops, such as supplementation of nutrients by foliar application. Im more interested in sustainable agriculture. More farmers are interested in using cover cropping to maintain soil quality and other organic amendments. But its a steep learning curve for them."
Data shows Bt resistance is genetically modified corn and cotton crops is more commonplace than many researchers are prepared to acknowledge (Arizona Daily Star, 22 December 2009):
"A UA researcher says pests that destroy corn and cotton have developed resistance to the most effective and benign method to kill them. Bruce Tabashnik, University of Arizona research entomologist, said resistance does not pose an immediate threat to the vast acreages of Bt corn and cotton grown with genetically introduced Bt toxins, but argues for continued monitoring. Tabashnik's study, published this month in the Journal of Economic Entomology, analyzed 41 reports from five continents. It uncovered 'strong evidence' of naturally evolved resistance in an obscure journal, an unpublished government report and multiple studies that he said failed to reach the obvious conclusions their data supported. Officials for Monsanto, which dominates development of the world's genetically modified crops, concede resistance to Bt developed in isolated fields in South Africa and Puerto Rico, but dispute Tabashnik's other claims....A more widely known reinfestation of Bt cotton crops by a bollworm in the Southeastern United States between 1992 and 2006 was reported in at least five scientific publications, said Tabashnik, but researchers never used the data to draw the conclusion that the bollworm in question, Helicoverpa zea, evolved resistance to Cry1Ac, the toxin in a Monsanto product called Bollgard. A Monsanto spokesman disputed Tabashnik's characterization of the problem in the Southeast United States, but conceded that the South African and Puerto Rican incidents were evidence of field-developed resistance....Tabashnik is a fan of Bt crops, but considers himself 'an honest broker of information' in the politically charged world of genetically modified crops."
Glyphosate herbicide resistance in weeds continues to spread in the United States and is now occurring in Iowa (Kansas Farmer, 18 December 2009):
"Recent in-field experiments have confirmed that waterhemp and giant ragweed two of the most yield-robbing weeds for Iowa producers, have become resistant to glyphosate herbicides. Warnings about the development of glyphosate-resistant waterhemp in Iowa were publicized as early as 2000. University experts in Iowa were some of the first to discuss glyphosate-resistant weeds and their potential impact. Growers across the nation, including those in Iowa who are now experiencing the problem first-hand, are being urged to recognize the importance and reality of resistance, develop a plan to combat the problem on their fields and in their community and, most importantly, take action now."
Monsanto's rising monopolistic position in seed markets is being reflected in the prices it charges for seed (Associated Press, 14 December 2009):
"[With these seed price rises] It's just like I got hit with bad weather and got a poor yield. It just means I've got less in the bottom line. They can charge because they can do it, and get away with it. And us farmers just complain, and shake our heads and go along with it."
Monsanto is continuing to build up monopolistic positions in the seed market (Associated Press, 14 December 2009):
"Confidential contracts detailing Monsanto Co.'s business practices reveal how the world's biggest seed developer is squeezing competitors, controlling smaller seed companies and protecting its dominance over the multibillion-dollar market for genetically altered crops, an Associated Press investigation has found. With Monsanto's patented genes being inserted into roughly 95 percent of all soybeans and 80 percent of all corn grown in the U.S., the company also is using its wide reach to control the ability of new biotech firms to get wide distribution for their products, according to a review of several Monsanto licensing agreements and dozens of interviews with seed industry participants, agriculture and legal experts. Declining competition in the seed business could lead to price hikes that ripple out to every family's dinner table. That's because the corn flakes you had for breakfast, soda you drank at lunch and beef stew you ate for dinner likely were produced from crops grown with Monsanto's patented genes. Monsanto's methods are spelled out in a series of confidential commercial licensing agreements obtained by the AP. The contracts, as long as 30 pages, include basic terms for the selling of engineered crops resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, along with shorter supplementary agreements that address new Monsanto traits or other contract amendments. The company has used the agreements to spread its technology -- giving some 200 smaller companies the right to insert Monsanto's genes in their separate strains of corn and soybean plants. But, the AP found, access to Monsanto's genes comes at a cost, and with plenty of strings attached. For example, one contract provision bans independent companies from breeding plants that contain both Monsanto's genes and the genes of any of its competitors, unless Monsanto gives prior written permission -- giving Monsanto the ability to effectively lock out competitors from inserting their patented traits into the vast share of U.S. crops that already contain Monsanto's genes. Monsanto's business strategies and licensing agreements are being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and at least two state attorneys general, who are trying to determine if the practices violate U.S. antitrust laws. The practices also are at the heart of civil antitrust suits filed against Monsanto by its competitors, including a 2004 suit filed by Syngenta AG that was settled with an agreement and ongoing litigation filed this summer by DuPont in response to a Monsanto lawsuit.... At issue is how much power one company can have over seeds, the foundation of the world's food supply. Without stiff competition, Monsanto could raise its seed prices at will, which in turn could raise the cost of everything from animal feed to wheat bread and cookies. The price of seeds is already rising. Monsanto increased some corn seed prices last year by 25 percent, with an additional 7 percent hike planned for corn seeds in 2010. Monsanto brand soybean seeds climbed 28 percent last year and will be flat or up 6 percent in 2010, said company spokeswoman Kelli Powers....One contract provision likely helped Monsanto buy 24 independent seed companies throughout the Farm Belt over the last few years: that corn seed agreement says that if a smaller company changes ownership, its inventory with Monsanto's traits 'shall be destroyed immediately....The Monsanto contracts reviewed by the AP prohibit seed companies from discussing terms, and Monsanto has the right to cancel deals and wipe out the inventory of a business if the confidentiality clauses are violated. Thomas Terral, chief executive officer of Terral Seed in Louisiana, said he recently rejected a Monsanto contract because it put too many restrictions on his business. But Terral refused to provide the unsigned contract to AP or even discuss its contents because he was afraid Monsanto would retaliate and cancel the rest of his agreements....Monsanto acknowledged that U.S. Department of Justice lawyers are seeking documents and interviewing company employees about its marketing practices. The DOJ wouldn't comment. A spokesman for Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said the office is examining possible antitrust violations. Additionally, two sources familiar with an investigation in Texas said state Attorney General Greg Abbott's office is considering the same issues. States have the authority to enforce federal antitrust law, and attorneys general are often involved in such cases..... recent price hikes have still been tough to swallow on the farm....'It's just like I got hit with bad weather and got a poor yield. It just means I've got less in the bottom line,' said Markus Reinke, a corn and soybean farmer near Concordia, Mo. who took over his family's farm in 1965. 'They can charge because they can do it, and get away with it. And us farmers just complain, and shake our heads and go along with it.' ...Other seed companies have followed Monsanto's lead by including restrictive clauses in their licensing agreements, but their products only penetrate smaller segments of the U.S. seed market. Monsanto's Roundup Ready gene, on the other hand, is in such a wide array of crops that its licensing agreements can have a massive effect on the rules of the marketplace. Monsanto was only a niche player in the seed business just 12 years ago. It rose to the top thanks to innovation by its scientists and aggressive use of patent law by its attorneys....as Monsanto became among the first to widely patent its genes and gain the right to strictly control how they were used. That control let it spread its technology through licensing agreements, while shaping the marketplace around them. Back in the 1970s, public universities developed new traits for corn and soybean seeds that made them grow hardy and resist pests. Small seed companies got the traits cheaply and could blend them to breed superior crops without restriction. But the agreements give Monsanto control over mixing multiple biotech traits into crops. The restrictions even apply to taxpayer-funded researchers. Roger Boerma, a research professor at the University of Georgia, is developing specialized strains of soybeans that grow well in southeastern states, but his current research is tangled up in such restrictions from Monsanto and its competitors. 'It's made one level of our life incredibly challenging and difficult,' Boerma said.... Monsanto's provision requiring companies to destroy seeds containing Monsanto's traits if a competitor buys them prohibited DuPont or other big firms from bidding against Monsanto when it snapped up two dozen smaller seed companies over the last five years, said David Boies, a lawyer representing DuPont who previously was a prosecutor on the federal antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. Competitive bids from companies like DuPont could have made it far more expensive for Monsanto to bring the smaller companies into its fold. But that contract provision prevented bidding wars, according to DuPont. 'If the independent seed company is losing their license and has to destroy their seeds, they're not going to have anything, in effect, to sell,' Boies said. 'It requires them to destroy things -- destroy things they paid for -- if they go competitive. That's exactly the kind of restriction on competitive choice that the antitrust laws outlaw.' Some independent seed company owners say they feel increasingly pinched as Monsanto cements its leadership in the industry. 'They have the capital, they have the resources, they own lots of companies, and buying more. We're small town, they're Wall Street,' said Bill Cook, co-owner of M-Pride Genetics seed company in Garden City, Mo., who also declined to discuss or provide the agreements. 'It's very difficult to compete in this environment against companies like Monsanto.' "
Modern conventional breeding techniques are proving more effective at developing plants with high levels of nitrogen use efficiency than genetic engineering (Union of Concerned Scientists, 9 December 2009):
"After more than a decade of effort, the biotechnology industry has yet to produce any commercial crops engineered to reduce nitrogen fertilizer pollution, while traditional breeding and other methods have improved the nitrogen use efficiency of wheat, rice, and corn by about 20 percent to 40 percent, according to a report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)....The UCS report, 'No Sure Fix: Prospects for Reducing Nitrogen Fertilizer Pollution through Genetic Engineering,' evaluated the new genes and concluded that the prospects for their commercial use are uncertain due to the complexity of nitrogen metabolism and genetics in crops. The report documents a number of practices that can complement nitrogen-efficient crops in reducing nitrogen fertilizer pollution."
Contamination of rice crops in the United States with an unapproved GM variety has lead to millions of dollars being paid out in compensation to affected farmers by biotech company Bayer following a court ruling (Bloomberg, 4 December 2009):
"Bayer CropScience LP must pay about $2 million for losses sustained by two Missouri farmers when an experimental variety of rice the company was testing cross-bred with their crops, a federal jury ruled. Todays verdict in St. Louis came in the first trial in what is intended to be a series of test cases against the unit of Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer AG. The jury of four men and five women began deliberating on Dec. 2, about a month after it began hearing claims brought by Kenneth Bell and Johnny Hunter.... Farmers from Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi have filed more than 1,000 similar cases against Bayer since the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in August 2006 that trace amounts of the genetically modified LibertyLink rice were found in U.S. long-grain rice stocks. Bayer and Louisiana State University had been testing the rice, which was bred to be resistant to Bayers Liberty-brand herbicide, at a school-run facility in Crowley, Louisiana. The variety eventually 'contaminated' more than 30 percent of U.S. ricelands, said Don Downing, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, at the start of the trial.... Within four days of the 2006 USDA announcement, rice futures plunged, costing U.S. growers about $150 million, according to a consolidated complaint filed by the farmers. Exports fell as the European Union, Japan, Russia and other overseas markets slowed purchases of U.S.-grown long-grain rice for testing or stopped importing it, the growers said.... While the USDA later approved Bayer CropSciences biotech rice to be grown and sold for human consumption, it hasnt been commercially marketed. The USDA never determined how the LibertyLink rice had entered the nations long-grain rice supply, Bayer CropSciences statement said. 'I really do hope that this verdict will force Bayer to stop being reckless with its experimental programs,' Hunter said. The next test, or bellwether trial, involving farmers from Arkansas and Mississippi, is scheduled to start on Jan. 11 in St. Louis."
Herbicide resistant GM crops in the United States are continuing to result in increased usage of herbicide compared to non-GM systems (Reuters, 17 November 2009):
"The rapid adoption by U.S. farmers of genetically engineered corn, soybeans and cotton has promoted increased use of pesticides, an epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds and more chemical residues in foods, according to a report issued Tuesday by health and environmental protection groups. The groups said research showed that herbicide use grew by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008, with 46 percent of the total increase occurring in 2007 and 2008. The report was released by nonprofits The Organic Center (TOC), the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS). The groups said that while herbicide use has climbed, insecticide use has dropped because of biotech crops. They said adoption of genetically engineered corn and cotton that carry traits resistant to insects has led to a reduction in insecticide use by 64 million pounds since 1996. Still, that leaves a net overall increase on U.S. farm fields of 318 million pounds of pesticides, which includes insecticides and herbicides, over the first 13 years of commercial use. The rise in herbicide use comes as U.S. farmers increasingly adopt corn, soy and cotton that have been engineered with traits that allow them to tolerate dousings of weed killer. The most popular of these are known as 'Roundup Ready' for their ability to sustain treatments with Roundup herbicide and are developed and marketed by world seed industry leader Monsanto Co. Monsanto rolled out the first biotech crop, Roundup Ready soybeans, in 1996.... The report by the environmental groups states that a key problem resulting from the increase in herbicide use is the emergence of 'super weeds,' which are difficult to kill because they have become resistant to the herbicides. 'With glyphosate-resistant weeds now infesting millions of acres, farmers face rising costs coupled with sometimes major yield losses, and the environmental impact of weed management systems will surely rise,' said Charles Benbrook, chief scientist of The Organic Center. The groups additionally criticized the agricultural biotechnology industry for claiming that higher costs for genetically engineered seeds are justified by multiple benefits to farmers, including decreased spending on pesticides. The group said biotech corn seed prices in 2010 could be almost three times the cost of conventional seed, while new enhanced biotech soybean seed for 2010 could be 42 percent more than the original biotech version. 'This report confirms what we've been saying for years,' said Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety. 'The most common type of genetically engineered crops promotes increased use of pesticides, an epidemic of resistant weeds, and more chemical residues in our foods. This may be profitable for the biotech/pesticide companies, but it's bad news for farmers, human health and the environment.'"
The patents that attach to GM crops lie at the centre of how Monsanto has been accused of building up monopoly positions in seed markets (Associated Press, 8 October 2009):
"The Justice Department is investigating whether Monsanto Co. violated antitrust rules in trying to expand its dominance of the market for genetically engineered crops. Monsanto has provided interviews and documents to the Justice Department, company spokesman Lee Quarles said. He said the department has questioned Monsanto about its marketing tactics in the biotech seed industry, which have become a target of criticism....At issue is how the world's largest seed company sells and licenses its patented genes. Monsanto has licensing agreements with seed companies that let those companies insert Monsanto genes into about 96 percent of U.S. soybean crops and 80 percent of all corn crops. Monsanto's rivals allege that the company uses the licensing agreements to squeeze competitors and control smaller seed companies an allegation Monsanto denies. The inquiry into St. Louis-based Monsanto is part of a previously announced Justice Department investigation of consolidation in the seed industry. "
In some GM crops glyphosate resistance has become so severe that farmers are having to resort to manual weeding (ABC News, 6 October 2009):
"Across the South, there's a weed that man can no longer kill. It's called the pig weed, and for decades farmers controlled it by spraying their fields with herbicides....In the last three months, Jim Hubbard of Double H Farms has spent more than $500,000 fighting the pig weeds, and they still won't die. 'Technology is great, but it can only go so far,' said Hubbard. 'As technology goes forward, so does mother-nature. As far as the weeds and everything, they adapt and overcome.' 'Some of the causes related to the issue are the use of a single crop year after year. There are issues around using the herbicide without any other herbicides, and quite frankly, trying to control weeds that were too big,' said Rick Cole, technology development manager at chemical maker Monsanto.... Farmers are on the attack, hiring laborers to walk through their crops and chop the plants down before they spread."
The stacking of GM traits is leading to complications in the control of volunteer plants and increasing risks of insect resistance (AgProfessional, September 2009)
"Listen to Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto talk, and it's all but over for any seed company that doesn't offer SmartStax. However, at Pioneer and Syngenta, nobody's ready to throw in the towel. Is the new pyramiding of traits in a bag truly a game changer, as suggested by Brent Stauffacher, SmartStax product manager at Dow AgroSciences? If so, how will competitive dealers position themselves in this 'new game,' where multiple modes of action in pest control and herbicide tolerance are offered in a single package? Throw in significant reductions in refuge requirements, and it's easy to see why Stauffacher is confident....The concept of pyramid structuring of traits is one that has been well received by the Environmental Protection Agency. Christian Krupke, assistant professor, entomology, Purdue University, said it is a strategy that has a strong scientific basis on one hand and yet has its own share of negatives....Krupke's concern focuses on the already increasing prevalence of herbicide-resistant volunteer corn in following year soybeans and, even more so, in corn on corn. Recent research results reported by Krupke and Bill Johnson, associate professor, weed science, Purdue University, suggest that volunteer corn doesn't have the full dose of insecticidal Bt. This, the two warn, could contribute to the development of resistance. 'Putting (volunteer) plants out there that allow larvae to survive despite the presence of insecticidal traits is a red flag. It has the potential to raise the risk of resistance development,' said Krupke. In field tests, the Purdue researchers found that more than half of the volunteer plants expressed some amount of Bt, and of those, some had severe rootworm damage-suggesting sublethal doses of the toxin. Sublethal exposure to toxins is one way that resistance can begin to develop in insect populations. The weedy corn problem is exacerbated with pyramiding glyphosate and LibertyLink tolerance in SmartStax, explained Krupke. Dual herbicide tolerance is also the case with several stacked products on the market for several years. 'Adding another herbicide tolerance trait, which has allowed growers to rotate away from Roundup, also means having another herbicide that won't control volunteer corn,' he said. 'The problem isn't insurmountable in soybeans; but in corn on corn, SmartStax will make it almost impossible to treat the crop with currently available herbicides once it is up and growing. Cultivation will be about the only option.'"
Consolidation in the seed market associated with the development of GM technology is becoming an increasing problem for farmers in the United States (Olney Daily Mail, 30 September 2009):
"Due to concerns regarding rising seed prices and industry concentration, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced recently they will examine competition and antitrust concerns in the seed industry. According to information from the Department of Justice, the two agencies will hold public workshops to explore competition issues in the agriculture industry. The first such event will be held in early 2010. While some of the workshops might be held in Washington, D.C., others will be held regionally. The agencies are soliciting public comments from lawyers, economists, agribusinesses, consumer groups, academics, agricultural producers, ag cooperatives and other interested parties. Steve Hixon, of Steve's Seed Conditioning in Claremont, has long been frustrated by what he calls 'anti-competitive' behavior in the seed industry, but sees this as a positive step. 'I have expectations that the Justice Dept. will finally enforce accountability,' Hixon said in written comments. One company in particular, Monsanto, has drawn the ire of Hixon and others for what they see as monopolistic behavior. He stated that Monsanto's exclusionary behavior 'could only be accomplished using their various forms of influence like a well-oiled machine.' He continued by stating that these forms include large financial contributions to elected officials, consuming state and federal bureaucracies, and 'covertly pointing' former employees into judicial positions, interfering with policy in organizations and associations 'that claim to represent us.'...Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson, who was in Olney recently to talk about the cap-and-trade issue with area Farm Bureau members, said the organization has not specifically spoken out on the USDA and Department of Justice examination of the seed issue. Nelson said one has to be careful any time there is an ongoing investigation. He said, however, that the Farm Bureau has weighed in on a number of mergers in the last six years in the seed and packing industry since he has been president. Without addressing Monsanto specifically, Nelson said the Farm Bureau shares concerns about concentration in the industry as a whole. He said there are four seed companies that control 75 percent of the marketplace and four packers on the livestock side of things. He said there are concerns about competition, noting both buying and selling, any time there are so few players."
Gylphosate resistant weeds have become such a problem in genetically engineered crops that some farmers in the US are turning back to using residual herbicides and even hoes, according Ford L. Baldwin of Practical Weed Consultants, LLC (Delta Farm Press, 20 August 2009):
"I am enjoying the e-mails I am receiving from around the country regarding Palmer pigweed. Several have related their experiences with glyphosate-resistant pigweeds some good and some not so good. Others have e-mailed just to tell me they suspected they might have had a problem last year and this year those suspicions have been confirmed. Recognition of the problem is the first step in trying to correct it. A lot of folks recognize the problem now, I just wish more did. Who would have ever thought some farmers would be running hoe crews through Roundup Ready soybeans!...With the resistance issues facing the Roundup Ready technology, the pendulum is going to swing back toward the use of more residual herbicides. That means weed control has become less simple than most have grown use to. With that will also come the frustration that sometimes they do not work. This was a great year for residuals with abundant moisture all season. In a dry year they can look much different. In addition to the use of residuals, the three most important factors in a weed control program will again become timing, timing and timing. Glyphosate has been so forgiving that many growers never knew we used to have to time postemergence applications at seven to 14 days after weed emergence."
One of the reasons for the rapid uptake of GM crops is the lack of independent science to give farmers impartial information on their actual performance, and some people are finally beginning to notice (Financial Times, Blog, 11 August 2009):
"Like the FT [Financial Times], SciAm [Scientific American] believes genetically modified crops, used wisely, can improve farm productivity and reduce pollution - but the magazine is furious with their producers for allegedly stifling independent research into their products. The problem is that Monsanto, Pioneer, Syngenta and the rest of the agbio industry impose user agreements that forbid use of the seeds for any independent research. Under the threat of litigation, scientists cannot test a seed to explore the different conditions under which it thrives or fails. They cannot compare seeds from one company against those from another company. Perhaps most importantly, they cannot examine whether the GM crops have unintended environmental side-effects. Only studies approved by the seed companies see the light of a peer-reviewed journal. The issue has so far received remarkably little public attention. Insect scientists are beginning to speak out against the restriction but many are afraid to do so because they rely on the companies to provide seeds for their research, SciAm says. Imagine pharmaceutical companies trying to prevent medical researchers comparing patented drugs or investigating their side-effects - it is unthinkable. Yet scientists cannot independently examine raw materials in the food supply or investigate plants that cover a lot of rural America."
(Scientific American, Editorial, August 2009 edition, published 21 July 2009):
"Unfortunately, it is impossible to verify that genetically modified crops perform as advertised. That is because agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers. To purchase genetically modified seeds, a customer must sign an agreement that limits what can be done with them. (If you have installed software recently, you will recognize the concept of the end-user agreement.) Agreements are considered necessary to protect a company's intellectual property, and they justifiably preclude the replication of the genetic enhancements that make the seeds unique. But agritech companies such as Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta go further. For a decade their user agreements have explicitly forbidden the use of the seeds for any independent research. Under the threat of litigation, scientists cannot test a seed to explore the different conditions under which it thrives or fails. They cannot compare seeds from one company against those from another company. And perhaps most important, they cannot examine whether the genetically modified crops lead to unintended environmental side effects. Research on genetically modified seeds is still published, of course. But only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal. In a number of cases, experiments that had the implicit go-ahead from the seed company were later blocked from publication because the results were not flattering. 'It is important to understand that it is not always simply a matter of blanket denial of all research requests, which is bad enough,' wrote Elson J. Shields, an entomologist at Cornell University, in a letter to an official at the Environmental Protection Agency (the body tasked with regulating the environmental consequences of genetically modified crops), 'but selective denials and permissions based on industry perceptions of how 'friendly' or 'hostile' a particular scientist may be toward [seed-enhancement] technology.' Shields is the spokesperson for a group of 24 corn insect scientists that opposes these practices. Because the scientists rely on the cooperation of the companies for their research - they must, after all, gain access to the seeds for studies - most have chosen to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. The group has submitted a statement to the EPA protesting that 'as a result of restricted access, no truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions regarding the technology.' It would be chilling enough if any other type of company were able to prevent independent researchers from testing its wares and reporting what they find - imagine car companies trying to quash head-to-head model comparisons done by Consumer Reports, for example. But when scientists are prevented from examining the raw ingredients in our nation's food supply or from testing the plant material that covers a large portion of the country's agricultural land, the restrictions on free inquiry become dangerous."
Glyphosate resistant pigweed has been confirmed in 21 counties in Arkansas since first confirmed in Mississippi County since 2005 (University of Arkansas, 10 August 2009):
"Farmers, agricultural consultants and county agents who turned out for a field day at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agricultures Northeast Research and Extension Center all had at least one question in common: what to do about herbicide resistant pigweed? Ken Smith, extension weed scientist at the Division of Agricultures Southeast Research and Extension Center in Monticello, said that eight years ago, morning glory was the problem weed on every growers mind. Today, 'herbicide-resistant pigweed has choked out the morning glory,' he said. Smith discusses the problem and management of herbicide resistant pigweed in a Division of Agriculture Web video: http://aaes.uark.edu/nerec_video.html The growing problem is glyphosate resistant Palmer amaranth, known best to farmers as Roundup resistant pigweed. First confirmed in Mississippi County in 2005, Smith said, the problematic weed has spread to most of the counties in eastern Arkansas. Research technician Ryan Doherty said glyphosate resistant pigweed has been confirmed in 21 counties throughout the state....Doherty said the most resistant pigweed population identified by division scientists was found in Lincoln County. 'The farmer had already put two 22-ounce applications of Roundup on that field before he called us,' Doherty said. 'We put on another 44-ounce application of Roundup and it didnt hurt it at all.' Even another application of 128 ounces of Roundup did not kill the pigweed biotype found in that field. Doherty said all those plants probably came from a single female plant....Smith said Division of Agriculture scientists had devised a number of strategies to control glyphosate resistant pigweed, most involving a combination of different herbicides beginning with a preplant application....Agricultural economist Bob Stark said glyphosate resistant Palmer amaranth is the main economic concern among all herbicide resistant weeds."
Resistance to glyphosate has become so prevelant in some parts of the United States because of the introduction of genetically modified crops that some farmers are now resorting to hand weeding (Memphis Commercial Appeal, 9 August 2009):
"All across the Mid-South, hundreds of thousands of acres of cotton and soybean fields have been infested with a rapacious, fast-growing weed that's become resistant to the main herbicide on which farmers have relied for more than a decade. Palmer pigweed, often called 'careless weed' by field hands, often is surviving and even thriving despite treatments with the chemical glyphosate -- most commonly sold under the trade name Roundup. In Arkansas alone, the weed has invaded some 750,000 acres of crops, including half the 250,000 acres of cotton. In Tennessee, nearly 500,000 acres have some degree of infestation, with the counties bordering the Mississippi River hardest hit. The infestation is cutting farmers' cotton yields by up to one-third and in some cases doubling or tripling their weed-control costs. Reminiscent of the premechanized, preherbicide days when cotton was a labor-intensive operation, growers have resorted to hiring chopping crews. They're made up of laborers who generally are paid about $7.50 an hour to manually cut the weeds. 'We haven't chopped cotton in a long time, so it's kind of a first,' said Lee Wiener, who farms in Crittenden and Mississippi counties. Beyond the novelty of requiring manual labor, the resistance problem will force growers to make wrenching and costly changes if they want to stay in business in the coming years, agriculture experts say. Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the U.S., with some 100 million pounds annually applied to crops and lawns. It's so prevalent that cotton, soybeans and other plants have been genetically engineered to withstand it, allowing farmers to spray the chemical quickly and easily to kill weeds without worrying about harming crops. 'I think this threatens our way of farming more than anything I've seen in the 30-plus years I've worked in agriculture,' said Ken Smith, weed scientist with the University of Arkansas' division of agriculture....Monsanto has been advising farmers to add other chemicals, especially pre-emergents and other 'residual' herbicides, which form a chemical barrier in the soil, to their weed-fighting regimens. Monsanto also has begun a test program that pays farmers up to $12 an acre to treat crops with other chemicals, including those made by competitors, Cole said....The changes wrought by the resistance problem can be seen in places such as Looney's Implement Co. in Hughes, which sells tractors, combines and pickers that can cost $300,000 or more. This year one of the hottest items in the store has been the $25 garden hoe. 'We sell them as quick as we can get them,' said clerk Don Arnold. The tools are being used by the growing ranks of choppers. Some growers have hired as many as 40 to 60 of the laborers. But even during a recession in which jobs have been scarce, it hasn't been easy finding enough workers, they say. 'We're paying comfortably above the minimum wage, and still we have problems getting people,' said Larry McClendon, a Marianna, Ark., farmer."
In Tennessee and Arkansas glyphosate can no longer be considered a pigweed herbicide due to resistance problems (Delta Farm Press, 4 August 2009):
"The days of being able to go out and control Palmer pigweed by spraying a couple of shots of glyphosate any time you wish are over. The story in the field now is pigweed, pigweed and more pigweed! I wrote the entire winter of 2005 that a train wreck was coming with Palmer pigweed resistance to glyphosate. I am not a prophet nor am I any smarter than other weed scientists out in the field, but signs were everywhere. At the time, there were not a lot of good answers for pigweed control other than glyphosate, and most weed scientists were resigned to the fact growers were not going to change what they were doing anyway. Last year on a field day, I heard Larry Steckel from the University of Tennessee and Ken Smith from the University of Arkansas both comment that 'glyphosate can no longer be considered a pigweed herbicide' in their states. Those were huge statements, but they did not have much impact because folks did not want to hear them. At a recent pigweed field day at Newport, Ark., I was impressed with Bob Scotts choice of words when he said, 'Pigweed control has just become much more complicated.' I will just go ahead and say it another way: the Roundup Ready technology has simply blown up for Palmer pigweed control in many areas of Arkansas, the Missouri Bootheel and west Tennessee. The days of being able to go out and control Palmer pigweed by spraying a couple of shots of glyphosate any time you wish are over. That may not be what you want to hear, but if you have fields where you did not control pigweeds with glyphosate this year, they will put you out of business if you do not change the way you are trying to control them."
For the first time since 2000 the share of the US soy crop taken by GM varieties has fallen as the economic reasons for growing them weaken (The Organic & Non-GMO Report July/August 2009):
"US farmers planted one million more acres of non-GMO soybeans in 2009 than 2008, increasing to 6.97 million acres compared to 5.96 million acres the previous year. Overall, non-GMO soybeans accounted for 9% of a record high 77.5 million acres of soybeans planted this year. In 2008, non-GMO soybeans accounted for 8% of 75.5 million acres of soybeans. The percentage of farmers growing genetically modified soybeans decreased slightly from 92% in 2008 to 91% in 2009, the first drop in plantings of GM soybeans since 2000. Increased plantings of non-GMO soybeans were due to several factors. Farmers are earning higher premiums, ranging from $1.00 to $2.75 per bushel to grow non-GMO. In addition, seed costs for GM Roundup Ready soybeans were nearly double that for non-GMO. 'This year, we had farmers buying good traditional (non-GMO) soybean seed for $17 per bag when Roundup Ready seed was going for $35 per bag,' says Lynn Clarkson, president, Clarkson Grain, a buyer of non-GMO soybeans. The cost for Roundup herbicide, which is used with Roundup Ready seed, also increased from $15 to $50 per gallon. 'A few farmers told me they havent grown non-GMO soybeans in seven or eight years but this year they say the economics favor non-GMO,' says Mark Albertson, director of marketing at the Illinois Soybean Association. GM farmers also face increasing problems with weeds becoming resistant to Roundup, forcing them to use more herbicides to kill the resistant weeds. 'The benefit to reduced pesticide cost (with Roundup Ready soybeans) seems to be decreasing due to weeds developing immunity to Roundup,' Clarkson says. John Suber, owner of Ebberts Field Seeds in western Ohio, sold out of non-GMO soybean seed early and has doubled non-GMO seed production acreage for next year. 'We anticipate that demand will continue to grow,' Suber says."
Glyphosate resistant weeds are spreading in Argentina with the growing of 'Roundup Ready' soya (Geoforum, Vol. 40, No. 4. (July 2009), pp. 623-633):
"The broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate has become the largest-selling crop-protection product worldwide. The increased use of glyphosate is associated with the appearance of a growing number of tolerant or resistant weeds, with socio-environmental consequences apart from the loss of productivity. In 2002, a glyphosate-resistant biotype of johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense (L.)) appeared in Argentina and nowcovers at least 10,000 ha. This paper analyzes the driving forces behind the emergence and spread of this weed and also examines management responses and their implications. Preventive strategies against glyphosate-resistant johnsongrass fail because of the institutional setting. Reactive measures, however, transfer the risks to the society and the environment through the introduction of novel genetically modified crops that allow the use of yet more herbicide. This in turn reinforces the emergence of herbicide-resistant weeds, constituting a new phenomenon of intensification, the 'transgenic treadmill'."
The use of glyphosate in 'Roundup Ready' crops has lead to 15 species of weed being resistant to the herbicide with the problem especially acute in the US (Agweek 8 June 2009):
"Although not the first instance of glyphosate resistance worldwide, the first
evolved glyphosate-resistant weed reported in a glyphosate-resistant crop was horseweed in
2001. To date, populations of 15 species have been reported to be resistant to glyphosate
worldwide. The most problematic glyphosate-resistant weeds in the
As costs associated with Roundup Ready crops rise more farmers are looking to return to conventional cropping (WCPN, 28 May 2009):
"The combination of rising costs of herbicides and falling food prices paid to farmers for many crops is causing some Ohio farmers to go back to basics at least when it comes to soybeans. Steve Waddles dusty boots are as gray as the dried corn stalks he stands on, here in his corner of the corn belt about an hour west of Columbus. For over ten years, Waddle has alternated his corn plantings with genetically-modified soybeans because they are easy to grow, safe and had been cost-effective...until recently. Last year, agribusiness giant Monsanto raised prices on Round Up herbicide and genetically modified soybean seed citing growing demand. The price of production for Waddle and other farmers suddenly skyrocketed....So this year, for the first time in years, hes back to planting conventional soybeans - ones that havent been genetically modified....John Suber runs Ebberts Field Seeds in western Ohio. He says his company usually has booked all its seed orders by January. But he was surprised when he sold out of non genetically modified soybean seed early."
Glyphosate-resistant weeds are expected to cover nearly 38 million acres in the United States by 2013 (Delta Farm Press, 15 May 2009):
"By 2013, one in four growers will have glyphosate-resistant weeds, covering nearly 38 million acres in the United States. To provide more options for growers who will need to manage this increasing problem, Syngenta has updated resistancefighter.com. The revamped site contains a more comprehensive Resistance Fighter Solution Builder, wide-ranging resources, expert news and views, and more tools. 'Glyphosate weed resistance isn't going away and brings real and difficult challenges for producers robbing yields and making herbicide programs more complicated,' said Chuck Foresman, manager of weed resistance strategies for Syngenta. 'We've recently heard retailers and consultants saying they expect to manage every acre for glyphosate-resistant weeds in the South. And, northern growers are only a few steps behind with resistant acres steadily increasing. Syngenta is dedicated to helping producers maintain their profitability and providing them solutions in the face of glyphosate resistance.'"
Monsanto is suing rival seed producer DuPont over what it sees as infringements of its patent right over the use of Roundup Ready technology in an effort to maintain its dominant position in the US soya market (Wall St Journal, 7 May 2009):
"The crop-biotechnology wars are heating up again, with Monsanto Co. filing a patent-infringement lawsuit against archrival DuPont Co., which responded by calling Monsanto a monopolist. The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal district court in Monsanto's hometown of St. Louis, is aimed at forcing DuPont's Pioneer Hi-Bred seed business to dismantle a herbicide-resistant soybean plant that DuPont hopes to begin selling to farmers in 2011. The new seed contains two genes that have been modified to make the plant tolerate herbicides. One is a DuPont gene that allows the soybean plant to tolerate exposure to glyphosate-based weedkiller as well as to another herbicide called acetolate synthase. The seed project has long been touted by DuPont, of Wilmington, Del., as part of its strategy to offer farmers an alternative to herbicide-tolerant soybeans using Monsanto biotechnology. Such crops are popular with farmers because they make weed control much easier. The suit was prompted by the other gene, developed by Monsanto. Monsanto argues in its lawsuit -- the public form of which is heavily redacted -- that the 2002 contract that gave DuPont access to Monsanto's gene prohibits DuPont from combining it with any other company's glyphosate-tolerant gene in the same plant. DuPont fired back late Tuesday that Monsanto's prohibition on combining its genes with those of other companies to form new seeds, called 'stacking,' was neutralized in 2008 when the U.S. Justice Department ordered Monsanto to abandon similar restrictions on cottonseed breeders. 'Monsanto's so-called 'stacking' restriction is one of many practices that Monsanto engages in to limit the availability of competitive products,' DuPont said in a statement, which added that 'seed companies should be able to offer combinations of traits and germplasm without restrictions imposed by trait providers that attempt to limit those combinations.'"
The explosion in weeds resistant to the glyphosate herbicide is continuing to spread across millions of acres in the United States causing some farmers to consider moving back to non-GM crops (France 24, 19 April 2009):
Superweeds are plaguing high-tech Monsanto crops in southern US states, driving farmers to use more herbicides, return to conventional crops or even abandon their farms. The gospel of high-tech genetically modified (GM) crops is not sounding quite so sweet in the land of the converted. A new pest, the evil pigweed, is hitting headlines and chomping its way across Sun Belt states, threatening to transform cotton and soybean plots into weed battlefields. In late 2004, superweeds that resisted Monsantos iconic Roundup herbicide, popped up in GM crops in the county of Macon, Georgia. Monsanto, the US multinational biotech corporation, is the worlds leading producer of Roundup, as well as genetically engineered seeds. .. Superweeds have since alarmingly appeared in other parts of Georgia, as well as South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri, according to media reports. Roundup contains the active ingredient glyphosate, which is the most used herbicide in the USA .Today, 100,000 acres in Georgia are severely infested with pigweed and 29 counties have now confirmed resistance to glyphosate, according to weed specialist Stanley Culpepper from the University of Georgia. Farmers are taking this threat very seriously. It took us two years to make them understand how serious it was. But once they understood, they started taking a very aggressive approach to the weed, Culpepper told FRANCE 24. Just to illustrate how aggressive we are, last year we hand-weeded 45% of our severely infested fields, said Culpepper, adding that the fight involved spending a lot of money. In 2007, 10,000 acres of land were abandoned in Macon country, the epicentre of the superweed explosion, North Carolina State Universitys Alan York told local media .In the face of the weed explosion in cotton and soybean crops, some farmers are even considering moving back to non-GM seeds. Its good for us to go back, people have overdone the Roundup seeds, Alan Rowland, a soybean seed producer based in Dudley, Missouri, told FRANCE 24. He used to sell 80% Monsanto Roundup Ready soybeans and now has gone back to traditional crops, in a market overwhelmingly dominated by Monsanto. According to a number of agricultural specialists, farmers are considering moving back to conventional crops. But its all down to economics, they say. GM crops are becoming expensive, growers say. While farmers and specialists are reluctant to blame Monsanto, Rowland says hes started to see people rebelling against the higher costs.
Glyphosate resistant weed are starting to emerge in Argentina following the introduction of Roundup Ready GM technology (ScienceDirect, 28 April 2009):
"The broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate has become the largest-selling crop-protection product worldwide. The increased use of glyphosate is associated with the appearance of a growing number of tolerant or resistant weeds, with socio-environmental consequences apart from the loss of productivity. In 2002, a glyphosate-resistant biotype of johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense (L.)) appeared in Argentina and now covers at least 10,000 ha."
A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists has found that food and feed GM crops in the United States have done little to improve crop yields with increases in production coming from other plant breeding technologies (Bloomberg, 14 April 2009):
"Genetically engineered crops do little to improve yields and instead promote the proliferation of herbicide-resistant weeds that actually curb production, according to a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Corn and soybeans modified to resist insects and the herbicide glyphosate havent been proven to boost yields, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based group said today in a 44-page report sent via e-mail. The modified plants have increased the number of glyphosate-resistant weeds that compete for soil nutrients and moisture, reducing production, the group said....Monsanto Co., the worlds biggest seed producer, didnt return calls seeking comment. Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, an executive vice president of food and agriculture at the Biotechnology Industry Organization in Washington, said the report by the Union of Concerned Scientists is 'absurd.'....Shares of Monsanto, based in St. Louis, fell $1.31, or 1.6 percent, to $81.76 at 3:56 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Before today, they dropped 31 percent in the past 12 months. Improvements in traditional breeding and other agricultural practices will be more effective in boosting production, Gurian- Sherman said in the report.....Genetically engineered 'soybeans have not increased yields, and GE corn has increased yield only marginally on a crop-wide basis,' the union said. 'Overall, corn and soybean yields have risen substantially over the last 15 years, but largely not as a result of the GE traits. Most of the gains are due to traditional breeding or improvement of other agricultural practices.' The union is a 'science-based non-profit' group started in 1969 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The groups Web site says it has more than 250,000 members using scientific research to promote changes in government policy, corporate practices and consumer choices. The group looked at 'the best peer-reviewed literature' to collect the information, Gurian-Sherman said on a conference call. The union evaluated 20 years of research and details from 13 years of seed sales in the U.S.
GM crops in the United States are driving up the cost of seed in the United States despite increasing husbandry problems such as weed resistance to glyphosate (Peoria Journal Star, Illinois, 6 April 2009):
"One of the claims supporting biotech seed may not be true - that genetically enhanced seed means using less herbicide, [Charles Benbrook] said. 'Roundup Ready tends to reduce herbicide use for two to three years, but then there starts to be a shift in the weed community,' he said. That shift involves weed resistance - resistance that grows every year, said Benbrook. 'Illinois farmers are dealing with two to three different (glyphosate) resistant weeds,' he said. 'Our research shows that for every acre of Roundup Ready seed applied, two-thirds to three-quarters of a pound more herbicide per acre is used than conventional seed. 'Farmers are just beginning to deal with a serious resistance problem,' he said. Outbreaks of so-called 'superweeds' that defy herbicide treatments will become more common, said Benbrook. 'That's the future for central Illinois.'....While resistance is one issue farmers will face, another is the rising cost of putting a crop - whether corn or soybeans - in the ground.Seed and fertilizer costs went up 40 percent between 2003 to 2007, said Dale Laatz, U of I Extension farm financial management specialist. Farm income also rose in that period, especially in central Illinois, he said. In 2008, the average net farm income for the state's central region, an area that includes Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties, was $255,900, the highest in the state, said Laatz. Genetically modified seed is also reaching new heights, said Benbrook. 'You're probably looking at the first $300 bag (for about 50 pounds) of (corn) seed this year. Farmers that used to spend between $15 and $20 a pound on seed per acre are now spending $100,' he said."
Farmers in Brazil's top growing soy state are discovering that the claims about the performance of GM soya do not stand up in practice. Yields are lower than with conventional varieties and many are returning to those. But concerns are growing that high performance GM varieties will not be available in the long term as the seed companies focus on GM varieties to the detriment of other options (Reuters, 13 March 2009):
"Farmers in Brazil's Mato Grosso, the country's top soy state, are shunning once-heralded, genetically modified soy varieties in favor of conventional seeds after the hi-tech type showed poor yields. 'We're seeing less and less planting of GMO soy around here. It doesn't give consistent performance,' said Jeferson Bif, who grows soy and corn on a large 1,800 hectare farm in Ipiranga do Norte, near the key Mato Grosso soy town of Sorriso. He said he obtained average yields of 58 bags (60 kg) per hectare with conventional soy last season while fields planted with GMO soy in the same year yielded 10 bags less. Growers began illegally using genetically modified varieties of soy even before Brazil passed a biosafety law around four years ago permitting their use, in the hope of gaining higher yields and reducing production costs. Around half of Mato Grosso's soy is estimated to be genetically modified but the tide is turning against it.....Farmers in Mato Grosso also benefit from better support from cooperatives and government bodies which provide advice and technical assistance and help them maximize yields even with conventional soy..... Alexsander Gheno, agronomist at APAgri consultancy, said .... said the momentum that GMO crops have gained may see them chase out conventional soy in the long run, even if growers don't prefer the high-tech varieties. 'Companies have been focusing their research on GMO soy more than on conventional ones. So in 10 years we could have 100 percent of the area planted with GMO soy not because this was farmers' choice exactly but because development of new conventional varieties is getting scarce.' he said."
GM canola (oil seed rape) in Canada has not increased yields and costs more, and contamination of non-gm crops means that growing the latter is no longer possible (Weekly Times, Australia, 26 February 2009):
"Two North American Farmers are touring Australia to warn about their experiences with genetically modified (GM) food crops. The farmers, Moe Parr and Ross Murray. say more than a decade of growing GM crops in North America has resulted in increased corporate control of farming and reduced profits for farmers. As Australian farmers prepare to plant this years canola crop, the North Americans will speak at forums across key canola growing regions in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales. The farmers are speaking to parliamentarians at the Victoria Parliament today, and will be speaking to farmers in Horsham on Saturday at 2pm at the Wellesley Performing Arts Centre. In 2008, small quantities of GM canola were grown commercially in New South Wales and Victoria after these two states lifted moratoria. Western Australia has also announced that it will allow large-scale field trials of GM canola for the first time this year. ........Mr Murray, a farmer from Saskatchewan, Canada, grew GM Roundup Ready canola for some years. He said he found that it failed to deliver industry promises. 'GM canola doesnt stack up; it doesnt yield more than conventional canola, whereas it costs more to grow,' he said. 'But now farmers dont have a choice; non-GM canola has been eliminated by genetic contamination.' Julie Newman, a Western Australian canola farmer and member of the Network of Concerned Farmers, says: 'GM canola will risk the livelihoods of non-GM canola farmers. The end point royalty system, under which Monsanto can deduct fees from non-GM canola farmers even for accidental contamination, leaves them completely without choice."
Even seed cleaning contractors in the US are now being punished by Monsanto for the presence of GM seed in non-GM crops as GM contamination spreads (Weekly Times, Australia, 26 February 2009):"Mr Parr, a seed cleaner from Indiana, in the United States, was sued by Monsanto in 2007 for allegedly 'aiding', 'abetting' and 'encouraging' GM soy farmers to break the patent law by saving seed. Mr Parr said he was unable to afford the legal fees to defend himself and was forced to settle out of court. As part of the settlement, Mr Parr says he now has to have each lot of seed he cleans tested for GM contamination and send the results to Monsanto. 'In effect I have become an unpaid enforcement officer for Monsanto.' Mr Parr said. 'Because of GM contamination and the monopoly control of seeds by bio tech companies, in the United States it is nearly impossible to go back. Farmers in Australia still have a choice about whether they want to go down the GM path or not.' "
Ag-biotech companies are obstructing independent university researchers from trialing GM crop varieties in order to prevent the publication of data which shows their poor agronomic or environmental performance (New York Times, 20 February 2009):"Biotechnology companies are keeping university scientists from fully researching the effectiveness and environmental impact of the industrys genetically modified crops, according to an unusual complaint issued by a group of those scientists. 'No truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions,' the scientists wrote in a statement submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency. The E.P.A. is seeking public comments for scientific meetings it will hold next week on biotech crops....The researchers, 26 corn-insect specialists, withheld their names because they feared being cut off from research by the companies. But several of them agreed in interviews to have their names used. The problem, the scientists say, is that farmers and other buyers of genetically engineered seeds have to sign an agreement meant to ensure that growers honor company patent rights and environmental regulations. But the agreements also prohibit growing the crops for research purposes. So while university scientists can freely buy pesticides or conventional seeds for their research, they cannot do that with genetically engineered seeds. Instead, they must seek permission from the seed companies. And sometimes that permission is denied or the company insists on reviewing any findings before they can be published, they say. Such agreements have long been a problem, the scientists said, but they are going public now because frustration has been building. 'If a company can control the research that appears in the public domain, they can reduce the potential negatives that can come out of any research,' said Ken Ostlie, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota, who was one of the scientists who had signed the statement....The companies 'have the potential to launder the data, the information that is submitted to E.P.A.,' said Elson J. Shields, a professor of entomology at Cornell....The growers agreement from Syngenta not only prohibits research in general but specifically says a seed buyer cannot compare Syngentas product with any rival crop. Dr. Ostlie, at the University of Minnesota, said he had permission from three companies in 2007 to compare how well their insect-resistant corn varieties fared against the rootworms found in his state. But in 2008, Syngenta, one of the three companies, withdrew its permission and the study had to stop. 'The company just decided it was not in its best interest to let it continue,' Dr. Ostlie said.....Dr. Shields of Cornell said financing for agricultural research had gradually shifted from the public sector to the private sector. That makes many scientists at universities dependent on financing or technical cooperation from the big seed companies. 'People are afraid of being blacklisted,' he said. 'If your sole job is to work on corn insects and you need the latest corn varieties and the companies decide not to give it to you, you cant do your job.'
The development of glyphosate resistant weeds on US farms is encouraging the search for alterative to Roundup Ready technology. Bayer's Liberty Link soybeans will require multiple applications and/or use with other herbicides (Delta Farm Press, 13 February 2009):
"It seems as though truly new technology does not come along very often anymore. This has certainly been the case for the past few years in soybeans. With the exception of Valor and Prefix, there really have been no developments in soybean weed control. Even Prefix is a new pre-mix of older chemistry, used in a new way. So, I have been excited to have LibertyLink soybeans and Ignite herbicide in testing for the past two years....I will say up front that we at the university have little information on these LibertyLink varieties. In my trials, the beans yielded between 40 and 80 bushels per acre. All my tests were dryland, so yields varied quite a bit. One thing I can say is that yields were comparable to the Roundup Ready varieties that were in nearby tests. I do not believe there is a yield drag with LibertyLink soybeans. However, until they enter the university testing program, I will say that the jury is still out. The other thing that university tests will show is salt tolerance, effect of soil type, disease, nematodes, etc. So, we are lacking this information going into 2009. You should try some of these soybeans on a limited basis on your farm the first year and see how they do. In terms of weed control, Ignite herbicide has performed well. Ignite, however, is not Roundup. I think of it more in terms of how I would apply a conventional herbicide, such as Flexstar. It works much better if you get good coverage and apply it to small weeds....Ignite is not as readily translocated as Roundup, so you need a droplet spectrum that covers the whole plant as well as possible. This may prove to cause problems. Air-induction tips used for large-droplet, low-drift, glyphosate applications, may not provide the best efficacy for using Ignite. There may be some growing pains as applicators figure out how to best apply Ignite. In year one, we will be limited to 44 ounces per acre per year of total Ignite. I will recommend 22 ounces per acre twice as a standard postemergence program. You can go as high as 36 ounces per acre in a single application, but you should do this later in the season only, because that does not leave enough to come back with and stay under 44 ounces per year. We are looking at higher rates and Bayer is working towards expanding this label. Residuals look good in LibertyLink soybeans. Starting out your burn-down application with Valor, one of the Valor premixes, or something like Canopy EX in the tank, or coming in with a pre-emergence treatment of Prefix, Authority MTZ, Dual or another, may allow you to delay the first post application. Without a 'pre' applied, you will need to make your first Ignite application about 10 to 12 days after emergence or on 2-inch to 3-inch weeds. Any later and you may not get complete control with Ignite alone. This is especially true for grasses and pigweed, which Ignite can be weak on if applied late. Ignite is very good on morning-glory, hemp sesbania, small prickly sida, and other broadleaves. Resistant weeds are definitely a reason to try LibertyLink soybeans and Ignite in 2009. Another reason might be just to rotate a field out of Roundup Ready for a year for resistance management. Some of you are talking about rotating to conventional soybeans for this reason also. LibertyLink would be a better option on pigweed, sicklepod and vine acres than conventional soybeans if you are looking for rotational options."
More US farmers are wanting to stop growing Roundup Ready soy bean because of the cost of GM seed, the cost of glyphosate, and the arrival of glyphosate resistant weeds, but the conventional seed isn't available (Delta Farm Press, 10 February 2009):
"Since mid-2008, Trey Koger has noticed a serious uptick of growers interested in conventional soybeans. That interest seems to be due mainly to three things, said the Mississippi Extension soybean specialist, who spoke at the recent Tri-State Soybean Forum in Oak Grove, La. 'First, over the last decade, there has been a steady increase in the price of Roundup Ready seed. Last fall, there was a significant price increase more than what was experienced in the past. Some prices cited were 30 to 40 percent higher.' Added to the mix is also the increased cost of glyphosate. In some situations, there is also concern for glyphosate-resistant weeds. 'Those three factors have turned some farmers interest back to conventional soybeans.' What would growing more conventional soybeans mean in the Mid-South? 'Well, there are certainly some challenges.' Currently, there is very little to choose from in terms of conventional varieties. The majority of public varieties Mid-South growers have access to come out of Grover Shannons breeding program in Portageville, Mo. 'There are few conventional varieties like Hutcheson that we used to plant before adoption of Roundup Ready varieties that are still available. But the seed availability on those (is) very limited. 'The figure Im citing isnt exact, but its close: if farmers use only public varieties, theres not enough available to plant more than 0.5 percent of Mississippis expected soybean acreage. That isnt even scratching the surface. 'Someone might say, Use private conventional varieties instead. Well, there are essentially two companies Hornbeck and Progeny that are still selling and increasing conventional varieties. The varieties theyre selling have been around for a while.' Hornbeck and Progeny have some very good conventional varieties, said Koger. 'Yield-wise, several of the Hornbeck conventionals compete very well against some of the elite Roundup Ready varieties. Thats great.' However, if growers planted all the conventional seed available whether public or private there wouldnt be enough to plant more than 3 percent of Mississippis soybean acreage. That surprises a lot of people. The seed just isnt available and if the conventional seed is spread out over the Mid-South, were looking at only 1 percent, or so, for each state very, very little.....'Weve run some economic numbers. Weed control program estimates show that, essentially, the cost for conventional versus Roundup Ready is a wash. Higher glyphosate prices have a lot to do with that.' Where money is saved with growing conventionals is in seed costs. 'Seed costs are about half that of Roundup Ready varieties. That could add up to $20 to $25 per acre'.
"Roundup Ready genetically modified crops are addictive, according to Mohammed Khan, a sugar beet specialist from the North Dakota State University extension service. 'Once you start using Roundup Ready you become addicted very quickly,' he said during his Raymond Hull memorial lecture at Broom's Barn research station last week [in the UK]... It was part of his explanation why Roundup Ready sugar beet ... had taken off so spectacularly in the United States.... The coming season's crop was expected to be 90-100% Roundup Ready, he said. 'Its the fastest adoption of any crop.' That was despite, in the Red River Valley [which grows 50% of the USA's sugar beet], higher total production costs (see tables) of about $51/ha for the average grower....Monasanto research trials had suggested better weed control, and, therefore, less crop competition, could increase yields by 2-3 t/ha, he said. 'But that hasn't been our experience - we haven't noticed any differences."
Glyphosate resistance continues to be a problem for American cotton growers to the point where they are having to consider other weed management programmes that do not rely on Roundup Ready GM technology, including use of other herbicides and soil tillage (Delta Farm Press, 6 Feburary 2009):
"Its no secret that glyphosate resistance has become a significant problem for cotton producers, and researchers are finding that managing this pest is influenced by many factors. 'In areas where were fortunate, and we have rainfall or can irrigate, we can be fairly successful managing glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth pigweed. But in other areas, its far more challenging,' said Stanley Culpepper, Georgia Extension agronomist, speaking at the recent Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio. Before a management program can be developed, its important to know exactly what growers are doing, says Culpepper. 'This is a fairly new concept, because in the past I only had to know which weed species was in your field. Now, many more factors must be considered,' he says. These factors include whether or not the field is irrigated/conventional-tillage, dryland/conventional-tillage, dryland/conservation-tillage, or irrigated/conservation-tillage. 'Usually, if its irrigated, we do very well, as long as we can convince the grower to turn on the irrigation within a day or two of applying the residual herbicide. But dryland is where were struggling desperately,' he says. Everyone knows, he adds, that residual herbicides are a strong component of any program to manage glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth. 'If you were in the central part of Georgia last year, near Tifton, and you wanted to get an activating rainfall, you had five to seven days when you would get at least one-half inch of rain. Its a challenge for us in the southern and central part of the state to get these residuals, especially at-plant herbicides, activated by rainfall. That is why were struggling so desperately in dryland production,' says Culpepper. There is no doubt, in Georgia, that an integrated approach will be needed to manage this pest, he says. Researchers are now in the process of attempting to understand and determine which specific 'tactics' could be used in an integrated approach, he says. These tactics could include tillage, cover crops, Ignite-based programs, or various mixtures of all of these, says Culpepper. 'Is it tillage? Is it cover crops? Were 98-percent Roundup Ready now, so should we be using more Ignite-based programs? Or will it be a mixture of all these plus additional control measures such as hand-weeding?' Culpepper, along with other Extension specialists and researchers, conducted a study looking at the impact of soil tillage activities such as deep turning, incorporating a yellow herbicide, and cultivating in a dryland, conventionally produced crop."
As glyphosate resistance becomes an increasing problem with Roundup Ready soy beans more farmers are considering returning to conventional soy beans and using residual herbicides as an alternative to glyphosate (Delta Farm Press, 5 February 2009):
"There is renewed interest in several areas of soybean weed control. Some growers are asking what they can add to their Roundup Ready programs for resistance management. LibertyLink soybeans which will be commercially available for the first time in 2009. And there is renewed interest in conventional soybeans. Intertwined in all three areas is an increase in the promotion and interest in soil residual herbicides for resistance management. The interest in soil residual herbicides has come full circle. Prior to the introduction of Roundup Ready soybeans, a soil-applied herbicide was used on the majority of the soybean acreage. After Roundup Ready soybeans were planted on most of the acres, soil applied herbicide use fell to essentially zero. Now the pendulum is swinging back. With the exception of Valor, most of the active ingredients available for soil-applied use are the same as those we had prior to the introduction of Roundup Ready soybeans. The names have changed on some of them and there are a lot of different mixtures available, but the herbicides are essentially the same. Perhaps those who were farming soybeans 15 or so years ago do not need a refresher course on soil-applied herbicides. Of course, some of you may be like me you were farming then, but your memory isnt too good.....Preplant incorporated herbicides can be just as effective today as they were in the 1980s and before. However, I doubt that most farmers will go back to them. This means the increased interest in residual herbicides is going to be in those applied pre-emergence, and you must be realistic in what you expect from them."
Farmers in the US who have used Bt cotton varieties to control bollworms are finding that other pests are now taking over to the point where some growers in Arkansas are giving up growing the crop (Delta Farm Press, 2 February 2009):
"Speaking on a panel at the 2009 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio, Gus Lorenz, University of Arkansas entomologist, who is responsible for integrated pest management programs in Arkansas, noted that cotton producers are learning to deal with a changing pest spectrum brought on by the use of transgenic cotton varieties resistant to lepidopteran pests and the success of the boll weevil eradication program. 'We spray less for these pests, which has freed up the sucking pest complex.'...In addition to new chemistries, Lorenz said, alternative methods to chemical control such as an area-wide management program could work for plant bugs. 'We also need to maintain the insecticides that we have, particularly the organophosphates.' Stink bugs are also emerging as a big pest of cotton, according to Lorenz. 'Were beginning to learn about the damage that this pest can cause. We still have a lot of work to do on thresholds. Were not certain that the current threshold of one bug per 6 row-feet is going to work.'...According to panelist and Arkansas crop consultant Chuck Farr, 'increases in pest pressure along with low cotton prices and high grain prices 'have caused many of our cotton producers to park their cotton pickers for the 2009 growing season. Ten years ago, we faced many pest problems, including tobacco budworm and cotton bollworm. Weve moved through those years to plant bugs, spider mites and other insects....[Glyphosate] Resistance has become a big problem in weed control as well, noted Farr.....'The spread of resistance was almost overnight. Many suspicious plants in the 2006 growing season in isolated areas were almost field-wide in 2007, in cotton and every other crop we grow. We have to do what we can to preserve the technology and get cotton acres back on track.'
The Bt cotton acreage in the US fell in 2008 and the cost of Bt pest control proved greater than spray based methods (Delta Farm Press, 23 January 2009):
"U.S. cotton insect losses in 2008 were up slightly from 2007, according to a preliminary Beltwide survey of insect losses compiled by Mike Williams, Extension entomologist at Mississippi State University. The report was presented at the 2009 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio.....Bt cotton acreage decreased for the second straight year in 2008, although this is more reflective of an overall decline in cotton acreage. Around 90 percent of U.S. cotton acreage had some type of transgenic technology, according to the report. The cost of Bt cotton exceeded the cost of foliar application this year, 'and I believe that is the first year Ive seen that happen,' Williams said."
LibertyLink soybeans are being introduced by Bayer in the US in response to the increasing problem with glyphosate resistant weeds which now exist in 19 states, but Bayer is recommending that the new beans are treated with more than one type of herbicide (Delta Farm Press, 22 January 2009):
"Weeds that are resistant to glyphosate, the herbicide active ingredient applied on Roundup Ready soybeans, have been confirmed in 19 states, and several states have reported weed resistance to multiple chemistries, including ALS, PPO and triazine herbicides....By rotating to LibertyLink soybeans, growers not only introduce new herbicide chemistry but also attack glyphosate-resistant weeds such as Palmer amaranth, horseweed and giant ragweed with Ignite, which has a unique, nonselective herbicide mode of action....To help soybean farmers delay the onset of weed resistance to Ignite, Bayer CropScience 'strongly recommends' the application of a residual herbicide, either in a pre-emergence application at planting or mixed with the first application of Ignite on the LibertyLink soybeans, says Hurst. For LibertyLink soybeans in the Mid-South, the first application of Ignite should be made between 10 and 14 days after the soybeans emerge. 'Most university and Extension folks are recommending early applications of Ignite on LibertyLink soybeans and glyphosate on Roundup Ready soybeans to avoid yield loss from early season competition,' says Hurst."
GM canola (oilseed rape) has yielded less than non-GM canola in Australian field trials (Australian Associated Press, 16 January 2009):
"Farmers opposed to genetically modified (GM) crops have welcomed the
results of the first independent trials of GM canola, which show it produced similar
yields to conventional crops. The trials in Victoria and NSW, conducted by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), showed GM canola yielded 0.7 tonnes per hectare, compared with 0.8t/ha for non-GM crops. 'This is clear evidence that GM canola is not what it is promoted as,'
Network of Concerned Farmers spokeswoman Julie Newman said in a statement. 'We hope farmers will now realise they have been misled to believe GM canola
should yield more when there is no logical reason why it should.'"
Second generation GM cotton in Australia has been suffering from poor pest control in Australia (Stock and Land, Australia, 15 January 2009):
"Reports of medium to large Helicoverpa caterpillar survivors in Bollgard II cotton crops in the Emerald Irrigation Area are being investigated by Queensland's Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries and the Cotton CRC. DPI&F/Cotton CRC cotton extension officer, Susan Maas, said surviving larvae had been collected and tested but there was no evidence of any Bt resistance....'Moths from a sample of Helicoverpa eggs collected last month have been submitted for second generation Bt resistance,' Ms Maas said. 'While scientists have identified moths carrying the resistance gene, they have found no evidence of resistance in the field.' Ms Maas said it was possible to test plants for the presence or absence of the Bt genes. 'One theory is that at the peak flowering stage, there could be a dip in expression of the plant gene conferring the toxin,' she said. The threshold for Bollgard II cotton is the same as for Ingard cotton, and equates to two larvae greater than 2mm/metre in two consecutive checks or 1 larvae greater than 8mm/m....'Unfortunately, there is likely to be significant boll damage on the Bollgard II crops impacted by the Helicoverpa survivors as the plants were at the flowering cut out stage with no compensatory boll set,' Ms Maas said."
Glyphosate resistance with Roundup Ready crops is becoming such a problem that Monsanto has started paying cotton farmers rebates to use other herbicides in order to try and prolong the usefulness of their Roundup Ready technology (Delta Farm Press, 12 January 2009):
"Most Southeast and Mid-South weed scientists agree cotton producers need to put down one or more residual herbicides to help control glyphosate-resistant or soon-to-be-resistant Palmer amaranth or pigweed. In 2009, qualifying growers can get help with the cost of those herbicides in the form of rebates that can total up to $12 per acre for applying combinations of residual materials preplant, early postemergence and lay-by in their cotton. The rebates will be available under Monsantos new Roundup Ready Cotton Performance Plus program. Monsanto is expanding the program, which was offered as a pilot to growers in a limited area in 2008, to 13 states to encourage farmers to follow those Extension specialists recommendations....Farmers can receive rebates of $5.50 per acre for applying Valor (2 ounces), $5.50 per acre for Reflex (16 ounces) or $3 per acre for Cotoran (2 pints per acre) during the preplant phase; $5.50 per acre for Parrlay (1.3 pints) or $3 per acre for Dual Magnum (1 pint) early post; and $1 per acre for Direx (32 ounces) at lay-by for a total of up to $12 per acre in rebates."
Gylphosate resistant Palmer amaranth is spreading in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, as Roundup Ready technology has been used as a substitute for weed management (Delta Farm Press, 24 December 2008):
"If you want to design the perfect weed, start with a blueprint of Palmer amaranth pigweed. According to North Carolina weed scientist Alan York, 'It has very efficient carbon fixation, it is water-use efficient, and when it is hot and dry and crops are struggling to hang on, its very happy. It grows an inch or two a day. When it comes into a field, if you arent careful, its going to become the predominant weed.' That is exactly what has happened in parts of the Southeast over the last few years, added Bob Nichols with Cotton Incorporated. Nichols and York were speaking at Cotton Incorporateds Crop Management Seminar, in Tunica, Miss. 'The epicenter of glyphosate-resistant Palmer pigweed is Macon County, Ga. That site is now 70 percent to 80 percent resistant and over 10,000 acres were abandoned in 2007.' Palmer amaranth is suspected to be resistant on 300,000 acres in 20 counties in Georgia; 130,000 acres in nine counties in South Carolina; 200,000 acres in 22 counties in North Carolina. To keep the problem from getting worse, growers 'have to get serious about resistance management,' York said. 'We have to focus on reducing selection pressure. 'We can no longer go with glyphosate-only programs. We have to do something else. Basically, its getting more herbicides and more modes of action out there. Were talking about putting out residuals, tank mixes, full use rates, and if cultivation fits, fine. 'Roundup Ready technology is convenient, easy and forgiving. It made our growers into weed sprayers. Resistant weeds are going to cause us to go back to being weed managers.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to control barnyard grass in Roundup Ready soyabeans (Delta Farm Press, 18 November 2008):
"It is much easier to talk about potential problems with barnyardgrass resistance in rice than it is to talk about solutions. Small things that can be done with existing technology can help, but there is the need for new technology. One thing that can be done with existing technology that would help the most is to do a much better job of controlling barnyardgrass in soybeans. Riding the roads each summer I see two disturbing scenarios. One is the increasing failure to control barnyardgrass in Roundup Ready soybeans. Much of this is due to later timing of application and the attempt to get by with one application. If the experts who contend that glyphosate resistance is a creeping resistance that builds up over time are right, then applying sub-lethal doses will result in resistance over time. Continues to increase the cost of this technology each year could be a counter-productive resistance management program because it will cause more farmers to reduce the amount of glyphosate applied when they really need to be increasing the amount used."
Glyphosate is not longer considered an effective pigweed herbicide in some parts of America (Delta Farm Press, 31 October 2008)
All during the winter of 2005 I wrote that the 'weeds are talking is anybody listening?' In that series I was writing about glyphosate resistance. I certainly was not the only weed scientist that saw big time issues with glyphosate resistance coming, so there is no saying, 'I told you so.' At the time, however, either folks were not listening, or they were hoping I was wrong, or they were hoping there would be answers before a problem occurred on their farms. After all, herbicide resistance is not a problem until it is on your farm. I also predicted in 2005 that Palmer pigweed resistance to glyphosate would be a much larger issue than horseweed resistance. My reasoning was that I could see much better control options for horseweed than I could for Palmer pigweed once you took glyphosate out of the picture. In 2008, I heard two prominent university weed scientists make remarks at field days that glyphosate could no longer be considered a pigweed herbicide in their state. Again, I was not the only person who could see this coming. It is not a matter of being smart, but of listening to the weeds. When we push a herbicide or a technology farther than we should, a train wreck is going to happen.
Glyphosate weed resistance in the US now includes ryegrass (Delta Farm Press, 30 October 2008):
"Glyphosate-resistant Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) exploded in Mississippi crop fields this spring, infesting between 10,000 acres and 20,000 acres, according to Mississippi State University Extension leaders. Glyphosate resistance in the state was first confirmed in Italian ryegrass in 2006 by weed scientists at Mississippi State University. At that time, the resistant species was confined to the southern half of Washington County. But wet weather this spring encouraged greater distribution of the weed....One problem that researchers and farmers face is that Italian ryegrass has always been somewhat difficult to control with glyphosate. 'Its always been a timing issue there,' Koger said. 'There is a window in which it becomes very difficult to control. But we have some now that we cant touch.'... In 2006-07, MSU weed scientist Vijay Nandula reported a three-fold increase glyphosate tolerance in Italian ryegrass in several Washington County fields. In a paper in Weed Science in May 2008, Nandula reported that tolerance to glyphosate in these populations 'is partly due to reduced absorption and/or translocation of glyphosate.' Koger said the weed 'has really jeopardized our glyphosate-based burndown programs. We dont have a lot of spring options. Weve been looking at some products that have some merit. But for the most part, we need to manage it with fall-applied herbicides.'"
As Monsanto buys up more and more seed houses US farmers are being left with less and less choice according to Chris Petersen, Iowa Farmers Union president, Clear Lake (Des Moines Register, 17 October 2008):
"Iowa farmers are at a disadvantage. In the face of historic fuel costs, farmers are paying higher seed prices with less choice in the marketplace. Monsanto controls more than 90 percent of the market in many important crop genetics. The company has raised prices drastically every year with no competition, taking money from farmers' pockets and rural Iowa's economy. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has been investigating Monsanto's market practices to determine whether it violates antitrust laws. Everything in agriculture begins with the seed. If Miller can find a way to return competitive prices and innovation to Iowa's seed market, he will have done a great service to Iowa agriculture."
Weed resistance to glyphosate is spreading in GM cotton crops in South Carolina and in Georgia the problem is so bad some farms are even being abandoned (The Times and Democrat (South Carolina), 11 August 2008):
"Palmer amaranth is its scientific name but local cotton experts call it a pigweed. The weed can grow 6 to 10 feet tall -- an inch a day even during droughts -- and is known to be resistant to the most common herbicides used in cotton, namely glyphostate. By whatever name, one word used to describe the weed is 'nasty' and its nastiness is of concern to T&D Region cotton experts. 'It is bad and it is widespread,' said Charles Davis, Calhoun County Clemson Extension agent and crop specialist for Orangeburg and Calhoun counties. 'My Lord, yes,' Calhoun County cotton, soybean and corn farmer John Olson said, when asked if palmer has been a problem. 'We are having a terrible problem with it. We are going to change chemicals next year or we will be overwhelmed by it.' Olson said he has already resorted to WideStrike herbicide as one option to cut back on the weed. If this does not help, 'I dont know what we are going to do,' Olson said. Olson said a good way to describe the 2008 agriculture year would be 'year of the weeds.' 'We got to get a whole new chemical, a complete overhaul on our chemical program,' he said. Davis said outreach methods to farmers will continue to encourage them to be vigilant and the need look into using multiple herbicide packages in preventing the weed from coming up in the first place. Davis said while neighbors to the south in Georgia have seen some cotton fields totally wiped out from the pigweed, no local fields have experienced total devastation. 'We have not abandoned any farms yet like they have in Georgia' Davis said. 'And we dont want to get there.'....both Davis and Marshall say the overuse and reliance on glyphostate have helped to make the pigweed resistant. Marshall said there are some products and pre-emergent herbicides that can be used and mixed with Roundup such as Reflex, and FlexStar or Valor. 'Basically, the herbicide is the key and the lock is the part it acts on,' Marshall said. 'When a weed becomes resistant, the lock changes and the key does not work any more. Weeds are highly adaptive plants.' In light of this, Davis said local farmers are actively searching and applying alternate chemical systems to help keep the weed at bay. 'But in the near future, if we are not careful, we will see fields that are heavily infested,' Davis said."
Glyphosate resistant horesweed continues to spread in Roundup Ready crops in the United States (Delta Farm Press, 13 August 2008):
"Dick Oliver, University of Arkansas weed scientist, stands well over 6 feet tall. In mid-July, plenty of the weed-choked field behind him - healthy horseweed and Palmer amaranth abound - was taller. 'To maximize your weed program, you need to know about your weeds,' Oliver said to a group touring the University of Arkansas research station at Clarkedale, Ark. 'So why is this plot total horseweed while (an adjacent) plot is a mix of weeds? What caused that?' 'Chemistry,' says someone in the crowd. 'Not bad! So how in the world did we take a weed like horseweed - that 15 years ago wasn't a problem weed - and make it a huge problem? Is it because of biology? Well, we sprayed Roundup and killed it repeatedly. Then, all of the sudden, it became resistant. At the same time, we went into no-till systems in big acreage. That's how we made horseweed one of the top three weeds in the South in about a five-year period.'....Growers increasingly tormented with glyphosate-resistant weeds, or those who want to forestall such from entering their fields, will want to give LibertyLink soybeans serious consideration. For the layperson, the technology appears to work much the same as Roundup Ready and glyphosate. LibertyLink soybeans can be sprayed with Ignite, a herbicide that works well on a plethora of problem weeds. But at the recent LibertyLink field day in Clarkedale, speakers repeatedly warned growers not to see the new technology as a simple replacement for Roundup Ready. 'All day today, I hope you hear, 'This is not glyphosate in a different color jug. This is not the Roundup technology in a different color bag. This is different. We'll manage it differently and farm it differently,'' said Ken Smith, Arkansas Extension weed specialist. One of the keys to managing weeds in LibertyLink soybeans is early application of Ignite. Don't wait too late to apply the herbicide. 'When weeds are sprayed (with Ignite) at 3 inches, it looks good. The problem is weeds don't all come up at the same time. When the majority of the weeds are 3 inches tall, some are already 8 inches tall. One here, one there. It's common to think, 'Well, I can't afford to spray those until all reach 3 inches tall.' But that means the ones that are already 8 inches tall will be escapes.'....Like Smith, Scott emphasized Ignite application timing. Over the years, growers have been able to push glyphosate treatments in Roundup Ready programs later and later. Even so, 'at the end of the year we were able to clean the fields up - at least until the arrival of these resistant weeds. 'With Ignite and the LibertyLink technology, we won't be able to do that. Ignite is not glyphosate. It must go out much earlier in order for you to be happy with it. At our pigweed location, for example, it must go out on 2-inch or 3-inch pigweed. That's typically seven to 10 days after planting. If we wait a week past that, on 4-, 5- or 6-inch pigweed, there are some control failures. And you must have a sequential in order to clean it up.' The need for early spraying is also evident at the Lonoke test location where barnyardgrass is the primary target. 'Ignite is a bit weaker on grasses than glyphosate is,' said Scott. 'The Ignite application has to go out on smaller, two-leaf to three-leaf barnyardgrass to control it. That's another major difference.'....When spraying Ignite, there are several considerations. 'One is: I've got to get my volume up, my coverage right,' said Smith. 'That's because Ignite is not translocated throughout the plant as well as glyphosate. Translocation that does occur is mostly directed upwards, not much downward.' Smith and colleagues have seen some differences in spraying nozzles, speeds, and volumes. "I believe our spray techniques will need to be refined some when we begin using Ignite.'"
Conventional soybean varieties are making a comeback in Missouri as GM crop costs rise (University of Missouri, 9 August 2008):
"Conventional soybean varieties are making a comeback. Lower seed and weed-control costs, price incentives at the grain elevator and yields that rival Roundup Ready beans have renewed interest in conventional varieties, said Grover Shannon, an agronomist at the University of Missouri Delta Research Center in the Missouri Bootheel. In the 1990s, Monsanto introduced soybeans and other plants genetically modified to tolerate its popular herbicide Roundup (glyphosate). 'Now theres a resurgence of interest in conventional soybean varieties. Farmers can grow them cheaper and they will yield just as well,' Shannon said. Shannon discussed his conventional-variety breeding program at the MU Delta Research Center Field Day, Sept. 2, in Portageville. Overseas demand for non-genetically-modified soybeans and the tripling of costs for glyphosate herbicide have made conventional varieties more appealing to many growers, he said. 'Roundup costs went from about $15 per gallon last year to $40 to $50 per gallon,' he said. 'That was a pretty good shock to growers. So they got to comparing things, and saw the conventional system was just as cheap.' Many farmers already add a conventional herbicide to glyphosate for weed control due to the spread of glyphosate-tolerant weeds, Shannon said. 'The conventional herbicide systems are about as cheap if not cheaper than using just the Roundup system.' Reflecting overseas demand, grain elevators have been offering a premium for conventional soybeans. Last winter, growers could go to some of the local elevators and get a contract for non-genetically-modified soybeans for a dollar or more over the Chicago price, he said. Another draw is the ability to save seed from conventional varieties, Shannon said. With the proprietary Roundup Ready soybeans, farmers must purchase new seed each year. 'The fact is, if a grower grows conventional beans, he can save seed to plant the next year, and then hes not out the seed costs. Thats the way all farmers used to do it,' he said. 'But with Roundup Ready beans, hes got to pay $40 or more for a bag each year.' The MU Delta Center has continued a conventional-soybean breeding program even as most private companies moved to an exclusive focus on Roundup Ready beans, Shannon said. Two years ago, the center released Jake and Stoddard, two conventional varieties that have attracted interest for their adaptability to many soil types and broad resistance to soybean cyst nematode. 'The cyst nematode situation has gotten worse because most varieties now trace to one genetic source,' he said. 'The Jake and Stoddard varieties trace to a different source that has more resistance. They also carry some resistance to root knot nematode.'
Concerns have been growing about the social and environmental effects of growing GM soya in Argentina including the rising of weed resistant to glyphosate (IPS, 29 July 2008):
"Covering 16.6 million hectares, more than half the country's
cultivated land, soybeans, which command prices of around 600 dollars a tonne, are
expanding at the expense of maize, wheat, citrus fruits and cattle ranching, among other
farming activities.....According to Pengue, a professor of agricultural and environmental
economics at several universities, 'Johnson grass' or 'Aleppo grass,' a weed that is
becoming resistent to glyphosate, has already appeared in six provinces. Alternatives
being discussed to combat it include herbicides that were discontinued in the 1980s as too
The Weed Science Scociety of America has issued a warning about the growing problem of glyphosate resistant weeds in the US (Delta Farm Press, 5 June 2008):
"The Weed Science Society of America promotes the responsible use of a variety of weed control measures and cautions against following a single approach to weed management, which can result in resistant weeds...'Glyphosate is easy to use,' says Chris Boerboom, University of Wisconsin Extension Weed Scientist and Weed Science Society of America member. 'Glyphosates effectiveness as a broad-spectrum herbicide left many growers relying on it frequently and even exclusively in their battle to control weeds. Unfortunately, once a naturally resistant weed appears in a field, it can escape and multiply into a serious problem in the next few years. Over the past several years, we have seen the list of glyphosate-resistant weeds grow to nine species, which are scattered across at least 20 states. Farmers are being challenged to control glyphosate-resistant weeds like Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) and giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida) in certain crops. We urgently need to slow the development of resistance before glyphosates value to farmers is diminished.'"
Syngenta are trying to help us farmers deal with the growing problem of glyphosate resistant weeds, but there is no 'silver bullet' solution in the offing (Farm Delta Press, 30 May 2008):
"With the number of glyphosate-resistant weeds on the rise, Syngenta has created the Resistance Fighter Resistance Management Module, a new tool to help growers manage resistance by offering herbicide solutions tailored to corn and soybean fields....'I stood side-by-side with a North Carolina grower looking at a field overrun with glyphosate-resistant weeds,' said Chuck Foresman, manager of weed resistance strategies for Syngenta. 'He said that 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. Growers are looking for answers, and this module provides a step in the right direction. It's a valuable resource for both growers and retailers.' Emphasized by the recent confirmation of both glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed and Palmer amaranth in Tennessee, glyphosate resistance remains a real and growing threat. Each new species brings an additional challenge to management programs. 'Unfortunately, there is a mindset by some that chemical companies are going to develop a new herbicide mode of action to alleviate glyphosate resistance before it becomes a bigger problem. If we found a new mode of action today it would take a minimum of 10 years to get a product to market,' said Foresman. 'That silver bullet isn't coming anytime in the near future. We need to be looking at the herbicide programs available today and other cultural options, and make the best use of those tools.
Monsanto is phasing out its first generation Bt cotton in Georgia because of pest resistance concerns. However, the replacement options give lower crop yields (Delta Farm Press, 20 May 2008):
"Future changes in cottonseed technologies could be costly to Georgia farmers and the states cotton industry and general economy, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. Cotton is now ranked as Georgias No. 1 row crop in acreage and farm income. However, the elimination of currently available single-gene Bollgard technology could lead to declines in cotton productivity, resulting in losses to the states cotton industry and economy, according to the study, conducted by Archie Flanders, Don Shurley and John McKissick. The total economic output loss to the Georgia economy due to changing seed technology could be $128.32 million, say the economists, with changes in the Georgia cotton industry having economic impacts throughout the states economy. Due to expected declines in production, Georgia cotton producers are expected to lose $54.65 million in income, which averages approximately $59 per acre. Reduced yields also will contribute to lost revenues associated with ginning, marketing, classing and storing cotton. Monsanto, which owns the single-gene Bollgard technology, has opted not to re-register the variety with the Environmental Protection Agency due to insect resistance concerns. The registration for Bollgard (B1) is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2009. EPA will allow growers to plant carryover seed in 2010 as long as the seed is purchased and delivered by Sept. 30, 2009.... Of last years total acreage, more than 92 percent was planted in B1 varieties, reports the University of Georgia study. More than 83 percent of the states cotton acreage is planted in the DPL 555BR variety, which contains the single-gene Bollgard technology. DPL 555BR has proven to be a consistently high-yielding variety in the University of Georgia Official Variety Trials. Newer two-gene Bt varieties such as Bollgard II and WideStrike have not yet gained widespread acceptance among growers, but Extension cotton specialists and industry leaders are encouraging farmers to begin planting a portion of their cotton acreage in these insect-resistant varieties. Bollgard II was commercialized in 2003 and WideStrike was commercialized in 2005."
GM crops are requiring more applications of Roundup (glyphosate) than originally expected and resistant weeds are spreadin (Delta Farm Press, 19 March 2008):
"Johnsongrass, the latest entry to the lengthening list of glyphosate-resistant weeds in both Arkansas and Mississippi was announced in mid-March. It is the first glyphosate-resistant warm-season grass found in the United States. 'Were not trying to push resistance in these weeds,' says Bob Scott, Arkansas Extension weed specialist. 'But theres close to 5 million acres of Roundup Ready crops that get two or three applications of Roundup every season. Plus, were using Roundup as a burndown. Its inevitable that such weeds are produced. Its hardly a surprise.' Johnsongrass found in a Crittenden County soybean/wheat field is the fifth glyphosate-resistant weed discovered in Arkansas. The others: horseweed (also known as marestail), common ragweed, giant ragweed and Palmer amaranth, a pigweed.... Arkansas weeds the latest is johnsongrass means spending a lot of time in the greenhouse. 'Resistant weed news keeps coming out of these greenhouses,' says Bob Scott, Arkansas Extension weed specialist. 'Unfortunately, I dont see that changing anytime soon.'"
Glyphosate resistant weeds are becoming a major problem in Arkansas as GM crops are combined with cotton monocultures (Delta Farm Press, 13 March 2008):
"It may not be on the catwalk, but Paul Neve does plenty of modeling. His latest work isnt aimed at the couture crowd, unless your idea of high fashion is a pair of jeans and work boots. No, Neve is a professor at Warwick University in Birmingham, England. On his current trip to the United States, Neve brought along his latest computer model one aimed at glyphosate-resistant weeds in Arkansas..... 'We feel theres a potential for the (resistance) problem to explode this summer,' said the Syngenta moderator. 'Thats why we want to talk about this new model and program thats available.' The focus of the model is Palmer amaranth, 'a very important, very aggressive (pigweed) species that is causing havoc in the Mid-South and Southeast,' said Chuck Foresman, Syngentas head of weed resistance strategies.... In Arkansas, cotton production is where most researchers have focused initial efforts with weed resistance. In the state and across much of the South most of the cotton is monoculture with producers growing cotton in the same fields year after year. 'In the late 1990s, we began to adopt Roundup Ready cotton,' said Jason Norsworthy, research weed scientist and assistant professor at the University of Arkansas. 'As a result, we had heavy reliance on glyphosate. Most production fields had multiple applications.'.... That model shows in a glyphosate-only system, 'we predict the evolution of resistance to occur quite rapidly. In the fourth year, the risk of resistance occurring increases substantially. Over a short period, we see a maximum of about 67 percent likelihood of resistance occurring in a field.' In a second scenario adding Valor at layby directed in the last trip across the field 'we slightly reduced the risk of resistance from 67 percent to about 60 percent. That isnt a substantial change.'The third scenario shows 'a real change' when applying Reflex at burndown or prior to planting. Theres a preplant residual and Reflex is 'very effective at giving residual control of Palmer amaranth. The model shows weve gone from four years to about six years before the chances of resistance increase. 'We also see that rather than a 67 percent likelihood of resistance, were now at maximum of about 30 percent. So Reflex (caused) more than a two-fold reduction in the chance of glyphosate resistance. Another run from the model looks a bit different than the others. In it 'over time, the resistance probability is increasing.... The reason is there are periods during the season when we dont have herbicides out and weeds are emerging. As a result, were not controlling the weeds and a tremendous amount of (weed) seed is being produced. That means, over time, there are more and more plants in the field and the probability of resistance increases. 'The point from this slide is we need to know where to actually place the residual herbicides. We need almost a season-long program of controlling Palmer amaranth. Any (control) gap in the season could increase the likelihood of resistance evolution. Smith, who has attended a 'tremendous number' of farmer meetings this year, said farmers are very interested in resistance management. 'They realize the magnitude of this problem and want to know what to do. Pigweed thats been sprayed with 44 ounces of Roundup Weathermax and isnt even affected gets everyones attention.'.... How much is glyphosate resistance costing producers? 'Thats rather difficult to get a handle on,' said Foresman. 'In part thats because some (farmers) are battling glyphosate resistance and dont even know it. That aside, we did a survey in April 2006 asking growers what glyphosate weed resistance was costing them. There was a range of responses but as I recall (the answers) were anywhere from $10 to $20 per acre.' Arkansas consultants were surveyed in 2006, said Norsworthy. 'I believe consultants estimated it would cost $15 to $20 per acre. But the range is very wide depending on how (each operation) is producing a crop. 'We know that for resistant horseweed its costing between $5 and $8 in additional costs,' said Smith. 'And thats on about 3 million acres in the state.
"In the late 1990s, farmers in the Southeast
began planting Roundup Ready cotton -- genetically engineered by Monsanto to withstand
heavy doses of Roundup, the seed giant's own blockbuster herbicide. As a result, use of
Roundup exploded -- and the farmers enjoyed 'clean' (i.e., weedless) fields of monocropped
cotton. But after a point, something funny happened -- certain weeds began to survive the
Roundup dousings. These 'superweeds' had somehow gained Roundup resistance themselves,
much to the vexation of the farmers. Things have gotten so grim that the Arkansas
Agricultural Extension Service called in a scientist from the U.K. to study the matter, according to Delta
Farm Press. He brought grave tidings: 'We may expect the current weed resistance
problems could be the tip of the iceberg,' he declared. The problem stems from planting
the same crops year after year in the same field, and dousing those fields several times
each year with the same herbicide. As Delta Farm Press reports: In the state --
and across much of the South -- most of the cotton is monoculture with producers growing
cotton in the same fields year after year. Maddeningly, rather than helping farmers
diversify fields and move to more creative weed-control strategy, the Arkansas
Agricultural Extension Service is teaming up with one of Monsanto's rivals, Syngenta, to
push farmers to add the latter company's herbicide, Reflex, to their arsenal. They raise
the possibility that by bombing their fields with Reflex before planting their cotton,
farmers have a chance to avert a possible "explosion" of superweeds this summer.
Chillingly, the U.K. scientist seemed to suggest that such broad-spectrum herbicides might
need to be applied year-round to avoid a resistance outbreak -- even when fields are
resting between plantings: 'We need almost a season-long program of controlling
[superweeds]. Any gap in the season could increase the likelihood of resistance
evolution.' Brilliant. Rather than diversify crops, we get a push to diversify
agrichemicals -- and increase their application rates. Maybe the Arkansas Agriculture
Extension Service should consider consulting 'experts' besides those associated with
(Grist, 14 March 2008)
Bt cotton crops have been effective in contoling certain types of insect pest, but with the change in crop management that results other pests are multiplying and coming to fill the gap (Delta Farm Press, 10 March 2008):
"Stink bugs in the Southeast and plant bugs in the Mid-South [of America] have created problems for cotton growers who once thought these little critters were gone for good. In the Southeast the major problem is with stink bugs, though other plant bugs are sporadic pests of cotton. In the Mid-South, plant bugs, including lygus, tarnished plant bugs and cotton fleahoppers are the primary problems, with little pressure from stink bugs. Since 1996 the use of Bt-containing cotton varieties has steadily increased. Along with the increased use of Bt cotton came a further reduction in the use of broad spectrum insecticides. Virtual elimination of broad spectrum insecticides provided an ideal environment for stink bugs and plant bugs to flourish. In general, states where boll weevil eradication was the most successful early in the program, now have the heaviest pressure from plant and stink bugs. Georgia, for example, was declared boll weevil free in the early 1990s, and growers there have seen a steady increase in stink bug pressure. In addition, a number of specialized insecticides to help control tobacco budworm have been widely used. These so called soft chemistries have little impact on plant bugs and stink bugs. Then in 2003 and 2005 Bollgard II and WideStrike came to the market place, further reducing the use of broad spectrum insecticides. In general plant bugs are a problem in the Mid-South and stink bugs are a problem in the Southeast. However, entomologists warn that as more areas are declared boll weevil free and as the use of Bt cotton continues to grow, there is a threat that this could flip-flop."
Indications of insect resitance to Bt in cotton crops appears to be emerging in the United States (The Hindu Business Line, 21 Feb 2008):
"The latest is that reports, based on extensive research, emanating from the US suggest that pests may be in the process of evolving resistance to modified crops. A study of the Bt Cotton crop by researchers in the US has revealed that the bollworm which is widely known to attack cotton boll and inflict losses were slowly developing immunity. Reports in the western press suggest the University of Arizona found resistant form of bollworm caterpillar in a dozen fields in the southern states of Mississippi and Arkansas between 2003 and 2006. Until last year, the US was the world's second largest cotton producer. It continues to be a major exporter with over 70 per cent of output destined for overseas markets.... Coming about 7-8 years after commercialisation of Bt. Cotton, the survey findings of evolving resistance are sure to not only cause concern, but also set alarm bells ringing in major cotton growing countries that have embraced the technology.... If the bollworm pest is seen developing resistance in the US, a country where cultivation is highly organised, land is well demarcated and farming systems are automated/ mechanised, there is no reason to believe it may not happen in India."
"Entomologists at the University of Arizona have documented 'the first case of field-evolved resistance to a Bt toxin produced by a transgenic crop.' The insect is Helicoverpa zea, aka: the bollworm. The crop is Bt cotton, better known by the Monsanto brand name Bollgard. The Bt toxin is Cry1Ac -- death to all lepidopteran insects. The researchers, led by Bruce Tabashnik, chair of the UA entomology department, published their disconcerting news in the February issue of Nature Biotechnology..... the available evidence appears to validate the 'refuge' strategy of transgenic crop pest management, in which farmers are required to plant non-Bt crops in fields adjoining Bt crops in order to provide a hospitable environment for non-resistant pests to thrive. In regions where greater acreage has been devoted to refuges, the development of Cry1Ac resistance seems to have been delayed.... [the problem is] farmers and seed companies operate according to financial incentives, and there are, in the short term, clear economic downsides to maintaining large refuges. Aside from providing prime habitat for precisely the bugs farmers hate most, they are also a pain in the ass to set up, they depress crop yields, and they reduce the amount of super-seeds companies can sell. Thus there is constant pressure on farming regulators to ease refuge requirements." (The Salon, 7 March 2008)
Genetically modified herbicide-resistant genes from oil seed rape (canola) have be found to have transfered to weeds in Canada which have then proved to be persistent (StarPhoenix, 19 February 2008):
"It's not supposed to happen, but it does. Genetically modified canola plants have been found to interbreed with a weed, producing a hybrid wild mustard that is resistant to the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup). Significantly, these new hybrid weeds are persistent....new research from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists provides the first report of persistence and apparent introgression (stable incorporation of genes from one gene pool into another).... The researchers found the herbicide resistance gene from Brassica napus moved into the gene pool of its weedy relative, Brassica rapa, under normal commercial field conditions. Persistence of the HR trait occurred during a six-year period. The researchers found the herbicide resistance gene from Brassica napus moved into the gene pool of its weedy relative, Brassica rapa, under normal commercial field conditions. Persistence of the HR trait occurred during a six-year period....Given that transgenic canola is grown over millions of acres across Canada and around the world, it is highly likely that herbicide-resistance genes have escaped to weeds in multiple locations."
GM crops have become closely associated with unsustainable monocroping systems and resulting herbicide resistant weed problems (Delta Farm Press, 12 February 2008):
"I ran into my favorite Monsanto representative at a recent meeting and we were discussing a recent article I wrote on glyphosate resistance. I mentioned that some felt it was Monsantos fault that the resistance had developed. He reminded me in a friendly way about all the articles I wrote years ago about 'a pint of Roundup every Monday morning until there was nothing left but soybeans.'....The mono-crop systems such as continuous cotton and continuous soybeans or wheat/soybeans are the most vulnerable. LibertyLink/Roundup Ready stacked trait crops being developed will allow you to rotate herbicides. Liberty is not quite as good as glyphosate on a susceptible pigweed but is a lot better on a resistant one! The LibertyLink technology is being ramped up, but it is still going to take time. Other stacked traits are being investigated with both glyphosate and Liberty. Some of them sound really good if they work out, but you need to take action now or Palmer pigweed may put you out of business before they get here. Some of the stacked traits being worked on at this point sound a lot better for my drift investigation business [looking into spray drift in the wind from one farm to another causing crop loss] than for the farmer."
Non-GM ('Non-Transgenic) Cotton Just As Or More Profitable RR=Roundup Ready Herbicide Resistant; B=Bollgard Insecticide (American Society of Agronomy, 11 February 2008):"In recent years, the number of different transgenic cotton production options that a grower may purchase has outpaced the capacity of the official cultivar trials (OCTs) to adequately evaluate their economic value. First, large numbers of cultivars are being offered; but moreover OCTs when conducted with uniform, and generally very high levels of pest management, do not fully assess the value of the transgenic cultivars. This paper addresses the challenges posed by the advent of transgenic, pest-managing technologies, and directly addresses the question most relevant to growers, 'Will transgenic cultivars return more profit?' Results from the study were published in the January-February 2008 issue of Agronomy Journal.... According to the authors, 'Collectively these results indicate that profitability was most closely associated with yields and not the transgenic technologies." "Field experiments were conducted to compare production systems utilizing cotton cultivars possessing different transgenic technologies managed in accordance with their respective genetic capabilities. In 2001 and 2002, selection of the Roundup Ready (RR) technology system resulted in reduced returns to the producer, while higher returns were attained from nontransgenic, Bollgard (B), and Bollgard/Roundup Ready (BR) technologies. In 2003, selection of the RR technology system or the Bollgard II/Roundup Ready (B2R) system reduced returns, while similar, higher returns were attained from nontransgenic, B, and BR technologies. In 2004, a nontransgenic system was superior to the BR, B2R, and Liberty Link (LL) systems in Tifton, but similar returns were achieved from nontransgenic, BR, and B2R technologies in Midville. Cultivar selection was important among the technology systems. Collectively these results indicate that profitability was most closely associated with yields and not the transgenic technologies." (Economic Comparison of Transgenic and Nontransgenic Cotton Production Systems in Georgia P. Josta et al Agron J 100:42-51 (2008) - 11 January 2008)
Bt insecticide crops are the largest category of GM crops after herbicide resistant varieties. There is evidence in the United States that insects are beginning to develop resistance to the technology (Farmers Guardian, 11 February 2008):
"An insect pest that is supposed to be killed by a type of genetically modified cotton crop with an in-built toxin gene has developed resistance and is beginning to spread in parts of the United States, surveys conducted by the University of Arizona have revealed. This is believed to be the first documented example in the wild of an insect pest becoming resistant to this particular type of GM crop, says the Soil Association. The bollworm moth is one of the most destructive pests of cotton crops. The resistant form of the moth's caterpillar was found in a dozen fields in the southern states of Mississippi and Arkansas between 2003 and 2006, when the surveys were conducted. Bruce Tabashnik of the University of Arizona, who led the research team, said: 'What we are seeing is evolution in action. This is the first documented case of field-evolved resistance to a Bt crop.'"
Dr Van Acker, professor and chair of the Department of Plant Agriculture at Canada's University of Guelph, , writes of the various contamination, husbandry, and market problems that have followed the introduction of GM canola (oil seed rape) in Canada (Canberra Times, 5 February 2008):
"Canola is possibly the worst candidate crop species for practical segregation of GE and non-GE because it is inherently promiscuous. In Canada, we have witnessed the promiscuity of GE canola to the extent that even in our canola seed production systems, where the objective is to keep seed varieties free from foreign genes, more than 90 per cent of certified Canadian canola seed samples contain unintended transgenes (GE). This has led Canadian farmers to expect GE canola in any canola they grow, whether it is GE or not... In Canada, we no longer export canola to countries that expect it to be GE-free, including many European Union nations, and growing organic canola in western Canada is no longer at all practical. The latter situation has resulted in a protracted lawsuit by the organisation representing Saskatchewan's organic farmers (the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate) against Monsanto and Bayer CropScience. Canadian farmers have also found that the movement of GE traits can affect how they farm. This is especially so with Monsanto's GE canola, which is totally resistant to glyphosate herbicide. As in Australia, zero-tillage farming is fundamentally important to farmers in Canada, helping them to conserve precious soil moisture and cut costs. Zero-tillage farming is critically dependent upon glyphosate herbicide to replace tillage prior to seeding. The presence of GE canola weeds growing prior to the seeding of subsequent crops has required farmers in Canada to use extra herbicides (besides glyphosate) prior to seeding. This adds costs, and because GE canola cannot be contained, this cost is now borne by all farmers in Canada whether they grow GE canola or not. Canadian farmers who chose not to grow GE canola aren't able to hold anyone liable for the uninvited presence of GE canola on their farms. To date, court cases in Canada have proven that no one is liable if the GE canola has received commercial release from the Government. It has also become clear that if farmers choose to try to keep their farms free from GE canola, it is their responsibility to do so and they must bear the costs.Ironically, the now famous Schmeiser case, where Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser was successfully sued by Monsanto for the unintended presence of their patented GE canola on his farm, made clear that Canadian farmers who chose not to grow GE canola can still be held liable by the patent holder for the unintended presence of it on their farms. In Canada, more than a decade of commercial cultivation experience has allowed us to learn valuable lessons about both the benefits and costs of growing GE canola, and we are now using these lessons. Farmers in western Canada recently rejected the proposed commercialisation of GE wheat, largely on the basis of a lack of confidence in our ability to segregate GE and non-GE wheat."
GM crops have encouraged a way from basic methods of sound farming such as crop rotation with attendant rising problems (Delta Farm Press, 25 January 2008):
"When herbicide resistance problems developed in the past, industry and academia were quick to provide answers. Glyphosate resistance is going to be much more difficult. Most of the residual herbicides and tank mix partners being recommended now are the same ones that did not work very well before Roundup Ready came along. Some are saying Monsanto caused the problem, they need to solve it. I would submit that Monsanto has not caused the problem overuse of the technology is causing it. Perhaps Monsanto will solve the problem, but I doubt that it will be in the immediate future. Farmers are going to have to manage the resistance problem on their own farms. It will have to be done with a sound crop and herbicide rotation program. There are going to be no magic bullets at least in the short term....The problem is Palmer pigweed is such a prolific seed producer it can put you out of business if you are sitting back waiting for industry to solve the problem. If you are in a cropping system that is going to encourage resistance to develop, you need to take matters in your own hands. The university guys have some good recommendations to help. Many of them are not very popular because they encourage rotating away from some of the easy farming methods, but glyphosate resistance is here and very serious for some farmers."
GM herbicide resistant corn is causing problems in follow-on GM crops where glyphosate is no-longer capable of tackling corn plant volunteers Farm Delta Press, 12 October 2007):
"A lot of farmers have called to ask how to remove unwanted volunteer corn prior to planting wheat this fall. Since about 90 percent of our corn in Arkansas is Roundup Ready, using a burndown treatment [i.e. spraying of hold-over weeds between harvest of old crop and planting of new - a job commonly done with glyphosate before the introduction of GM crops] of glyphosate is usually not going to work.... The problem is not controlling the corn, although the later into the fall it gets the larger and more difficult to control the corn will be as long as the growing point is below ground. The problem is following the crop rotational guidelines for wheat. Most of these labels were not written with immediate plant-back intervals in mind. The two exceptions are Ignite and Gramoxone. Both are fair on removal of volunteer Roundup Ready corn, if the corn has much size to it, both likely will only partially kill the corn. In fact, Ignite may outright fail if the temperatures are too low. One solution may be to tank-mix Sencor with the Gramoxone. This will basically antagonize the Gramoxone and slow it down, resulting in a more complete kill. You have to worry about whether or not your wheat is sensitive to Sencor. We do not have a real good list. Also, the Sencor label currently has a four-month rotational interval to wheat, even though it is labeled on wheat. Confused?.... We have identified a couple of fields with volunteer Roundup Ready corn that we will be placing in studies this fall. I did not have the foresight to see this problem coming. There is a lot more volunteer corn in these fields than I would have thought."
To preserve yield potential GM herbicide resistant crops also need to be used with pre-crop emergence residual soil acting herbicides (Delta Farm Press, 28 September 2007):
"Tests in North Carolina, conducted by North Carolina State Weed Scientist John Wilcut showed an increase in cotton yield of nearly 700 pounds of cotton per acre when fields were kept weed free for six weeks after planting, compared to fields that remained weedy 2-10 weeks after planting. 'I recommend to all growers that they use residual herbicides at planting, whether they have confirmed resistance or not,' said Wilcut. 'To overcome herbicide resistance, growers are going to have to overcome checkbook resistance. Although it may cost you more in inputs, incorporating alternate modes of action and residual herbicides into your weed management program will help you preserve yield. In most cases, the profit earned by preserving yield will offset the cost of herbicides.' 'I consider glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth to be the greatest threat to U.S. cotton production since the boll weevil,' said Wilcut. 'We must manage as though we already have resistance to prevent the spread of this devastating weed. I consider glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth to be the greatest threat to U.S. cotton production since the boll weevil,' said Wilcut. 'We must manage as though we already have resistance to prevent the spread of this devastating weed.'...In herbicide trials, Wilcut found the best pre-emergence treatment for weed control is a tank mixture of Reflex and Prowl. Wilcut noted that Reflex should provide 100 percent control of emerged Palmer amaranth less than two inches in height, further demonstrating the importance of controlling weeds while they are small. Prostko points out it will cost growers approximately $42 to control resistant pigweed, compared to $25 per acre to reduce the chance of developing resistance. In North Carolina, Wilcut says, 'Reflex is an important component of a Palmer amaranth control program, and is also effective on common ragweed, wild poinsettia and yellow nutsedge. Growers can generally expect 4-6 weeks of residual control on ideal soils.
High uptake of GM crops in the United States is bringing its own weed and pest problems (Farmers Weekly, 30 October 2007):
"Aside from any moral or ethical issues, problems with the adoption of GM crops are becoming more apparent as their uptake increases. There was evidence of evolved pesticide resistance in some weed species and pest pressures were also shifting, Prof [Mike] Owen [of Iowa State University] said. 'New pests are coming in, such as the western beet cutworm.' Pollen transfer meant there had also been introgression of GM traits into non-GM crops, such as maize and canola, making volunteers harder to control. New weed pressures were also emerging, such as Commelina communis (Asiatic dayflower), which had never been seen until the introduction of herbicide-tolerant soybeans. There is also significant concern that growers are not adhering to legal stewardship rules for growing GM crops. For example, growers were required to plant refuge (non-GM) crops (totalling 20% of area), but many were not doing so - on the assumption their neighbours would, he said."
GM cotton crops are requiring more applications of Roundup (glyphosate) than originally expected (Delta Farm Press, 17 August 2007):
"...a few short years and we were able to include Roundup Ready soybeans into the research trials at Newport.... I remember one farmer bragging on how well he had done with Roundup the first year the technology was available to farmers. I asked him if it took two applications like I said instead of the one application he was planning on. His response was it actually took three but he was having so much fun killing them that he didnt care....We have now rolled the clock ahead another 10 or so years and we have this thing called glyphosate-resistant Palmer pigweed. The more pigweed populations the university guys test from fields where glyphosate failures are occurring, the more resistant populations they are confirming. The Palmer pigweed population is extremely diverse. .....The weed science group at the University of Arkansas is to be commended for taking on the weed resistance issue. They are moving forward quickly with both research and an education program. The obvious question is where do we go from glyphosate?"
Bt GM technology is proving ineffective in control root worms in the US (The News-Gazette, 13 July 2007):
"The stacked corn traits farmers pay big bucks for aren't keeping rootworms from munching on their favorite food. [University of Illinois entomologists Mike Gray and Kevin Steffey] and their student assistants this week started digging up corn plants in UI fields to look at their root system health, an annual ritual for these scientists who study pests that prey on the state's largest crop. Gray said they've discovered some surprising differences in their 25-acre test plots near South Race Street.... Technology incorporated into plants to make them lethal to insects relies on Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium that expresses a protein that breaks down the digestive system of insects when they ingest it. But Steffey said the technology introduced in 1996 that works so well for corn borers, killing about 99 percent of the beetles that eat it, doesn't work as well on rootworms, technology introduced in 2003. 'You don't get the expression in the roots that you get in the leaves,' he said, adding that many companies don't emphasize that fact when they're selling their stacked hybrids to farmers."
Round-up ready cotton in Australia is complicating the control of
cotton volunteer and the associated management of carry-over disease and pest management
(Cotton Catchment Communities CRC and Queensland Country Life weekly rural news service,
updated daily by FarmOnline.
10 April 2007 ):
"The rising incidence of cotton bunchy top (CBT) disease is causing concern. Control of volunteer cotton, by cultivation or herbicides, is central to the fight back, a R&D field has been told. In central Queensland, it has been found that CBT is increasing and is most obvious in fields where Roundup Ready cotton had been planted, the field day was told. The concerns over CBT were espressed at a Cotton Catchment Communities (CRC) research and development field day. While we don't know yet whether CBT is increasing on the Darling Downs, we can take some preventative action control volunteer cotton, the field day was told. The CRC reports that volunteer cotton can cause problems for resistance management of Bt cotton, reduce seed purity and act as early hosts for insect pest. It also provides a conduit for carry over of harmful plant pathogens into the next season. Volunteer cotton can be controlled by cultivation or herbicides. In the past, the broad spectrum herbicide glyphosate was commonly used to control volunteer cotton seedlings but this is not effective on Roundup Ready cotton."
With the increasing use of glyphosate more weeds are becoming resitant to it causing problems for farmers, including GM soya growers in Brazil (Globo Rural TV, Brazil, 01.14.2007):
"Soya planters in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, are facing a problem: some weeds have become resistant to the glyphosate, the active principle most used in handling plantations.... According to EMBRAPA there are, nowadays about 10 different kinds of weeds in all the world, three of which are in Brazil, that don't die when submitted to glyphosate. The one that gives most problems is azevem, because this grass is cultivated in Rio Grande do Sul and sold to the soya farmers as mulch where the soya is going to be planted. The ground is not completely cleared, some of the grass is left to preserve the soil....Nearly a month later we again visited Mr. Schneider's farm and found the plantation well developed. The weeds were controlled with another product used with conventional soya, in addition to glyphosate. As a result costs were considerably higher than expected. We used a product which gave an additional cost of R$ 40,00 ( about US$ 19,00), per hectare."
Weed resistance to Monsanto's glyphosate herbicide use in genetically modified crops is spreading in the United States (Farm Press, 27 September 2006):
"Bill McGoogan, who farms near Lumber Bridge, N.C., first noticed some pigweed in one of his soybean fields that had been sprayed with glyphosate. He went back and sprayed it again with glyphosate, making sure to get good coverage.... In 2005, McGoogan says he didn't see any other real bad spots, though there were Palmer pigweed escapes throughout his farm. Pigweed escapes are not at all uncommon, and he couldn't pinpoint for certain that any of these were caused by herbicide resistance. After finding the resistant pigweed in his soybeans, McGoogan began noticing patches of weeds in neighboring fields. In 2006, the resistant pigweed spread to cotton and soybean fields. On cotton, he used 24 ounces per acre of Weathermax [glyphosate herbicide], plus 1.7 pints of Staple. When that didn't control the pigweed, he put on a second application of 24 ounces of Weathermax, and did not control the weeds.... For farmers who document cases of resistance on the farms, he says, plan on the problem getting much bigger the following year. 'I thought, maybe it won't carry through from one year to the next, but it does. If you see an isolated area this year, you better count on it being a quarter or half the field the next year,' he says."
The use of transgenic soya genetically modified to tolerate the glyphosate herbicide is causing the development of weeds resistant to the herbicide in Argentina and Brazil (Agrenco News, August 28, 2006):
"A few weeks ago a glyphosate-resistant weed was found in the Argentine Although in
Bt cotton in the US was developed to control both tobacco budworm and bolworms. There are now signs that bolworms may be becoming resitant to the Bt toxin according to Glenn Studebaker, entomologist with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (Delta Farm Press, July 28 2006):.
"The big problem is that farmers are finding damage in Bollgard cotton, Bt cotton genetically modified to provide protection against tobacco budworms. Usually, they provide some protection against bollworms. But this year seems to be worse. Farmers are having to spray a lot of Bt cotton for bollworms.... It's too early to say why yet. It could be a natural cycle or it could be growing tolerance for Bt in these insects. Farmers have been growing Bt cotton for about 10 years. Bollworms always had some tolerance to Bt, but after 10 years, we may have been selecting for insects that are more tolerant."
Bt cotton is the only GM crop that has significantly reduced the amount of pesticides used by farmers, but that success is proving short-lived for farmers in China who are now losing money on the crop (Newswise, 25 July 2006):
"Although Chinese cotton growers were among the first farmers worldwide to plant genetically modified (GM) cotton to resist bollworms, the substantial profits they have reaped for several years by saving on pesticides have now been eroded. The reason, as reported by Cornell University researchers at the American Agricultural Economics Association (AAEA) Annual Meeting in Long Beach, Calif., July 25, is that other pests are now attacking the GM cotton.... The study -- the first to look at the longer-term economic impact of Bt cotton - found that by year three, farmers in the survey who had planted Bt cotton cut pesticide use by more than 70 percent and had earnings 36 percent higher than farmers planting conventional cotton. By 2004, however, they had to spray just as much as conventional farmers, which resulted in a net average income of 8 percent less than conventional cotton farmers because Bt seed is triple the cost of conventional seed."
Bt cotton crops have been effective in contoling certain type of insect pest, but with the change in crop management that results other pests are multiplying and coming to fill the gap (Cornell University, Paper Presented At American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting Long Beach, CA, July 22-26, 2006 ):
"As with other technologies, adoption of Bt seed requires technology specific knowledge.Growing secondary pest populations have slowly eroded the benefits of Bt technology in China. We illustrate the effects of introducing Bt technology among farmers with an imperfect knowledge of secondary pest problems using a simple dynamic model. The stochastic dominance tests based on primary household data from 1999-2001 and 2004 in China provide strong evidence that secondary pests, if unanticipated, could completely erode all benefits from Bt cotton cultivation...Seven years after the initial commercialization of Bt cotton in China, we show that total pesticide expenditure for Bt cotton farmers in China is nearly equal to that of their conventional counterparts, about $101 per hectare. Bt farmers in 2004 on the average, have to spray pesticide 18.22 times, which are more than 3 times higher compared with 6 times pesticide spray in 1999. Detailed information on pesticide expenditures reveals that, though Bt farmers saved 46% Bollworm pesticide relative to non-Bt farmers, they spend 40% more on pesticides designed to kill an emerging secondary pest. These secondary pests (one example is Mirid) was rarely found in the field prior to the adoption of Bt cotton, presumably kept in check by bollworm populations and regular pesticide spraying. The extra expenditure needed to control secondary pests nearly offsets the savings on primary pesticide frequently cited in the current literature."
"One of the major arguments in favour of growing GM crops has been undermined by a study showing that the benefits are short-lived because farmers quickly resort to spraying their fields with harmful pesticides. Supporters of genetically modified crops claim the technique saves money and provides environmental benefits because farmers need to spray their fields fewer times with chemicals. However, a detailed survey of 481 cotton growers in China found that, although they did use fewer pesticides in the first few years of adopting GM plants, after seven years they had to use just as much pesticide as they did with conventional crops. The study found that after three years, the GM farmers had cut pesticide use by 70 per cent and were earning over a third more than conventional farmers. But, by 2004, the GM cotton farmers were using just as much pesticide as their conventional counterparts and were spending far more because GM cotton seed is three times the price of conventional cotton seed. The findings will undermine claims by the biotechnology industry that GM technology can boost food production without necessarily damaging the environment with pesticides. Scientists from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, carried out the study which involved interviews with hundreds of Chinese farmers who had switched to cotton that had been genetically modified with a gene for a bacterial toxin. The toxin - known as Bt - is secreted by the GM cotton plant and is highly effective at stopping the growth of bollworm, a major pest of the crop that can cause millions of pounds worth of damage....Before the introduction of the GM crop into China, farmers in the country had to spray on average 20 times each growing season to control bollworm but, with Bt cotton, the average number of treatments fell to below seven.The amount of pesticide also fell by 43.3kg per hectare in 1999, which was a decrease of about 71 per cent on previous years. However, Professor Per Pinstrup-Andersen and his colleagues at Cornell found that all those benefits have since been largely lost due to the rise of other pests that were not considered a problem for cotton. 'Using a household survey from 2004, seven years after the initial commercialisation of Bt cotton in China, we show that total pesticide expenditure for Bt cotton farmers in China is nearly equal to that of their conventional counterparts,' the scientists say in their report. 'Bt farmers in 2004 on the average have to spray pesticide 18.22 times, which is more than three times higher compared with 1999. 'Detailed information on pesticide expenditures reveals that, though Bt farmers saved 46 per cent of bollworm pesticide relative to non-Bt farmers, they spend 40 per cent more on pesticides designed to kill an emerging secondary pest,' they say. Secondary pests, such as a type of leaf bug called mirids, are not normally a problem in cotton fields because bollworm, and sprays against bollworm, tend to keep them in check. However, because Bt cotton is targeted mainly against bollworm, other pests are able to exploit the relatively low use of pesticide that such fields need." (Independent, 27 July 2006)
Weed resistance to Roundup continues to spread following the introduction of GM Roundup-Ready cotton crops (Associated Press, 8 July 2006):
"A variety of pigweed resistant to the herbicide Roundup is spreading in Georgia cotton crops, already identified in nearly 50 fields. The plant - known as Palmer amaranth - is the first resistant weed identified in Georgia, said Stanley Culpepper, a weed expert at the University of Georgia. So far, the weed has popped up in Macon, Dooly and Taylor counties.... Pigweed grows 1 to 2 inches per day, flourishes even in a drought and produces an average of half a million seeds. It tolerates many herbicides and easily grows 6 to 8 feet tall. The weed can't be killed once it reaches a certain height and clogs cotton harvesters. The weed's evolution is rooted in genetically engineered cotton - called Roundup-Ready cotton - developed a decade ago."
Problems persist with inadequately tested Bt Cotton varieties in India (Financial Express, India, 5 June 2006):
"In the first two years, three varieties of Bt cotton hybrids Mech-12, Mech-162 and Mech-184 were in cultivation in south and central India. The area coverage in the first year was 44,500 hectare (ha), which increased to 1 lakh (100,000) ha in the second year. With the approval of RCH-2 (of Rasi Seeds) for the same regions, the area coverage marked a five-fold increase to 5 lakh (500,000) ha in 2004. Does this explain the wide acceptance of Bt cotton? Figures are often misleading. We have in this country an increase in suicide rate among farmers, in the midst of agriculture growth. After the review of 3-year performance, the GEAC came to the conclusion that Mech-12, Mech-162 and Mech-184 have failed to give results in Andhra Pradesh. It banned the cultivation of these three hybrids in Andhra Pradesh (AP). Mech-12 was banned for cultivation in the entire southern zone. Farmers growing Bt cotton were put to heavy losses, and the AP government asked the seed company, Mahyco-Monsanto, to compensate the farmers. The company, however, is reluctant to reimburse the farmers for their losses."
Postive biodiversity gains have been claimed for the introduction of Bt cotton in the US but these have not arisen in practice (Scientific American, 2 May 2006):
"Genetically modifying cotton promises to reduce the use of chemicals
and, potentially, create a better environment for harmless insects and other
animals. For the last decade, some farmers in Arizona have been planting cotton engineered to contain a toxin that kills pests such as the pink
bollworm. A study of randomly chosen cotton fields reveals that although this genetically modified cotton did reduce pesticide use, it did not reduce
use of herbicides nor did it improve biodiversity when compared to unmodified strains.... The researchers will continue to refine their analysis of the data, looking
for differing impacts on predatory and plant-eating insects as well as an economic analysis of the costs and benefits of genetically modified cotton. 'You cannot simply assume that you will get across-the-board benefits,' Carriere notes. 'One thing I was a bit surprised to find is that if you control some pests with [transgenic] cotton, others become more of a problem.'"
After years of controversy the government of India has begun acknowledging the problems associated with growing Bt cotton in India (The Times of India, 1 December 2005):
"Two days ago the government admitted for the first time that Bt
cotton had indeed failed in parts of India. The Agriculture Minister conceded in the
Rajya Sabha that Bt cotton had failed in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. He asked state governments in all cotton growing regions to institute an
enquiry into the quality of seeds available to farmers and the spread of spurious seeds. At the same time, in Madhya Pradesh, the Governor has asked
the state government to find out the causes of the failure of Bt cotton and called for compensation to farmers. The Mahyco-Monsanto and Rasi varieties
of Bt cotton have reportedly failed in large parts of Madhya Pradesh causing serious losses to farmers. A report from Nimad district in Madhya Pradesh
states that Bt cotton is causing allergic reactions in those coming into contact with it and cattle have perished near Bt cotton fields in another district."
Glyphosate resistance is spreading as the extensive use of Roundup Ready crops continues:
The [glyphosate] resistant type [of horseweed] was first discovered
in Delaware in 2000. In 2001, it was found in western Tennessee. In 2002, it was found in
Missouri and Arkansas. Whats scary is exactly a year after discovery it was already
widespread in Delaware. The same pattern was seen in Tennessee. The first time I started
seeing it while driving around Missouri was in 2003. The last couple of years, phone calls
to me on this weed have been heavy.
Andy Kendig, Missouri Extension weed specialist
No quick cures for glyphosate-resistant weeds
Delta Farm Press, 27 September 2005
We have been watching these fields since first receiving reports in
2004 of Palmer pigweed not killed by Roundup. Our results last year indicated a very small
number of pigweed plants survived our applications, but this year Palmer pigweeds at both
locations survived a full 22 ounces of Roundup WeatherMax.....we expect resistant Palmer
pigweed will pose more problems for producers than horseweed.
Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee Extension weed specialist
Tennessee Researchers Confirm Glyphosate-Resistant Pigweed
Business Journal, 24 September 2005
fields were in continuous, Roundup Ready cotton for many years at least from the
late 1990s on. Roundup was the primary weed control on them although there have been some
post-directed chemistries on them as well.... Were rates and sprayings properly
applied?... To my knowledge, correct, full-label rates were used. Im very familiar
with the farmers involved. Theyre very good at growing crops and dont cut
rates. Im confident this wasnt human error. Nowadays,
were putting Roundup on everything. Its led to unprecedented selection
pressure. We were bound to find genes that could handle the chemistry.... Western
Tennessee is covered up with Palmer pigweed. It isnt uncommon to see fields with a
bunch of it. I get called to a lot of fields on suspicious weeds. After investigating,
most of the time the escapes are due to rain after application, surfactant issues or
something else. But none of that applied here.... So in these tests, we looked at a
half-rate, a full rate, a double rate and a 4X rate. At the two random sites, we got
complete control on everything with the low rates...At the half-rate of Roundup
WeatherMax, control was around 50 percent. At the full rate (22 ounces), control was
around 80 percent. At the 44-ounce rate, we still had some escapes. At the 4X rate (88
ounces), everything was killed.... First, producers need to get more chemistry in the
tank, more modes of action. And thats been already been happening. I just did an
informal survey of some retailers and, in the last year, they believe around 90 percent of
our cotton had a pre-emerge (herbicide) put on. Primarily, the reason for that was control
of glyphosate-resistant horseweed. Dual over-the-top of cotton postemergence will be a
terrific tool. Well be preaching that. Most importantly, Roundup rates
shouldnt be cut. Producers must use the full rate and get good coverage.
Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee Extension weed scientist
Glyphosate-tolerant pigweed confirmed in West Tennessee
Delta Farm Press, 23 September 2005
A controlled trial has found inferior grain yields from Bt maize compared with their non-GM genetic counterparts (Field Crops Research 93: 199-21, September 14, 2005):
"There are concerns over the economic benefits of corn (Zea mays L.) hybrids with the Bt trait transferred from Bacillus thuringiensis. A field experiment including three to seven pairs of commercial hybrids and their transgenic Bt near-isolines were grown side-by-side for three consecutive years in Ottawa, Canada (45°17'N, 75°45'W; 93 m above sea level) to determine (i) which hybrid had the highest yielding potential, (ii) if there was a differential response of Bt and non-Bt hybrids to N application, and (iii) under natural infestation of European corn borer (ECB), whether there was a yield advantage of Bt over non-Bt hybrids to justify their cost. We found that some of the Bt hybrids took 23 additional days to reach silking and maturity, and produced a similar or up to 12% lower grain yields with 35% higher grain moisture at maturity, in comparison with their non-Bt counterpart. Although N application increased grain yield and N uptake in 2 of the 3 years, there was no N-by-hybrid interaction on yield or other agronomic traits. Most Bt hybrids had similar to or lower total N content in grain with higher N in stover than their respective non-Bt near-isolines. Under extreme weather conditions (e.g. cool air temperature at planting and severe drought during the development), some of the hybrids (both Bt and non-Bt) required up to 400 additional crop heat units (CHU) to reach physiological maturity than indicated by the supplying companies. Our data suggest that within the same maturity group, it was the superior hybrids (non-Bt trait) that led to the greatest N accumulation, and the highest grain yield. Under the conditions tested, there was no yield advantage of Bt hybrids in comparison with their conventional counterparts when stalk lodging and breakage of the non-Bt counterpart by ECB was low to moderate."
Seed yields are down from US GM cotton varieties (Delta Farm Press 18 August 2005):"The [Southern Cotton Ginners Association], many of whom are also growers, had asked a panel of industry leaders to address the issue of why hugely popular, and widely-planted, new cotton varieties have significantly less seed turnout than conventional varieties. Cottonseed removed in the ginning process represents a significant source of revenue to ginners, and reduced seed tonnage from newer genetically modified varieties has been cutting into their bottom line.......'A Cottonseed Digest study shows the 10-year trendline is down,' Dismuke said, with a 14 percent decrease from 1995-96 to 2004-05. From 2003-04 to 2004-05, there was an 8 percent decline in seed yield......'One of the biggest challenges I see facing oil mills and the ginning industry is the seed derived from todays popular genetically modified varieties,' said Sammy Wright, vice president, Chickasha of Georgia, Tifton, Ga. Seed weights per bale 'have dropped fairly dramatically' in some areas of the country, he said. 'These smaller seed are much more difficult to delint and dehull in the milling process, and they contain quite a bit less oil. This reduces the value of the seed to the crusher.' In the Southeast, he said, 'We've been averaging 300-305 pounds of oil per ton of cottonseed; now, we're down to about 280 pounds of oil. 'With 25-cent oil, that means roughly $5 to $6 less in crush value per ton of cottonseed. While that may not sound like a lot, in tight market times it can be the difference between making money and losing money. Lower seed weights also reduce the amount of seed available to ginners to convert to cash flow income."
Roundup-Ready cotton is accelerating the emergence of glyphosate-resistant horseweed in the US (Associated Press, 9 August 2005):
"First found in Delaware in 2000, glyphosate-resistant horseweed has
since been found in 10 other states in the East and South. Pete Christensen said he
watched his costs soar as the most popular herbicide became increasingly powerless to stop
the weeds...Bob Prys, a manager for the 13,000-acre Borba Farms, said the weed became a
problem just three or four years after they started growing Roundup-Ready cotton on the
500-acre ranch. They sprayed the field, killing everything but the cotton plants, and
saving money by having to till their fields less frequently. Now Prys said they're relying
on weeding again and adding other chemicals to
their herbicide mix adding unexpected costs to the higher price they pay for Roundup-Ready seed. 'It's caused us to re-evaluate our Roundup-Ready cotton,' Prys said. 'They've created a problem by relying on one solution to solve all problems,' said weed ecologist Anil Shrestha of the University of California's Kearney Agricultural Center. Systems like Monsanto's Roundup-Ready crops, which promise an easy, one-chemical solution to the age-old problem of weed control, only work for a short time..."
The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has banned the sale of
Monsanto's transgenic Bt cotton following its poor agronomic performance (India
News, Hyderabad, May 6 2005):
"Studies have shown that farmers who went for Bt [GM] cotton suffered more losses compared to those who used conventional seeds. While Bt cotton seeds
gave a yield of 535 kg per acre, it was around 650 kg per acre from conventional seeds."
Recent experience in Brazil has confirmed previous evidence that GM soya is much more vulnerable to yield loss than conventional varieties in drought conditions (IPS News via NewsEdge Corporation 4 April 2005):
"Drought in southern Brazil has reduced this year's important soybean harvest dramatically in Rio Grande do Sul state -- and added fuel to the heated national debate about transgenic crops. Genetically modified (GM) soy, which accounts for the majority of soybean production in the southern state, suffered greater losses than conventional soy varieties, according to reports by local growers. That is to be expected, says Narciso Barison, president of APASSUL, a state association of seed producers, because transgenic seeds are smuggled into Brazil from Argentina and are not intended for the local climate, so have proved less resistant to the water shortage. The conventional varieties, developed by national Brazilian agencies, certified and adapted to the region, had better results. The differences in crop loss varied according to the conditions of each field, reaching 'a maximum of 25 percent' for non-GM soy, he said."
Having gained near total dominance in some seed markets there are proposals by Monsanto to dramatically increase the charges for its technology, fueling previous concerns that market dominance would lead to farmer exploitation (Farmers Weekly, 18 February 2005):
"Seed and technology fees for genetically modified crops are on the up in the USA, as companies continue to invest in next generation traits. Some producers are expecting Monsanto's technology fees to rise 75% this season, as the firm seeks to recoup costs. The main reason for the price rises is the need to fund work on next generation GM varieties, which will offer nutritional benefits to consumers, plus research to defend the existing traits against counter claims from anti-GM lobby groups, says Monsanto USA's technical communications manager Jim Hudson. "We are currently spending about $1.5m a day on such research and that money has to come from somewhere." But with weed populations shifting to species able to resist the total herbicide the company needs to be careful not to price the technology out of the market, stresses North Carolina consultant Billy McLawhorn."
A new study reveals that while US pesticide use dropped during the three first years of commercial GM crop cultivation, it has increased sharply thereafter according to a new study highlighted by the UK's Farmers Weekly Interactive 28 October 2004:
"GM maize, soybeans and cotton have led to a 55,000 tonnes increased in pesticide use since 1996, according to the study published by the Northwest Science and Environmental Policy Center.... Bt crops have helped reduce insecticide use by 7,000 tonnes from 1996, while herbicide use on HT crops has increased by 62,000 tonnes. The overall pesticide use has risen by about 4.1% on the US GM acreage, according to the study.... Average application rates of glyphosate in HT weed management systems have jumped sharply in the last few years... The study is based on official US Department of Agriculture data on pesticide use over 670m acres of GM maize, soya and cotton."
Volunteer Roundup-Ready maize is now becoming a problem for RR soyabean farmers in the US, even for those who have never planted RR maize according to an Illinois farmer in Farmers Weekly, August 27- September 2, 2004:
"I've sprayed my Roundup beans twice this summer and I can see maize still growing in the fields..... You know how life is supposed to go full circle? I'm back to hand-hoeing maize out of soyabean fields.... I got it [RR maize] and I never bought it!"
China has been a major adopter of Bt cotton but after several years of production doubts are now emerging about its sustainability (Reuters, 28 May 2004):
"Liu Xiaofeng, a researcher in Henan, China's number two cotton producing province, was cited as telling Reuters that while Bt cotton had brought advantages to farmers -- including a 60 percent drop in pesticide use -- the GMO insect resistant cotton also posed challenges. Liu was cited as saying earlier this week that cotton bollworm is developing resistance and will be no longer susceptible to the transgenic Bt cotton after 20-30 generations, or six to seven years".
GM Cotton Damages Environment In China - Xinhuanet report
Weed control and soil fertility problems are emerging in Argentina following the widespread planting of GM soy according to US consultant Dr Charles Benbrook, former Executive Director of the US National Academy of Sciences Board on Agriculture (New Scientist, 17 April 2004):
"Argentina faces big agronomic problems that it has neither the resources nor the expertise to solve. The country has adopted GM technology more rapidly and more radically than any other country in the world. It didn't take proper safeguards to manage resistance and to protect the fertility of its soils. Based on the current use of Roundup Ready, I don't think its agriculture is sustainable for more than another couple of years."
Argentina's bitter harvest New Scientist, 17 April 2004
Argentina's GM Woe
USDA data shows GM crops generally do not reduce pesticide use (Guardian 8 January 2004):
"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 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."
Benbrook CM (2003) Impacts of
Genetically Engineered Crops on
Pesticide Use in the United States: The First Eight Years,
BioTech InfoNet, Technical Paper No 6, Nov 2003,
Crop failure and major husbandry problems have been occurring with Monsanto's Bt cotton in India (Frontline, Volume 20 - Issue 11, May 24 - June 06, 2003):
"The so-called genetic revolution in cotton appears to be coming
apart at the seams. Reports are pouring in from different parts of the country of a
'failed' or 'unsatisfactory' harvest of the first commercial transgenic Bt cotton crop.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture has asked the Centre to re-evaluate
the economic viability of Bt cotton. The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of
the Ministry of Environment and Forests has rejected the use of MECH 915 Bt cotton seeds
in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan... A six-member panel set up by the Gujarat government
Director, Agriculture (Oilseeds), S.K. Sangami, to evaluate the performance of Bt cotton in the State, said that 'it is unfit for cultivation and should be banned in the State'...".
Weed control problems in GM Roundup Ready crop rotations are now spreading fast in the US as a result of the over-use of glyphosate (December 12, 2002 - Plant Health Progress):
"We have nine populations [of glyphosate resistant horseweed caused by the overuse of GM crops] from four counties in southwest Ohio surviving four times the labeled glyphosate rate. We can't keep using glyphosate until it doesn't work anymore, because there's nothing else out there. It's essential to start addressing resistance problems now - before we wind up with super-weeds." Ohio, extension weed specialist Jeff Stachler
Syngenta web site on GM crop resistance problems - click here
'Glyphosate resistance dominates weed science meetings' - Successful Farming, December 6, 2002
Farmers in India now find the augmented genetically modified Bt cotton cannot resist pests after all according to the Bangkok Post. As activists demand an inquiry, India is having second thoughts about an ambitious foray into a modified foodstuff, GM mustard (Bangkok Post, 12 Nov 2002):
"India, which opened its doors to genetically modified (GM) crops in March this year, is in a difficult position now. The opposition to GM crops is mounting in face of reports that the GM cotton variety approved in March has failed to deliver in farmers' fields......farmers who have grown Bt cotton in central India have found that the crop is not resistant to pests and they have been advised by the seed company to spray insecticides. The department and other government agencies have not offered any explanation for this reported failure of India's first GM crop."
GM crops under fire after Bt cotton venture fails in India
A new patents from the US agrichemicals company Monsanto admits that genetically engineering plants to resist pests is not a panacea according to New Scientist (17 August 2002):
"....now Monsanto's patents (W002/28184/5) admit even more frankly that transgenic pest control 'may not be desirable in the long term' because it produces resistant strains and 'numerous problems remain...under actual field conditions'..."
GM plants no panacea - Monsanto Admits to Bt crop problems - New Scientist Report
The UK's leading agricultural journal 'Farmers Weekly' published an article 12 July 2002 entitled "Data shows economic success for GM crops" based on a study produced by the US National Centre for Food and Agriculture Policy (NCFAP). This report made some strong claims regarding the economic performance of GM crops. However, a reader's letter August 2002 in response shows that these are largely contradicted by the latest economic analysis published by the US Department of Agriculture:
"[Dear Sir] The article "Data shows economic success for GM crops" (Arable, July 12) is misleading.
It quotes claims from a US National Centre for Food and Agriculture Policy study part funded by Monsanto and the Biotechnology Industry Organisation.
With the exception of Bt insecticide cotton, often planted where little integrated pest management is used, examination of USDA governmental data released in June gives a different picture.
First, GM crops do not increase yield potential and may reduce yields. 
Second, ......click here to read rest of letter ...."
Australian farmers want postponement of GM canola, Reuters, AUSTRALIA: July 25, 2002
"Australia's largest farmers body called yesterday for the postponement of the introduction of commercial genetically modified (GM) canola crops until identity preservation issues were resolved..... Australia's largest farmers body called yesterday for the postonement of the introduction of commercial genetically modified (GM) canola crops until identity preservation issues were resolved..... Australia's first commercial GM canola crop has been seen as likely to be introduced next year, although final approval has not been granted by regulators. Australian farmers believe that Australia's conventionally produced canola carries a market premium, with GM canola not accepted by consumers in some markets, primarily Europe. They generally agree that Australia will lose its GM-free canola status once a commercial crop is introduced, even if it is segregated from conventionally-produced crops."
It has been known for some time that GM crops are not providing the savings in herbicide use that have been claimed for them. The BBC has now exposed the bogus claims in relation to Aventis's GM herbicide resistant maize (London Times, 26 June 2002):
"New evidence, reported last night on BBC's Newsnight, has found that in the United States GA, known there as Liberty, has proved unreliable on GM maize crops. Farmers need to use GA at least three times for it to be effective. Instead they use a more powerful concentrate, known as Liberty ATZ, which needs to be sprayed only once and contains the hazardous pesticide Atrazine."
UK Farming Establishment Knowingly Supports Unscientific GM Trials - June 2002
US farmers are continuing to find it necessary to use other chemicals in addition to Roundup in conjunction with glyphosate resistant soya beans (Mississippi State University Agronomy Notes, April 2002):
"In many fields where Roundup Ready soybeans were planted, we added residual materials to the mixture hoping for some premergence maturity. Several tank mixes look great (several options are also available) and have offered broader spectrum control and faster activity based on a Roundup program alone. Our plans are to hopefully get enough residual activity to minimize postemergence applications on some fields."
The widespread use of Roundup Ready crops is causing the emergence of weeds which are resistant to glyphosate (Mississippi State University Extenstion Service Agronomy Notes, March 2002):
"Several popular press magazines have printed articles about the finding of a glyphosate resistant population of horseweed in Delaware. These resistant weeds required a thirteen fold increase in glyphosate rate to provide equivalent control as a susceptible population. Weed scientist at the University of Tennessee reported finding a glyphosate resistant population of horseweed near Dyersburg, Tennessee at the Southern Weed Science Society Annual Meeting. Both populations have been confirmed resistant by scientist with Monsanto. Apparently the Tennessee populations required only a six fold rate increase to obtain control equivalent to a susceptible population.... The selection pressure on weed populations with glyphosate has been unequaled by any other herbicide. Growers could potentially apply two preplant foliar applications, one to three applications during the season, and follow with a preharvest application."
Genetically modified crops, like war and nuclear accidents, have been deemed too dangerous to insure against, according to the Sunday Herald. Insurance companies have decided not to provide farmers, their neighbours or anyone else with cover against the risks of GM contamination (10 March):
''These are a new and unknown quantity and until there is more scientific evidence and legal information it is impossible for any insurance company to provide cover'', NFU spokesman
''If you cannot get cover, you'll have to think long and hard about it,'' Richard Thompson from Land Agents Smiths Gore.
Farmers told GM crops are 'too dangerous to insure'
A report in the journal of the Farmers' Union Wales looks at the flawed nature of the GM crop trials taking place in the UK (Welsh Farming, February 2002):
"One of the biggest flaws of the trials is that they have been designed in a way which is unlikely to reflect how the technology is used in practice. This means that firm conclusions relating to biodiversity impact relative to agronomic performance will be difficult to derive, and at an expense of around £4 million of taxpayers money that is a wasteful outcome.....
It is quite clear, particularly from the experience with rape in Canada, that GM herbicide resistant varieties create more problems for farmers than they solve. It is really quite astonishing that our own government has made little attempt to learn from the North American experience prior to going ahead with its own farm-scale plantings. In effect the government has now become avoidably complicit in an exercise which is in danger of selling UK farmers a 'pup', whilst simultaneously alienating a large portion of their customers - the UK food buying public.
Is that what British farming really needs right now?"
'Welsh Farmer' - Flaws in GM crop trials - Full article
According to Australia's Cotton World argument continues over allegations that genetically modified seed is causing a deterioration in cotton quality in the US (Cotton World/Reuters - Jan/Feb 2002):
"....disputes over seed quality marred the Beltwide meetings in California last year, when farmers, milling firms and major merchants on the one hand and seed companies on the other disagreed over the quality of the genetically modified seeds produced by biotech firms."
Monsanto confirm additional agronomic problems with Roundup Ready cotton
A recent report by Dr Charles Benbrook confirms that it rarely pays to plant Bt corn (Cropchoice News 13 Dec 2001):
"On average, yield increases due to Bt corn have not increased farm income enough to cover the higher costs of Bt seed. The jump in per acre seed expenditures with Bt corn is by far the biggest inhistory linked to a single new trait."
A concern about herbicide-tolerant canola volunteers was prevalent throughout a recent one-day meeting in Canada with one grower reporting increasing problems each year and particular problems in a follow-on crop of flax. According to Chris Dzisiak, a zero till farmer from Dauphin, Manitoba, the technology is not providing any worthwhile benefits. In his opinion one year of gain from growing a herbicide-tolerant canola translates into three years of pain (Western Producer 7 Dec):
"I certainly didn't save myself any money and I certainly didn't save myself any time."
Full story - click here
Controling weeds in Roundup Ready cotton can be problematical as effective control is senstive to improper timing of glyphosate applications as confirmed by Monsanto's cotton technical manager Rob Ihrig (Cotton World 31 October 2001):
".....what you would like to be able to do if environmental conditions (get rained out or something) you would like to get as many applications on according to the label as you can in a short amount of time, especially when you know that you have weeds that are difficult to control that you can catch them when they are small, smaller weeds are easier to control, I don't think that is news to anybody, but when you get in a situation where some of these weeds get beyond a certain developmental stage they can become much more challenging to control and that's probably the biggest shortcoming of the Roundup Ready® system now is your timing of the applications, so good timing and proper rate is very critical."
More on Roundup Ready Cotton weed management
DO GM CROPS MEAN LESS PESTICIDE USE? - 204 Pesticide Outlook -
(October 2001 Royal Society of Chemistry)
"Herbicide tolerant varieties have modestly increased herbicide use"
The Canadian National Farmers Union said it will offer moral and financial support for the organic growers who plan to take on the international chemical company Monsanto and others who helped bring GM technology to Western Canada (October 26, 2001 Western Producer):
"Since 1998 the NFU has been urging the federal and provincial governments to determine who is liable for genetic pollution and the significant costs that GM technologies impose on organic farmers and conventional farmers who choose to farm GM-free. The SOD lawsuit is an important step in determining that liability.": NFU board member Stewart Wells.
Canadian NFU seeks GM pollution liability justice
A US farmer has successfully sued a subsidiary of Monsanto for the poor performance of Roundup Ready Soy beans. The judgement for the plaintiff for $162,742.30 was affirmed 25 September 2001 (Sept. 29, 2001 CropChoice news/court judgement):
"Simrall purchased two varieties of the roundup ready seeds, 5164 and 6686, in May of 1997. Simrall planted 350 acres of the 5164 variety on June 3-5, 1997 and 450 acres of the 6686 variety between July 8-15, 1997. As they grew and began to produce, Simrall noticed that the pods were shedding on the 5164 seeds some time in July and immediately reported this information to Burney Westmoreland, a salesman for Hartz. Westmoreland notified Hartz and representatives were sent to inspect the crops planted with the 5164 seeds. Hartz representatives informed Simrall of the 5164's propensity for pod shedding and assured him that the pods would regenerate. However, most of the pods did not regenerate....
Simrall testified that between 1992 and 1996, its lowest per acre yield of soybeans was 34.97 bushels in 1996, and its highest per acre yield of soybeans was 46.07 in 1994. In the fall of 1997, Simrall suffered a significant reduction in its yield from the 5164 and 6686 seeds.
The 5164 yielded 7.61 bushels per acre and the 6686 yielded 7.27 bushels per acre. Simrall indicated that its 1997 crop had been pre-sold for $7.16 per bushel. Because of the low yield from the 5164 and 6686 seeds, Simrall testified it was short 28 bushels per acre, resulting in a loss of $70,168 on the 5164 seeds and $90, 216 on the 6686 seeds..."
RR soy - Court awards large damages
More RR soy disease problems
An article in Australia's 'Cotton World' 10 September 2001 reports that single toxin gene Bt Ingard Cotton could be withdrawn after 2004. There have been separate reports of 'mixed results' with this transgenic crop with the breeders Monsanto already withdrawing its 'value guarantee' in 1998. The intention now is to replace Ingard with twin toxin gene transgenic cotton in the hope that this will overcome the risk of pest resistance associated with its single toxin gene predecessor. Cotton World points out, through its article written by Dr Gary Fitt, chief executive of the Australian Cotton CRC, that:
"...limited refuge options for dryland situations could result in fewer benefits from new two gene cotton technology....[and] that two gene cotton will further alter the balance of insect pests, with possible increases in aphids and green vegetable bug populations... "
United States - GM Cotton less profitable than conventional Cotton as 'stink bugs' hit back
Farmers in Canada who find unsolicited glyphosate GM volunteer canola plants on their land which have come from outside (via wind etc) are now getting Monsanto (by Canadian law the volunteers belong to Monsanto not the farmer even though they are growing on his land) to come out to the farm and hand weed the offending contaminating plants (Western Producer, September 7, 2001):
"Howell was cited as saying that Monsanto, the company that developed the GM
glyphosate-tolerant canola, has sent workers to his farm to hand pick the GM plants in an
attempt to eliminate it from his fields but that the company
admitted to him this won't likely be the last he will see of RoundUp Ready canola on his farm, adding, 'They tell me the seed can sit dormant for up to five years. This is only the second year and it sounds like there is still some seed out on my fields that didn't get cleaned up'."
Full article - 'GM volunteer canoloa causes havoc'
This problem is also identified in a report for The Canadian Biotechnology
Advisory Committee Project Steering
Committee on the Regulation of Genetically Modified Foods - Transforming Agriculture The Benefits And Costs Of Genetically Modified Crops, March 2001):
"Whether the adoption of GM crops will provide a labour and management advantage in the long run is still uncertain. As the number of GM crop acres continues to rise, there may be additional management costs involved in controlling the spread of GM plants. For example, producers will have to take additional management precautions to prevent the development of volunteer HT plants and herbicide resistant plants."
A report by the Northwest Science and Environmental Policy Center Sandpoint,
Idaho, US, has shown that the introduction of Roundup Ready corn in the US has lead to an
increase in herbicide usage on corn (maize) crops. The report makes it clear that the
management of these genetically modified crops in practice usually involves multiple
applications of glyphosate and/or treatment with additional types of herbicides. The
report concludes (Ag BioTech InfoNet Technical Paper Number 5, July 23 2001, posted here 8
September July 23, 2001):
"In 2000 RR corn led to an increase in herbicide use of 1.9 million pounds.....While the exact increase in herbicide use in RR corn will fluctuate from year to year, one thing is certain on average RR corn has not and is never likely to reduce corn herbicide use......".
Full report - click here
With GMOs being shut out of an increasing number of international markets, even major figures in the ag-trade sector as rethinking the wisdom of plant such crops (INTERVIEW-ASIA'S SENSITIVITY OVER GMO WORRIES US SOY TRADE, September 4, 2001 Reuters):
"I as a farmer last year grew all Round Up Ready soybeans. This year, I have cut
down on that. Probably it will
be the lowest amount of Round Up ready beans I will be growing in several years. It is mainly profit-oriented."
Corwin Fee, Chairman of the American Soybean Association
The Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee, a group handpicked by a
consortium of government
ministries, is keen to sing the praises of GM crops in a new report published August 2001. However, despite the fact that the Canadians have been growing GM crops almost as long as the Americans, a press report quotes an earlier Canadian report on agronomic costs and benefits of GM crops which is refreshingly straightforward and open, openly acknowledging that (Toronto Star August 29, 2001):
"As of January, 2001 there is no publicly available survey or data on how
individual farmers have benefited from the adoption of GM crops in Canada. Therefore, it
is not possible to say how much economic benefit farmers have experienced from adopting
(Report for The Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee Project Steering Committee on the Regulation of Genetically Modified Foods - Transforming Agriculture The Benefits And Costs Of Genetically Modified Crops, March 2001)
Although not quoted by the Toronto Star the report also points out:
"Whether the adoption of GM crops will provide a labour and management advantage in the long run is still uncertain. As the number of GM crop acres continues to rise, there may be additional management costs involved in controlling the spread of GM plants. For example, producers will have to take additional management precautions to prevent the development of volunteer HT plants and herbicide resistant plants."
GM fields spread new superweeds - Sunday Times
Farmers in Australia are now being advised to spray additional insecticide on Monsanto's GM Bt cotton known as INGARD "under conditions of reduced INGARD plant efficacy". The latest official guidance from Transgenic and Insect Management Strategy (TIMS) Committee of the Australian Cotton Growers Research Association makes it clear that Bt is in some circumstances failing to control the principal target pest it was introduced for (August 2000):
"INGARD® cotton should be carefully monitored throughout the season for H. armigera and other pests....
For economic management of H. armigera, larval populations should be controlled with an insecticide if a threshold of two larvae (>3 mm long) per metre continues over two consecutive checks or one medium (>8 mm long) instar larva, or larger, is found on the first check".
More details - click here
There is increasing talk of legal action against GM companies for the damaging consequences of the spread of their products onto other people's land (GMOS MAY BACKFIRE ON COMPANIES [via Agnet] August 14, 2001 The Leader-Post (Regina)/CP):
"Does Monsanto have any liability for this technology? Farmers in this province
are spending tens of thousands of dollars trying to get rid of this canola [oilseed rape]
that they didn't plant. They have to use more and more powerful pesticides to get rid of
this technology, and Monsanto seems to have no liability. That'sa significant issue for
this country. We have to find out what the legal ramifications are. If something goes
wrong, who is going to pay for it? "
Martin Phillipson, Professor of Law, Canadian Bar Association's annual conference August 2001
Monsanto is making more Roundup Ready cotton seed available in Australia for the new planting season with anticipation rising amongst growers. But the introduction is not without its problems according to Cotton World 7 August 2001:
"Because the technology is relatively new in Australia, these opportunities have
been offset by some management challenges that may take time and ingenuity to overcome.
Particular problems include:
-- how to manage Roundup resistant volunteer cotton;
-- managing Roundup Ready cotton re-growth towards the end of the season;
-- gauging the length of time taken for crops in different areas to reach the four leaf stage;
-- management of other herbicides; and limitations involving over the top sprays. "
Monsanto gears up for special chemical mixtures against GM 'superweeds'
The latest patent secured by Monsanto demonstrates their clear acknowledgement of the creation of herbicide resistant volunteer superweeds from Roundup Ready crops and their intention to monopolise other chemical strategies to tackle them (US Patent no. 6,239,072):
"The present invention is directed to tank mixtures and premixtures of a glyphosate herbicide and a second herbicide to which a first species is susceptible and a second species is resistant. Such tank mixtures and premixtures allow control of glyphosate-susceptible weeds and glyphosate-tolerant volunteer individuals of the first species in a crop of glyphosate-tolerant second species with a single application of herbicide."
More details - Monsanto gears up for special chemical mixtures against GM 'superweeds'
Disease and pestlience hits Missouri as GM soy expands
Iowa State University scientists say insecticide use still is widespread despite promises that biotech corn designed to repel the European corn borer would reduce pesticide levels. Has biotech corn lived up to its promise (AMES, Iowa, Jul 25, 2001 United Press International via COMTEX):
"From our point of view, based on the past two or three years of data, the answer would be no," researcher John Obrycki and three colleagues wrote in a recent issue of BioScience, adding that biotech may not be the "silver bullet" it was once thought.
Full Bioscience paper
Pests attack genetically modified Bt cotton in Indonesia according to the Jakarta Post (29 June 2001):
"Hundreds of hectares of the genetically modified cotton fields at three villages in the regency of Bulukumba, South Sulawesi, have been destroyed by pests identified as Helicoverpa armigera and Spodoptera".
Bt cotton fails in Indonesia - Jakarta Post
MORE WORRIES ABOUT GENETICALLY MODIFIED CANOLA June 21, 2001 CBC News and Current Affairs, Canada:
"The GM canola has, in fact, spreadmuch more rapidly than we thought it would. It's absolutely impossible to control. It's been a great, a wake-up call about the side effects of these GM technologies", Dr Martin Entz (University of Manitoba)
Full CBC News Report - click here
A study published in the May 2001 Journal, BioScience, questions the widespread use of Bt corn, saying it has not reduced pesticide use or significantly increased yields:
We feel there is a limited role for Bt corn in relation to its use for controlling the European corn borer -- that is, use it if corn borer numbers have been consistently high. Planting it over 20 to 30 percent of the acreage in the Midwest seems to be overkill. It's not necessary relative to the value of the field corn and the importance of the corn borer as a pest. John Obrycki, Iowa State University
Questions Widespread Use of Bt Corn
Copy of Study
Lack of independent testing of GM foods is leading to public mistrust of the technology and its rejection in the market place (Farming News 7 June 2001):
"A food that is not stocked in any of the major multiples and is only eaten in
America, a nation widely mocked for its eating habits, does not present an encouraging
Post-BSE, consumers are unlikely to trust civil servants, politicians and government scientists who tell them that the food is safe for consumption. Much of the research is being conducted by private companies, which means commercial considerations are likely to play a part in any dissemination of information.
In the absence of any unbiased information, people draw their own conclusions....."
Because of problems of cross pollination even non-gm crops of canola in Canada are increasingly unmarketable with a result that not only has the area of GM canola fallen but clearly from these figures some farmers are giving up growing canola of any kind, or are significantly reducing the acreage that they grow. GM is destroying the canadian canola sector.
"Actually, this year, if you look at the breakdown of canola being grown in Canada
for the first year in the year 2000, the level of genetically modified canola planted in
Canada went down what I would say is a significant amount..... there is a concern that the
farmers have reduced markets where they can sell these products at the moment.....Many of
them have reverted back to conventional varieties......"
Bernard Marantelli, Monsanto UK, 2020 'Feeding or Fooling the World' debate at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, 18 April 2001.
"The European preference for non-GMO oils is finally reaping dividends for UK
growers.....Delivered rape seed prices are looking firm at £148 a tonne, helped by the
latest reports from Canada. Canola (rape seed) plantings there
are 23 per cent down, and harvest estimates are 5.5 million tonnes compared with 7.1 million tonnes last year. 'It's a significant drop which is having quite an effect on EU prices,' says Mr Dadd [of the UK's Home-Grown Cereals
Farming News, 18.5.2001: 'Demand for non-GMO oil benefits UK growers'
Market rejection of genetically modified corn is causing American farmers major problems as they lose markets according to Larry Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of the American Corn Growers Association, 5 June 2001:
"The ACGA believes an explanation is owed to the thousands of American farmers who were told to trust this technology, yet now see their prices fall to historically low levels while other countries exploit U.S. vulnerability and pick off our export customers one by one. An explanation is also owed our foreign customers on why the United States isn't leading the effort to promote and sell the type of commodities and products they want and demand."
ACGA press release
A rare peer-reviewed paper on the agronomic performance of GM glyphosate resistant (GR) soya beans was published in Agronomy Journal, March-April 2001. The study's findings are illuminating as they specifically identify the novel gene or the process of genetic engineering itself as causing a reduction in crop yields when compared with otherwise isogenic non-genetically engineered sister lines (Elmore et al, Glyphosate-Resistant Soybean Cultivar Yields Compared with Sister Lines Agron J 2001 93: 408-412 posted here 29 May 2001):
"Yields were suppressed with GR soybean cultivars............The work reported here demonstrates that a 5% yield suppression was related to the gene or its insertion process and another 5% suppression was due to cultivar genetic differential. 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."
Nations whose agriculture remains GM-free are making important economic gains whilst those who grow the crops continue to lose out (Farming News 18 May 2001):
"The European preference for non-GMO oils is finally reaping dividends for UK growers. Harvest rape seed prices are now quoted at £138 a tonne, compared with £118 a tonne a year ago. Last autumn's decision to ban meat and bonemeal in feed boosted prices, but this effect has faded. UK rape meal is now selling at £90 a tonne compared with £125 a tonne in mid-November. What remains is the market preference for non-GM edible oils. On the Rotterdam commodity exchange, rape seed has become the second most expensive oil after sunflower oil... there has been a complete turnaround in the demand for UK-grown rape seed.."
A damning report on the performance of Roundup Ready soya beans has just been published by Dr Charles Benbrook, former Director of Agriculture at the US Academy of Sciences. Contrary to the theoretical promises of higher yields and lower herbicide usage it is now clearly established that this technology has delivered exactly the opposite in practice (AgBioTech InfoNet Technical Paper Number 4 May 3, 2001):
"RR soybeans clearly require more herbicides than conventional soybeans, despite claims to the contrary. This conclusion is firmly supported by unbiased field-level comparisons of the total pounds of herbicide active ingredient applied on an average acre of RR soybeans in contrast to conventional soybeans....
Looking ahead to crop year 2001, it is likely that the average acre of RR soybeans will be treated with about 0.5 pounds more herbicide active ingredient than conventional soybeans. As a result over 20 million more pounds of herbicides will be applied this crop year......
There is voluminous and clear evidence that RR soybean cultivars produce 5 percent to 10 percent fewer bushels per acre in contrast to otherwise identical varieties grown under comparable field conditions to conventional soybeans....
Soybean yields have been increasingly erratic across the Cornbelt in recent years. Many fields have suffered yield losses far greater than expected given the magnitude of the RR yield drag. The search is on for answers and recently some have emerged.
University of Arkansas scientists have shown that root development, nodulation and nitrogen fixation is impaired in some RR soybean varieties and that the effects are worse under conditions of drought stress or in relatively infertile fields. This problem arises because the bacterial symbiont responsible for nitrogen fixation in soybeans, Bradyrhizobium japonicum, is very sensitive to both Roundup and drought......
As new soybean weed control options emerge and are integrated into multitactic soybean weed management systems, fewer farmers will be willing to accept the trade-offs and costs now inherent in selection of a RR variety......troubled times lie ahead for RR soybeans because the efficacy of glyphosate is clearly slipping in managing weeds and because unanticipated yield penalties are surfacing in some RR fields, traced to how genetic engineers have modified soybean plants to make them Roundup Ready. As farmers begin to understand the practical implications of what researchers have recently discovered, interest will grow in other less costly ways to manage soybean weeds.....
Inserting transgenes into major plant metabolic pathways is a risky proposition that is likely to lead to unanticipated consequences, especially when plants are stressed by unusual weather, pests, or infertile or imbalanced soils......
The lack of independent research on the ecological, agronomic and plant defense consequences of RR soybeans, until well after regulatory approvals and widespread market penetration, blindsided regulators and has heightened the vulnerability of farmers.
It is remarkable that over 100 million acres of Roundup Ready soybeans were planted in America before publication in 2001 of the first university data documenting the sometimes-serious depression of nitrogen fixation in RR soybean fields.
Ignorance creates a false sense of security and sets the stage for trouble. The U.S. regulatory system is better at avoiding problems that dealing with them once a technology is entrenched, with profits and market share to defend. In the case of RR soybeans, the regulatory systems ability to ferret out risks and resolve uncertainties was, in effect, silenced because regulators had little to go on in formulating questions."
More on this plus full report - click
"Herbicide Impact on Fusarium spp. and Soybean Cyst Nematode in Glyphosate-Tolerant Soybean"
As global concerns about GM crops spread bio-tech companies are increasingly turning to other modern breeding techniques, such as marker assisted breeding (MAB), to accelerate crop development without involving the risks associated with recombinat DNA in GM crops. Syngenta are now successfully developing high performance oilseed rape hybrids with this approach (Farming News, 3 May 2001):
"Marker-assisted breeding was a dream 20 years ago, but now the technology is being developed quickly", Syngenta's Dr Stephan Pleines, head of plant breeding at the firm's Bad Salzuflen station in Germany
GM rape heading for agronomic
Monsanto 'MAB' progress reinforces positive FAO world food forecast
Tagging New Leaf Rust Resistance Genes in Wheat
Wheat May Become Resistant To Diseases, Pests With Its Own Genome
The National Farmers Union of England and Wales has argued for sometime that it is allowing livestock producers to include GM ingredients in animal feeds under its British Farm Standard because it is too expensive to obtain non-gm alternatives. The latest research from ADAS, however, proves that this is not the case when it comes to dairy cattle (Farmers Weekly 12.04.2001):
"We compared cow performance on maize distillers' grains with soya, a high quality protein source well recognised by producers......There was no difference in feed intake, milk yield and milk quality between diets....Maize distillers' are GM-free and fully traceable, offering a quality alternative to soya": Trident's Dr Matt Witt
UK Dairy Farmers Don't Need US Soy Anymore
Problems with insect resistance management in GM Bt crops in Australia are causing farmers to cultivate their land when they should be avoiding doing so in order to conserve soil moisture levels. This problem is likely to increase as illustrated in a recent report in 'Cotton Grower' which indicates that Australian farmers could soon face independent audits of their pupae-busting activities as part of the resistance management strategy for GM Bt INGARD® varieties:
"I know that not all growers of conventional cotton pupae-bust -- it would be nice if they did -- but for INGARD® it is critical. We can't allow potentially resistant pupae to survive the winter....
I know growers in dryland situations are concerned about maintaining soil moisture levels, but it is still important to control those pupae....
Pupae busting is one of the important components in the resistance management strategy for INGARD® because it really adds value to the other components -- it maximises the impact that the refuge crops can have in producing susceptible moths.....
The growers, in signing their contracts with Monsanto and complying with the label on INGARD® seed, are required to cultivate their INGARD® fields after picking and before the end of August -- preferably much earlier than that, because it is much more effective done earlier." Dr Gerry Fitt, chief executive of the Australian Cotton Co-operative Research Centre (Cotton World - Thu 05 Apr 2001 'Wake-up call for pupae control')
According to the centre: "Because of the importance of the preventative nature of the resistance strategy for INGARD cotton, all INGARD crops in southern Queensland and NSW should be considered a high risk situation for pupae control and so must be cultivated effectively....In conventional crops: risks posed by overwintering pupae can be estimated or measured by sampling. High numbers require high priority tillage action". However, "In INGARD crops - require priority tillage action irrespective of pupae numbers."
Integrated Pest Management pays off
as GM hits problems
ABC News on Ingard pest resistance problems
The evidence continues to mount that the use of additional herbicides in Roundup Ready crops is continuing grow. The use of Roundup on its own is increasingly not enough:
"In many fields where Roundup Ready soybeans were going to be
planted, producers added Goal to the mixture hoping for some residual control. The tank
mix looks great (several other options are also available) and has offered broader
spectrum control and faster activity than a Roundup program alone. The objective is to
maybe get enough residual activity to need only one post-emergence application".
Dr. Alan Blaine. Agronomy Notes, April 2001, University of Mississippi Extension Service
US data reveals UK GM trials unscientific - Feb 2001
The Canadian Wheat Board is asking the federal government to block
Monsanto and other companies from selling genetically altered wheat seed amid fears the
grain will destroy Canada's most important export markets :
"Customers are telling us that they don't want this product at all. The worst-case scenario would be that Australia would get all the premium markets. We would lose our European customers immediately which are our highest-paying customers. You may not even be able to ship wheat out of the country,"
Earl Geddes, a vice-president of the federal marketing board that sells wheat for Canadian farmers (Tuesday, April 3, 2001 National Post; A7)
National Post article
Canadian farmer forced to pay for biotech company pollution
US NFU calls for GM Wheat moratorium
The latest report from US farmer news service Cropchoice confirms the following commercial realities in relation to GM crops in the US (April 6, 2001 --Cropchoice news):
"And we've been saving seed that long. It's a God given right that
was passed on to us by our ancestors. It's never been disputed until now, when big
corporations are misusing patents to take those rights away from American farmers.
The reason they're doing this is to control all the food and fiber in the world.
They do this by controlling seed...... Monsanto has 36 paid lobbyists in Congress
and put millions of dollars into the Democratic and Republican House and Senate
campaigns. Monsanto is misusing patents to monopolize the seed industry."
Mitchell Scruggs, Mississippi farmer growing 13,000 acres of soybean and 4,700 acres of cotton.
"Monsanto has a stranglehold on this industry. They have the technology. Ninety five percent of what we sell will be Roundup Ready soybeans and corn. A lot of the corn is Bt."
Bob Young, owner and operator of Memphis-based Seeds
"We don't like gmo (genetically modified organisms) here because it yields less......No farmers are buying into the higher yields stuff....[and] I don't know how Monsanto is getting away with saying that we're using less pesticides."
North Dakota soybean farmer Rodney Nelson.
"2,4-D goes on soybeans at about 0.4 pounds (active ingredient) per
acre. Add in two applications of Roundup at the average 0.7 pound rate, and a grower is
applying just under 2 pounds of herbicide per acre....Roundup Ready technology has its
virtues but sustainability and reducing herbicide use are not among them,"
Agricultural economist and consultant Charles Benbrook, pointing out that as weeds develop resistance to Roundup, farmers have to use other herbicides, such as 2,4-D.
Mississippi farmer fights for the
right to save seed - Cropchoice report
The Implications of the Percy Schmeiser Decision by E. Ann Clark, Ph.D. 14may01
GMOs are continuing to threaten the viability of US agriculture and farmers are getting angry that they have been led down a blind alley:
"Why didn't you tell us about all of these potential negatives a long
time ago. Where have you been for the last two or three years? I came here this morning
feeling pretty good. But now you've got me very concerned about where we're going to sell
our GMO-crops in the future. It's not right that you let us all get hooked growing these GMO-crops and now tell us that maybe we should be growing something else." Tom Bechman, Indiana Prairie Farmer (Farm Progress, 23 March 2001)
Increasingly US farmers and their advisers are realising that GM crops rarely lead to more profitable crops, even when assuming that the sale price will not be discounted due to lack of markets:
"The rest of the story is that farmers in Indiana can expect little or no economic benefit from planting Bt hybrids. Our history with European corn borer here just doesn't support a Bt payoff year in and year out." University of Purdue Extension corn specialist Bob Nielsen (Farm Progress, 23 March 2001).
Full article including marketing problem issues
"First of all, recognize that NONE of the currently available insect-resistant or herbicide-tolerant corn or soybean varieties are CRITICAL for the success of Indiana farmers". Bob Nielsen and Dirk Maier Purdue University (GMO Issues Facing Indiana Farmers in 2001, 12 March 2001)
advice from Purdue University
Purdue professors downplay importance of transgenics to Indiana farmers
Marestail has shown up in a number of locations in the US showing resistance to Roundup herbicides following the introduction of Roundup Ready GM crops. According to Mark VanGessel, a weed scientist at the University of Delaware Roundup had been used in combination with other herbicides as a burndown over a number of years. Over the last three years, each of the affected fields has had a burndown and an over-the-top application of Roundup or Touchdown with no other herbicides in the rotation (Successful Farming 15 Feb 2001):
"It certainly looked like resistance. Marestail control was random throughout the field, which ruled out sprayer problems or applicator error. With almost ideal weather conditions early in 2000, we also ruled out environmental or stress factors."
Roundup hits resistant weeds in US
For the first time major global markets are rejecting a GM crop even before it has gone into production. Following advance rejection of GM wheat by Algeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia Terry Wanzek chairman of North Dakota's Senate Agriculture Committee told Reuters (February 9, 2001 -- Cropchoice news):
"Our major wheat customers say they won't accept any wheat that has genetically enhanced characteristics, and we're listening to our customers."
Global rejection on Roundup Ready
wheat as North Dakota and Montana consider moratorium
Monsanto sues Nelson farm: A North Dakota family's frustrations with genetically engineered soybeans
Syngenta Stops GE Sugar Trials in Europe
Export opportunity doors for US farmers continue to close and corn prices are dropping as global demand for non-gm crops for animal feed accelerates, according to Dan McGuire, Program Director of the American Corn Growers Association (Crop Choice News, February 2, 2001):
"U.S. corn exports are languishing and GMO-related issues are making the situation worse. American farmers have a choice to make. They can watch export markets dissipate before their eyes or choose to serve their customers."
Export markets pointin' thumbs
down on biotech corn
Farmers, foreign markets send negative signals about Roundup Ready wheat
Illinois Asks Dealers Not to Sell A Controversial Monsanto Corn Seed
GM soya ban good for UK
Three types of canola, each engineered with genes to resist one type of weedkiller, have merged into new varieties resistant to many pesticides in Canada. Instead of helping farmers avoid weeds, the canola itself has become the weed according to a new report by the Royal Society of Canada (The Ottawa Citizen, 06/02/01):
"Herbicide-resistant volunteer canola planta are beginning to develop into a major problem....In the real world, human error and expediency may often compromise guidelines for the growing of such crops."
Toronto star on
Royal Society of Canada Report
Pollen flow between herbicide tolerant canola (Brassica napus) is the cause of multiple resistant canola volunteers WSSA Abstracts, 2000 Meeting of the Weed Society of America, Volume 40, 2000
Reports are increasing of falling fibre quality in US cotton.
Genetic modification is the prime suspect (11 Jan 2001, Reuters):
"There are a number of textile people that are suspicious simply because of the circumstantial evidence that the GM cotton is increasing in terms of its selection by the producers and our quality trends are decreasing,"
Stephen Felker, chairman and chief executive of Avondale Mills in Monroe, Georgia, at the start of the annual Beltwide Cotton conference.
"There's no question we have a problem, both in fibre yield and quality,"
Jack Hamilton, a cotton producer in Lake Providence, Louisiana.
A four year study from the University of Missouri has shown increases in soil levels of the fungus 'fusarium' as a result of the introduction of RR soy bean regimes linked to the use of glyphosate with potentially adverse implications for crop production sustainability (University of Missouri Press Release, 21 Dec 2000):
"Right now, that's an ecological assessment that hasn't received much attention. The tests are often limited to small soil insects and earthworms. We think it's been an oversight....potential yield impacts in subsequent seasons due to high soil Fusarium populations, resulting from continued use of glyphosate, needs further investigation...When you think about it, you have to wonder what's happening in the soil."
treated GM soy regime impact on soil micro-organisms
More information on fusarium
Missouri Soybean Farmer Online - RR soy beans susceptible to Sudden Death Syndrome
University of Missouri - Roundup Ready Soybeans, fusarium and ' Sudden Death Syndrome'
New US corn viruses - is
GM the prime suspect?
GM Potatoes Alter Soil Ecology
Recently, commercial cotton cultivars modified with genes for resistance to the tobacco budworm (Heliothis virescens F.), to glyphosate herbicide (e.g., Roundup, Monsanto, St. Louis, MO), or in some cases to both the budworm and the herbicide have been released. However, such transgenic varieties can lose other valuable agronomic characteristics in the process as one study from the University of Arkasas found (The Journal of Cotton Science 4:232-236 (2000)):
"A dramatic increase in root-knot nematode susceptibility was seen in the transgenic cultivar, Paymaster 1560 BG, compared with its nontransgenic parent, Paymaster 1560. Although only a limited number of cultivars were studied, the data demonstrate that differences in susceptibility to the root-knot nematode exist between some transgenic cultivars and their nontransgenic parents. These data indicate the importance of screening transgenic cultivars for resistance to pests other than the particular pest species targeted by the genetic modification before the transgenic cultivars are recommended for planting."
Bt cotton strain loses resistance to other pest - Journal of Cotton Science
The discovery of cotton bollworm (H. armigera) in China resistant to Bt is raising major questions about the long term sustainability of transgenic crops incorporating the Bt toxin as a pesticide (National Cotton Council of America, Nov 2000, posted here 2 Jan 2001):
"The risk of development of resistance in Bt cotton crops is probably greater than that for Bt pesticide formulations due to continuous and extensive expression of the delta-endotoxin in the plant tissues. Recently it has been reported that Helicoverpa armigera have developed resistance Bt in Yauggu and Xiuxiang provinces of China .... Due to the development of resistance to Bt toxin the average mortality of newly hatched larvae of H. armigera declined significantly as compared to the susceptible strain.... New strategies are needed to maximize the durability and utility of GE cotton." (The names given here appear to be those of the counties in two the different provinces of China concerned, NLP Wessex)
Chartered Surveyor and Land Agent, Hugh Fell, is acting for farmers in the north of England affected by the earlier Advanta oilseed rape contamination fiasco. He is submitting compensation claims on their behalf against the GM company (Country Landowner Magazine, November 2000 - posted here 17 Dec, 2000):
"We can see potential problems in three areas: depreciation in the capital value of the property; reduction in the value of its produce and possible ineligibility for organic conversion."
is going to pay the externalized costs of GMOs?
Is Genetic Engineering Worth the Cost? - Progressive Farmer
Monsanto fears GM liabilities
UK Gov exposed by US GM lawsuit
Following the StarLink disaster US giant grain merchant and processor, Archer Daniels Midland, has announced it is not accepting GM crops in the US which do not have global approval (justfood.com Report: 11 Dec, 2000):
"With the entire recent furore, and the complete lack of assurances concerning
contamination and potential market, many farmers will be making personal economic choices
against planting any GM crops next season.
The Archer Daniels grain processor has warned farmers via radio advertisements that it will not be accepting GM crops that have not gained worldwide approval ......"
UK McDonald's dumps GM-fed meat
With the advent of glyphosate resistant crops resistance to the herbicide is now emerging in the US. As agronomists advise higher application rates, or use with other herbicides, some waterhemp are surviving application rates of glyphosate as high as two gallons per acre and are apparently still setting viable seed (University of Missouri Press Release, 7 Dec 2000):
"Since the inception of glyphosate-resistant crops in 1996, researchers have said that the onset of weed resistance to glyphosate was not a matter of 'if' but 'when' ", Reid Smeda, assistant professor of agronomy, University of Missouri.
US farmers are starting to push GM maize crops into government loan programmes because they are not saleable on the open market due to contamination with the variety StarLink (Farmers Weekly, 7 December 2000):
"I will put the maize under government loan. That way if this problem get worse I can just dump it on the government next year and say you guys created this monster; you clean it up. I have learned my lesson. No more GMO crops on this farm ever." US farmer and GM seed salesman, Nebraska, Dec 2000.
"I am sending the bill to Aventis. If they pick up the tab, we won't sue." Iowa merchandiser who has detected StarLink in two separate trainloads of maize.
Canadian NFU calls for GM
Is Genetic Engineering Worth the Cost? - Ann Clarke, University of Guelph
National Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Starlink Producer
Widespread contamination of corn supplies in the US by the genetically modified variety Starlink is causing huge financial loses in the American food chain, with threats of legal action growing by the day (Associated Press, November 20, 2000):
"Everyone's got to protect themselves. If nothing else, StarLink has brought it to
the forefront that there's huge liability issues."
Doug Wilson, Illinois Farmer.
"The only truly safe seed selection will be seed corn free of any genetic
Decatur-based grain processor A.E. Staley Manufacturing
StarLink fiasco wreaks havoc in the heartland
Fast food chain McDonald's, which uses 30,000 tons of beef every year in the UK, has decided not to use meat reared on genetically modified feed ( BBC ONLINE Sunday, 19 November, 2000):
"McDonald's in the UK has taken the decision to move away from the use of animal feed containing genetically modified ingredients. We have therefore requested that our suppliers seek non-GM sources of feed. Our chicken supplier already uses feed containing soya meal of Brazilian origin, which is principally non-GM."
Tyson stops buying StarLink gene-altered corn
The evidence that the acreage of GM crops in the US is not justified by their agronomic performance just keeps on rolling in. As this report from Dr Alan Blane of the Mississippi State Extenaion Service indicates RR soy beans perform particularly badly in adverse conditions compared to traditional varieties (Agronomy Notes, 8 November 2000):
"This year turned out to be the worst year ever for many soybean growers, as drought conditions caused problems statewide...
.........Varietal differences are observed every year, but quite a few varieties showed their ability to withstand adverse conditions this year. Many varieties that looked good last year proved failures this season. This emphasizes the need for a yield history, preferably at least two years of yield data, before planting a large acreage in new varieties......
......As a whole, when growing conditions become extreme, the Roundup Ready varieties seem to be more greatly affected..........
........Many producers would be better off planting a proven variety like Hutcheson rather than take chances with a new variety. If you do plant new varieties, do not plant more than 5 to 10 percent of your acreage in any variety with less than two years of state yield data."
More on poor performance of RR soya
Effect of RR soy regime on nitrogen fixation
Lack of proper independent agronomic testing on GM crops in the US has frequently lead to disappointing results. Only now is the scientific community showing the first signs of a willingness to acknowledge what has been going on (2000 Proceedings Beltwide Cotton Conferences, San Antonio, USA, 4-8 January, 2000: Volume 1. p.503-507 - posted here 11 November 2000):
"Concerns, about the lack of public test data on transgenic cultivars, and about relying solely on OCTs for their evaluation, prompted Cotton Incorporated to convene a working group......Principal points of the proposal were that a minimum of 2 years of public test data should be available to growers at the time of first sale, and that the data should include comparison of transgenic cultivars with cultivars generally recognized as having high yield potential. The proposal also suggested that the testing should provide comprehensive economic evaluation of new cultivars by concurrently evaluating yields, fibre quality, and the efficacy and costs of the respective pest management programmes. "
Why millions of acres of underperforming GM
crops are being grown in the USA
More faked GM testing in the UK
GM contamination is creating havock with US farm commodity markets, according to Roger G.Ginder, Iowa State University economist (Feedstuffs magazine, 6 November 2000):
"Iowa State University professor Charles Hurburgh said last week that it is entirely possible traces of StarLink will show up nearly everywhere in Iowa due to cross-pollination and commingling on farm and at elevators...[Starlink] will make it extremely difficult if not impossible for the commodity markets to function properly in the coming year."
Non Genetic Canola Trade Advantage
Farmers growing GM herbicide resisistant crops are starting to hit shifts in weed resistance with standard rates of Roundup starting to prove ineffective (Progressive Farmer, June 12 2000 - posted here 14 October 2000):
"Growers opting for herbicide resistant crops may find they're trading one set of problems for another..... In Roundup Ready cotton the [weed] shift favors cutleaf eveningprimrose, fleabanes and smartweed. These will often require a tank-mix, or alternative treatment to control. .....under the Roundup Ready cotton system growers may see increases in spurges, prickly sida, hemp sesbania, Florida pusley, pitted morningglory, barnyard grass, maypop passionflower and bermudagrass. The reason for increases in these weeds is due to the fact that common use rates of Roundup will often not provide adequate control."
"Weed Shift Worries" - full Progressive Farmer article
The U.S. has become the supplier of last resort for corn and soybeans thanks to the controversy over genetically modified (GM) crops, according to Jim Skiff, president of USSoy in Mattoon, Illinois (Progressive Farmer -- Friday, October 06, 2000):
"[European and Asian customers] want to know the country of origin and often refuse to buy U.S.-origin non-GM or organic products. They are now buying from Canada and Brazil and getting what they want at a cheaper price than I am willing to sell them. It looks like the U.S. policy on GMs has helped build a pretty good market for these other countries, which are willing to produce exactly what the customers want......the Europeans have moved on, and we are getting ready for a second wave. The legislation regarding GM tolerances for food is in place. Right now the EU is debating how much GM crop should be allowed in animal feed."
Researchers at Ohio State University have confirmed that one
reason why US farmers are pulling out GM Bt corn is because there is usually no economic
benefit to farmers from it. According to Pete Lane, the OSU agricultural extension agent
in Montgomery County (Dayton Daily News September 10, 2000):
"Overall, it appears the cost premium of Bt corn doesn't prove out. The damage to corn rarely exceeds the cost of treating the corn."
Dr Charles Benbrook is a private consultant on integrated pest management and former Director of the Agriculture Department of the US Academy of Sciences. On the 6 September 2000 he presented a paper to a meeting of the Association of Formulation Chemists in Orlando questioning the need for GMOs in world agriculture and the ability of industry and farmers to deploy them responsibly:
"One of agricultural biotechnology's problems from the beginning has been the propensity of advocates to oversell the technology. Scientists have been among the guilty. They have allowed their sincere excitement over discovery and technological progress to gloss over the need for deep thinking on the many factors that determine farm profits and food security among the poor.
Companies have also contributed, sometimes shamelessly, to the notion that biotechnology will solve all agriculture's problems. Most should know better. But the desire to drive up or sustain stock prices can understandably cloud people's thinking....
Genetic improvement, whether through classical breeding or biotechnology is no substitute for good judgement in the design of farming systems.....
Companies need to stop marketing GMO varieties as stand-alone solutions to complex problems with roots in farming system design and management......"
More of Dr
Benbrook's comments including full paper - click here
Lethal effects of bt corn on Monarch Butterfly
Oilseed rape genetically modified to be resistant to a herbicide lost that resistance when it encountered a naturally occurring environmental pathogen (the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus). In other words had the farmer sprayed this rape in the field with the recommended herbicide the oilseed rape would have been killed as well as the weeds (Nature Biotechnology, September 2000, Volume 18, Number 9, pp. 995 - 999):
"CaMV infection altered the expression of the herbicide tolerance gene such that plants became susceptible to the herbicide. ....... Susceptibility to the herbicide was most likely a result of transcriptional gene silencing of the transgene. Our results show that transgene phenotypes can be modified by pathogen invasion".
More on this phenomenon
Gary Goldberg, Chief Executive of the American Corn Growers Assocaition which represents 14,000 US corn growers, has warned British farmers of the deeply damaging impact of GM crops to farmers incomes (Daily Express 25 August 2000):
"What was presented as clear-cut and non-debatable technology that will save farmers money and allow for increases in productivity and efficiency has instead become an albatross round farmers' necks.
This is a warning for British farmers. These markets will disappear for any farmers with GM crops. Now it seems to be an advantage or a marketing opportunity to have GM-free crops.
We have lost £120million in sales to Europe and the forecast losses around the world are about £700million.
Europe has been a very important market for the US farmer for decades and we are throwing that market away. The reason we are losing our foreign markets is that we have taken a conscious decision to push the planting and export of GM crops. Somewhere we have lost the premise that we should grow what the customer demands."
Full article - "GM crops cost US corn farmers £700m in lost exports"
Even the European Commission is beginning to realise that the claimed benefits for farmers from GM crops are not readily apparent, according to a new Commission report (Farmers Weekly, 4 August 2000):
"Given the yearly fluctuations in yields and prices it is difficult to isolate the possible effects of biotechnology (on profitability).... But the studies reviewed do not provide conclusive evidence on the farm level profitability of GM crops. GM seeds are sold and grown under contract. They are more expensive than conventional ones. Seed saving is forbidden. As a result of increased concentration farmers depend more and more on a limited number of input suppliers for crop production."
"GENTICALLY MODIFIED LAND VALUES" by Ralph Crathorne, partner at Strutt and Parker South East Farmer (August 2000)
"....Just as British Sugar has ruled out GM sugar beet because it could affect sugar sales, so producers have to be aware that at any time the food manufacturers and retailers could decide to discard suppliers who have grown GM crops. It was this prospect which prompted some farmers this spring to destroy their offending [via GM contaminated seed] oil seed rape, even before the government suggested they should....
........Landlords who do not want GM crops or potentially GM tainted seed to be grown on their land should write to their tenants to this effect, suggesting they put their seed suppliers on notice. This would protect tenants, for it would be wholly unfair to penalise a tenant for inadvertently planting a GM tainted crop. The prospect of a substantial claim should a tenancy agreement be breached under such circumstances might be sufficient for seed houses to introduce more effective self-regulation.
The other prospect which the existence of GM plants suggests is that we may, one day soon, find ourselves dealing with a three-tier land market - for land which has been conven tionally farmed, land farmed to organic standards, and land which routinely grows GM crops. Only then may we discover the true extent of the GM factor upon land values."
Australia cashes in on non-gm canola market - see third item
According to Australia's National Farmers Federation President Ian Donges, the current benefits of GMOs are questionable. The NFF is a major Australian Farm Federation, which represents 120,000 farm enterprises across the country (Cropchoice, 21.7.2000):
"...there's no use rushing in....in some of our developed western markets there is rejection of GMOs, and until that changes [biotech] might not be worth developing."
Farm Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio has said Italy needs to market GM-free foods in order to succeed on the world market (Reuters, 18 July 2000):
"In Italy, most of the farmers, consumers, merchants and industry don't want to use genetically modified organisms (GMOs).I think it is right that we should take account of what the Italian people want - consumers and producers."
There are indications that tolerance to Bt is growing among bollworm populations in cotton, according to Dick Hardee, a researcher with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (Progressive Farmer, July 12, 2000):
"Over the past three years we have seen a minor shift in tolerance to Bt with the bollworm. We think they may be becoming more tolerant in some ares to Bt cotton every year."
General Agronomic Problems With GM Cotton
Two years of Nebraska University Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources research reported June 2000 showed Roundup Ready soybeans yield 6 percent less than their closest relatives and 11 percent less than high-yielding conventional soybeans. NU Agronomist Roger Elmore, who headed this study, said the research was initiated after producers began asking yield-related questions about Roundup Ready soybeans in 1997 (NUIANB Press Release, June 2000):
"Preliminary studies indicated something was going on." (Press Release)
"The numbers were so clear. It was not questionable at all." (INDEPENDENT, London, 11 June 2000)
Read full NUIANB Press
Low yields from GM soya - University of Nebraska
GM Weed Shift Worries - Progressive Farmer, June 12, 2000
Why millions of acres of underperforming GM crops are being grown in the USA
In a comment column entitled "To grow or not to grow"
Farming News points out that anyone growing GM crops in the UK would be concerned about
the market influenced by consumer biosafety worries (Farming News, 25 May 2000):
"An example of this [unintended and poorly understood consequence of altering the nutritional content of food using genetic modification] is Monsanto's introduction of genes into oilseed rape to increase carotenoid levels. The introduction resulted in an unintened and unexplained reduction in tocopherol (including Vitamin E) and a change to the fatty acid composition of the plant.
In this climate British farmers are unlikely to voluntarily grow GM crops....."
NLP Environment Spokesman to speak at Royal Agricultural College - June 2000
The writing is now clearly on the wall for US agricultural exports
thanks to their huge market blunder with GMOs. This damage to US exports could be
permanent as more and more countries discover they can meet their own requirements for
protein from within their own farming resources. This is creating major opportunties for
non-US farmers (London Times, 6 May 2000):
"British farmers will be able to be more dependent on their own produce and will also be able to guarantee GM-free status."
Rhun Fychan, Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research at Aberystwyth, Mid-Wales.
"I will be able to guarantee GM-free produce with full traceability.
I will no longer have to buy imported soya."
Mark Blakeway, of Heathy Mill Farm, Kidderminster.
London Times article on UK farmers growing substitute crops in place of US soya imports
Northern Soya - Robin Appel's GM-free soya seed for British farmers
Spanish Corn Starch Industry says Bt Corn is a Problem
UK dairy farmers Barry and Mary Symons have pulled out of a GM
forage maize field scale trial on their farm on the Roseland Peninsula, near Truro,
Corwnall. Their milk buyers Peninsula Milk Producers Ltd had advised them to have nothing
to do with the trials (Farmers Weekly, 5 May 2000):
"My responsibility is to my members. It would be shooting ourselves in the foot to get involved in anything like this. If it means that these people who want to make money at the expense of everyone else have to think again, then I hope it does. At the end of the day it's what the customer wants. We're not going to have these things forced upon us."
Geoff Lawrence, managing director of Peninsula Milk
Transgenic Oilseed Rape line unexpectedly increases growth of crop pest - health implications
It appears that a clear message is being sent to the US farmers that the markets for genetically engineered crops are closing. Joining Frito-Lay which has announced that it is asking its contract farmers to grow GE-free corn, McDonald's and Burger King are now telling their US potato suppliers that they do not want genetically engineered (GE) potatoes. The decision by two of the nation's major fast food restaurants was reported in the April 28 Wall Street Journal, based on initial background research by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) - (Agribusiness Examiner, 2 May 2000):
"Virtually all the [fast food] chains have told us they prefer to
take nongenetically modified potatoes."
Fred Zerza, spokesman for J.R. Simplot, a major McDonald's supplier headquartered in Boise, Idaho.
"There is no free lunch to pull farmers out from under these
problems. The real way out lies in changes in the cropping system and the way we grow
Peter Rosset, entomologist who serves as executive director of the Institute for Food and Development Policy, a California-based research group.
"Biotech seed companies have been telling farmers to not worry about the closing of international markets to genetically engineered crops, and that GE crops can be sold in the U.S. Farmers have been left in the dark about the reality of U.S. markets. Deciding to plant GE seeds is a big gamble for farmers at a time when commodity prices are at record lows...
The fact that major restaurant chains and food processors are removing
genetically engineered ingredients from their foods is very significant for farmers who
are planting genetically engineered crops this year. It sends a clear message to farmers
that food companies are quietly moving away GE crops."
Gabriela Flora, IATP Program Associate on Agriculture Biotechnologies.
US agriculture is starting to take more seriously the legal, marketing and production issues being rased by GMOs as this briefing paper (in the form of a series of 'frequently asked questions') from the Iowa State University Extension service demonstrates (April 14, 2000):
"A single kernel of corn seed that is left in the planter has the potential of producing several thousand kernels of unwanted, contaminated grain."
Asked Questions Regarding the Production of Transgenic Crops - Iowa State University
Purdue University on GM contaminaiton - Protect Corn Crop Value by Protecting Crop Identity
South Carolina farmers who follow Roundup Ready cotton with Roundup Ready soybeans may accidentally provide a refuge for boll weevils, says Clemson University entomologist Mitchell Roof. The problem is volunteer Roundup Ready cotton that grows in with Roundup Ready soybeans (5 April, 2000 -Cropchoice News):
"All it would take to produce a reinfestation in these circumstances, is to add one female boll weevil capable of laying fertilized eggs. These often get in by hitching rides on transport vehicles or even used farm equipment... as long as we have boll weevils somewhere in the US, we will need a Containment program."
Back to Back Roundup Ready
Threatens Boll Weevil Control
New Scientist on RR cotton volunteers problem
General Agronomic Problems With GM Cotton
Bt cotton pest resistance problems
The flagship GM crop - Bt cotton -
has started to hit serious problems. Although successful in controling some pests to some
degree, others are taking over in their place with the result that conventional cotton is
now marginally more profitable to grow according to University Entimologist, Professor
Jack Bacheler (North Carolina State University, March 2000):
"The Bollgard fields sustained only 41% as much boll damage from bollworms as did the conventional fields - 1.61% vs. 3.93% (Table 1). However, stink bug damage to bolls was approximately 4-fold higher in the Bollgard fields, 2.58% vs. 0.61%.....
With the overall insect-related costs and returns of the two systems so close, the importance of varietal selection, especially choosing those varieties with a 2 or 3-year history of favorable Official Variety Test results, when possible, is very important. Planting Bollgard (or stacked-Bollgard plus Roundup Ready) varieties with little or no North Carolina testing history can be risky....shifts toward higher stink bug, and sometimes plant bug, levels can be expected".
Cotton less profitable than conventional Cotton as 'stink bugs' hit back
Stink bugs emerging as major pest in Southeast cotton as GM Bt crop acreage grows - chemicals go back on
GM firm faked test figures - herbicide resistant maize
Sugar beet study exposes media manipulation by GM industry
Increasing demand for animal products from GM free feed rations by supermarkets is creating new opportunities for UK arable farmers as the market switches away from imported soya and maize which may be GM contaminated. Mark Stevens, Huish Farm, Merton, Devon, is one English farmer changing his cropping to take advantage of this market at the expense of overseas growers in countries like Brazil where commodities may be contaminated with GM elements (Farmers Weekly 31 March 2000):
"It is the first time we have had beans in the rotation. Merchants keep phoning me up offering £75/t for new crop. They have never done that before. More and more organisations are saying they do not want GM and that is affecting [animal feed] compounders".
The World Wildlife Fund has carried out a review of research on the performance of herbicide resistanct GM crops. Its report reveals that the claimed savings in pesticides arising from such crops are generally bogus (March 2000):
"Overall, the pesticide reduction benefits have been overstated, the ecological risks under researched and reported, and the economic costs and benefits miscalculated. The technology has been misrepresented in ways that suggest genetic improvement can take the place of management and skill in solving pest problems. This may explain, in part, why farmers have so readily adopted the technology to the degree they have.
In the context of strategies that reduce use of, reliance on, and risks from pesticides which WWF is pursuing, GE food crops are not an appropriate technology. These crops should not be considered part of Integrated Pest Management programs. In fact, data suggest this technology holds back the transition to IPM. Some analysts predict that GE crops will require even more pesticides than conventional crops because the insertion of transgenes may weaken the plants metabolism, rendering it less competitive with pests.
Regulators need to re-assess their licensing decisions for GE crops, since the technologies are not performing according to claims, and significant risks continue to emerge. The US EPA may be forced shortly to confront these problems with Bt corn because the existing conditional registrations lapse in April 2001. Canadian regulators should similarly undertake a re-assessment of Bt corn and other GE crops."
WWF report available
First multiple HT GM gene-flow discovered in UK OSR trials
GM Rape fails to perform as study reveals erroneous basis for UK fieldscale trials
Big Isle virus resistant papaya crops tainted
Corky Jones of the National Family Farming Coalition (NFFC), who farms 1000 acres of GM soya beans in the US state of Nebraska, switched to GM in 1998 after he was told it would increase yields and reduce environmental damage. Whilst on a visit to the UK he and his colleagues met with Liberal Democrat MSPs and Green Party MSP Robin Harper to explain their experiences (The Herald, Glasgow, February 8, 2000):
"We are not here to tell Scottish farmers what to do. We are throwing up a caution flag - we have been taken advantage of and you should not follow until there is a lot more research done.
The cry from the US is that GM crops are benefiting farmers - but that's not the case. We were told there would be better yields and less use of chemicals, which would benefit the environment. But there's no increase in yields and no increase in financial returns. Now our overseas GM market has collapsed as consumers have taken fright. If I had my time over again I would certainly not have switched to GM."
Why millions of acres of underperforming GM
crops are being grown in the USA
US GM crops meltdown progessing fast
It's getting harder and harder to find a good commercial reason for farmers to grow GM crops. Robert Swift of UK solicitor's Wilsons, Salisbury on the impact of EU consumer product liability legislation on farmers' liability to consumers for GM hazards (Wilson's Agrilaw Seminar, Winchester Guildhall, Tues 29 February 2000):
"Genetically modified crops would clearly be caught by this [product liability] legislation and producers may find themselves in difficulties even if they have taken all necessary precautions......"
As the performance of GM crops continues to dissappoint the industry is
gradually beginning to realise that there are better options. Other techniques in
biotechnology offer equal if not greater promise without the same biosafety risks that
apply with 'genetic modfication' (recombinant DNA ) technology. Under an article headline "Wheat future is in bio-tech not GM - breeder". US-based
Tom Crosbie, Monsanto's global head of plant breeding, points
to the use of gene mapping and gene marker technology as a more promising approach which
can bring substantial benefits to conventional breeding without having to use genetic
modification (Farmers Weekly, 25 February 2000, Arable Focus Supplement):
"Genetic transformation is just one particular wrench in the biotechnology tool box. We have lots of other tools to accelerate the development of new wheat varieties....It's a numbers game and ultimately non-transformation biotech offers the greatest potential. 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."
Full Farmers Weekly article and GM debate solution commentary
Although Monsanto's remarks here relate to wheat breeding, in principle the same approach is capable of being applied to all other crops. In 1998 the UK's Farmers Weekly reported (11 September) on the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Wales, where Professor Dennis Murphy of the Brassicas and Oilseeds Department of the John Innes Centre, put forward similar proposals regarding the future development of oilseed rape varieties. Professor Murphy is a global expert on the development of oilseed varieties for industrial uses. At the time Professor Murphy was quoted as saying:
"Oilseed crops can replace oil from non-renewable fossil sources and genetically modified crops need not play any role in the revolution....This approach could enhance agricultural diversity and supply us with valuable, renewable products for as long as the sun shines on the earth...This is a novel strategy that is not widely appreciated as yet. But it could provide a real alternative to the use of GMOs."
Maarten J. Chrispeels, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Division of Biology Unive of California San Diego, California 92093, Plant Physiology, September 2000, Vol. 124, pp. 3ñ6 http://www.plantphysiol.org © 2000 American Society of Plant Physiologists:
" Crop improvement through biotechnology need not be equated with transgenic plants. For example, marker-assisted breeding is a powerful biotechnology that can find widespread application with the crops of the poor. Detailed linkage maps of these crops will be tremendously useful...........Agricultural research has to start with studying farming practices ... .......The major objective has to be the productivity and profitability of smallholder farms with synergy between food crops, cash crops, livestock, agroforestry, and aquaculture with integrated management of soil, water, and nutrients (Serageldin, 1999). This goal and the process for achieving it are more important than the introduction of GM crops."
Some crops of Roundup Ready Cotton in the US have been experiencing severe systemic function problems, in some cases leading to total crop loss. This report from US agricultural extension specialists takes a closer look at the various phenomena involved ("Concerns with Roundup Ready Cotton": - Keith L. Edmisten, Extension Crop Science Specialist - Cotton; Alan C. York, Extension Crop Science Specialist - Weed Control; -North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service (1999): - posted by NLP Wessex Feb 2000):
"....Concerns with fruit abortion on Roundup Ready cotton were voiced in
Mississippi in 1997. Unfortunately, similar problems were observed in isolated fields in
North Carolina and in other states in 1998. Although weather conditions were stressful in
many areas of North Carolina in 1998, the problem was found in both drought-stressed and
suggesting the problem was not necessarily associated with stress....
Roundup-induced fruit abortion is due to poor pollination although the exact cause of
the poor pollination is unknown.......
An excessive amount of cavitation was also observed in some growers' fields planted to DPL 5415RR, DPL 5690RR, and DPL 90RR in 1998. Cavitation is caused by a "break" in the xylem water column whereby the transpiration process can no longer pull water into the boll. Cavitated bolls turn brown and dry up, but they hang on the plant for a few weeks rather than shed......
Unfortunately the exact cause of fruit abortion and the conditions that cause it are
not understood. Because problems occurred for the past two seasons in other states and
North Carolina in 1998, it is reasonable to think some problems may occur in 1999.
Hence, growers may want to consider some steps listed below to reduce their risks.
1. Some growers may decide to convert back to traditional varieties or to BXN cotton....growers can reduce their risk by not planting their entire acreage to a Roundup Ready variety. Pollination problems to some extent were observed in almost every Roundup Ready variety, including stacked [ie multiple trait - e.g RR plus Bt] varieties. There is no variety that can currently be guaranteed to not have a potential problem.....
2. Follow the directions for timing of over-the-top Roundup applications carefully. Do not apply Roundup overtop of cotton beyond the four-leaf stage.
3. Minimize the number of Roundup applications..........consider using a conventional directed herbicide on larger cotton rather than Roundup. With the exception of bermudagrass and annual grasses taller than about 1.5 to 2 inches, a standard directed herbicide will work as well as Roundup. Additionally, most of the commonly used standard directed herbicides will
provide residual weed control.
Use of soil-applied herbicides can reduce the number of Roundup applications needed. In the abscence of soil-applied herbicides, two over-the-top applications of Roundup prior to the fifth leaf stage are usually necessary..............
4. Severe cavitation has been observed mostly in DPL 560RR, DPL 90RR, and DPL 5690RR, DPL 90RR, and DPL 5415RR. Reducing the number of Roundup applications as mentioned above likely will not prevent cavitation. Growers may want to limit the number of acres planted to these varieties."
Monsanto pays millions of dollars in compensation to cotton growers for crop production problems
There is growing resentment by US farmers against what is seen as the heavy-handed marketing techniques of the GM companies, as confirmed by Steve Mattis, Illinois farmer and seed dealer (Guardian 17 February 2000):
"I've been a seed dealer for Monsanto for 18 years and this is the year we are going to have to part ways. They've forgotten that they have to serve farmers. I don't think they care who we've got to grow for. They're just concerned with making a fast buck."
'US farmers desert GM crops' - Guardian article
Oilseed rape (Canola) growers in Canada have hit major problems with herbicide resistant varieties. Wind and insects are spreading different herbicide resistant traits into standing crops meaning that crop volunteers end up being resistant to a variety of herbicides that farmers are then unable to use to control them. Some volunteers have ended up having up to three different herbicide tolerant traits in them simultaneously. It is almost impossible for farmers to determine which these are in advance of spray treatment at which point they may discover that they have wasted time and money using a spray which doesn't work.
Although the original intention of this technology was to help farmers simplify their weed management, in practice the opposite is happening. So severe is the problem that crop advisers in Alberta have been forced to introduce a nine (!) point management plan for the control of herbicide resistant canola volunteers. According to Lorne Hepworth, president of the Crop Protection Institute of Canada, this is a problem that should be on the minds of farmers when they chose crops and herbicides (Western Producer, 10 February 2000):
"Are we working hard to keep ahead of the problem - you bet."
Full story and
details of complex nine point management plan
Western Producer - Triple-resistant canola weeds found in Alta., February 10, 2000
First multiple HT GM gene-flow discovered in UK OSR trials
It's not just market rejection that is making US farmers think twice about planting GM crops in 2000, according to Emerson Nafziger, a crop scientist at the University of Illinois (Chicago Tribune Online, January 24, 2000):
"They are reading the tea leaves and seeing that there are not many advantages to genetically engineered crops, so they will perhaps go the other way."
NLP commentary on University of Kentucky Study showing no yield or cost benefits from Roundup Ready Corn
Three years after their widespread introduction the performance of Roundup
Ready soyabeans continue to dissapoint according to agricultural extension specialist Dr
Alan Blaine (January 11, 2000 agronomy notes Mississippi State University Extension
"I have spent the last several weeks reviewing as much varietal information as I could find. Consistency is a factor I emphasize, and it should be a major criteria as you formulate your selections...
After 3 years of large-scaled planting of Roundup Ready varieties, a lot of mixed thinking still exists. Although some good varieties are available, Roundup Ready varieties, as a whole, have been more variable in yield and disease reactions; key in on consistency....."
Low GM soya yields - University of
Low GM soya yields - Wisconsin study short summary
Monsanto's Modified Soya Beans are Cracking Up in the Heat - full report
Monsanto GM soya defective in hot conditions - (see last item)
Organic soya outperforms conventional soya in drought conditions
It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for farmers to get insurance cover for legal liabilities arising from GM contamination. Agricultural extension specialist Dr Erick Larson warns US farmer to think carefully about the legal implications of growing GM crops when considering produce sale contracts with their merchants (January 11, 2000 agronomy notes Mississippi State University Extension Service):
"Producers should seriously evaluate specific [corn] GMO production, handling, and marketing requirements with their market outlets before they consider planting that product. This will also likely lead to requirements for documentation of origin and/or purity, which will raise legal stakes for everyone involved."
largest farmer insured announces it will not provide GM contamination cover
EU Farmers to be liable for GM food claims
Work is underway to try and develop transgenic insecticidal cultivars for corn rootworm, a pest of US corn. How sustainable is such an approach to this type of pest control likely to be? Michael E. Gray, PhD., comments on this in his paper Prescriptive Use of Transgenic Hybrids for Corn Rootworms: An Ominous Cloud on the Horizon? , delivered at the Crop Protection Technology Conference, January 5-6, 2000, and sponsored by the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana:
"I suggest that the potential for resistance development by corn root-worms is much more acute than for European Corn borer.....even with these [resistance management] strategies in place, in my opinion, resistance will eventually develop."
Dr Guenther Stotzky, the principal author of research showing the leaking of Bt toxins into soil from GM plants and that the toxin remains in the soil as it is not easily broken down, on the lack of pre-approval testing to determine the impact of the Bt toxin's build-up in the soil on insects and other organisms:
"Now we have found it is also continuously released from the roots into the soil. The fact that the toxin is released from the roots was unexpected." (London Times, 2 Dec)
"Those studies need to be done. They should have been done a long time ago before the regulatory agencies allowed the release of these plants.'' (Reuters 1 Dec 99)
Insecticide from GM corn seeps into soil - study
Some comments from University of Missouri (MU) Ag Crop Management Conference on the problems of GM crops (3 December 1999):
"At no time since the 1960s, when Rachel Carson wrote 'Silent Spring,' have we experienced this kind of turmoil. When I look at genetic engineering and its implications, I am astounded. I have no idea what the future holds." (Tom Payne, dean of the MU College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
"I think we can relax a little bit on this GMO issue. We still have some choices. Conventional herbicides and soybean varieties are very economical...."
"We get called out more and more on drift complaints....part of the increase is attributable to the widespread use of Roundup Ready varieties...."
"Resistance in weeds is getting worse, not better. Using the same herbicide on the same weeds year after year, you have a tendency to develop resistance problems." (MU weed scientist Andy Kendig)
"We're starting to see the cotton bollworm have increased tolerance to Bt cotton. This could be a big problem for us." (MU Extension entomologist Michael Boyd)
Very hot weather can cause crop losses of up to 40 percent in
herbicide-resistant soya developed by life sciences company Monsanto according to New
Scientist magazine. In findings described to a meeting of the British Crop Protection
Council, Bill Vencill of the University of Georgia reported that stems of
virtually all the Monsanto plants split open, unlike most varieties grown in hot climates
(New Scientist 20 November 99):
"It has the potential to be quite a problem ...We saw lower heights, yields and weights in the Monsanto beans.''
According to New Scientist plants carrying these genetic alterations have been shown to produce up to 20 per cent more lignin, the tough, woody form of cellulose. Vencill says that the bacterial enzyme that imparts resistance to glyphosate affects a major metabolic pathway in the plant, and has the side effect of sending lignin production 'into overdrive'. Previously it had been thought that plants on farms affected in this way had been subject to fungal attack.
"We think it might make the plants more brittle."
Modified Soya Beans are Cracking Up in the Heat - full report
Monsanto GM soya defective in hot conditions - (see last item)
Organic soya outperforms conventional soya in drought conditions
There has been a huge rush to grow transgenic (GM) varieties in the US. But is this rush based on rational economic decision making by US farmers? Some US agronomists are not happy that it is, as these comments from Will McCarty, University of Missippi Extension Service Cotton specialist, demonstrate (October 5, 1999 Agronomy Notes):
"Before you plant transgenic varieties, be sure you need the value-added trait. Also evaluate the yields of varieties with the transgenic trait you desire, and study the risk and benefit ratio, if any. In other words, if you feel you need to plant Bt and the variety does not or has not yielded well for you or in your area, consider the risk of not using it and the potential cost of additional insect control versus potential yield loss to planting it. The same can be said for a transgenic variety for herbicide tolerance. Before you pay extra for the convenience of using a particular herbicide over-the-top, be sure the variety fits your farm and will yield well. Also, consider if you really need that particular program. ...... Plant the bulk of your acreage in proven performers and try limited acreage of new varieties. Also, transgenic varieties may not preform as well as did their parents. Just because you have had good experience with a particular variety does not mean you will have the same results with a transgenic version. Variety selection is critical."
Why millions of acres of underperforming GM
crops are being grown in the USA
Misinformed US farmers buy Bt corn seed
Hal Wilson at the Department of Entomology, Ohio State University has questioned the benefits of paying premiums to use Bt maize given that studies of European corn borer injury indicate that there was no difference in yield between Bt and non-Bt lines. According to AgBiotechNet (15 October 1999):
"This is the third year that Wilson and his colleagues have conducted comparison trials between a set of Bt-maize hybrids and their equivalent isolines at both the Western and Northwestern Branch Stations....The corn borer injury results accumulated to date from these two locations raises questions regarding the economic benefits of investing in Bt-maize hybrids if such technology must be purchased at premium prices."
economic benefit to farmers from Bt corn - University of Purdue
Problems with Bt corn including up to 40% Non-Bt-Corn Refuges to slow GM technology breakdown - University of Illinois review
The international market for genetically-modified crops is collapsing. Farmers like Dennis Mitchell from South Dakota believed GM crops were the way of the future but now he's less sure (BBC 5 October 1999):
"If the customer ultimately says they don't want it, I'll have to rethink what I'm planting."
BBC News AMERICAS GM crop warning for US farmers
The international market for genetically-modified crops is collapsing
America's Future clouded for GM crops in US
Japanese pay up to 53% premium for GM
NLP speaker at international agriculture conference in Brazil - GMOs and market economics
There are growing reports from US farmers, like the one below, that livestock are unhappy about eating GM crops. What does this tell us about the nature, utility and safety of such crops? (ACRES, USA Special Report, 18 September 1999):
'Well, if you want your cattle to go off their feed, just switch them out to a GMO silage.'
UK food chain store to freeze out meat reared on GM feed
FBI find illegal GMOs in US animal feed allegations
The Western Australian Farmers Federation is by far the largest rural lobby group and service organisation in Western Australia and has the support and backing of a majority of the region's farmers. It has released its policy decision on GMOs (Rural Press Report, September 15, 1999):
"That the Federation oppose the release of 'Genetic Modification' of both livestock and other farm produce and that we continue to promote R&D of those products by natural means."
The Western Australian Farmers Federation
Percy Smeicher, Bruno, Saskatoon, Canada, is mayor of Bruno and former MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) for his constituency in the Provincial Parliament. He is also a farmer who Monsanto have been trying to sue for allegedly growing Roundup Ready canola (oilseed rape) on his farm without a licence. He says he has never grown Roundup Ready canola, and that his land has been contaminated by neighbouring crops. In the light of this Monsanto is now suddenly taking a more sinister new tack. The case also highlights how genetic pollution through pollen spread is impossible to contain (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News Online Bruno, Sask. 9th September 1999):
"Now they're not saying I stole their seed. Now they're saying it doesn't matter how the (Monsanto canola) gets into a farmer's field. Doesn't matter if it's blown onto the field or if it's by cross-pollination. They say it's their patent and if they find it on your field they'll take your crop, they'll sue you, they'll fine you."
v Monsanto Canola pollution case - Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
GM oilseed rape pollen travels at least 4.5 km
Canadian farming rebellion against GM oilseed rape - Financial Times
Canola - problems with herbicide resistance crop in canada
GM pollen found in honey - May 2000
Gary Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer of the American Corn Growers Association, advises US farmers to consider not growing GM corn in 2000 (WASHINGTON, August 25 /PRNewswire):
"GMOs have become the albatross around the neck of farmers on issues of trade, labeling, testing, certification, segregation, market availability and agribusiness concentration. Until all these issues are answered, it is best for production agriculture to examine alternatives to planting GMOs."
Newswire report on ACGA advice to growers (see second item)
U.S. grain merchants paying up for non-GMO crops
The world's biggest biotechnololgy companies and grain processors are facing a multi-billion dollar antitrust action to be launched in up to 30 countries 1999. The unprecedented lawsuits will claim that companies such as Monsanto, DuPont and Novartis are exploiting bioengineering techniques to gain a stranglehold on agricultural markets.
The action is being brought jointly by the Foundation on Economic Trends, and the US-based National Family Farm Coalition, together with individual farmers across Latin America, Asia, Europe and North America. It will be the biggest antitrust suit ever brought, with the possible exception of that against Microsoft.
The case has literally globlal implications according to Michael Hausfeld of Cohen Milstein Hausfeld and Toll, one of the 20 US law firms that have agreed to take the cases on a "no-win no-fee" basis (Financial Times 13 Sept 99):
"By the early part of the next century, less than a handful of corporations will possess control over the entire agricultural foundation for every society. You can see the potential for market abuse and manipulation."
farmers take out record law suit against biotech companies
Big money and small genes are changing the structure of agricultureand your place in it - US Farm Journal article
Non-gm seed availability problems begin to surface in the US
Europe's largest bank, Deutche Bank, has produced two reports (one entitled 'GMOs Are Dead') in 1999 on the agricultural biotechnology industry and is now advising major institutional investors to sell their ag-biotech holdings because of the growing lack of markets for GM crops. Below are quotes from the reports (Guardian 25 August 1999):
"We predict that GMOs, once perceived as a bull case for this sector, will now be perceived as a pariah. The message is a scary one - increasingly, GMOs are, or in our opinion, becoming a liability to farmers"
"Farmers who planted Roundup Ready soya could end up regretting it."
article on Deutche Bank report
"Ag Biotech: Thanks, But No Thanks?" - full Deutsche Bank July 1999 report
When a farmer buys Monsanto seed in Canada, he or she has to sign a Technology Use Agreement and pay $15 an acre extra -- on top of the basic seed cost -- as a fee to Monsanto. The Technology Use Agreement, or TUA, prevents farmers from keeping seeds from one year to the next, forcing them to buy afresh from Monsanto every year. It also gives Monsanto the right to conduct random audits on their crops for the three years following.
Farmer Louis Hradecki didn't buy Monsanto Canada Inc. genetically modified canola seed this year because he he doesn't like Monsanto's ways of enforcing its patent on the technology used to genetically modify its Roundup Ready canola seeds (Globe and Mail 23 Aug 1999):
"We've had reservations. When you do Roundup, Monsanto has the right to inspect you for three years. It's reluctance to have these strange guys hanging around your property."
property rights violation issues associated with this technology
Non-gm seed availability problems begin to surface in the US
Dr Max Turner, a soil chemist, is a member of the Soil & Earth Sciences Group within the Institute of Natural Resources at Massey University, New Zealand (Dairy Exporter July 1999):
"Nobody has looked at the soil implications. Most of the current interest is in health and food safety issues, but no one has taken into account that GE modified crops are likely to leave a genetic imprint on land on which they are grown.
For NZ this could mean that land on which these crops grow or on which GE modified animals roam could lose value. The use of GE products could limit the versatility of the land in a similar way to what DDT use on Canterbury cropping and sheep farms has done; These farms have effectively been devalued because they can no longer be used for dairying.
No one has even thought of the implications of crop residues, from GE crops, remaining in soils after the crops have been grown and harvested....
Being part of the global agricultural community we know there are potential major risks associated with GE which are not being properly recognised in NZ at the moment. The demand for NZ's produce is based on the perception of 'clean, green' quality technology, and future profitability is likely to be tied to servicing wealthy niche markets which may be put at risk forever by use of GE products on our farms."
from GM corn seeps into soil - study
NZ Scientists warn of DDT type GM mistakes
GE crops with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) genes suspected to disturb soil ecology
A report form the University of Guelph, Canada, reveals that corn growers should not rely on Bt gm varieties for improved profits. Bt corn varieties only economically out-perform similar non-gm varieties one year in three and Bt varieties rarely outyield good conventional hybrids.
In this Novartis financed study Bt hybrids were compared with their non-Bt controls in 40 plots across Ontario in 1996 and 1997. In addition, popular conventional hybrids adapted to each area were also included. Commenting on these findings Pioneer Hi-Bred agronomist Tim Welbanks says (AgBiotechNet July 99):
"The Guelph study is probably pretty realistic. As long as borer pressures are so hard to predict, you do have to look at Bt as insurance....it isn't going to pay every year."
desperate to prevent GM Bt corn crop obsolescence
Flaws in Bt cotton resistance management programme
European consumers do not want to eat genetically modified foods. Corporate farmer and agricultural columnist David Richardson points to major changes in European agriculture in an era where guaranteed farm prices are disappearing and market forces increasingly rule (Farmers Weekly 16 July 1999):
"But in an era when guaranteed prices are disappearing and market forces increasingly rule, what else is there but to return to basics. For although it is taking a long while to dawn on some of us, we have no option, if we wish to stay in business, but to produce what the market demands."
Why consumers do not want to eat genetically
U.S. grain merchants paying up for non-GMO crops
The following are excerpts from BBC Newsnight's science correspondent Susan Watts' report on how American farmers feel they have been let down by GM agribusiness and how their initial welcome for the technology is turing to 'simmering resentment' (BBC online network 14 July 1999):
Doug Doughty, a US GM seed dealer:
" US farmers embrace technology very quickly, we want the newest thing on the market, the latest thing. I think we're just finding out that maybe this technology wasn't researched as well as it could have been.
"The Europeans were right to go slow on this. We were fed a lot of propoganda that the Europeans were just being difficult, to be against what the US were doing - but I think we're finding out that they're our customers and if they want something we should be able to deliver that."
Professor Bill Heffernan of the University of Missouri has spent 30 years tracking rural change across the states. He says people fear GM crops could end up costing them more not less, with the result that some farmers have been trying to return their GM seed:
"You just have too many late weeds coming on and so in that case you spray just as much as you would with any of the other herbicides we've been using in the last few years."
"....All of a sudden we're finding some firms are now saying they'll pay 15 to 16 cents a bushel more for Non GMOs."
Bill Christison is a conventional farmer selling into a mainstream market, yet he feels GM crops could now threaten his livelihood because of pollen contamination from neighbouring farms:
"I have a fear that even though I do not plant GMO crops my corn will be contaminated and therefore not marketable around the world. I think this is an issue that is facing a number of farmers in this country. I think that there is no doubt that there will be a rash of lawsuits - farmer against farmer if you will - to determine how they can control this Bt hybrid and keep it on their side of the fence," he says.
GE crops with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) genes suspected to disturb soil ecology
On the same subject organic farmer Klaus Martens adds:
"I'm resentful. I don't know why when someone else is contaminating my land, I should have to bear the financial burden and make all the adjustments. I certainly hope that American farmers will wake up and reject these products. It's definitely hurting American farmers. They cost us the European market, they have trapped our domestic markets for our grains and it's very obvious that they're not doing us any good."
piece in full
Why millions of acres of underperforming GM crops are being grown in the USA
Biotechnology companies are already phasing out non-GM seed sources (often ones superior in agronomic performance) in order to force farmers to use GM seed. This is because patented GM seeds allow them to apply much more onerous contractual obligations on farmers (for example restrictions which prohibit the saving of harvested seed and specify which pesticides the famer must use).
The situation has become so serious that even the US Agriculture Secretary, Dan Glickman, has become concerned about the potential for this situation to create 'serfs' out of US farmers, as indicated in the following remarks made in a speech given at the National Press Club, Washington D.C, July 13 1999:
"One of my biggest concerns is what biotechnology has in store for family farmers. Consolidation, industrialization and proprietary research can create pitfalls for farmers. It threatens to make them servants to bigger masters, rather than masters of their own domains....
For example, we're already hearing concerns from some farmers that to get some of the more highly desirable non-GMO traits developed over the years, they might have to buy biotechnology seeds....
The ability of farmers to compete on a level playing field with adequate choices available to them and without undue influence or impediments to fair competition must be preserved.....
We need to examine all of our laws and policies to ensure that, in the rush to bring biotech products to market, small and medium family farmers are not simply plowed under....
Contracts with farmers need to be fair and not result in a system that reduces farmers to mere serfs on the land or create an atmosphere of mistrust among farmers or between farmers and companies."
and Novartis threaten Irish Farmers with non-gm seed withdrawal
US corporate seed link up with UK co-op rings GM alarm bells
US farmers start to struggle to find non-gm seed varieties
The corporate takeover of corn in SE Asia
ConAgra announce GM corn marketing tie up with Monsanto June 99
ConAgra's Food Safety campaign follows GM alliance with Monsanto
European resistance to GM crops, once scorned by the US farming establishment, has now become a force to be reckoned with. Some US processors are even paying a premium for non-GM soyabeans, explains Illinois-based agricultural commentator Alan Guebert in his periodic 'Letter From Illinois' under the title 'Tide begins to turn in US against GM crops' (Farmers Weekly 2 July 99):
"Giant ag processors Archer Daniels Midland and AE Staley recently warned US farmers they would not purchase US-grown biotech maize varieties not yet approved by the European Union. And, as if to drive home the point to rock-headed biotech boosters, in early May ADM announced it would pay a $5.50 (£3.40)/t premium to farmers for non-GM soy abeans. The news rocked US farm circles, and many farmers scurried to return GM maize seed to distributors prior to early spring planting. Some seed dealers estimate as much as 20% of the GM maize seed was returned."
loses EU markets thanks to GM crops
Canadians lose EU markets thanks to GM crops
US giant food processor starts to move away from GM soya
In the same edition of Farmers Weekly UK National Farmers Union legal adviser Richard Vida comments on the legal liability and insurance implications of GM crops:
"Farmers are no longer exempt from legal action by consumers who can claim damages right down through the food supply chain after EU laws on product liability were changed recently.
In two or three years time claims made by injured parties against farmers mixing non-GM and GM feeds, for example, could be considerable. Insurance companies are aware of the issue and it may be that insurers decide the risk is too great and will not offer policies leaving farmers with no indemnity."
farmers seek compensation for seed contaminated by GM
For more information on gm food risks click here
Several seasons into the use of Roundup Ready varieties farmers in the US are finding that the technology is not proving as effective as first intended and that traditional herbicides are starting to make a comback in order to achieve target levels of weed control. There are a growing number of agronomist in the US who are starting to advise multiple applications of Roundup, or Roundup in conjunction with other herbicides, to achieve weed control targets.
The original intention of this technology was that only one application of Roundup would be necessary and no other herbicides. The quotation below from a US agronomist, Dr. Alan Blaine, concerning 'pre' herbicides (ie non Roundup pre-emergence herbicides) illustrates the developing situation (June 3, 1999 Agronomy Notes , Mississippi State University Extension Service):
"I had someone tell me the other day, they just could not understand why anyone would use metribuzin under Roundup Ready soybeans. Well, I can think of one good reason, and it is called 'teaweed.' Roundup needs some help on some weeds, and teaweed is one weed not very difficult to control with a pre herbicide.
Another problem has been an ability to spray when needed. I am reluctant to admit it, but we have had to apply conventional herbicides on several Roundup Ready fields because of windy conditions. Given the amount of problems many have had spraying Roundup, pre herbicides will probably play a much bigger role in the future."
The failings of herbcide resistant crops
Gerry Fowler, grain merchant with Manna International, Canada, on farmer dissatisfaction with GM Roundup Ready (RR) soya and corn in Canada (correspondence with NLP Wessex, 19 May 1999):
"During my last meeting with one of my farmer groups we discussed in detail this GMO benefit fallacy. Seed costs are higher, technology fees cost more and yields are down (about 10% quoted by most in this area). Our calculations suggest a 25% reduction in revenue potential for the privilege of growing Roundup Ready soybeans.
We recently heard about 6 truck loads of RR corn seed that was being shipped to the US
as it was not selling here. Interesting, given that the seed merchant stated they
had sold out around Christmas time last year! If that was the case there were a
large group of farmers that did not pick up their seed this year. Reasons being
stated was that it didn't make financial
sense to grow RR corn without even considering the overall GMO issue."
Canadian seed authorities manipulate oilseed rape trials criteria to secure approval for inferior GM varieties
Farmers are likely to get lower prices for GM varieties following the announcement by US giant grain merchant Archer Daniels Midland that it is paying a premium to growers of a non-GM soya variety on an anticipated 10 million acres in the US in 1999. This approach is likely to be reflected in other product markets according to Martin Farrow of the UK's United Oilseeds (Farming News, 14 May 1999):
"If it means there is a worldwide demand for non-GM oilseed then there could be premiums for UK rape."
US giant food processor starts to move away from GM soya
Dr Jeremy Sweet, National Institute of Agricultural Botany's head of chemistry and plant pathology, on a trial of GM oilseed rape trial near Cambridge, UK, where the GM rape had cross pollinated with wild turnips growing in a neighbouring field to create a hybrid rape/turnip plant. Some of the hybrid plants had proved resistant to herbicides when tested (Farmers Weekly, 23 April 1999):
"Some of these hybrids have remained viable and could breed. In theory these
wild plants, which colonise canal banks and field edges, could act as a reservoir for
modified genes that could then cross pollinate with commercial crops in the
And on the need for farmers to widen the range of chemicals they use to deal with resulting herbicide resistant weeds (despite Dr Sweet not perceiving this as 'a great problem'):
"....We can always spray the hybrid with a different herbicide that the plant remains susceptible to."
Independent agronomist Dr Charles Benbrook, author of the book "Pest Management at the Crossroads" and former Executive Director of the Board on Agriculture for the US National Academy of Sciences, on the failings of GM Roundup Ready herbicide resistant crops in the US (SANET-mg Discussion Group 17 March 1999):
"......Every independent set of data, recent analysis of RR beans I have seen reaches the same conclusion; the technology increases costs somewhat, but imposes a "price" farmers are willing to pay for the simplicity/robustness of the weed management system. Oplinger et al. end their paper saying: 'It is anticipated that soybean growers will continue to increase acres planted to RR varieties and will sacrifice yield for ease of weed control.' They will also sacrifice some net income per acre.
This is a perfectly rational reason for farmers to adopt the technology; weed management is probably the number one management challenge all soybean farmers face. Monsanto should not be ashamed to cite these reasons in explaining why the technology is being adopted. But Monsanto needs to drop the "feeding the world", "lowering costs", "lowering pesticide use" claims because they do not hold water and will undermine, further, the reputation of the corporation, and in so doing feed the already considerable cynicism abroad about the trustworthiness of this company.....
.....As weed shifts continue in areas planted heavily to RR beans, and as resistance spreads to additional weed species (the first signs of tolerant weeds are appearing in several states), farmers will have to increase rates of Roundup applications and intensify use of other active ingredients, to fill gaps in control. Costs will rise, the income squeeze will get even worse.
Contrary to a Monsanto scientist's claim on the NPR piece, Roundup does not kill everything green except for transgenic crop varieties. If that were the case, most farmers using RR systems would not be applying at least 2, and on many farms, three additional active ingredients."
More information on failings of herbcide
US Farmers start to turn away from GM crop
SANET- mg Dicussion Group
Low GM soya yields - University of Wisconsin
Low GM soya yields - Wisconsin study short summary
Low yields from GM crops - NIAB trials
Why millions of acres of underperforming GM crops are being grown in the USA
Genetically engineered insecticide Bt crops have been hitting a lot of problems. It has been recommended that farmers in some US states plant at least 50% of their crop in non-Bt varieties in the case of corn in order to try and stop the rapid development of pest resistance and the break down of the technology. Dr Erick Larson comments on the yield and agronomic track record of Bt corn varieties in Mississippi. Even after several seasons of commercial use he regards the technology as unproven and recommends against using it except on a trial basis (Missippi State University Extension Service, Agronomy Notes 15 March, 1999):
"Bt corn hybrids are an unproven technology in the South. Bt corn should effectively control Southwestern and European corn borers and have moderate control on corn earworms and fall armyworms. However, data does not support whether hybrids containing this technology will yield well and have the agronomic characteristics similar to the best conventional hybrids in Mississippi. Considering the significant problems experienced with transgenic traits in other crops during the last several years, growers should be extremely cautious of any unproven technology. I do not recommend using Bt corn, except on a trial basis (one or two bags), unless a severe corn borer problem existed in your immediate area last year."
refuges to increase to minimum 50% in southern US to fight GM pest technology breakdown
Flaws in Bt resistance management programme
Bt Impacts on Soil Microbial Communities Needs Further Study
Peter Faulkner, President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Rural Practice Division (the RICS is one of the largest professional bodies in the world and its members manage most of the land in the United Kingdom) on the potentially damaging effects on agricultural land values of growing GM crops (Scotsman newspaper 11 March 1999) :
"Banks and purchasers want to know where GM crops have been grown. In the event there turns out to be a problem with GM crops, banks may come back to our members and say the collateral has gone down and no mention was made before the sale that these crops were there.
These are conditions which affect the market ... we do not get into the whole GM crop debate, but our customers dictate the market and we must work with it. Having said that, the issue of transgenic crops - those engineered in a way which nature simply could not replicate - could offer an even bigger challenge to the industry because nobody knows what the effect will be. I think a lot of farmers will take a very conservative and cautious view of these types of crops."
Chartered Surveyor Monthly on GMO farming problems
European GM land registers vital says ESCS
Tesco to ban produce from GM trial sites
In an apparent reference to the low yields from GM varieties previously
reported by Farmers Weekly's own US correspondent, University of Arkansas weed scientist
Dr Ford Baldwin reveals (Farmers Weekly 5 March 1999) that:
"Growers have been happy with the weed control but disappointed with the varieties."
But Dr Baldwin, also elaborates further in the article indicating that there
may, after all, be weed control problems as well:
"There are several species of weed which, if the timing is wrong, can't be controlled at all. Glyphosphate is not a one shot solution."
Farmers Weekly reports that Monsanto recommends two treatments with Roundup
during the first two weeks after crop emergence to hit tough weeds while they are small,
but Dr Baldwin warns that:
"... species shifts will happen very quickly for weeds with an extended germination period, especially if growers fall into the trap of continuous use of glyphosphate."
According to Farmers Weekly other companies recommend one glyphosphate-type treatment plus an alternative control, usually a soil applied pre-emergence herbicide.
Cyanamid claim yield losses of up to $43 per acre
with Monsanto's GM Soya
Monsanto's GM soyabean hit by fungus outbreak
Low GM soya yields - University of Wisconsin
Low GM soya yields - Wisconsin study short summary
Mike Marshall-Hollingsworth, East Anglian spokesman for the NFU commenting on pollen research and worries about GM trials (Eastern Daily Press, Wednesday, 3rd March 1999):
"The organic growers are right. They have an absolute right to have their livelihoods protected."
GM maize pollination risk
Monsanto's genetically modified Bovine Growth Hormone (rBST) has been injected into dairy cows in the US since 1994 in attempt to increase milk production. However a paper by L. J. Butler of the University of California-Davis reveals that the product rarely produces higher profits for dairy farmers (AgBioforum, Vo.2, No 2, Spring 1999):
"To date, only two studies have been published on the profitability of rBST use on dairy farms. These studies, carried out by Tauer and Knoblauch (1997) and Stephanides and Tauer (1999) on New York dairy farms, found that the use of rBST significantly increased milk production per cow, but the impact on profits was not statistically different from zero....
Since the profitability of rBST is still uncertain and, in any case, not startlingly spectacular, and since the adoption of this new technology has been slow to moderate, and appears to have reached a plateau for the time being, then we must conclude that it has probably had very little impact on the competitive position of adopters vis-à-vis non-adopters."
Monsanto withhold data on effects of BST on cattle health
Hampshire seed merchant Robin Appel commenting on a new variety of non-genetically soya his company has developed for growing in the UK, and the huge commercial opportunities for UK farmers being generated by consumer demand for food sources which are non-genetically modified (Independent 20 February 1999):
"We have talked to a number of food manufacturers and chicken and turkey producers. And the fact is the first of those white meat producers who can go and say that their animals are fed on non-GM soya is going to get a ton of business....I would doubt anyone's claims to have sourced non-GM soya from the US."
Northern Soya - Robin
Appel's GM-free soya seed for British farmers
US giant food processor starts to move away from GM soya
Vincent Moye, a farmer in Reinbeck, Iowa, on the gradual phasing out of traditional varieties so that farmers are forced to buy genetically modified varieties whether they want them or not (Washington Post, 3 February 1999):
"Every year I get catalogues from the seed salesmen, and more and more varieties have the Roundup Ready gene even though I don't need it. The government's looking at Microsoft too hard. This is a bigger monopoly. We're all gonna be serfs on our own land."
Monsanto also trying to establish its control over water
About 190 farmers in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina have hired attorneys to represent them in a legal dispute with Monsanto. They contend that genetically modified cotton seed was rushed to market without adequate testing and, when Monsanto began receiving complaints in 1997, misled growers and agriculture officials about the extent of the problem.
Brooks County grower Andrew Thompson said he felt like a failure when nearly a quarter of his cotton crop withered in the field last year, costing him about $250,000 (Augusta Chronicle 25 January 1999):
"When you have strangers riding up and down the highway and see this sorry crop, they say, `This is a sorry farmer'. It's straining emotionally."
Steve Brown, a University of Georgia cotton specialist, said university researchers tested the Paymaster 1220 seed (Bollgard and Roundup Ready) in 1997, noticed problems such as deformed roots and warned growers not to use it. Nevertheless, Georgia farmers, eager to reduce costs and to use the new technology, used Paymaster to plant about 18 percent of the state's 1.3 million acre cotton crop.
A GM herbicide resistant oilseed rape variety has turned up on land in Alberta that had never grown it before thanks to cross pollination from neighbouring crops. This resulted in the farmer concerned being unable to kill rape volunteers after harvest despite using two applications of glyphosphate, as the volunteers were resistant to it. According to Phil Thomas, Alberta Agriculture's provincial oilseed specialist (Farmers Weekly 15 January 1999):
"Just because you're not growing herbicide-resistant canola (oilseed rape), it does not mean you can't get herbicide-resistant volunteers. It may be a bit of a headache to know what your neighbour grows and to plan your strategy accordingly".
Affected farmer Tony Huether who has been growing the herbicide resistant rape elsewhere on the farm.
"Monsanto never made farmers aware of the possibility of this
happening when we signed the TUA (Technical Use Agreement). It's not that easy a problem
to solve when direct seeding and planting a wide range of crops."
According to the Farmers Weekly article Mr Heuther and Mr Thomas say the addition of any broadleaf herbicides, such as 2,4-D can control unexpected GM herbicide tolerant volunteers, but Mr Huether worries about the effects of 2,4-D residues on broad leaved crops and loathes handling the more toxic chemical. Farmers are not getting all the facts they need on GM crops, he fears. Mr Heuther had been growing three types of canola each resistant to a different herbicide (glyphosphate, ammonium gluphosinate and imazethapyr) forcing him to switch to a fourth herbicide to control volunteers.
David Richardson, UK Farmers Weekly columnist and Director of Sentry Farming, on the likely contribution of genetically modified crops to feeding a growing world population (Farmers Weekly 8 January 1999):
"Genetic modification, if we are allowed to use it, is the great white hope. But research seems to suggest such developments are more likely to provide environmental and industrial benefits than significantly higher yields. Which if correct, leaves farmers with the task of increasing food supplies from techniques which are already known and developed."
technology will damage third world farming - Christian Aid
British scientists - Organic farming can 'feed the world' - Sept 99
World hunger myths
Thailand To Ban Altered Seeds
Organic soya outperforms conventional soya in drought conditions
Dr Alan Blaine (Missippi State University Extension Service, Agronomy Notes 8 January, 1999):
"After 2 years of large-scaled planting of Roundup Ready varieties, a lot of mixed emotions have surfaced. Although some good varieties are available, Roundup Ready varieties, as a whole, have been much more variable in yield and disease reaction."
According to Farmers Weekly US columnist Alan Guebert many farmers have complained that Roundup soyabeans cost them 270 - 470kg of yield/ha (4-7 bushels/acre) in 1998 compared with conventional varieties. Guebert quotes one Midwestern grower on Monsanto's decision to reduce the price of Roundup in 1999, but to increase the price of Roundup Ready soyabean seed (Farmers Weekly 11 December 1998):
"The actual cost for me is about $3 to $4/acre more than last year. If I have to pay more - and the beans cost me yield like they did this year - I won't be planting more Roundup Ready seed next year."
Adds another farmer from central Illinois who produced more than 700 acres of soyabeans in 1998:
"I love Roundup ready soyabeans. They come out the ground looking great, they grow rapidly and my weed control program is easy with the single treatment of Roundup. But I can't afford to leave $30 per acre in the field. I've got certain land where I need to attack tough weeds with Roundup. So I'll plant Roundup beans on those fields. Everything else, though, I'll plant with conventional seed."
start to turn away from GM crop
Cyanamid claim yield losses of up to $43 per acre with Monsanto's GM Soya
After last years multi-million dollar compensation pay outs to Mississipi Delta farmers after their genetically engineered cotton crops became inexplicably deformed, and the low yields reported from Arkansas, reports from US farmers this year are already indicating that some farmers are again experiencing problems. This time root deformity appears to be showing up in fields planted with Roundup Ready cotton. One US farmer, who has asked to remain anonymous, realized that only the portions of his fields planted with Roundup Ready cotton were adversely affected. By mid-July approximately 600 acres of his Roundup Ready acres were not performing even as his conventional seed continued to grow relatively well under the oppressive plains heat. He pulled up some of each type, conventional and transgenic, only to discover that the root systems on the Roundup Ready varieties differed dramatically from the conventional norm ("The Gene Exchange" Union of Concerned Scientists, Autumn 1998):
"In some plants the roots are so deformed, it is like putting a kink in a water hose. The plants just don't seem to be getting any water or nutrients."
Low yields from GM cotton
After he started talking to his neighbors about his findings, he found others with similar problems. Steve Lee, another long-time cotton farmer from Lubbock County watched his Roundup Ready cotton come up and in spite of adequate irrigation, his plants began to lean, eventually falling over and breaking off at the base of the stalks.
"In all my 36 years of farming I have never seen anything like this. The roots are deformed, in some there is a good taproot but no feeder roots, and in others there are feeder roots but only on one side..."
Monsanto pays millions in compensation to US GM "Roundup-Ready" cotton growers
Percy Smeicher, Bruno, Saskatoon, Canada, is mayor of Bruno and former MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) for his constituency in the Provincial Parliament. He is also a farmer who Monsanto is suing for allegedly growing Roundup Ready canola without a licence. He says he has never grown Roundup Ready canola, and that his land has been contaminated by neighbouring crops (Western Producer November 98) :
"It's in the ditches and the roadsides; it's in the shelterbelts; it's in the gardens; it's all over We're just touching the tip of the iceberg in contamination of fields by this Roundup genetic canola It just opens up a vast area of uncertainty."
GM pollution case
Chartered Surveyor Monthly on GMO farming problems and litigation
Canadian NFU fights 'genetic pollution'
Updates and details on Percy
Smeicher V Monsanto law suit
See photo of surviving volunteer GM canola plants in Canada after spraying with Roundup!
Strict contracts will dictate production methods and severely limit the farmer's share of any added value the new crops offer to food processors and retailers, according to Friedrich Vogel, head of BASF's crop protection business (Farmers Weekly 6 November 1998):
"Farmers will be given just enough to keep them interested in growing the crops, but no more. And GM companies and food processors, will say very clearly how they want the growers to grow the crops."
and Novartis threaten Irish Farmers
Australian Farmers concerned about biotechnology 'pariahs'
GM could 'impoverish poor farmers'
US farmers take out record law suit against biotech companies
Big money and small genes are changing the structure of agriculture - and your place in it - US Farm Journal article
Corporate Agribusiness Research Project - Web site resource
Bob Shapiro, Chief Executive of Monsanto, admitting that the effects of genetic engineering are unknown and "to some degree" unknowable (SWF News interview, San Francisco, 27 October):
"But we realize that with any new and powerful technology with unknown, and to some degree unknowable - by definition - effects, then there necessarily will be an appropriate level at least, and maybe even more than that, of public debate and public interest."
EU proposes farmer liability for GMO hazards
Canola (oilseed rape) resistant to Roundup herbicide has turned up in a northern Alberta farm in Canada where none was recently planted. On Tony Huethers farm near Sexsmith, the Roundup-tolerant trait appears to have been transferred through pollen movement to canola in a neighboring field. Tony Huethers tried to spray his canola volunteers twice with Roundup, but it didn't kill them (Western Producer, 15 October 1998):
"I was seeing pretty viable canola plants before and was wondering what was happening. Even before the second application, I was wondering if the Roundup was doing the job. I sprayed it and it was the same story. They just kept going."
And in a related story in the same edition Gary Stringam, a University of Alberta professor who conducted canola pollination studies when he was with Agriculture Canada in Saskatoon during the 1970s, said it was just a matter of time before volunteer herbicide-resistant canola from cross-pollination appeared on the Prairies:
"With more herbicide-tolerant canola being grown on the Prairies farmers will need to be more vigilant about where their canola is grown, what herbicides they use and what types of canola their neighbors grow."
Canadians lose EU markets thanks to GM crops
NC-205 is a regional research committee supported by Land Grant Universities, USDA-CSREES and ARS. It is comprised of scientists from 20 US states, Mexico and Canada who have conducted research on stalk-boring pests since 1954.
The supplement to: "Bt Corn & European Corn Borer: Long-Term Success Through Resistance Management, NCR-602," published by its Regional Research Committee, NC-205, October 1998, identifies wider concerns regarding the negative impact on beneficial insects arising from the adoption of Bt corn varieties:
"Because of the extensive acreage that may be planted to Bt corn in the near future, this technology has potential to have widespread and lasting impacts on beneficial insects. One concern involves the effect of substantial local or regional declines in the natural enemy prey base that could result from widespread adoption of Bt corn. Additionally, direct Bt toxicity to natural enemies has recently been suggested (Hilbeck et al. 1998a, 1998b). These effects could ripple through other crops and habitats in unpredictable ways."
effects of Bt corn pollen on the Monarch butterfly
Non-target effects of Bt corn pollen on the Monarch butterfly
Because of the extra cost of the GM seed most farmers growing Bt Corn will not gain any economic benefit: Report on the Economics of BT Corn and its adoption Implications (University of Purdue, October 1998):
"For the average Indiana farmer, the results of the study reported in this publication suggest that current premiums charged for Bt seed are higher than the expected value of the protection offered by the seed."
Dan Hinderliter, corn product manager for Novartis Seeds, revealing that Bt embedded insecticide GM varieties have been commercially introduced without proper research on the rapid build up of Bt pesticide resistance in target species (Novartis press release 21 September 1998):
"We didn't make an IRM [Insect Resistance Management] recommendation until the scientific community developed a research-based recommendation.But once they reached a consensus, we quickly adopted their recommendations as our own. Today, those guidelines remain the best available, so for 1999 we continue to encourage our customers to follow that resistance management program."
And on Novartis' financial incentives to farmers to ensure at least 20% (40% if
insecticides are used) of maize crops are planted as non GM varieties to provide refuge
areas for target pests to prevent rapid pest resistance development, in order to prevent
the technology from failing only a few years after its introduction:
"This year, we're going one step further by rewarding customers who chose to follow our IRM program. Called the Bt Stewardship Program, the financial incentive varies based on the quantity of NK Brand YieldGard(R) or KnockOut(R) corn seed purchased. Growers who buy a significant amount of Bt seed will receive substantial savings if at least 20 percent of their order includes non-Bt hybrids. With this program, we're offering to share IRM stewardship responsibilities with our customers so we can preserve this technology for years to come."
desperate to prevent GM Bt crop obsolescence
Monsanto's complex crop management requirements for growers to try and stop rapid pest resistance build-up in GM cotton
EPA Requires Large Bt Refuges
Bt corn refuges to increase to minimum 50% in southern US to fight GM pest technology breakdown (April 99)
GM pest technology collapsing - BBC (May 99)
Non-target effects of Bt corn pollen on the Monarch butterfly
Andrew Davis, Country Landowners Association Regional Director, Berks, Bucks, Hants and Oxon (Hampshire Chronicle, 11 September 1998):
"As the arguments become ever more polarised, what are we to make of it all? I started with the assumption that genetic engineering is simply an extension of selective breeding and therefore harmless, but the more I read and listen, the more I change my view.
It may be years before we know all the facts and the implications of its use. At present, decisions about the licensing of GMOs are largely based on the research carried out by the applicants themselves, the makers and plant breeders. Amid evidence that the results of such research have been manipulated, this cannot be acceptable.
Perhaps the most telling argument is that once new genetic material has been released into the environment, there is no way of putting it back into the Pandora's box if we do not like its impact.
Even if one accepts the claims of the doom-mongers with a healthy degree of scepticism, there still must be risks. It must make sense to continue extensive research, but to confine it to the laboratory and not allow the release of genetically modified material into the environment until we know a great deal more about the potential drawbacks."
Dr Phil Dale, John Innes Institute, Norwich (Farmers Weekly, 4 September 1998):
" ...if numerous different herbicide tolerant crops are grown, each giving resistance to a different herbicide, then major weed problems could develop. A management policy for handling GM crops in commercial situations is essential."
resistance problems in Roundup Ready crops - Iowa State University
More weed resistance problems in Roundup Ready crops - Iowa State University
Kerr Walker, head of agronomy at Scottish Agricultural College, Aberdeen, on the potential fallout from developing transgenic creations that introduce genes from very different species (Time Magazine 24 August 1998):
"Can you say it's safe? It's impossible to predict an unknown."
Simon Ward, farm business consultant and director of research at property consultants Bidwells on GMO environmental risks (Farmers Weekly 14 August 1998):
"Some of the most serious 'natural disasters' in the world have been a consequence of introducing new organisms into a different environment.....GMOs are new varieties in the environment and there must be at least a risk of loss."
"Plants also cross pollinate....unless the same controls are put in place that prevents cross-pollination of seed crops contamination of conventional crops with GMO pollen is a real possibility. That could be an important consideration for some markets. Worse still, if something unpredictable did occur, it may be difficult or even impossible to prevent further spread. The problem could remain for ever."
Promiscuity in transgenic plants - Iowa State University
Cornish Farmer Michael Hart, during his tour of the South West with the "Keep Britain Farming" roadshow, reporting that on top of the 'anti' agenda at every location visited was genetically modified food (Blackmore Vale Magazine, Dorset, 14th August 1998):
"The worrying thing is that most people seem to think farmers are pushing forward the genetic agenda rather than the big agrochemical corporations ...."
Andrew Connah, senior consultant with advisory group Axient, on the growing importance of animal feed traceability being demanded by supermarket buyers and the various farm assurance schemes (Farmers Weekly 24th July 1998):
"The pressure will be increased by the controversy over genetically modified soya. It may not be acceptable to your milk buyer."
Roger Turner, Chairman of SCIMAC (Supply Chain Initiative on Modified Agricultural Crops), on potential management problems from GM herbicide resistant crops (Farmers Weekly 31st July 1998):
"Practical management guides on rotation and herbicide use are needed, to avoid anything silly happening, like using the same herbicide tolerance in two consecutive years."
Bill Christison, president of US National Family Farm Coalition, who operates a 2,000 acre farm producing soybeans, corn, wheat, hay and cattle, at Chillicote, Missouri, on the realities of GM soya crops (First Grassroots Gathering on Biodevastation: Genetic Engineering. St Louis, Missouri 18th July 1998):
"The promise was that you could use less chemicals and produce a greater yield. But let me tell you none of this is true.
The first problem . . . they wanted us to sign a production contract which limited what
we could do with our production. It is our practice to produce our own seed for the
following year's planting. Because the contract forbids this, it would have cost us 3
times as much for seed. And, then, there's a problem of paying for a patenting fee of
several dollars per bag. We found
chemical cost for our farm would escalate to a minimum of twice as much and we should not be applying less chemical, but actually more chemical. Then, we found GMO seed actually produces a lower yield because of the varieties that had been altered.
Last year's yield book in Missouri printed by Pioneer Seed Co., a seed company with 45% of the market, shows a 5 bushels per acre average reduction in yield from GMO varieties.
A further problem . . . we have weeds that are resistant to Roundup already.
The acceptance of GMOs by the U.S. farmer is predicated by the fact that farmers are hard pressed to survive financially, and have become acclimated to the idea that new technology is good technology.
There is collusion across the United States between USDA, our land grant university systems and the Monsanto's of the world to facilitate this new world order which will bring about the globalization and industrialization of agriculture.
One of our problems is the revolving door effect at USDA where corporate bosses have
unlimited access and serve in important government positions of authority. They then go
back to the board rooms of corporations to further exert their influence. It is the
mandate of our land grant universities to do research and development on improving crops
and better animal
However, little work is being done to introduce new and improved public varieties. In fact, our land grant university system has become little more than an extension of the corporate laboratories."
Cyanamid claim yield losses of up to $43 per acre with Monsanto's GM Soya
India's agriculture scientists are trying to stop the import of the 'Terminator,' a gene developed by U.S biotechnologists, which they say threatens the livelihood of 400 million farmers and food security in India (NEW DELHI, Jul 15 1998 IPS).
Dr. R.S. Paroda, director-general of the prestigious Indian Council of
Agricultural Research (ICAR):
"We will not allow the Terminator to enter this country,"
Plant biotechnology project-director at ICAR, Dr. R.P. Sharma:
"The seeds may give a good crop in the first year of sowing but farmers who try to store crops for replanting will find that they are sterile -- and this will make them completely dependent on seed companies."
There is a large vacuum of independent testing and reliable information on GM
crops, which is causing a situation where US farmers are adopting GM crops without
objective economic and husbandry justification according to Professor Charles Hagedorn,
Virginia Tech University (Crop and Soil Environmental News, May 1998):
"As growers make decisions this year about whether or not to try the new transgenic cotton varieties, they should remember that most of the new transgenics have not been through several years of public testing that is 'standard practice' with new conventional cotton varieties. This situation is as true for other transgenic crops (e.g. soybeans and corn) as it is for cotton."
Why millions of acres of underperforming GM crops are being grown in the USA
Lucy Morgan-Edwards, Country Landowners Association agricultural land-use adviser, (CLA magazine July 1998):
"...Swiss government research indicates that pest resistant GM maize may be killing lacewing insects, natural predators of the corn borer, as well as the pest itself.
Neither is it clear that the promised "reduced input" possibilities can be sustained into the longer term. Experiments have shown that GM could actually lead to greater dependence on agro-chemicals, as plants and insects evolve resistance more rapidly in response to the "built-in" presence of a pesticide/herbicide in GM seeds."
"....There is also concern about aspects of the regulatory system. The Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes gives safety clearance for GM food products, and, although it requires assessment of "known" toxins and allergens, there is no requirement for general toxicity testing (designed to pick up "new" toxins) similar to that used for pharmaceuticals. ...[A Japanese company] is now in the throes of a $2 billion lawsuit following claims that [a food supplement manufactured using GM technology] was implicated in the deaths of some 36 people and the disability of some 1500 others."
Tryptophan GMO toxicity incident - $2 billion in claims for deaths and disease
Adrian Ling of UK Plamil Foods, reacting to demand for non-GM soya currently trading at a 10-15% premium and Hampshire merchant Robin Appel's plans to expand the UK non-GM soya crop to 50,000 tonnes by 2000, providing growers with a predicted 35% increase in profitability ("gross margin") compared with dried peas in 2000 (Farmers Weekly 17th July 1998):
"You grow the crop, and we will buy it. The market is enormous."
"... extreme caution is necessary in the face of a major innovation which has, as yet, unknown effects."
"....the current European regulatory framework has been proven to be unadapted. It does not stipulate notions of risk or common methods of evaluation; a serious problem which threatens to develop is the independence of experts in an area where vigilance is at stake. In vegetal biotechnology, competence is largely between the hands of the industry actors; among researchers in public institutions, it is rare to find those who do not work in partnership with industry."
Full Text of INRA report (in French)
French farmers protest against introduction of gm crops
French supermarket chain boycotts suppliers who do not label GM foods
"The artificial nature of GM does not automatically make it dangerous. It is the imprecise way in which genes are combined and the unpredictability in how the foreign gene will behave that results uncertainty. In a post-BSE era it should be logical to think twice about using a technology that blatantly violates well established natural boundaries. Unfortunately, people are rushing into the field with a badly thought through technology."
Full "Talking Point" article
"Remember BST and PST, those miracle products that increased the yield of cows and shortened the time-span between parturition and processing of pigs? Where are they now? Who uses them? Did we really miss out by not being able to use them in the EU?
These products were passe before they got into full production. Consumers feared them, retailers fought shy of them and producers wondered why they should go to extra expense to use them. They faded away.
GMOs look like going the same way. One supermarket has banned them, others now require written assurances that foods are GMO-free. The Government, meanwhile, has announced that the presence of GM maize and soya must be declared on the label - a clear admission that there are doubts.
Six of the 28 GMO field experiments checked last year broke the terms of their consents. Cross-pollination in brassicas is already a problem and the first GMO soya beans appear to have been less profitable for farmers than suppliers. Almost half the growers found yields disappointing, while bigger savings in herbicide could have been obtained by conventional means.
None of which augers well for the future."
Government report on toxic effects of BST
Covered up US study shows damage to rats from BST
Monsanto's complex crop management requirements for growers to try and stop rapid pest resistance build-up in GM cotton
"We now have material bred by Soyanorth in Belorussia for the same latitude as the UK."
"....We are also working with human consumption companies that are desperate for non-GM UK soya."
"Initially I thought that growing this type of rape would considerably improve the environment, as we could control all the weeds in a crop with a chemical which is totally safe to the operator and the environment. But I now believe that not enough is known about these crops, and they should not be grown in a farming situation."
Insurance risks from genetic engineering
"Agronomically I didn't like the variety. It was harder to swath and yield potential was lower. I can't see me putting all my rape in Roundup Ready when my net costs are about the same. Ultimately it's going to come down to yield potential."
"....herbicide tolerance is not a panacea. The farmer's not saving any money, so its not a straight-forward decision."
" A single herbicide resistant gene replaces chemicals. Simple, right? Also, it fits the produce-it-first, worry-about-selling-it-latter approach to many farm markets."
"[Output trait technology] is much more complicated. First you have to find a market for the genetically enhanced crop before you can even grow it. Then you must genetically 'build' the seed, an extremely complex process because there are hundreds of thousands of genes in the plant genome and we know very little how these genes work together."
"It all sounds very good and quite interesting, but the tricky part - gene identification and application - is yet to come. And sometimes it's hard to fool Mother Nature."
"Our challenge is to find the benefit to consumers. If there is no benefit to them, why should they take an unknown risk?"
Professor Charles Hagedorn, Virginia Tech University (Crop and Soil Environmental News, March 98):
"According to Bruce Tabashnik, University of Arizona, excitement over the success of Bt plants 'must be tempered with an admission of ignorance' on how to effectively manage pest resistance to ensure long term durability of the approach...."
"Thus a recent study conducted by a team led by Fred Gould of North Carolina State University may be a turning point in Bt research because it provides the first direct estimate of the field frequency of Bt-resistant insects. The investigators reported that in tobacco budworms (Heliothis virescens), a major cotton pest, 1 in 350 individuals carried an allele for resistance to the Bt toxin. This estimate is considerably higher than those assumed in earlier theoretical models, and thus forebodes a swift evolution of resistant insect populations...."
"However, the current Bt cotton has less resistance to other pests such as cotton bollworm and European corn borer, and thus the authors predict a boom cycle of only 3-4 years for this variety. Again Tabashnik puts it elegantly -'Nothing will be gained and much can be lost if we pretend to know more about resistance management than we really do'.
..."regulatory controls do not take sufficient account of all the potential environmental post-release hazards and their implications when genetically modified plants are grown on a commercial scale."
"In general, it can be said that scientists do not have a complete understanding of natural ecosystems. It is therefore impossible to predict accurately the effects of large scale releases of genetically modified organisms."
Biodiversity impact of herbicide resistant crops - Iowa State University
"At first we thought it was a joke, but I have heard it enough now that we are looking into what could be going on."
"These trials demonstrate that many growers are seeing a different economic picture than was anticipated from the Roundup Ready soybean program.''
"The importance of these findings cannot be overstated because of the impact on U.S. growers' profitability. Without early-season residual control, the soybean crop does not have the ability to withstand the weed competition and produce to its maximum yield potential.''
Cyanamid claim yield losses of up to $43 per acre with Monsanto's GM Soya
"Doubts over the long-term efficacy and safety of genetically modified organisms are growing. Evidence that modified oilseed rape cross-pollinates with weeds to produce herbicide resistant plant populations over a mile from the field boundary ought to be enough to make the most die-hard scientist take stock. From an agronomic point of view, it means that if we adopt varieties engineered to tolerate one specific agrochemical we could, in a relatively short time, be obliged to use ever newer and more expensive molecules to combat resistance.
From an economic standpoint, that increases the cost, and makes the resultant product still less marketable. Some supermarkets have already dampened the ardour for GMOs by demanding assurances from suppliers that their products are GMO-free. As a result, British Sugar will not buy GM-beet and Britain's bakers insist on GM-free grain, cooking oil and soya flour.
There's no doubt GMOs are the way forward. But there is no point rushing out with varieties that create as many problems as they cure. Customers need more reassurance - and that can only come from far more extensive trialing and testing."
"However, in the case of Liberty Link products, farmers will be using a chemical which is not currently used for volunteer control."
Who are AgrEvo?
"I think we have to assume that we will get herbicide-tolerant volunteers. Their numbers are related to the amount of seed shed by the crop. In sugar beet this is low but we do get bolters. We may find we need to be controlling bolters to limit pollen spread rather than seed return and this may be much more difficult to manage. With oilseed rape the rate of seed return can be very high."
Scientist - rape cross pollination
Sugar beet study exposes media manipulation by GM industry
"The biggest problem with GM crops, particularly rape but possibly the others as well, is the risk of a seed bank building-up in the soil due to seed dormancy. Shed seed must not be buried."
"Cross pollination is a worry, but so far there is no concrete evidence that GM crops have ever contaminated non-modified plants or wild species. [N.B Factually incorrect. Follow links below for actual position - NLP Wessex Webmaster] Until detailed research has been done we must rely on isolation to prevent any potential trouble, however small the risk. Modified rape must not be grown within 400m of other brassicas."
cross pollination found up to 2.5 km away - Scottish Crop Research Institute
GENE TRANSFER BETWEEN CANOLA (Oilseed Rape) AND RELATED WEED SPECIES - full research paper: University of Idaho, and other references
Briefing paper on agronomic and other problems associated with gm Oilseed Rape
Evidence of 'superweed' persistance
"Our contracts will include technical support and an element of training to help growers manage crops properly. This is something which should not be overlooked. These crops may bring cost savings and agronomic benefits, but they demand extra management. We don't want that to be too onerous and we don't want a lot of bureaucracy and form filling. But a greater management input will be needed."
"Herbicide usage that would accompany the introduction of herbicide-tolerant crops should increase the effectiveness of weed kill. This more complete destruction of weed species at field margins and hedgerow bottoms could reduce the habitat available for insects. Also, if herbicide-resistant volunteers become a problem in following crops, a less acceptable herbicide may have to be used to control them."
"Such results are only suggestive at the moment but do require that regulators will have to consider such possibilities."
"The final concern is the increasing domination of the seed and agrochemical market by a very small number of multi-national companies. These carry out most of the research and development on farming and could ultimately control access to GM seeds and agrochemicals, so potentially limiting farmers' traditional rights."
"Its hard to design trials when you do not know what you are looking for."
"The interaction and impacts of these gene combinations will be increasingly hard to predict and risk assessments more difficult to perform."
Impact of bt
varieties on Monarch butterflies - University of Iowa
GE crops with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) genes suspected to disturb soil ecology
"Farmers world-wide are troubled that chemical and seed inputs are being controlled by a relatively small number of transnational companies."
"Roundup and Liberty are very efficient plant killers. They have a wider spectrum of activity than any existing beet herbicide, both in the spectrum of weeds they control and the size."
"Initially, the new chemistry will control weed beet, but eventually [weed] beet will become tolerant to both chemicals."
"Neighbouring oilseed rape crops with different tolerances could cross with each other. They could produce volunteers which are resistant to chemicals."
"In the UK our original line was that as long as the industry abided by all the statutory controls, we were OK. That no longer applies. Media and public attitudes have hardened following the soya debate."
"I realise this paints a rather bleak future for GM varieties. We are now at a crossroads - public suspicion and mistrust may sink this technology without trace."
British Sugar says it will not accept GM sugar beet
GM oilseed rape (canola) varieties in Canadian trials have performed badly
(yield etc) compared to non-modified varieties. According to FACTT (Familiarisation
and Acceptance of Crops incorporating Transgenic Technology, a body funded by the European
Commission and the agricultural industry) it has been necessary to modify the assessment
procedures to enable GM rape seed varieties to be officially registered because of this
(Meeting Report FACTT workshop 11/12/97):
"The first HT canolas which were brought through the system were not as agronomically as good as the check cultivars, but given the demand and desirability of the herbicide tolerant trait the [recommending committee] decided to award herbicide tolerant cultivars a bonus merit score of plus 8.
This extra score allowed a number of Liberty Link and one Round Up Ready cultivar to be registered in 1995."
NLP commentary on approval rule changes
"Cotton right across the road of a different variety was not affected."
"I sure couldn't recommend they plant one of these varieties and take that kind of risk, unless someone could assure them they wouldn't have the kind of problems we had in 1997."
New York Times article on gm cotton failures
Scientist report on gm cotton failures
Monsanto pays millions in compensation to US "Roundup-Ready" GM cotton growers
Professor Charles Hagedorn, Virginia Tech University (Crop and Soil Environmental News, December 1997):
"Whatever the mechanism turns out to be, boll development is not obviously related to herbicide resistance and would not have been predicted as an outcome of adding a resistance gene. The boll problems appear to contradict industry claims that gene splicing is a precise technology which allows scientists to reliably predict risks based on knowledge about the added genes..."
"This is the second time in two years that one of Monsanto's trangenic crops has suffered a performance failure that was not revealed during field testing. Last summer, the company's Bt cotton failed to meet many farmers' expectations that it would control the cotton bollworm."
And his prophetic earlier warning (Crop and Soil Environmental News, March 1997):
"RR-cotton is resistant to vegetative injury from Roundup (glyphosate) herbicide, but subtle effects on reproductive development may occur if Roundup is applied beyond the four-leaf stage.... "
"These results are indicative of the management questions that still need to be answered with many of the new transgenic crops where rapid commercialization has allowed the technology to emerge ahead of research to determine the best ways to use the technology. For example, one Paymaster line that contains both RR and Bt genes will be available (in very limited quantities) this year - a full year ahead of the schedule originally predicted by the seed company. Little university-sponsored field research has yet been conducted on these varieties where different transgenic traits have been stacked or added together. Growers who hope to use RR-cotton, or any of the other transgenic varieties this year, should carefully evaluate their plans and be realistic about their actual needs for these materials."
Problems in Roundup-Resistant GM Cotton
Performance problems with Roundup Ready GM Cotton
Bt GM varieties do not mean an end to insecticide applications. Professor Charles Hagedorn, Virginia Tech University (Crop and Soil Environmental News, July 1997):
"As many cotton growers are still gaining experience with Bt cotton, one thing seems clear from past experience - traditional insecticide treatments should not be overlooked, whether planting transgenic varieties or not. Some research tests have shown that Bt cotton nets the highest yields when oversprayed with a pyrethroid..."
"The best current advice for managing insects on cotton (transgenic or not) is to remember that regardless of what kind of cotton is planted, there will be insect problems....Even when using tools such as Bt cotton, pyrethroids and other traditional control aids can still play a vital role in stopping pests and boosting yields. "
Bt Cotton still needs insecticide applications
"....ensuring thorough traceability of GM products throughout the food chain will not be easy. Neither can labelling resolve the more far-reaching environmental and social impacts of the billion dollar bio-technology industry."
"However, university weed scientists across the Southeast caution growers that residual herbicides will still be necessary where certain weed species are present..."
"Cotton needs to be kept weed-free for six to ten weeks after planting. However, fairly substantial yield reductions have been reported where Roundup was applied over-the-top on cotton that was past the four leaf stage... "
"To provide residual control at planting, growers should consider using Cotoran, or Cotoran and Treflan or Prowl or Dual. Also, roundup alone will not adequately control some specific weeds, including pitted morningglory, crabgrass, goosegrass, nutsedges, mayflower, hemp sesbania and Florida pusley. Palmer amaranth pigweed will require two applications of Roundup or Roundup plus MSMA. "
"It's our anticipation that problems with resistant pests are likely to occur from Bt crops.The fact that they documented problems in cotton fields this year wasn't too surprising to entomologists. As long as just a few corn borer moths survive, or bollworms in the case of cotton, you'll create a resistant strain of insects. If just 1 percent of the insects are resistant, a farmer probably won't see any insects for a few years. But when they return, 99 percent of them will be insecticide-resistant, and they will be very difficult to control."
"They knew there would be problems at some point, perhaps years down the road. And they might have considered that it could occur within just a few years. But I don't think anyone expected there to be these types of problems in the first year or two."
"All parties agree that we don't want these types of problems to happen again."
"We have suggested methods of preventing the problem to the companies, such as mixing 80 percent resistant seed and 20 percent susceptible seed in a bag. But the seed producers don't want to be the first one out there who has seed that's 20 percent susceptible. Likewise, we've told the farmers to plant 80 percent resistant corn and 20 percent susceptible corn. But the farmer doesn't want to do it, he wants his neighbor to do it."
Purdue University News
on gm generated pesticide failures
Bt gm crops require more complex management from farmers
Problems with GM Bt insect resistance in cotton and maize
Problems with GM Bt insect resistance in maize
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