Saturday, June 16, 2012
Syngenta charged for covering up livestock deaths from GM corn
By Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji
June 13, 2012
Biotech giant Syngenta has been criminally charged with denying knowledge that its genetically modified (GM) Bt corn kills livestock during a civil court case that ended in 2007 .
Syngenta’s Bt 176 corn variety expresses an insecticidal Bt toxin (Cry1Ab) derived from the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and a gene conferring resistance to glufosinate herbicides. EU cultivation of Bt 176 was discontinued in 2007. Similar varieties however, including Bt 11 sweet corn are currently cultivated for human and animal consumption in the EU.
The charges follow a long struggle for justice by a German farmer whose dairy cattle suffered mysterious illnesses and deaths after eating Bt 176. They were grown on his farm as part of authorised field tests during 1997 to 2002. By 2000, his cows were fed exclusively on Bt 176, and soon illnesses started to emerge. He was paid 40 000 euros by Syngenta as partial compensation for 5 dead cows, decreased milk yields, and vet costs (see  Cows ate GM Maize and Died, SiS 21). During a civil lawsuit brought against the company by the farmer however, Syngenta refused to admit that its GM corn was the cause, claiming no knowledge of harm. The case was dismissed and Gloeckner remained thousands of euros in debt.
Gloeckner continued to lose cows and many more had to be put down due to serious illnesses, compelling him to stop using GM feed from 2002. He approached the Robert Koch Institute and Syngenta to conduct a full investigation. However, only one cow was ever analysed and the data are still unavailable to the public. Unsurprisingly, no causal relationship between the GM feed and deaths was determined; and there is still no explanation for the deaths.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Monsanto corn injured by early rootworm feeding in Illinois
By Jack Kaskey
June 15, 2012
Monsanto Co. corn has been overwhelmed in parts of Illinois by rootworms that hatched a month early, renewing concern that the bugs are becoming immune to the insecticide engineered into the crop.
An “amazing” number of rootworms have emerged as adult beetles, the earliest start in at least 30 years, Michael Gray, an entomologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana, said today in an online journal. The insects “severely pruned” the roots of corn observed June 7 at a farm in Cass County, about 200 miles (322 kilometers) southwest of Chicago.
The western corn rootworm is one of the most destructive pests and historically cost U.S. farmers about $1 billion a year in damages and chemical pesticides before crops with built-in insecticide were developed. Corn fields in four states were overrun with the bugs last year, incidents that the Environmental Protection Agency suspects is a sign of increasing resistance to the insecticide.
The damaged fields in Illinois have been planted with corn continuously for at least 10 years, including six consecutive years with corn engineered to produce the Cry3Bb1 protein from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, a natural insecticide, Gray said.
“Under these conditions, the selection pressure for resistance development is markedly increased,” he said.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
What new 2,4-D-resistant crops mean - Going backwards
By Linda Greene
The Bloomington Alternative
June 10, 2012
On May 23, 2012, John Rowan, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America, sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting his “immediate assistance in staying de-regulation of Dow AgroSciences much ballyhooed 2,4-D-resistant corn seed until an environmental impact study can be conducted and its subsequent results evaluated by scientists who are not affiliated with Dow AgroScience.”
Rowan is concerned about the use of the herbicide 2,4-D on 2,4-D-resistant–corn because it constituted half the ingredients in the defoliant Agent Orange used by the U.S. during the Vietnam War and is causing serious ailments in vets and Vietnamese civilians. Agent Orange was contaminated with dioxins, the most potent synthetic class of carcinogenic chemicals known, second only to radiation in potency as a carcinogen. Although most of the dioxins were from the 2,4,5-T half of Agent Orange, 2,4-D was also contaminated.
The deregulation, or approval for widespread planting, of 2,4-D-resistant corn and consequent increased use of the herbicide is relevant to Indiana, the fifth largest corn-producing state in the nation, according to Marti Crouch, a Bloomington biologist specializing in the interrelationships of agriculture and technology. She has recently focused on the environmental impacts of Roundup Ready crops (those resistant to Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup [glyphosate]) and the concomitant increased use of Roundup.
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Larger refuges needed to sustain success of Bt corn
Entomological Society of America
June 3, 2012
Lanham, MD - Transgenic crops that produce insect-killing proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) have reduced reliance on insecticide sprays since 1996. Yet, just as insects become resistant to conventional insecticides, they also can evolve resistance to the Bt proteins in transgenic crops. Thus, to delay pest resistance, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has required farmers to plant “refuges” of crops that do not produce Bt proteins near Bt crops. But how much refuge acreage is enough?
In “Delaying Corn Rootworm Resistance to Bt Corn,” an article appearing in the June, 2012 issue of the Journal of Economic Entomology, authors Bruce Tabashnik (University of Arizona) and Fred Gould (North Carolina State University) conclude the EPA should more than double the percentage of corn acres planted to mandated refuges to delay insect resistance, encourage integrated pest management (IPM), and promote more sustainable crop protection.
Monday, May 21, 2012
EU food agency rejects France ban on Monsanto GM maize
Agence France Press
May 21, 2012
Europe’s food safety agency EFSA on Monday rejected the grounds for a temporary French ban on a genetically modified strain of maize made by US company Monsanto.
“Based on the documentation submitted by France, there is no specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health or the environment,” EFSA said in a scientific opinion issued on its website.
A spokesman for Europe’s health commissioner John Dalli said the EU executive “will consider how to follow up on this ruling, though technically we could ask France to raise its ban” on MON 810.