Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bt in human blood

Toxin from GM crops found in human blood: Study
Dinesh C. Sharma
India Today
May 11, 2011

Bt toxin is widely used in genetically modified crops.

Fresh doubts have arisen about the safety of genetically modified crops, with a new study reporting presence of Bt toxin, used widely in GM crops, in human blood for the first time.

Genetically modified crops include genes extracted from bacteria to make them resistant to pest attacks.

These genes make crops toxic to pests but are claimed to pose no danger to the environment and human health. Genetically modified brinjal, whose commercial release was stopped a year ago, has a toxin derived from a soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis ( Bt).

Till now, scientists and multinational corporations promoting GM crops have maintained that Bt toxin poses no danger to human health as the protein breaks down in the human gut. But the presence of this toxin in human blood shows that this does not happen.

Scientists from the University of Sherbrooke, Canada, have detected the insecticidal protein, Cry1Ab, circulating in the blood of pregnant as well as non-pregnant women.

They have also detected the toxin in fetal blood, implying it could pass on to the next generation. The research paper has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in the journal Reproductive Toxicology. The study covered 30 pregnant women and 39 women who had come for tubectomy at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS) in Quebec.

None of them had worked or lived with a spouse working in contact with pesticides.

[Read More…]

Friday, May 6, 2011

Monitoring more difficult

Biotech seeds may make pest monitoring more difficult
By Jennifer Shike
Western Farm Press
May 5, 2011

As the use of biotechnology increases and more companies move forward with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approval to begin full-scale commercialization of seed mixtures in transgenic insecticidal corn, many researchers believe pest monitoring will become even more difficult.

“Seed mixtures may make insect resistance management (IRM) risky because of larval behavior and greater adoption of insecticidal corn,” said David Onstad, professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois and lead author in a recent article published in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

[Read More…]

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Decline of Monarchs

Here are two studies concerning the effect of herbicide resistant crops on the Monarch butterfly

Is the migratory phenomenon at risk?
By Lincoln P. Brower etal
Insect Conservation and Diversity
(2011) doi: 10.1111/j.1752-4598.2011.00142.x


1. During the 2009–2010 overwintering season and following a 15-year downward trend, the total area in Mexico occupied by the eastern North American population of overwintering monarch butterflies reached an all-time low. Despite an increase, it remained low in 2010–2011.

2. Although the data set is small, the decline in abundance is statistically significant using both linear and exponential regression models.

3. Three factors appear to have contributed to reduce monarch abundance: degradation of the forest in the overwintering areas; the loss of breeding habitat in the United States due to the expansion of GM herbicide-resistant crops, with consequent loss of milkweed host plants, as well as continued land development and severe weather.

4. This decline calls into question the long-term survival of the Monarchs’ migratory phenomenon.

Read the Brower study

Reduction in common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) occurrence in Iowa cropland from 1999 to 2009
By Robert G. Hartzler
Crop Protection
(2010) 1542e1544


The role of common milkweed in the lifecycle of the monarch butterfly has increased interest in the presence of this weed in the north central United States. An initial survey conducted in 1999 found that low densities of common milkweed occurred in approximately 50% of Iowa corn and soybean fields. In 2009, common milkweed was present in only 8% of surveyed fields, and the area within infested fields occupied by common milkweed was reduced by approximately 90% compared to 1999. The widespread adoption of glyphosate resistant corn and soybean cultivars and the reliance on post-emergence applications of glyphosate for weed control in crop fields likely has contributed to the decline in common milkweed in agricultural fields.

Read the Hartzler study

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cross-fertilization study

Cross-fertilization between genetically modified and non-genetically
modified maize crops in Uruguay

By Galeano, Pablo a1a2 c1, Martínez Debat, Claudio a3, Ruibal, Fabiana a3,
Franco Fraguas, Laura a2 and Galván, Guillermo A. a1
Environmental Biosafety Research
DOI: 10.1051/ebr/2011100
Published online: March 25, 2011

a1 Departamento de Producción Vegetal, Centro Regional Sur (CRS),
Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de la República, Camino Folle km 36,
Progreso, Canelones, Uruguay
a2 Cátedra de Bioquímica, Departamento de Biociencias, Facultad de
Química, Universidad de la República, General Flores 2124, Montevideo, Uruguay
a3 Sección Bioquímica, Instituto de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias,
Universidad de la República, Iguá 4225, Montevideo, Uruguay


The cultivation of genetically modified (GM) Bt maize (Zea mays L.) events MON810 and Bt11 is permitted in Uruguay. Local regulations specify that 10% of the crop should be a non-GM cultivar as refuge area for biodiversity, and the distance from other non-GM maize crops should be more than 250 m in order to avoid cross-pollination. However, the degree of cross-fertilization between maize crops in Uruguay is unknown. The level of adventitious presence of GM material in non-GM crops is a relevant issue for organic farming, in situ conservation of genetic resources and seed production. In the research reported here, the occurrence and frequency of cross-fertilization between commercial GM and non-GM maize crops in Uruguay was assessed. The methodology comprised field sampling and detection using DAS-ELISA and PCR. Five field-pair cases where GM maize crops were grown near non-GM maize crops were identified. These cases had the potential to cross-fertilize considering the distance between crops and the similarity of the sowing dates. Adventitious presence of GM material in the offspring of non-GM crops was found in three of the five cases. Adventitious presence of event MON810 or Bt11 in non-GM maize, which were distinguished using specific primers, matched the events in the putative sources of transgenic pollen. Percentages of transgenic seedlings in the offspring of the non-GM crops were estimated as 0.56%, 0.83% and 0.13% for three sampling sites with distances of respectively 40, 100 and 330 m from the GM crops. This is a first indication that adventitious presence of transgenes in non-GM maize crops will occur in Uruguay if isolation by distance and/or time is not provided. These findings contribute to the evaluation of the applicability of the “regulated coexistence policy” in Uruguay.

Read the study

Friday, February 18, 2011

GMO pesticide study

Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada
By Aziz Arisa and Samuel Leblancc
Reproductive Toxicology
February 18, 2011


Pesticides associated to genetically modified foods (PAGMF), are engineered to tolerate herbicides such as glyphosate (GLYP) and gluphosinate (GLUF) or insecticides such as the bacterial toxin bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The aim of this study was to evaluate the correlation between maternal and fetal exposure, and to determine exposure levels of GLYP and its metabolite aminomethyl phosphoric acid (AMPA), GLUF and its metabolite 3-methylphosphinicopropionic acid (3-MPPA) and Cry1Ab protein (a Bt toxin) in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Blood of thirty pregnant women (PW) and thirty-nine nonpregnant women (NPW) were studied. Serum GLYP and GLUF were detected in NPW and not detected in PW. Serum 3-MPPA and CryAb1 toxin were detected in PW, their fetuses and NPW. This is the first study to reveal the presence of circulating PAGMF in women with and without pregnancy, paving the way for a new field in reproductive toxicology including nutrition and utero-placental toxicities.


To our knowledge, this is the first study to highlight the presence of pesticides-associated genetically modified foods [PAGMF] in maternal, fetal and non pregnan twomen’s blood. 3-MPPA andCry1Ab toxin are clearly detectable and appear to cross the placenta to the fetus. Given the potential toxicity of these environmental pollutants and the fragility of the fetus, more studies are needed, particularly those using the placental transfer approach. Thus, our present results will provide baseline data for future studies exploring a new area of research relating to nutrition, toxicology and reproduction in women. Today, obstetric-gynecological disorders that are associated with environmental chemicals are not known. This may involve perinatal complications (i.e. abortion, prematurity, intrauterine growth restriction and preeclampsia) and reproductive disorders (i.e. infertility, endometriosis and gynecological cancer). Thus, knowing the actual PAGMF concentrations in humans constitutes a cornerstone in the advancement of research in this area.

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