Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NGO report on GM

GM crops promote superweeds, food insecurity and pesticides, say NGOs
By John Vidal
The Guardian
October 19, 2011

Report finds genetically modified crops fail to increase yields let alone solve hunger, soil erosion and chemical-use issues

Genetic engineering has failed to increase the yield of any food crop but has vastly increased the use of chemicals and the growth of “superweeds”, according to a report by 20 Indian, south-east Asian, African and Latin American food and conservation groups representing millions of people.

The so-called miracle crops, which were first sold in the US about 20 years ago and which are now grown in 29 countries on about 1.5bn hectares (3.7bn acres) of land, have been billed as potential solutions to food crises, climate change and soil erosion, but the assessment finds that they have not lived up to their promises.

The report claims that hunger has reached “epic proportions” since the technology was developed. Besides this, only two GM “traits” have been developed on any significant scale, despite investments of tens of billions of dollars, and benefits such as drought resistance and salt tolerance have yet to materialise on any scale.

Most worrisome, say the authors of the Global Citizens’ Report on the State of GMOs, is the greatly increased use of synthetic chemicals, used to control pests despite biotech companies’ justification that GM-engineered crops would reduce insecticide use.

[Read More…]

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Herbicide goes rogue

DuPont’s herbicide goes rogue
By Jim Hightower
OtherWords
September 17, 2011

The company’s landscaping weed-killer turned out to be a tree-killer

In the corporate world’s tortured language, workers are no longer fired. They just experience an “employment adjustment.” But the most twisted euphemism I’ve heard in a long time comes from DuPont: “We are investigating the reports of these unfavorable tree symptoms,” the pesticide maker recently stated.

How unfavorable? Finito, flat-lined, the tree is dead. Not just one tree, but hundreds of thousands all across the country are suffering the final “symptom.”

The culprit turns out to be Imprelis, a DuPont weed-killer widely applied to lawns, golf courses, and — ironically — cemeteries.

Rather than just poisoning dandelions and other weeds, the herbicide also seems to be causing spruces, pines, willows, poplars, and other unintended victims to croak.

“It’s been devastating,” says a Michigan landscaper who applied Imprelis to about a thousand properties this spring and has already had more than a third of them suffer outbreaks of tree deaths. “It looks like someone took a flamethrower to them,” he says.

At first, DuPont tried to dodge responsibility, claiming that landscape workers might be applying the herbicide improperly. The corporation even urged customers to be patient and leave the tree corpses on their lawns to see if they’d come back to life in a few years.

However, faith-based landscaping was a hard sell. Disgruntled homeowners began filing lawsuits. Then DuPont had its own “aha!” moment when trees on the grounds of the DuPont Country Club also developed the “unfavorable symptoms” of Imprelis poisoning.

So, with DuPont’s cooperation, the EPA has finally banned sales of the tree-killing herbicide. But because of inadequate testing and a rush to profit, the poison will remain in the soil — and our water— for many moons. Trees will continue to die. Will we never learn?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Roundup problems

Roundup herbicide research shows plant, soil problems
By Carey Gillam
Reuters
August 12, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - The heavy use of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide appears to be causing harmful changes in soil and potentially hindering yields of the genetically modified crops that farmers are cultivating, a government scientist said on Friday.

Repeated use of the chemical glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup herbicide, impacts the root structure of plants, and 15 years of research indicates that the chemical could be causing fungal root disease, said Bob Kremer, a microbiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

[Read More…]

Thursday, August 11, 2011

GMOs to blame

GMOs to blame for problems in plants, animals
By Jefferson Dodge
Boulder Weekly
August 11, 2011

One of the experts set to testify at Wednesday’s long-awaited meeting about the county’s policy for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on open space says scientists are seeing new, alarming patterns in plants and animals due to increased use of the herbicide Roundup.

Michael McNeill is an agronomist who owns Ag Advisory Ltd. in Algona, Iowa. He received his Ph.D. in quantitative genetics and plant pathology from Iowa State University in 1969 and has been a crop consultant since 1983. He was among three experts invited by county officials to testify at the Aug. 10 meeting of the Cropland Policy Advisory Group (CPAG).

CPAG, which has been meeting since February, serves as a sounding board for the county’s parks and open space staff as they develop a new cropland policy on matters like what may be grown on county land. The group has only touched briefly on the hot-button GMO issue in its past meetings; the Aug. 10 meeting was devoted entirely to the subject.

McNeill told Boulder Weekly before the meeting that he and his colleagues in the industry are seeing serious, negative effects produced by the use of glyphosate, which is the primary ingredient in Roundup weed killer. (Monsanto, the company that makes Roundup, has generated controversy by genetically altering crops to make them resistant to the herbicide.)

McNeill says that in the Midwest and other areas of the country, such as Louisiana and Mississippi, weeds like water hemp, giant ragweed, lamb’s quarter and velvet weed have become Roundup resistant through natural selection, due to a particular genetic mutation that survived the poison and therefore reproduced successfully and wildly.

The problem is, farmers’ natural reaction has been to simply apply more Roundup to their crops, which is having deleterious impacts, McNeill says.

[Read More…]

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More pesticides with GM

Farmers using even more pesticides with GM crops
By Ken Roseboro
The Organic & Non-GMO Report
July 21, 2011

Proponents of genetically modified crops have long claimed that GM crops would reduce pesticide usage, but government statistics show that claim to be false.

According to the 2010 Agricultural Chemical Use Report released in June by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), use of the herbicide glyphosate, associated with genetically modified crops, has dramatically increased over the last several years, while the use of other even more toxic chemicals such as atrazine has not declined. The data show that overall use of pesticides has remained relatively steady, while glyphosate use has skyrocketed to more than double the amount used just five years ago.

The report shows that in the states surveyed, 57 million pounds of glyphosate were applied last year on corn fields. Ten years prior, in 2000, this number was only 4.4 million pounds, and in 2005, it was still less than half of current numbers at 23 million pounds.

GM proponents claim glyphosate reduces the need for farmers to use older, more toxic herbicides such as atrazine. Also not true. In 2000, 54 million pounds of atrazine were applied across surveyed states, by 2005 57.4 million pounds were used, and in 2010, the total dipped slightly to 51 million pounds.

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