Skip to comments.UK Tries To Bury Devastating GM Crop Report
Posted on 12/31/2002 4:26:11 AM PST by blam
UK tries to bury devastating GM crops report
December 30 2002 at 06:41AM
London - Alarming results from official trials of genetically modified (GM) crops are severely jeopardising plans for growing them commercially.
The findings, in a new government report, show for the first time in Britain that genes from GM crops are being passed on a large scale to conventional crops and weeds.
The finding is so devastating to the government's case for GM crops that ministers sought to bury it by publishing the first information on it on the department of the environment, food and rural affairs website on Christmas Eve - the one day in the year on which no newspapers are being prepared.
The full report, which contains more devastating detail, was withheld from the website.
The GM crop interbred with a weed... raising the prospect of super weeds The report is the result of monitoring GM crops in Britain from 1994 to 2000.
The trials were designed to look at the effects of different uses of pesticides on GM and non-GM plants.
The studies, by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany and the Laboratory of the Government Chemist, found that genes from GM rape - a seed grown for oil - contaminated conventional crops. The rape seed had been engineered to be resistant to herbicides.
The report also says that the GM crop interbred with a weed, wild turnip, giving it resistance to herbicides and raising the prospect of super weeds.
Pete Riley, of Friends of the Earth, said the results showed that if GM crops became widespread, almost all similar crops would become contaminated, threatening organic agriculture. - The Independent
GM report 'was not buried'
The UK Government has denied trying to bury a report into genetically modified crop cross-contamination. The study, released on Christmas Eve, found evidence of GM crops contaminating plants in neighbouring fields.
It is another case of cock-up rather than conspiracy
Anti-GM campaigners have seized on the report, claiming it proves there is no commercial future for bio-engineered foods in the UK.
Environment minister Michael Meacher told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he had not known the report - a summary of which was published on the website of the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) - would be released on Christmas Eve.
"We weren't trying to bury it," he said. "I entirely agree that the Christmas Eve timing was unfortunate...
"I can assure you there is no wish to conceal. It is another case of cock-up rather than conspiracy."
The research found that the weed wild turnip was affected by gene flow when planted next to GM oilseed rape, prompting fears that it could become resistant to herbicides.
Current isolation requirements for GM crops could be reviewed following the publication of the results.
Environmental group Friends of the Earth has warned the report highlights the potential threat of "super weeds" in the British countryside.
Mr Meacher denied the study, which goes back to 1994 and was finished in 2000, revealed any new information.
"The fact is this information has been known since the early 1990s," he said.
"These findings are not new; they simply confirm what was already known."
Mr Meacher said cross-contamination could not be eliminated but could only be minimised and kept below an acceptable level.
Further research on cross-contamination will be revealed by the Farm Scale Evaluations, commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and carried out by independent researchers.
The final results of the studies will be published in early 2004.
The government has also undertaken a major review of GM foods in an effort to understand the cost involved in producing them and public reaction to them, as well as scientific research into the possible risks involved.
Could be a good B Movie...'Killer Weeds'.
Less Pesticides is the way to go.....but is this stuff going to be digestible?
Science and technology are like free market - they are infallible gods. We can blindly trust them.
No, no. Love of money is the purest of motives. Free market is the source of all good. Get on your knees and worship it!
Responding to questions on why he was advocating for an open adventure into genetically engineering at a time when most countries are preaching zero risk in respect to bio-safety, Borlaug dismissed the zero-risk idea, saying it was a non issue where only plant genes are concerned, and not chemicals. He said zero-risk is something that does not exist and not tenable in a biological world where things kept on changing.
Asked who is going to be concerned with the bio-safety once a floodgate has been opened for genetic engineering, he described people who have been championing a GMO-free world as "utopian thinkers" who do not understand the complexities of food production. "Dosage makes the poison. But vitamins, which are vital, are taken in smaller quantities. If we could get a gene from rice - because rice does not suffer from rust - and then use it to protect other crops that suffer from rust like wheat, that would be a big revolution, and that will not be dangerous to human health in any way," he added.
Borlaug's point is that even beneficial nutrients like vitamins can be dangerous if you take them in too large an amount. And its also true there is no such thing as zero risk in nature or for that matter in the course of human affairs. But its hard to see how modifying food plants in small ways would harm any one. What would be wrong for instance as he argued in taking a gene from a rice plant that protects it from rust and adding it to a plant that is prone to it like wheat? Think of how much more bread could be added to the tables of the world from such a small step alone. To date none of the critics have shown a single instance where biotechnology in agriculture has made a human being ill or killed even one. Genetically modified foods offer the great promise of wiping out malnutrition and hunger that still afflicts millions and it would be a crime not to take advantage of all that it offers to make life safer and healthier for every one.
What would be wrong in taking a cockroach gene, or a spider gene. This stuff is EVIL!
Not to mention the fact that the big food and seed companies (monsanto, ADM) are eliminating any competition from heirloom seed companies.
Ever heard of "terminator seeds"?
Oh for ...^%$@#%$%
Ever heard of George Washington Carver?
"Organic"----------->implies presence of the carbon atom----------->rotting dinosaurs
Man has been genetically modifying plants and animals since he started farming, historically it has been called domestication.
Domestication can be defined as the human modification of a plant/animal one that is identifiably different from its wild ancestors and its extant wild relatives. In short, domestication involves genetic change through conscious or unconscious human selection.
We're about 12,000 years into it. Are you sure you want to go back and doom over 90% of the human population to starvation?
Yes Granny, I'd also like to know what this phrase means. Since I believe it was blam who introduced the expression(post #3), perhaps he could provide us mature FReepers with some enlightenment.
I'm not too sure about that, organics use more pesticides(natural ones) and the crop yields are considerably less than non-organics.
Michael Fumento clarified the organic vs. non-organic debate after John Stossel caught some heat for a minor goof on his expose "The Food You Eat; Organic Foods May Not Be as Healthy as Consumers Think."
Here is an excerpt from that article- Give Him A Break: Stossel Sent To Scaffold For His Taboo Targets
While many people think organic means "no pesticide," nothing could be more wrong. Bugs, fungi, and weeds don't contract with organic farmers to leave their crops alone.Not to mention that organics cost considerably more, so you can afford less of them, will go bad sooner, and may be infested with bugs or bacteria that the non-organic methods solved decades ago.
So these farmers rely on "natural" pesticides, such as one made using a bug-killing bacterium called Bt. When Bt is inserted genetically into the plant, the organic farmers scream: "Frankenfood"! But as a spray, it's their most popular insecticide.
Other organic pesticides include such goodies as acid-treated trace minerals(including zinc, boron, copper, manganese), sulfites, sodium nitrate, chlorine washes, sulfur, pyrethrum, pryania, sabadilla, colloidal phosphate, and a 500-year-old rat poison called rotenone.
Do these ever leave residues? How could they not?
"An organic grower, on average, sprays 100 times more natural pesticide per acre than a conventional grower who uses a synthetic pesticide," according to Leonard P. Gianessi of National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy in Washington, D.C.
And no less respected an authority than nutrition expert Jane Brody notes that in "a number of studies in different parts of the country, some so-called organically grown fruits and vegetables had higher pesticide residues than the same foods purchased in a nearby supermarket."
Not even close.
The peanut is not a nut at all but a member of the legume family. The majority of peanuts are currently grown in the United States, South America, Africa, India, and China. Peanuts do not grow on trees. The peanut seeds must be planted every year after the frost and harvested 4 -5 months later. The peanut plant produces yellow flowers above the ground that fall away, leaving a ´peg´ in their place. Each ´peg´ grows away from the plant like a new stem and extends underground where the clusters of peanuts then develop.
Peanut History in a Nutshell
The peanut is believed to have been originally cultivated in Bolivia and Peru around 3,500 years ago. One can just imagine the Inca priests making their sacrificial offerings while the watching crowd happily munched on peanuts. The Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to bring the peanut back to the Old World in the 16th century. The peanut was taken by the Spanish to Africa and Asia on their ships since it proved to be tasty, highly nutritional and not subject to spoil like other food supplies. Indonesians have made sauces from natural peanut butter since the 17th century ! The peanut is still it an important element in Chinese and other Asian cooking and provides the main source of protein in their diet. The peanut made its way to North America on the slave ships that came from Africa. In 1860 with the start of the American Civil War, the peanut was incorporated into the American diet. Peanut butter was first ´invented´ in America by a doctor from St. Louis, Missouri in 1890 as a way to complement the diet of his patients who needed more nutrition and energy. George Washington Carver is known as the father of the peanut industry since he improved crop production and discovered 300 ways to use peanuts including shoe polish and shaving cream.
Okay. It reminds me of a phrase my Grandfather used to use, which hasn't really survived to our day. He'd talk of "...pulling an awful dumb boner."
And please...don't ask me to explain that!
Just to see if they can control more of the world?
You would assume that, but then assumption is the "Mother of all Screwups".
Contrary to what most people believe, "organic" does not automatically mean "pesticide-free" or "chemical-free". In fact, under the laws of most states, organic farmers are allowed to use a wide variety of chemical sprays and powders on their crops.
So what does organic mean? It means that these pesticides, if used, must be derived from natural sources, not synthetically manufactured. Also, these pesticides must be applied using equipment that has not been used to apply any synthetic materials for the past three years, and the land being planted cannot have been treated with synthetic materials for that period either.
Most organic farmers (and even some conventional farmers, too) employ mechanical and cultural tools to help control pests. These include insect traps, careful crop selection (there are a growing number of disease-resistant varieties), and biological controls (such as predator insects and beneficial microorganisms).
ORGANIC PRODUCE AND PERSONAL HEALTH
When you test synthetic chemicals for their ability to cause cancer, you find that about half of them are carcinogenic.
Until recently, nobody bothered to look at natural chemicals (such as organic pesticides), because it was assumed that they posed little risk. But when the studies were done, the results were somewhat shocking: you find that about half of the natural chemicals studied are carcinogenic as well.
This is a case where everyone (consumers, farmers, researchers) made the same, dangerous mistake. We assumed that "natural" chemicals were automatically better and safer than synthetic materials, and we were wrong. It's important that we be more prudent in our acceptance of "natural" as being innocuous and harmless.
ORGANIC PESTICIDES VERSUS SYNTHETIC PESTICIDES
Clearly, the less we impact our environment, the better off we all are. Organic farming practices have greatly advanced the use of non-chemical means to control pests, as mentioned earlier.
Unfortunately, these non-chemical methods do not always provide enough protection, and it's necessary to use chemical pesticides. How do organic pesticides compare with conventional pesticides?
A recent study compared the effectiveness of a rotenone-pyrethrin mixture versus a synthetic pesticide, imidan. Rotenone and pyrethrin are two common organic pesticides; imidan is considered a "soft" synthetic pesticide (i.e., designed to have a brief lifetime after application, and other traits that minimize unwanted effects). It was found that up to 7 applications of the rotenone- pyrethrin mixture were required to obtain the level of protection provided by 2 applications of imidan.
It seems unlikely that 7 applications of rotenone and pyrethrin are really better for the environment than 2 applications of imidan, especially when rotenone is extremely toxic to fish and other aquatic life.
It should be noted, however, that we don't know for certain which system is more harmful. This is because we do not look at organic pesticides the same way that we look at conventional pesticides. We don't know how long these organic pesticides persist in the environment, or the full extent of their effects.
When you look at lists of pesticides allowed in organic agriculture, you find warnings such as, "Use with caution. The toxicological effects of [organic pesticide X] are largely unknown," or "Its persistence in the soil is unknown." Again, researchers haven't bothered to study the effects of organic pesticides because it is assumed that "natural" chemicals are automatically safe.
WHY HAVEN'T WE HEARD THIS BEFORE?
For obvious reasons, organic farmers have done little, if anything, to dispel the myth that "organic = chemical/pesticide-free". They would only stand to lose business by making such a disclosure. Pesticide manufacturers have little concern in the matter. To them, "synthetic pesticides sold" and "organic pesticides sold" are both "pesticides sold".
As for conventional farmers, they are not really in a position to be critical. It would not be in their interest to draw attention to chemical and pesticide use.
WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN?
The purpose in writing this article is not to discourage you from buying organic produce. It is only meant to let you know what you are or aren't getting when you make such a purchase. Unless you know your grower personally, there is no guarantee that your produce has been grown without pesticides or other chemicals. It's a point to consider, given the substantially higher cost of organic foods.
There are many choices and decisions that we, as consumers, are asked to make. Hopefully, this has provided some new information that you will find helpful.
* * * * * * *
Hard copies of this article in formatted leaflet form are available (on recycled paper, of course).
The data describing the carcinogenicity of natural and synthetic compounds are referenced in Gold, L.S., et al. (1992) _Science_ Vol. 258, pp. 261-265.
Many thanks go to the Organic Crop Improvement Association for their cooperation in this study. The OCIA has chapters in AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, IL, IN, IA, KS, MD, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NM, NC, ND, OH, PA, SD, UT, and WI. Thanks are also extended to the California Certified Organic Farmers, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, and Oregon Tilth Certified Organic. (The appropriate information has not yet been obtained from the Natural Organic Farmers Association (NOFA), but it is almost certain that all facts stated here apply to their products as well.) The following state Departments of Agriculture have also been very helpful: AL, AK, AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, HI, IA, LA, MD, MI, MS, MO, ND, OK, SC, TN, VA, and WA. States with no laws governing organic products include Alabama, Delaware, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
The above was written by a green Berkeley Grad as a gripe about pesticides used in organic farming. I didn't see Archers Daniel Midland in his source list, just Organic/Natural Farmer's Organizations and the Department of Agriculture of several States.
Once we reach that stage, God is going to step in and say, "OK everybody, out of the pool."
NO,,,, so they can SEE. Vitamin A deficiencies are the primary cause of blindness in children in 3rd world countries.
I'm only guessing, but I'd say it's probably due to an increase of population, which would naturally decrease their food supply. Malnutrition is a huge problem in many countries.
I understand that some of the folks in these Countries grow up to be our enemies,, but I'm talking about children. To sentence a child to blindness when it can be prevented seems to me to be beyond cruel.