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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Bt' Category


Over Two Million Bees Killed after Aerial Mosquito Spraying in South Carolina

(Beyond Pesticides, September 2, 2016) Last Sunday, beekeepers in Dorchester County, South Carolina emerged from their homes to find their yards and  farms, once full of busy buzzing, littered with the honey bees. The cause was no mystery — a massive bee-kill had occurred due to aerial spraying of Naled, a highly toxic  insecticide used primarily to control adult mosquitoes. The county announced plans to spray two days before the incident, when four travel-related cases of Zika virus were confirmed in the area by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. The spraying occurred between 6:30 and 8:30am. Naled is an organophosphate insecticide with the highest acute toxicity of any mosquitocide. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Naled can cause cholinesterase (an enzyme necessary to the transmission of nerve impulses) inhibition in humans, meaning that it can overstimulate the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness, confusion, and, at very high exposures (e.g., accidents or major spills), respiratory paralysis and death. Naled is highly toxic to honey bees. In Dorchester County, beekeepers say that the spray announcements did not come soon enough. Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply lost more than 2.3 million insects from 46 hives, according to co-owner Juanita […]



Fish and Wildlife Service Adopts Biological Mosquito Management

(Beyond Pesticides, May 13, 2014) After pressure from environmental organizations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) dropped plans to spray the synthetic insecticide methoprene in favor of a biological control material  to kill mosquitoes breeding on a national wildlife refuge on the southern Oregon Coast. Several states have banned methoprene due to the chemical’s environmental impacts. The unfolding of this decision illustrates that least-toxic alternatives to manage mosquitos are effective and much safer for the environment. A major restoration at the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in 2011 inadvertently created a number of shallow water pools, a perfect habitat for mosquito larvae. Unprecedented swarms of mosquitoes appeared last year, which drove away campers from Bullards Beach State Park and harassed golfers at local courses. FWS did not take into account that this restoration project could create mosquito habitat and initially released a plan to manage mosquitos with methoprene and mineral oil. The insect conservation group Xerces Society, the Center for Food Safety, and others urged the agency to reconsider, arguing the pesticides were a threat to the food chain and the mosquitoes, Aedes dorsalis, did not spread human diseases such as West Nile virus. In a supplemental environmental assessment […]



Study Finds Rapid Cross-Resistance to Bt incorporated GE Maize

(March 24, 2013 Beyond Pesticides) A study by an entomologist at Iowa State University in Ames Iowa found that western corn rootworm is now resistant to two varieties of Bt-incorporated genetically engineered (GE) maize and that resistant insects are likely to be cross-resistant. This study adds to the growing scientific literature that shows insect resistance to Bt crops is making certain GE technologies obsolete, which could lead to an increase in insecticide use. The study, Field-evolved resistance by western corn rootworm to multiple Bacillus thuringiensis toxins in transgenic maize, conducted by a team led by Aaron Gassmann, PhD, adds to the growing scientific literature that that finds western corn rootworm  is resistant to varieties of Bt-incorporated GE maize. In 2009, farmers in Iowa observed severe injury to Cry3Bb1 maize —one of the three varieties of Bt-incorporated GE maize- from larval western corn rootworm in the field. Subsequent laboratory assays reveal that this injury is associated with rootworm resistance to  Cry3Bb1. This study finds that injury to Cry3Bb1 maize because of rootworm resistance persisted beyond 2011 and expanded to include mCry3A maize, a second variety of Bt-incorporated GE maize. Laboratory analysis of western corn rootworm from these fields finds resistance to […]



Research on Corn Pest Finds No Economic Benefit to GE Corn in the Northeast

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2014) A recent study on the European corn borer (ECB), a major corn pest, finds no significant difference in yield between genetically engineered (GE)Bt (ECB-resistant) corn and non-GE corn in the Northeast, where pest pressure has decreased. Considering the high cost of GE corn, researchers determine that farmers will see no benefits in terms of profit. The study, published in the journal Pest Management Science, examines the damage that ECBs cause to crops, comparing corn genetically engineered to express the insecticidal toxin Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) with non-Bt crops at 29 sites around Pennsylvania over three years. The study concludes that although Bt corn hybrids reduced ECB damage in comparison to non-Bt crops, they found no difference in yields, explaining that because of higher seed costs they also “rarely improved profits.” Although researchers attribute the decline in ECB population to the adoption of Bt corn, the study does not address long-term insect resistance which can develop in fields after the introduction of GE crops and lead to an increased use in pesticides. “With less ECB damage around, non-Bt hybrids in our tests yielded just as well as Bt hybrids, so the decline in ECB populations provides an […]



Another Study Finds Rootworms Resistant to Genetically Engineered Corn

(Beyond Pesticides, September 3, 2013) For the past several years, corn rootworms  have  been widely reported to exhibit resistance  to corn genetically engineered (GE) with the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin. A  new report by  University of Illinois researchers found the resistant corn rootworm  in two of the state’s counties significantly damaged by western corn rootworm. The increasing lack of efficacy of GE corn, developed with the claim that it  is specifically designed to protect corn from rootworm, calls into question the efforts of agrichemical companies to patent new forms of GE crops. The report by Joe Spencer, PhD, and Michael Gray, PhD,  identifies significant damage from western corn rootworms in farm field that were planted with GE corn that contain a Bt protein referred to as “Cry3Bb1,” which has been inserted into nearly one-third of the corn planted in the United States. This version of Bt corn was introduced by Monsanto in 2003, and was touted as a way to reduce insecticide use against rootworm pests. Evidence was gathered in two Illinois counties, Livingston and Kankakee, after fields that had severe root pruning and lodging were brought to the attention of Drs. Spencer and Gray. Dr. Gray was quoted in […]



Insecticide Sales Rise with Failure of GE Corn

(Beyond Pesticides, May 24, 2013) Insecticide sales have soared over the past year as target insects have developed resistance to crops genetically engineered (GE) to incorporate an insecticide. Contrary to industry claims that the technology would reduce pesticide use, crops like corn, engineered to protect against rootworm have been ineffective and farmers have begun applying additional insecticides. The GE corn seed, developed by Monsanto, was released in 2003 to target a gene allowing plants to express a pest-killing toxin, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The  pesticide incorporated plant  (PIP)  was developed to kill western corn rootworm, a potentially devastating pest that does its greatest damage in chemical-intensive agriculture during its larval stage by feeding upon the plant’s roots. Severe feeding inhibits the plant’s ability to absorb moisture and nutrients and opens a pathway for attack from soil-borne pathogens. In 2011, entomologists at Iowa State University published a study verifying the first field-evolved resistance of corn rootworm to a Bt toxin. The researchers documented resistance to the Bt toxin Cry3Bb1. Now, almost a decade after the seed was introduced, almost two thirds of U.S. grown corn contains the Bt toxin, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Although USDA data shows an […]



GE Industry Practice of “Stacking” Insecticides Called into Question by Researchers

 (Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2013)  Given the rise of targeted plant and animal pests that are resistant to the tactics of the biotechnology industry, companies that produce genetically engineered (GE) crops have begun producing plants with “stacked” traits. For herbicide resistant crops, this means adding traits that incorporate crop resistance to increasingly dangerous and toxic chemicals, such as 2,4-D, a major component in the Vietnam-era herbicide Agent Orange. For crops engineered to produce their own natural insecticide, namely the toxin Bacillus thuringiensis, this means adding new formulations of the bacterium. Although this practice is widely considered acceptable and effective by the biotechnology industry, a new study from the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, published in the journal PNAS, casts doubt on this assumption. Most scientists assume that two-toxin plants will be more durable than one-toxin plants. The extent of the advantage of the pyramid strategy, however, rests on assumptions that are not always met, the study reports. “The pyramid strategy has been touted mostly on the basis of simulation models,” said Yves Carrière, PhD, lead author of the study. “We tested the underlying assumptions of the models in lab experiments with a major pest of corn […]



Increased Pesticide Use and Resistant Weeds -The Troubling Legacy of GE Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2012) A study published this week by Washington State University’s research professor Charles Benbrook, PhD, finds that the use of herbicides in the production of three genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops -cotton, soybeans and corn- has actually increased, contrary to industry claims that the technology would reduce pesticide applications. While Dr. Benbrook’s analysis is the first peer-reviewed, published estimate of the impacts of genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-tolerant crops on pesticide use, scientists have been raising the alarm over the mounting numbers of herbicide resistant weeds. This herbicide resistance finding, which contradicts chemical industry claims, is based on an exhaustive analysis of publicly available data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service. In the study, “Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. — the first sixteen years,” which appears in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe, Dr. Benbrook writes that the emergence and spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds is strongly correlated with the upward trajectory in herbicide use. Marketed as Roundup and other trade names, glyphosate is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide used to kill weeds. Approximately 95 percent of soybean and cotton acres, and over 85 percent of corn, are planted to […]



Monsanto’s GE Sweet Corn to Hit Store Shelves

(Beyond Pesticides, August 7, 2012) Like it or not, Monsanto’s genetically modified sweet corn will soon be arriving on grocery store shelves of the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and will not be labeled as such. Despite an onslaught of consumer pressure, the company confirmed late last week with the Chicago Tribune that it has no objection to selling the new crop of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GE) sweet corn. Other retailers, including the grocery chains Safeway and Kroger, have not responded on the issue, however Whole Foods, Trader Joes and General Mills have all vowed to not carry or use the GE sweet corn. As the country’s largest grocery retailer, Wal-Mart sells $129 billion worth of food a year, giving it unmatched power in shaping the food supply chain. The GE sweet corn is the first consumer product developed by Monsanto that will go straight from the farm to the consumer’s plate, rather than first being processed into animal feed, sugars, oils, fibers and other ingredients found in a wide variety of conventional food. It is engineered to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, the active ingredient of which is glyphosate. The product is also designed to produce a […]



Experts Warn of Insect Resistance Generated by Pesticide-Incorporated GE Corn

(Beyond Pesticides, June 20, 2012) To control a growing insect resistance problem to the widely used biological pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin, now genetically engineered into corn, two experts have concluded that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should double the so-called “refuges” of acreage planted with non-genetically engineered (GE) corn. If the resistance problem continues -exacerbated by these GE pesticide incorporated plants (PIPs), it will eliminate a bio-rational tool often used by organic farmers. The article, “Delaying Corn Rootworm Resistance to Bt Corn,” was published in the June 2012 issue of Journal of Economic Entomology. Currently, EPA requires 20 percent of the total acreage to be set aside for refuges for corn producing one Bt protein (CryBb1), and a 5 percent refuge portion for corn that produces two different Bt proteins at the same time. However, earlier this year, inspections found that more than 40% of American farmers who planted certain varieties of the GE corn in 2011 failed inspections to verify compliance with these management practices to prevent insect resistance. “Most of the corn seed currently produced in the U.S. is transgenic and includes genes for insect control,” said co-author Fred Gould, PhD. “Enlarging refuges will require more […]



Research Shows Genetically Engineered Crops Reduce Beneficial Soil Life

(Beyond Pesticides, April 25, 2012) Researchers at Portland State University have found that the cultivation of corn genetically engineered (GE) to express the insecticidal soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has negative impacts on beneficial soil life. The research team, led by PhD student Tanya Cheeke, was interested in determining whether the cultivation of Bt corn has a negative effect on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal colonization of Bt corn or of crops subsequently planted in the same soil. Their findings, published in the April 2012 issue of the American Journal of Botany, show a decreased presence of the beneficial fungi in the roots of Bt corn when compared to non-Bt corn. Bt corn is genetically engineered to express insecticidal toxins derived from Bt in an effort to protect it against common agricultural pests such as the corn root worm and European corn borer. Recent findings have shown, however, that insects are growing increasingly resistant to the toxin, due in part to a breakdown in resistance management implementation. Additionally, researchers in Europe recently found evidence that Bt is toxic to human cells in large doses. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are ubiquitous microscopic soil fungi that form symbiotic relationships with the roots of most […]



Overuse of Genetically Engineered Bt Corn Tied to Accelerated Resistance

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2012) A group of 22 prominent entomologists has submitted formal comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) casting doubt on the future viability of certain varieties of genetically engineered (GE) corn. The entomologists, including researchers from land grant institutions in the Corn Belt and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, cite increasing evidence that the western corn rootworm is developing resistance to a toxin derived from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which is inserted into seeds. Bt is a naturally occurring soil bacterium that when used in non-genetically engineered forms is an important biological pesticide for organic and sustainable farmers. The entomologists identify significant flaws in current practices for managing insect resistance to Bt corn and caution that failure to implement a series of alternative measures based on an integrated pest management (IPM) approach would result in all forms of Bt losing its effectiveness. The entomologists’ comments were cited recently in published research documenting the first field-evolved resistance of the western corn rootworm to certain Bt strains. They draw a connection between this research and field reports of greater than expected rootworm damage (an indication of emerging resistance) first observed in 2009. Detections of greater […]



Research Details Toxicity of Pesticides Used in Genetic Engineering

(Beyond Pesticides, March 7, 2012) Researchers in Europe have found that the insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) when incorporated into genetically engineered (GE) plants, and the herbicide glyphosate, used widely with GE glyphosate-tolerant crops, are toxic to human cells, disputing commonly held assertions by regulators and the chemical industry that these substances are entirely harmless to humans. The research team, led by scientists at the University of Caen in France, says that at very high doses Bt is toxic to human cells, and glyphosate, when formulated as the product Roundup, manufactured by Monsanto Co., damages human cells, even in extremely low doses. The findings of the study have been published online in the Journal of Applied Toxicology. Bt is a commonly used least-toxic insecticide which is available in several different strains, each toxic to a different range of insects. The substance is a naturally occurring soil bacterium that has been harnessed and enhanced to make it more effective as a pesticide product. Crops such as corn and cotton are also often genetically engineered (GE) to produce Bt proteins so that insects are infected with the toxin when they feed on the plant. The French researchers suggest that it may be this […]



Inspections Find 40% of Farmers Planting Bt Corn Fail to Manage for Resistance

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2012) Newly released data indicates that more than 40% of American farmers who planted certain varieties of genetically engineered (GE) corn in 2011 failed inspections to verify compliance with mandatory management practices to prevent insect resistance. The farmers involved planted corn varieties that are genetically engineered to express toxins that kill western rootworm. The toxins are derived from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a naturally occurring soil bacterium that when used in non-genetically engineered forms is an important pesticide for organic and sustainable farmers. The non-compliant farmers were specifically cited for failure to establish adequate refuges of non-Bt corn on their farms that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined are necessary to prevent the western rootworm from developing resistance to all forms of Bt. Originally reported on February 9, the results are derived from GE Bt seed suppliers who are required to report refuge data to EPA. As a condition of registering Bt seed varieties as pesticides, EPA requires that farmers using them also plant an appropriately-sized refuge of non-Bt varieties adjacent to the genetically engineered crop. In theory, western rootworms that develop resistance to Bt through constant exposure to the toxins in the genetically engineered […]



EPA Seeks Information on Resistance in Genetically Engineered Plants

(Beyond Pesticides, December 2, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has opened a pesticide docket for information and reviews relevant to insect resistance management for plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs) -plants engineered through biotechnology to express pesticidal properties. The agency intends to collect public information on insect resistance management and monitoring for genetically engineered (GE) PIPs after expressing concern that efforts to tackle resistance issues need to be “more proactive” and effective in light of “severe” and rapidly growing insect resistance to GE crops. According to EPA’s Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division, the agency is reviewing insect resistance management assessments submitted by registrants in accordance with the ongoing terms and conditions of their registered PIP products. PIPs are genetically engineered to incorporate pesticidal properties in plant genes in order to ward off insects that prey on the plants. PIPs are registered as a pesticidal product under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Many GE plants such as corn, cotton and others include Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a bacterium with insecticidal properties whose genes have been incorporated into the plant’s own genetic material. However, recent reports have shown that these PIPs are spawning “superbugs” that have become resistant to this technology. […]



Monsanto GM Corn Falls Prey to Bug It Was Suppose to Thwart, Threatening Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2011) Widely grown corn plants that Monsanto Co. genetically modified to thwart a voracious bug are falling prey to that very pest in Iowa cornfields, the first time a major Midwest scourge has developed resistance to a genetically modified crop. The discovery raises concerns that the biotech crops are spawning “superbugs” and calls into question EPA’s allowance of so-called plant incorporated protectants (PIPs). Fields planted in Monsanto’s Bt corn in some areas of the Midwest are showing damage from the corn rootworm””the very species targeted by Monsanto’s engineered trait. Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann, PhD has discovered that western corn rootworms in four Iowa fields have evolved and can resist the pesticide built into Monsanto’s genetically altered corn seeds. The scientist said the cases were isolated, but he did not know how widespread the problem could become. Farmers in Illinois are also seeing severe rootworm damage in fields planted in Monsanto’s Bt corn. In 2010, Monsanto acknowledged that in industrial-agriculture regions of India, where Monsanto’s Bt cotton is a dominant crop, the cotton-attacking bollworm had developed resistance. “These are isolated cases, and it isn’t clear how widespread the problem will become,” said Dr. Gassmann in […]



Study Finds Pregnant Women and Fetuses Contaminated with Pesticides Linked to GE Food

(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2011) A study published in the May 2011 edition of the journal Reproductive Toxicology finds pregnant women and their fetuses contaminated with pesticides and metabolites of the herbicide gluphosinate and the Cry1Ab protein of the insecticide based on the bacterium bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), both affiliated with genetically engineered (GE) food. The study, “Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada,” also identified the same chemicals, as well as glyphosate metabolites in the bodies of non-pregnant women. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre in Quebec, Canada, is intended to pave the way for a new field in reproductive toxicology including nutrition and utero-placental toxicities. Herbicide resistance is the most common genetically modified trait in commercial agriculture. Crops are modified to be able to withstand extremely high doses of glyphosate (Roundup Ready) and gluphosinate (LibertyLink). Current herbicide resistant crops include soy, maize (corn), canola, sugar beet, cotton, with and alfalfa. As of 2005, 87% of U.S. soybean fields were planted with glyphosate resistant varieties. The recently released 2010 Agricultural Chemical Use Report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service […]



Researchers Discover Toxins from GE Food in Human Blood

(Beyond Pesticides, May 19, 2011) Scientists at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada found that pesticides associated with genetically engineered (GE) foods are present in maternal, fetal and nonpregnant women’s blood, emphasizing the need for further research into the effects that GE food has on human health. The study, “Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada” is published in Reproductive Toxicology. Scientists Aziz Aris and Samuel Leblanc analyzed blood samples for 39 nonpregnant women and 30 pregnant woman and their fetuses in Sherbrooke, an urban area of Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. It’s important to note that none of the women in the study had ever worked or lived with a spouse that worked in contact with pesticides. The diet of the women involved in the study is described as “typical of a middle class population of Western industrialized countries.” The Cry1Ab toxin, which is an insecticidal protein produced by the soil bacterium Baccillus thuringiensis (Bt) was detected in 93% of maternal blood samples, 80% of fetal blood samples and 69% of the nonpregnant women’s blood. In genetic engineering, the Cry1Ab protein from Bt is transferred into corn so […]



Genetically Altered Corn Contaminates Midwest Streams

(Beyond Pesticides, October 1, 2010) A new study by University of Notre Dame ecologist Jennifer Tank, PhD and colleagues reveals that streams throughout the Midwest are contaminated with transgenic materials from corn crop byproducts, even six months after harvest. The transgenic corn has been genetically engineered (GE) to produce its own insecticide, a toxin from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). In a 2007 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), Dr. Tank and a group of researchers demonstrated that transgenic materials from corn (pollen, leaves, cobs) do, in fact, enter streams and can be subsequently transported to downstream water bodies. In a paper, “Occurrence of maize detritus and a transgenic insecticidal protein (Cry1Ab) within the stream network of an agricultural landscape,” published in the September 27, 2010 edition of PNAS, the researchers write about their nvestigation of the fate and persistence of the material and its associated Cry1Ab insecticidal protein, using a synoptic field survey of 217 stream sites in northwestern Indiana six months after crop harvest. “We found that corn crop byproducts were common in agricultural streams and that 86 percent of sites contained corn leaves, cobs, husks and/or stalks in the active stream […]



Mass Cultivation of Bt Corn Creates New Pest Problem

(Beyond Pesticides, April 14, 2010) A new report shows that the large-scale cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) corn is causing the spread of a new pest in the US Corn Belt. The report, “The spread of the western bean cutworm causes massive damage in the US” published by Testbiotech for Greenpeace Germany finds that GE corn plants in the U.S. that have been genetically modified to express the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin classified as Cry1Ab are being infested by the larvae of the western bean cutworm (Striacosta albicosta). According to Testbiotech, a research based non-profit organization operating out of Germany, this new pest has been caused by the large-scale cultivation of genetically engineered plants expressing Cry1Ab such as MON810 (sold as YieldGard by company of Monsanto). The infestation has been observed since 2000, and the western bean cutworm is emerging as a new plant pest. Historically, this species of cutworm has been confined to very limited regions and did not cause any major problems in maize crops. However, for the past several years the pest has been spreading into more and more regions within the US Corn Belt causing substantial economic damage. Maize plants affected by the western bean cutworm […]



India Halts Release of Genetically Modified Food Crop; Send Comments to Stop GE Alfalfa in the U.S. by February 16, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, February 12, 2010) The Washington Post is reporting that after much protest from environmentalists, farmers, doctors, and state officials, India has imposed a moratorium on a genetically engineered (GE) variety of brinjal or eggplant. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) brinjal has been engineered to produce its own insecticide. It would have been India’s first GE food crop, and the world’s first GE eggplant approved for wide scale production. Bt cotton is currently India’s only genetically modified crop. Bt corn is grown in 17 countries including the United States, and China recently approved a strain of Bt rice for human consumption. A government committee approved the commercial release of Bt brinjal in October. The committee’s decision was met with protests across the country. The states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Karnataka had already stated their intention to ban the crop if the federal government approves it. When Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh hosted seven public meetings around the country to debate Bt Brijal, some meetings devolved into heated shouting matches. Many protesters dressed as bright purple or green eggplants. Mr. Ramesh has since called for more independent research to ensure the crop is safe for human consumption, saying the moratorium will continue […]



Approval of Genetically Engineered Food Crop in India Spurs Nationwide Protest

(Beyond Pesticides, January 29, 2010) A genetically engineered (GE) variety of brinjal, or eggplant, was approved by India’s Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) last October. As the central government decides on approval of the crop’s commercial release, farmers, environmentalists, doctors, and even several state governments have mobilized in protest. India has already approved the commercial cultivation of GE cotton, but this would be the first genetically engineered food crop. Produced by Monsanto, the Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) brinjal is engineered to kill insects. Bt is a soil bacteria that produces compounds toxic to certain larval insects. In Bt crops, part of the bacteria’s genome has been incorporated into the plant’s genome, causing the plant to produce these same compounds. An estimated 80% of India’s cotton crop is currently grown from Bt seeds. Concerns about the approval of Bt brinjal has lead to heated protests. While India’s central government is holding a series of public meetings this month to discuss the issue, the first of these meetings ended in a shouting match between protestors and Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh. The Chief Ministers of several states have also written to Mr. Ramesh urging him not to rush […]



New Study Links Genetically Modified Crops to Organ Damage

(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2010) A study conducted by the Committee of Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN) and the Universities of Caen and Rouen in France shows that three genetically modified (GM) crops have numerous adverse health effects on lab rats. The study analyzes raw data initially gathered by Monsanto to gain approval for consumption in the United States and Europe. The three crops used, NK 603, MON 810 and MON 863, are varieties of corn available in food and feed all over the world. Both MON 810 and MON863 are engineered to synthesize Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) toxins, a type of insecticide, and NK 603 is engineered to be resistant to the broad spectrum herbicide glyphosate, which Monsanto sells under the brand name Roundup. All three crops show varying levels of adverse health effects, primarily in the liver and kidneys, in addition to the heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells. Researchers were assisted by Greenpeace in acquiring the data analyzed. Under a European Union directive, Monsanto should have made their raw data publicly available, but Greenpeace lawyers had to obtain some of the data through court action. The study sharply criticizes Monsanto’s data analysis and conclusions, and calls […]