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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Bt' Category


Genetically Modified Crops Feed Company Profits Not the Poor

(Beyond Pesticides, February 12, 2009) Genetically modified (GM) crops are benefiting biotech food giants instead of the world’s hungry population, which is projected to increase to 1.2 billion by the year 2025 due to the global food crisis, according to a report released yesterday by the Center for Food Safety and Friends of the Earth International. The report, “Who Benefits From GM Crops: Feeding the Biotech Giants Not the World’s Poor,” explains how biotech firms like Monsanto are exploiting the dramatic rise in world grain prices that are responsible for the global food crisis by sharply increasing the prices of GM seeds and chemicals they sell to farmers, even as hundreds of millions go hungry. The findings of the report support a comprehensive United Nations’ assessment of world agriculture in the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), which in 2008 concluded that GM crops have little potential to alleviate poverty and hunger in the world. IAASTD experts recommended instead low-cost, low-input agroecological farming methods. “U.S. farmers are facing dramatic increases in the price of GM seeds and the chemicals used with them,” said Bill Freese, science policy analyst at the US-based Center for Food Safety […]



Obama Administration Faces First Test on Genetically Engineered Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, February 9, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently soliciting comments on Monsanto’s second application to extend its experimental use permit for soybeans genetically engineered (GE) with the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). This will be the new administration’s first test on how it handles the issues surrounding GE crops. Among a number of concerns regarding GE crops, crops engineered to contain Bt threaten the long-term efficacy of Bt, which is an approved insecticide in organic farming. Monsanto’s permit on these GE soybeans was first granted by EPA in September 2007 and then extended in April 2008. Under the permit, plantings are permitted through July 31, 2009. Monsanto is requesting to extend the experimental program until December 31, 2010 and amend it by conducting tests with up to 0.466 pounds of Bt Cry1Ac protein in soybeans on 1,362 acres, according to the February 4th Federal Register notice. The testing trials will take place in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and Virginia. Following the review of the application and any comments and data received in response to this solicitation, EPA will decide whether to issue or deny the EUP request, […]



Insect Resistance to Biotech Cotton Found

(Beyond Pesticides, February 14, 2008) Researchers have found what they are calling the first insect resistance in the field to genetically engineered plants that are modified to produce an insecticide called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. The University of Arizona (UA) researchers, who have previously received research support from Monsanto and Cotton, Inc., are supportive of bioengineered crops and dismiss the findings of resistance, given that they are only in cotton and no other crops. The report, “Insect resistance to Bt crops: evidence versus theory,” is due out in the February issue of Nature. Concern about resistance has raised fears in the organic community that Bt, derived from natural soil bacterium, would be rendered ineffective as insect resistance spreads and this natural control collapses over time.In organic systems, composted manures and cover crops replace synthetic fertilizers, innovative weeding strategies are used instead of herbicides, beneficial insects and trap crops control insect pests, and alternatives to toxic defoliants prepare plants for harvest. Bt-resistant populations of the insect bollworm, Helicoverpa zea, were found in more than a dozen crop fields in Mississippi and Arkansas between 2003 and 2006. The bollworm resistance to Bt cotton was discovered when a team of University of Arizona […]



Bt Corn Could Hurt Aquatic Ecosystems

(Beyond Pesticides, October 16, 2007) Corn, genetically engineered (GE) to tolerate the pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), has been found to harm non-target aquatic insects and disrupt the connected food web. A new study by researchers at Indiana University, funded by the National Science Foundation and published in Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, suggests that the crop, which has been licensed for use since 1996, poses an unforseen risk to aquatic ecosystems. According to the study, roughly 35 percent of American corn acreage is Bt corn. Pollen and other parts of the plants are travelling much farther than the fields in which they are planted, carrying Bt toxins through watersheds and being consumed by close relatives of the corn’s targeted pests. Caddisflies experience high mortality and stunted growth as a result of exposure. As researcher Todd V. Royer observed, they “are a food resource for higher organisms like amphibians and fish. And, if our goal is to have healthy, functioning ecosystems, we need to protect all the parts. Water resources are something we depend on greatly.” This effect went unnoticed for ten years because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in its registration trials, tested Bt on a crustacean, rather […]



Maine Withdraws Opposition to Bt Corn

(Beyond Pesticides, August 3, 2007) Maine is no longer the only state to prohibit the use of genetically altered corn. Despite concern from the organic farming community, Maine joined the rest of the nation last Friday when the Board of Pesticide Control (BPC) ruled to allow Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn to be grown and sold in the state of Maine. With the aim of reducing the use of hazardous pesticides, the BPC registered Bt corn products from Dow AgroSciences, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Monsanto to be grown for animal feed. Bt corn is genetically modified to produce its own pesticide, a naturally occurring toxin that protects against a combination of insects. Organic growers caution that overuse of the crop will lead to insect resistance to the Bt toxin, which is widely sprayed on organic crops. “I think it might very well be a short-term solution and farmers will be forced to use more pesticides in the future,” said Board member Lee Humphreys, a market gardener. She warned that there are too many unknowns about the genetically modified corn, such as its long-term effect on the soil and in creating resistant bugs. In addition, the safety of consuming milk and beef […]



Growth of GE Crop Acreage Another Reason to Buy Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2007) According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service, the number of genetically engineered (GE) crop acres by U.S. farmers has skyrocketed since their introduction in 1996, despite resistance from consumers and concerns about agricultural and environmental impacts. Because the U.S. does not require GE crops to be labeled, the only way to be sure you are not consuming these products is to buy organic, which forbids the use of GE technologies. Soybeans and cotton genetically engineered with herbicide-tolerant traits have been the most widely and rapidly adopted GE crops in the U.S., followed by insecticide-incorporated cotton and corn. The chart below shows the growth of GE soybeans, cotton and corn since 1996. (HT = modified to be herbicide tolerant, Bt = modified to produce the insecticide Bt) Since 2000, use of HT soybeans has increased from 54% of acreage planted with the crop to 91% in 2007. GE corn varieties, both HT and Bt, have increased from 25% to 73%. Cotton varieties, both HT and Bt, have increased from 61% to 87%. In addition to the lack of information available on the long-term safety of GE products, Beyond Pesticides is concerned with […]



New Jersey Rejects Toxic Sprays for Gypsy Moths

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2007) On January 29, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) concluded a month-long review of the Department of Agriculture’s (NJDA) petition to waive the state’s ban on aerial-spraying of broad-spectrum pesticides. The state will uphold the ban, effectively blocking widespread use of the chemical Dimilin. The ban affects towns seeking to reduce rising gypsy moth populations. Roughly 125,000 acres of trees suffered defoliation in the state as a result of gypsy moths, one of the worst years in recent memory. Gypsy moths have been in New Jersey since the 1920s, and their destruction peaking in 1981, with 800,000 acres defoliated. Dimilin is a restricted-use pesticide (available only to certified applicators) that has been unavailable for broadcast use for decades. For the past 20 years, in lieu of aerial spraying of Dimilin — also known as diflubenzuron — the pesticide specified in NJDA’s request, New Jersey towns have used bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) , a bacterial agent. With gypsy moth populations expected to be higher in 2007 than in recent years, NJDA argued that Bt would be insufficient to protect hardwood trees across the state. In a letter to NJDA, Marcedius T. Jameson, DEP’s administrator for […]



NJ Groups Oppose Lifting 20-Year Ban on Chemical Gypsy Moth Control

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2007) A proposal is underway within New Jersey’s Department of Agriculture (DOA) to lift a 20-year ban on the use of Dimilin (diflubenzuron) for gypsy moth suppression. The State’s DOA is proposing to amend its regulations (N.J.A.C. 2:23) to permit the synthetic chemical pesticide to be aerially sprayed over forested residential areas (estimated to be 50,000 acres) in 14 counties where egg mass counts are over 4,000 per acre. In addition, the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Division of Parks and Forestry may propose using Dimilin in state park areas where the egg masses are 4,000 per acre or more — potentially treating up to an additional 28,000 acres.The New Jersey Environmental Federation (NJEF) has taken action to stop the plan. In a letter co-signed by an additional 25 organizations to the Commissioners of DEP and DOA, they state, “While gypsy moth is a nuisance pest and can contribute to oak tree mortality, it is not a human health threat, nor a disease vector. We believe that given the potential harm to human health and biodiversity by the chemical pesticide Dimilin, the Departments should err on the side of caution and stand by their regulations that […]