Monday, November 21, 2011
How much insecticide do Bt plants actually produce?
November 21, 2011
New publication shows inadequacies in risk assessment
A new publication by an international research consortium has revealed several inadequacies in current approaches to risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. The publication deals with methods used for measurement in so-called Bt-plants. These plants produce an insecticidal protein ( a so-called Bt toxin) that originates from soil bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis). One example is maize MON810 which is cultivated in some countries in the EU, many others can be imported and used in food and feed. Now for the first time, joint research involving four laboratories has shown that the results produced by industry and other institutions so far are not reliably reproducible and comparable because they are not determined and validated by standardized methods.
The actual content of these Bt toxins is highly relevant for assessing risks for the environment, and also for preventing resistance in pest insects. Without reliable data, the safety of these genetically engineered plants cannot be properly assessed.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Just label it
By Doug Gurian-Sherman
Union of Concerned Scientists
October 6, 2011
Genetically engineered (GE) foods have been in our groceries for years, and are found in most processed foods in the U.S. But there is nothing on a box of corn flakes that tells you whether there are GE ingredients in that food—and the GE industry wants it to stay that way.
This is contrary to what the large majority of consumers want. Consumer surveys show that overwhelming majorities (over 90 percent) consistently say that GE content should be disclosed—as documented by a new campaign to require the labeling of GE foods, called “Just Label It!”
The campaign wants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reverse its misguided policy that says food companies cannot be required to disclose the GE content in our foods.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
USDA/APHIS Creeping towards Regulatory Shutdown
By Prof. Joe Cummins
August 30, 2011
Regulating GM crops
Genetically modified (GM) grass tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate, intended for use in golf courses, parks and athletic fields, has become a focal point for the biotech industry and academe bent on killing the regulation of GM crops.
Before going into the bluegrass saga, the basics of GM crop regulation in the United States should be outlined. First, The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is entrusted to ensure the safe development of agricultural biotechnology by regulating field-testing, interstate movement, and importation of GM organisms (GMOs). APHIS determines whether a GMO is as safe for the environment as its traditional counterpart and hence can be freely used in agriculture. APHIS uses the term ‘biotechnology’ to mean recombinant DNA technology, or genetic engineering (modification) of living organisms . In addition, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates several biotechnology products, including pesticides produced by plants or microorganisms and non-pesticidal substances such as industrial enzymes, biosensors, and bioremediation agents produced using microorganisms . The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which determined that bioengineered foods should be regulated like their conventional counterparts in 1992, has not to-date established any regulations specific to bioengineered food . APHIS has undertaken regulation of the testing and release to the environment of GM crops on the basis that the GM crops must not pose a threat to unmodified crops while any threat to humans and farm animals is not considered by APHIS, or by any other agency.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Severe root damage to Bt corn confirmed in northwestern Illinois
By Jennifer Shike
College of ACES, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
August 24, 2011
Severe root damage observed in Bt corn in northwestern Illinois last week should alert growers to carefully consider 2012 seed selection choices, said Mike Gray, University of Illinois Extension entomologist.
On August 16, Gray verified severe corn rootworm pruning on some Bt hybrids that express the Cry3Bb1 protein in Henry and Whiteside counties located in northwestern Illinois. The fields were in continuous corn production systems for many years, and the producers had relied upon Bt hybrids that expressed the Cry3Bb1 protein as their primary protection against western corn rootworm injury.
Lodged plants were common in many areas of the fields, and western corn rootworm adults were numerous and easy to collect. He also found plants with two to three nodes of roots completely destroyed. A shovel was not required for removing the plants from the soil, Gray said.
“Unfortunately, yield losses will be significant in these fields,” he added. “In early July, severe storms swept through northern Illinois and caused significant lodging of many cornfields.”
Earlier this month Aaron Gassman of Iowa State University confirmed field-evolved resistance by western corn rootworm to the Cry3Bb1 protein in an Iowa study. Resistant western corn rootworm adults were collected by Gassmann from continuous cornfields in northeastern Iowa where significant root damage had occurred. These Iowa fields had been planted with Bt hybrids expressing the Cry3Bb1 protein, Gray said.
The situations in Iowa and Illinois share some common features, he said. Adults were collected from the Illinois fields in question and will be further evaluated for potential resistance.
“I urge you to be very cautious in your choice of hybrids offering corn rootworm protection in light of these developments in Iowa and northwestern Illinois,” Gray said. “Many producers have utilized a single-tactic approach for too many years, and now unfortunate consequences are beginning to emerge.”
Friday, August 12, 2011
Roundup herbicide research shows plant, soil problems
By Carey Gillam
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.