Monday, December 19, 2011
Complaints against Bt cotton grow
By Suhail Yusuf
December 19, 2011
TOBA TEK SINGH - Farmers have complained that cottonseed cakes available in the market are harming their cattle as their animals are suffering from diseases, specially lack of appetite, and decline in milk production, premature deliveries and sudden deaths due to unknown cause.
A progressive farmer, Arshad Warraich, of Chak 328-JB said the taste of milk, yogurt, lassi, butter and desi ghee had also been affected as a result and the bitterness was found in them.
Agriculture department deputy district officer Khalid Mahmood said that nearly 90 per cent of the cotton sown in the district was of BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis) type and cotton ginning factories supplied most of cottonseed cakes produced from its seed (banola).
He claimed that farmers had left old types of cotton varieties and turned to the most profit-earning crop.
Earlier, the per acre yield of cotton crop was 30 to 40 maund and with the use of BT cotton the per acre yield has increased between 50 and 60 maund.
Cottonseed cake sellers said that farmers lodged complaints with them that their animals were facing varied types of diseases due to cottonseed cakes.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Bt Crops Failures & Hazards
Dr. Eva Sirinathsinghji
December 14, 2011
The claim that genetically modified organisms are the most promising way of increasing crop yields is falsified by many independent scientific studies, as well as direct experience with GM crops in India, China, Argentina and the United States. Dr. Eva Sirinathsinghji reviews evidence on Bt crops
This report has been submitted to the EPA on behalf of the Institute of Science in Society. Please circulate widely and forward to your policy-makers
Rising insect resistance to genetically modified (GM) crops including Monsanto’s biggest selling crop, Bt corn, is threatening their utility and profitability. Insect resistance has prompted a new investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to documents in the newly opened docket (Docket No: EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0922) , “severe” damage to corn by rootworm has occurred in four states in the US. Further, the EPA describe Monsanto’s insect resistance monitoring program as “inadequate”. The EPA will collect public information to tackle the damage that could cause serious crop and economic damage. Amidst this investigation, Monsanto are seeing significant falls in their share prices . Comments and information regarding insect resistance can be submitted to the EPA on their website .
In 2010, GM crops engineered to produce insecticidal toxins from the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacterium, were grown on more than 58 million hectares of land globally . First commercialised in the US in 1996, it is also the only commercialised GM crop grown in the EU, with Spain being the largest producer. Despite their widespread commercialisation, the evidence for their functionality is still elusive, while evidence of their harm to the environment, people’s health, economic security and self-determination is continually mounting.
GM proponents have repeatedly claimed that Bt crops can help combat world hunger by increasing crop yields while reducing pesticide use, thereby providing a more productive and environmentally safe option over traditional varieties. However, as highlighted by a recent report conducted by 20 Indian, Southeast Asian, African and Latin American food and conservation groups representing millions of people, these claims are false. Pesticide use has increased, while GM crop yields are lower than conventional varieties (see  Transgenic Cotton Offers No Advantage, SiS 38) and world hunger is at epic proportions .
Risk assessments of Bt toxins to date have been inadequate, not least due to inexplicable lack of reliable data on the concentrations of Bt toxin produced in plants, including the roots and pollen. The purported efficacy and safety of these products cannot be established when exposure levels have not be reliably determined. A new study reported a standardised method to test Bt toxin levels and still found significant variation in results, highlighting the variability in previous studies . In particular, reports of declining concentrations in the food chain and soils are unreliable and need to be re-evaluated and repeated. Despite these inadequacies in risk assessments so far, evidence of the Bt toxicity to environment and health is steadily accumulating.
The present review summarises all the evidence surrounding the efficacy and safety of Bt crops with regards to pest control, human health and environmental impact.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
EFSA admits Bt maize threat to butterflies, gives green light regardless
December 13, 2011
The European Food Safety Authority GMO Panel’s new opinion on Pioneer Hybrid/Mycogen Seed’s insect resistance GM maize (known as 1507) acknowledges the crop puts non-target species at risk, including iconic butterflies, but disregards both these risks and big gaps in the applicant’s data in recommending the crop for EU cultivation. 
In contrast to a 2005 opinion giving 1507 the all clear, the EFSA GMO Panel now says, “Highly sensitive non-target Lepidoptera populations might be at risk,” if they ingest pollen from the GM maize that falls on plants used by their larvae for food.
Many common and iconic butterflies could be harmed because their food plants are frequently found in and around arable fields, so their larva may consume 1507 pollen on these plants. The “at risk” list includes the Painted Lady, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue and Orange Tip.
However the Panel nevertheless supports the approval of 1507 maize, saying the potential harmful effects can be mitigated.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Old chemicals are back in battle against weeds
By Georgina Gustin
October 30, 2011
As industry standard Roundup falters, concerns emerge about herbicides from decades past.
As farmers wage war on a worsening weed problem, they are being forced to enlist the aid of chemicals they once virtually abandoned.
Since 1996, Monsanto’s Roundup weed-killing system has become the dominant approach in agriculture, changing the way American farmers grow commodity crops. In the past several years, though, American farmers have increasingly reported that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, isn’t killing weeds. So once-popular chemicals such as “2, 4-D” and “dicamba” again have been called to duty.
“It’s really ironic that in this day and age of genetic engineering we’re going back to a herbicide from the 1940s,” said Dean Riechers, an associate professor of weed physiology at the University of Illinois, referring to the chemical “2, 4-D.” “It’s the oldest herbicide we have, and it’s going to become really popular again.”
The ineffectiveness of glyphosate has left companies scrambling to come up with other options, but some farmers and environmentalists are concerned about health and environmental risks.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
‘Superweeds’ revive an old, highly toxic herbicide
By Tom Philpott
October 19, 2011
Don’t call it a comeback; 2, 4-D’s been here for years. It even played a role in Agent Orange.
Ecologists call it the “pesticide treadmill”: pests like weeds and bugs evolve to resist the poisons designed to destroy them, forcing farmers to apply ever-higher doses or resort to novel poisons.
But Monsanto’s empire of Roundup Ready crops—designed to resist lashings of its own herbicide, Roundup—appears on the verge of sending the pesticide treadmill into reverse. As Roundup loses effectiveness, swamped by a galloping plague of resistant superweeds , farmers have already played the card of dramatically boosting Roundup application rate s.
Now they’re being urged to resort to an herbicide called 2,4-D that first hit farm fields in 1948, and that made up half of the formula for Agent Orange, the infamous defoliant applied to disastrous effect in the Vietnam War. Reports Southeast Farm Press :
To be fair, 2, 4-D made up the less toxic half of the Agent Orange formula, according to this Beyond Pesticides report (PDF) on it. The other half, known as 2,4,5-T, carried most of the dioxin contamination that made Agent Orange such a nightmare for everyone exposed to it in Vietnam.