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Scientists call for GM review after surge in pests around cotton farms in China

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posted on May, 23 2010 @ 02:53 PM
This story is more than 48hrs old, so I'm posting it here instead of the Breaking News forum.

Scientists call for GM review after surge in pests around cotton farms in China(13 May 2010)

The unexpected surge of infestations "highlights a critical need" for better ways of predicting the impact of GM crops and spotting potentially damaging knock-on effects arising from their cultivation, researchers said.

Millions of hectares of farmland in northern China have been struck by infestations of bugs following the widespread adoption of Bt cotton, an engineered variety made by the US biotech giant, Monsanto.

Outbreaks of mirid bugs, which can devastate around 200 varieties of fruit, vegetable and corn crops, have risen dramatically in the past decade, as cotton farmers have shifted from traditional cotton crops to GM varieties, scientists said.

Traditional cotton famers have to spray their crops with insecticides to combat destructive bollworm pests, but Bt cotton produces its own insecticide, meaning farmers can save money by spraying it less.

But a 10-year study across six major cotton-growing regions of China found that by spraying their crops less, farmers allowed mirid bugs to thrive and infest their own and neighbouring farms.

The infestations are potentially catastrophic for more than 10m small-scale farmers who cultivate 26m hectares of vulnerable crops in the region studied.

The findings mark the first confirmed report of mass infestations arising as an unintended consequence of farmers using less pesticide – a feature of Bt cotton that was supposed to save money and lessen the crops' environmental impact. The research, led by Kongming Wu at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, is published in the US journal, Science.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

The "unintended consequences" says it all. Do we need stricter regulations? An all-out moratorium until we can be sure? Are genetically modified seeds/crops/foods already Too Big To Fail [e.g., how are we going to feed our growing world's population without them, etc*]?

*Also see: Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?


Genetically-modified foods have the potential to solve many of the world's hunger and malnutrition problems, and to help protect and preserve the environment by increasing yield and reducing reliance upon chemical pesticides and herbicides. Yet there are many challenges ahead for governments, especially in the areas of safety testing, regulation, international policy and food labeling. Many people feel that genetic engineering is the inevitable wave of the future and that we cannot afford to ignore a technology that has such enormous potential benefits. However, we must proceed with caution to avoid causing unintended harm to human health and the environment as a result of our enthusiasm for this powerful technology.

Related ATS threads:

Haitian Farmers Commit to Burning Monsanto Hybrid Seeds

Is Genetically Engineered Cotton Killing Sheep?

Monsanto Getting Creepier and Creepier

GM Crops and the Coming Famine

(edit)forgot to include link to Guardian article.

[edit on Sun May 23 2010 by Rren]

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 03:44 PM
Thanks for the update. I don't think many people understand how truly important this issue is. In my opinion it's the most devastating potential disaster ever to befall humanity, in recorded history. The Earth is going nowhere. But if we allow this to go unregulated for a couple hundred years, we could very well wake up one day and find that the natural and non-poisonous produce had been fatally out-competed by plants which, on a cellular level, produce their own toxin which we have not evolved to tolerate.

This is a Pandora's Box in the truest sense of the word. GM fields have already permanently contaminated nearby non-GM fields. The only tests ever done before green-lighting it were shown to be fraudulent on a criminal level. All follow-up tests done by independent labs show a very bleak picture. Failure in the lab, disaster in the field.

Here's a couple-day-old interview with Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception. He's very active in this fiasco and since this issue seems to change wildly from week to week, it's always great to have someone highly informed give a thorough update.

GM Food Dangers Pt 1
GM Food Dangers Pt 2
GM Food Dangers Pt 3
GM Food Dangers Pt 4
GM Food Dangers Pt 5
GM Food Dangers Pt 6
GM Food Dangers Pt 7
GM Food Dangers Pt 8
GM Food Dangers Pt 9
GM Food Dangers Pt 10
GM Food Dangers Pt 11

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 03:52 PM
here we go again, real world test, big fail, while it's still considered a 'promising technology'. well, maybe it is, it's just that any other technology with a similar track record would have been ignored or condemned after a while.

you linked enough threads already, so i will limit myself to just one quote:

+ In 2006, the US Department of Agriculture, a chief proponent of GM crops, for the first time acknowledged that GM crop yields are not greater than those of conventional crops, and a compelling number of studies by independent scientists demonstrate that GM crop yields are lower than, or at best equivalent to, yields from non-GM varieties.


+ In the last decade, cotton production has declined in the majority of countries that have adopted GM cotton like Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, South Africa and Australia, and significant drops in GM cotton production are forecasted in 2006 for South Africa and Mexico.

correlation does not necessarily imply causation, of course, but why didn't they investigate why and how the drop in yields occurred? sounds like a serious situation, imho. While we are at it: why again are we seemingly compelled to find arguments against GM crops when there hardly seem to be any in their favor? will someone show me conclusively positive examples of GM crop use?

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 04:16 PM

Originally posted by Long Lance
While we are at it: why again are we seemingly compelled to find arguments against GM crops when there hardly seem to be any in their favor? will someone show me conclusively positive examples of GM crop use?

From the article linked in my OP:


What are some of the advantages of GM foods?

The world population has topped 6 billion people and is predicted to double in the next 50 years. Ensuring an adequate food supply for this booming population is going to be a major challenge in the years to come. GM foods promise to meet this need in a number of ways:

Pest resistance Crop losses from insect pests can be staggering, resulting in devastating financial loss for farmers and starvation in developing countries. Farmers typically use many tons of chemical pesticides annually. Consumers do not wish to eat food that has been treated with pesticides because of potential health hazards, and run-off of agricultural wastes from excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers can poison the water supply and cause harm to the environment. Growing GM foods such as B.t. corn can help eliminate the application of chemical pesticides and reduce the cost of bringing a crop to market4, 5.

Herbicide tolerance For some crops[...]

Disease resistance There are many viruses, fungi and bacteria that cause plant diseases. Plant biologists are working to create plants with genetically-engineered resistance to these diseases[...]

Cold tolerance Unexpected frost can destroy sensitive seedlings. An antifreeze gene from cold water fish has been introduced into plants such as tobacco and potato. With this antifreeze gene, these plants are able to tolerate cold temperatures that normally would kill unmodified seedlings.[...]

Drought tolerance/salinity tolerance As the world population grows and more land is utilized for housing instead of food production, farmers will need to grow crops in locations previously unsuited for plant cultivation. [...]

Nutrition Malnutrition [...]

Pharmaceuticals Medicines and vaccines [...]

Phytoremediation Not all GM plants are grown as crops. Soil and groundwater pollution continues to be a problem in all parts of the world. Plants such as poplar trees have been genetically engineered to clean up heavy metal pollution from contaminated soil18.

Obivously the first benefit listed [pest resistance] is what this thread is about. *swing and a miss!*

But, if you like, Mosanto has this: The Advantages of Genetically Modified Foods. Not exactly an unbiased, impartial source... but, there you have it. Like I asked in the OP, Too Big To Fail? Looks like this stuff is everywhere [90% of farmers in developing countries according to Monsanto.]

Also from the Monsanto link: Scientists In Support Of Agricultural Biotechnology:

Since we began in January 2000, we have collected endorsements from more than 3,400 international scientists who have signed our Declaration of Support for Agricultural Biotechnology to improve agriculture in the developing world.

Signers include 25 Nobel Prize winners and other prestigious scientists.

Click here to read and sign the "Declaration of Support of Agricultural Biotechnology"

Maybe I'm just paranoid and/or ignorant... but, I don't trust 'em.

[edit on Sun May 23 2010 by Rren]

posted on May, 24 2010 @ 02:30 AM
reply to post by Rren

that's the glossy marketing promise, of course.

in 2007, i posted

Originally posted by Long Lance
it's a valid experiment, but the experience with GM crops is sobering, i don't see why animals would be any different (if the same techniques are used). besides, that's like taking anti-enflammatory drugs to combat allergies, i'd rather eliminate the cause than go chasing side effects of the latest wonder cure, but i'm probably a sceptic.

PS: i'm not trying to spread FUD here, it's just that far too many empty promises have been made wrt GMOs, so broad claims of immunity shouldn't be taken at face value.

While Monsanto walked away with its first year profits from selling prohibitively expensive inferior seeds, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) in India gets ready to accord approval to yet another strain(s) of Bt cotton for the northwestern parts of the country and too after a hurridly conducted one-year of farm trials. Cotton farmers, in the bargain, have been left high and dry.

That in the very first year of commercial planting, Bt cotton should be faced with American bollworm attack (the insect against which it is supposedly resistant), is a clear pointer to the fact that the science/technology was not at all perfect. Bt cotton has also seen an increased infestation of other sucking pests. The crop came under an increased attack of wilt disease and of course has proved to be a water guzzler. And as far as the economics is concerned, it has gone wrong everywhere.

when you think about it, the pest is reliant on your crop and will face a massive pressure to adapt. other species are of course prone to just abandon the affected area because they are less specialized.

when you're introduced to GM the ads proclaim yield increases, when that notion is refuted it's (alleged) savings in pesticides. As it stands, the reality of the situation is nearly the diametrical opposite, it has been that way for a decade, tbh.

just take Argentina:

so the question is why are people not basing their verdict on readily available evidence rather than PR from the company? Yields are at best equal, pesticide use is oftentimes much worse than conventionally required, 'superweeds' are popping up everywhere and we are still supposed to swallow these empty promises?

there seems to be a veritable disconnect from reality here - if people were smart, they'd abandon this chimera before the damage becomes too great, with some real tangible consequences no amount of denial will conceal.

posted on May, 24 2010 @ 07:10 AM
GM crops are the most useless things that happened to mankind .

those who advocate GM despite knowing its consequences ,deserve to die like pigs.

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