Thursday, June 28, 2012

Monsanto payout?

Monsanto faces $7.5 billion payout to Brazilian farmers
CorpWatch
by Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero
June 28, 2012

Monsanto, the largest seed corporation in the world, may have to pay as much as $7.5 billion to five million Brazilian soy farmers.

The company has long dealt out severe legal sanctions against farmers it suspects of “pirating” its seed. But now the farmers have turned the tables on Monsanto, by suing the company and winning.

[Read More…]

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bollworms adapt

Bt cotton toxic, bollworms seek new hosts
By Syed Akbar
Deccan Chronicle
June 23, 2012

The agricultural gains by Bt cotton farmers seems to be at the cost of other farmers. The bollworm, which the Bt cotton is resistant to, has now found new hosts in other varieties of plants, putting them at risk.

Bt cotton is poisonous for the cotton bollworm and it cannot survive on its leaves. So the insect, which belongs to the butterfly family, has migrated to non-Bt plants such as tomato, pigeon pea, chickpea, sorghum and maize.

The agricultural loss, which cotton growers suffered earlier, is now being experienced by farmers growing food crops. This has led to increase in the use of pesticides by non-Bt cotton farmers to reduce the additional loss.

There are no reports of reduction in the population of cotton bollworm and this indicates that it has adapted to non-Bt cotton crops to lay eggs and populate its species.

[Read More…]

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Syngenta charged

Syngenta charged for covering up livestock deaths from GM corn
By Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji
ISIS Report
June 13, 2012

Biotech giant Syngenta has been criminally charged with denying knowledge that its genetically modified (GM) Bt corn kills livestock during a civil court case that ended in 2007 [1].

Syngenta’s Bt 176 corn variety expresses an insecticidal Bt toxin (Cry1Ab) derived from the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and a gene conferring resistance to glufosinate herbicides. EU cultivation of Bt 176 was discontinued in 2007. Similar varieties however, including Bt 11 sweet corn are currently cultivated for human and animal consumption in the EU.

The charges follow a long struggle for justice by a German farmer whose dairy cattle suffered mysterious illnesses and deaths after eating Bt 176. They were grown on his farm as part of authorised field tests during 1997 to 2002. By 2000, his cows were fed exclusively on Bt 176, and soon illnesses started to emerge. He was paid 40 000 euros by Syngenta as partial compensation for 5 dead cows, decreased milk yields, and vet costs (see [2] Cows ate GM Maize and Died, SiS 21). During a civil lawsuit brought against the company by the farmer however, Syngenta refused to admit that its GM corn was the cause, claiming no knowledge of harm. The case was dismissed and Gloeckner remained thousands of euros in debt.

Gloeckner continued to lose cows and many more had to be put down due to serious illnesses, compelling him to stop using GM feed from 2002. He approached the Robert Koch Institute and Syngenta to conduct a full investigation. However, only one cow was ever analysed and the data are still unavailable to the public. Unsurprisingly, no causal relationship between the GM feed and deaths was determined; and there is still no explanation for the deaths.

[Read More…]

Friday, June 15, 2012

Monsanto corn injured

Monsanto corn injured by early rootworm feeding in Illinois
By Jack Kaskey
Bloomberg Businessweek
June 15, 2012

Monsanto Co. corn has been overwhelmed in parts of Illinois by rootworms that hatched a month early, renewing concern that the bugs are becoming immune to the insecticide engineered into the crop.

An “amazing” number of rootworms have emerged as adult beetles, the earliest start in at least 30 years, Michael Gray, an entomologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana, said today in an online journal. The insects “severely pruned” the roots of corn observed June 7 at a farm in Cass County, about 200 miles (322 kilometers) southwest of Chicago.

The western corn rootworm is one of the most destructive pests and historically cost U.S. farmers about $1 billion a year in damages and chemical pesticides before crops with built-in insecticide were developed. Corn fields in four states were overrun with the bugs last year, incidents that the Environmental Protection Agency suspects is a sign of increasing resistance to the insecticide.

The damaged fields in Illinois have been planted with corn continuously for at least 10 years, including six consecutive years with corn engineered to produce the Cry3Bb1 protein from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, a natural insecticide, Gray said.

“Under these conditions, the selection pressure for resistance development is markedly increased,” he said.

[Read More…]

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Going backwards

What new 2,4-D-resistant crops mean - Going backwards
By Linda Greene
The Bloomington Alternative
June 10, 2012

On May 23, 2012, John Rowan, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America, sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting his “immediate assistance in staying de-regulation of Dow AgroSciences much ballyhooed 2,4-D-resistant corn seed until an environmental impact study can be conducted and its subsequent results evaluated by scientists who are not affiliated with Dow AgroScience.”

Rowan is concerned about the use of the herbicide 2,4-D on 2,4-D-resistant–corn because it constituted half the ingredients in the defoliant Agent Orange used by the U.S. during the Vietnam War and is causing serious ailments in vets and Vietnamese civilians. Agent Orange was contaminated with dioxins, the most potent synthetic class of carcinogenic chemicals known, second only to radiation in potency as a carcinogen. Although most of the dioxins were from the 2,4,5-T half of Agent Orange, 2,4-D was also contaminated.

The deregulation, or approval for widespread planting, of 2,4-D-resistant corn and consequent increased use of the herbicide is relevant to Indiana, the fifth largest corn-producing state in the nation, according to Marti Crouch, a Bloomington biologist specializing in the interrelationships of agriculture and technology. She has recently focused on the environmental impacts of Roundup Ready crops (those resistant to Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup [glyphosate]) and the concomitant increased use of Roundup.

[Read More…]

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