Monsanto’s Bt Corn Rendered Obsolete by Mother Nature

by Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
December 8, 2011

Surprise, surprise. The circus that is trying to control nature is getting to end, and it has come sooner rather than later. When talking about controlling seed production, food production and what will produce look like inside and outside, Monsanto has failed again. This time is the turn of their genetically modified corn seed to show that no man-made monster seed can repeal mother nature.

It has come to public attention that Monsanto’s corn, derived from genetically modified corn seed, once again failed to kill bugs that feed off corn plants. According to the EPA, at least four U.S. states have seen undesirable outcomes and the most common of the insects that GM corn plants are supposed to be immune to -rootworms- have managed to bypass Monsanto’s killer gene. In other words, they have become immune to it and are not dying.

“Rootworms in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska are suspected of developing tolerance of the plants’ insecticide,” reported Business Week on December 1. The EPA based its conclusions on analysis performed on plants that suffered damage from rootworm attacks as well as entomologists’ reports from each of the states affected by the ineffectiveness of Monsanto’s GM seed. The EPA went further to state that Monsanto’s monitoring program that evaluates resistance to its product is “inadequate”. The agency published the latest assessment on a document made available on its website on November 22.

“Resistance is suspected in at least some portions of four states in which ‘unexpected damage’ reports originated,” details the EPA on the document that is considered an internal memo the government agency writes with reviews of damage reports. Meanwhile, Monsanto’s spokesman, Lee Quarles, responded by saying that there is no scientific confirmation of resistance to Monsanto’s Bt corn. Quarles added that the international corporation does take the EPA report seriously and that the company is trying to teach farmers how to deal with what he called ‘unexpected damage’ to their crops.

Corn is one of the most heavily subsidized crops in the United States. Hundreds of farmers, especially Big Agra, are paid tax payer money to plant corn, most of which is genetically engineered corn. That is how Monsanto has managed to walk away with almost $12 billion in profits this year. The more government subsidizes corn, the more farmers will plant it, the more seed Monsanto sells, the more money they make; but also the more GMO pesticides people eat and the more soil contamination there is. And in the end, bugs will manage to become resistant to it. Although much of the harvested corn is used to produce biofuels, another chunk of it ends up in the kitchens of millions of families in the United States and lately the world.

As The Real Agenda and other publications have reported, genetically modified crops are neither the solution to end world hunger -as GMO advocates claim- nor the way to obtain better yields. Why in the world are governments across the planet directly or otherwise subsidizing Monsanto’s, or for that matter any other corporation’s research, development and experimentation with genetically modified organisms?

Just yesterday, PR Newswire reported that vast areas of Brazil will become GMO territory next year. The production of genetically modified crops will go up by over 20 percent. This trend has become the new normal in developing nations that possess large areas of unused lands managed by the government.

In an assessment published by Celeres, a consulting firm that focuses its work on agricultural economics, the area cultivated with GMO soybeans, corn and cotton for the 2011-2012, may add up to 31.8 million hectares — a new record since genetically modified crops were introduced in local agriculture. Celeres estimated that transgenic soybeans will cover some 21.4 million hectares, while GMO corn will occupy almost 5 million hectares. In the case of Brazil, the use of GMO seed is spread to a significant portion of the lands, including states like Bahia, Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, Goias and several others.

Before GMO seed made its appearance in countries like Brazil, it was used in India. Everyone is familiar with India’s experience when dealing with Monsanto’s transgenic cotton. If you are not, please read about it. In a nutshell, the highlights of India’s experiment with GMOs were: lower yields, heavily contaminated soils that were depleted of any natural minerals, a massive amount of suicides due to the accumulation of impossible to pay debts, and the fall into deep poverty for small and mid-sized farmers who adopted Monsanto’s “promising technology”. Of course, in the case of the United States and Brazil, big farmers won’t have to bear the full consequences of crop failure because the taxpayers will do that for them through government subsidies. The one thing everyone will have to deal with once GMO crops are rendered obsolete by mother nature will be depleted soils, insufficient food supplies, hunger and wide spread poverty. What will Monsanto and other biotechnology transnational corporations have to deal with? Well, maybe not having enough room in their pockets to put the money they got from the taxpayers.

GM Crops May Spell Death to Bio-Diversity

by Wan A.Hulaimi
NewStraitsTimes
October 3, 2011

If you wake up in the morning to find that your brinjals are no longer yours, what would you do?Take a case in point. Prabeer Kumar, a farmer in Karnataka, India, suddenly discovered that he had no seeds to sow and for his next crop he had to buy from a giant multinational. Farmer Kumar doesn’t exist — I have just made him up — but Karnataka does, and India and that giant multinational, they are all real. Some other Kumars in India found that they had a piece of paper in hand that made them promise to buy only GM seeds from one big company. GM seeds that will bear fruit and die so that farmer Kumar will have to go to the shops again and again ad infinitum until he himself dies for want of more rupees.

I have made up farmer Kumar because he represents many thousand farmers in the state of Karnataka who have unwittingly signed pieces of paper that have bound them to genetically modified (GM) seeds, nature tampered by big money-grabbing multinationals and then thrust back upon them at a price to be grown in land that they have not yet patented, thank God, to yield genetically modified crops to feed us all.

You have heard the benefits of GMs already even if we do not yet know their effects on our environment, health and wealth. This is the solution for world hunger, they say. But who knows? Take a simple question: if farmers have to go back to the shops after each yield, it will? But oh no, they’ll say, crops will be grown in huge quantities by big companies. Oh yes? Oh dearie me!

They introduced Bt cotton in India, a non-renewable genetically modified cotton seed with claims about insect resistance and the usual spiel. We do not know what this tampering with nature to ‘control’ the assault of nature is doing to our birds and our bees and our butterflies, but many Indian farmers — a quarter million according to some sources — committed suicide as a result of the high price of seeds which they once got for nothing from the last crop. Non-renewability of GM seeds sends farmers out to the shops, and shopping for tailor-made goods, as you know, costs a big wad of rupees.

Yet it keeps moving on as more and more of our natural species are being tampered with, their genes added to and readjusted to make them safe for big companies to make proprietary claims on them all. India has close to eight per cent of the world’s living species. They tried to patent basmati rice so that only they will be able to sell them to farmers, but they failed, and their next trick is with the humble brinjal which you could have taken from your neighbour’s garden and planted in yours for just a chat and a smile. They are now trying to patent the brinjal in India so that you will no longer be your next door’s good neighbour because you and they and your friendly local farmer will soon have to buy GM ‘bt brinjal’ for your curry. And bully for India, they are taking Monsanto to court for ‘bio-piracy’ which, in this context, means stealing indigenous plants, genetically modifying them, and giving nothing — but misery — in return to the people. This is the first time in the world that a nation is taking such a step against a multinational. Other countries in the world with huge bio-diversity reserves would be well advised to sit up and listen well.

What will GM crops do besides giving untold wealth to giant seed monopolising companies? We don’t know, but more than a few suspicions have been expressed and they should all be looked into.

In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), a body of medical clinicians from various specialities, called for a moratorium on GM foods. “GM foods pose a serious health risk” they said in their position paper. And more: “there is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects”. And more: “GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.”

Very little long term research has been done on the health and ecological effects of GM seeds. But if you have time and the search engine, do go and look up Dr Arpad Pusztai and his experiment in Scotland in 1998 with rats and the GM potato.

So is GM food safe or is it not? We don’t know, but if you had baked beans for breakfast this morning, chances are it was GM product down your tummy-tee-tee. That GM food inside you now is sweeping the world, stealing the livelihood of our farmers, depleting our heritage and may even be the death of our bio-diversity.

Farmer Prabeer Kumar may not exist, but the real Shri Prabeer Kumer Basu is India’s agricultural minister. Email him now at secy-agri@nic.in to say how much you appreciate his call.

Wan A. Hulaimi also wrote A Map of Terengganu, under the pen name Awang Goneng. He may be reached at elsewhere@columnist.com