The notes below are based on material presented at a public meeting at Littlemoor, Weymouth, Dorset, UK, 27 March 2001 by Mark Griffiths BSc FRICS FAAV in respect of which more information is available on the web via: www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/gmocarto.htm
Some of this material may be useful to others when giving presentations on GM crops
UK FARM SCALE TRIALS AND AGRONOMY
LACK OF YIELD MONITORING
"The results of field experiments showed that a weed management strategy with glufosinate must include multiple applications, residual herbicides or mechanical control" WSSA Abstracts, 1998, Ref: 1.14
for more on significance of this see: www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/gmtrialsscience.htm
KNOCK ON EFFECTS OF HERBICIDE RESISTANT VOLUNTEER WEED MANAGEMENT
"..... What is unusual here is not so much that it happened at all, but that it occurred rapidly and multiple times, such that, through completely random crossing, certain plants were found to be resistant to three different herbicides.......
”¦one of the triple-resistant plants was found over 550 m from the pollen sources, greatly exceeding the 100-m buffer mandated for seed producers”¦ even a low percentage of outcrossing can result in significant transfer of genes via pollen."
Jim Westwood, Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science; Virginia tech, ISB News Report, March 2001, on Canadian study on canola (oil seed rape) volunteers - Hall et al (2000) http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Triple-Herbicide-Resistance-ISB.htm
Control methods for volunteer canola [oil seed rape]
Western Producer, February 10, 2000
Volunteer canola is one of the most abundant weeds in Alberta wheat and barley fields, say Alberta Agriculture researchers. With the discovery of volunteer canola with resistance to several herbicides, farmers need to take resistance problems into consideration when they plan their crop and herbicide rotation. Alberta Agriculture researchers have put together a nine-point strategy to control volunteer canola.
* Leave volunteers on the soil surface as long as possible. Seeds left on the surface may germinate or be killed by frost.
* Till immediately before seeding to control volunteer canola. Tillage plays an important role in weed control.
* Use herbicide mixtures when using products in groups 2, 6, 9 or 10.
* Use herbicides not in groups 2, 6, 9 or 10. Rotation of herbicides is important for resistance management.
* Use non-chemical weed control like silage, green manure and forages in a rotation to control volunteers.
* Include cereals, peas and forage crops in your rotation. Rotation permits a wider selection of herbicides.
* Scout fields for herbicide tolerant-volunteer canola.
* Grow competitive crops. Boost seeding rates, choose competitive varieties, seed early, and place a balanced fertilizer close to the seed.
* Reduce seed pod shattering during canola harvest. Swath at the optimum crop stage.
"Herbicide-resistant volunteer canola plants are beginning to develop into a major problem... In the real world, human error and expediency may often compromise guidelines for the growing of such crops." Royal Society Report, Canada Feb 2001 http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Royal-Society-Canada-Questions.htm
Impact on own farm?
Impact on neighbours?
"A top Aventis CropScience executive said Sunday that the food supply will never be rid of the new strain of corn that the company genetically engineered at Research Triangle Park" Tribune, Mar. 19, on Bt StarLink food chain contamination - 430 million bushels.
"The hope of the industry is that over time the market is so flooded [with GM] that there’s nothing you can do about it, you just sort of surrender." Don Westfall, vice-president, Promar International, Washington-based food and biotech industry consultants
"The results suggest that farm to farm spread of OSR transgenes will be widespread" Thompson et al (1999). British Crop Protection Council Symposium proceedings, no 72 For male sterile plants: 5% contamination at 4km, and more than 80% at 900m.
INSURANCE RISKS - NO COVER
"NFU Mutual will not indemnify the Insured in respect of any liability arising from the production, supply of or presence on the premises of any genetically modified crop, where liability may be attributed directly or indirectly to the genetic characteristics of such crop. In particular no indemnity will be provided in respect of liability arising from the spread or the threat of spread of genetically modified organism characteristics into the environment or any change to the environment arising from research into, testing of or production of genetically modified organisms". NFU MUTUAL Business Combined Policy, 2001 http://www.mindfully.org/GE/NFU-Mutual-Wont-Insure.htm
Legal action by neighbours? - no cover
Legal action by consumers/food chain? - no cover
Consumer Protection Act 1997 (Product Liability) Modification Order 2000
Strict liability on producers for death, injury, loss or damage to private property caused by defective products extended to primary agricultural products
"This legislation must give serious concern”¦ to those involved in the promotion and testing of Genetically Modified Organisms. If liability is to be absolute who is going to run the risk, however small and remote it may be?" Mills and Reeves, Solicitors, Agriculture Update Feb 2001
US FARMERS LOSING MARKETS
".....concern about genetically engineered crops is now coming not only from environmental and consumer groups ........ The North Dakota bill has made headway precisely because its main backers are some of the state's own farmers, not the usual biotechnology opponents." New York Times, 24 March, 2000 on a bill to ban the growing of GM wheat in North Dakota.
"Why didn't you tell us about all of these potential negatives a long time ago. Where have you been for the last two or three years? I came here this morning feeling pretty good. But now you've got me very concerned about where we're going to sell our GMO-crops in the future. It's not right that you let us all get hooked growing these GMO-crops and now tell us that maybe we should be growing something else." Tom Bechman, Indiana Prairie Farmer (Farm Progress, 23 March 2001)
"First of all, recognize that NONE of the currently available insect-resistant or herbicide-tolerant corn or soybean varieties are CRITICAL for the success of Indiana farmers". Bob Nielsen and Dirk Maier Purdue Univ, Advice Note to Indiana farmers, 12 March 2001
Why have so many GM crops been grown in the US?
Information was kept away from farmers & traditional advisers, the University extension services
(for more on this see: www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/gmlemmings.htm )
"The bottom line, based on the emerging data is that GE crops do not offer sustainable reductions in use and reliance on pesticides… and the technologies are not performing according to claims…..The technology has been misrepresented in ways that suggest genetic improvement can take the place of management and skill in solving pest problems. This may explain, in part, why farmers have so readily adopted the technology to the degree they have."
World Wildlife Fund Scientific Literature Review March 2000 http://www.global-reality.com/biotech/ARTICLES/news132.htm
More information on the poor performance of GM crops available at: http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/gmagric.htm
ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECTS
"Fresh fears over the safety of genetically modified foods surfaced faced yesterday after new research revealed that food allergies relating to soya increased by 50 per cent last year. A study by Europe's leading specialists on food sensitivity found health complaints caused by soya - the ingredient most associated with GM foods ..........Researchers at the York Nutritional Laboratory said their findings provide real evidence that GM food could have a tangible, harmful impact on the human body....It is the first time in 17 years of testing that soya has crept into the laboratory's top 10 foods to cause an allergic reaction in consumers.......researchers tested 4,500 people for allergic reactions to vegetables including soya. Among the range of chronic illnesses it caused were irritable bowel syndrome, digestion problems and skin complaints including acne and eczema....People also suffered neurological problems with chronic fatigue syndrome, headaches and lethargy..." Daily Express, UK, 12 March 99
"The C.D.C. [Centres for Disease Control] now says that food is responsible for twice the number of illnesses in the United States as scientists thought just seven years ago..," New York Times, 18 March (5,000 deaths, 325,000 hospitalizations and 76 million illnesses)
"Ben Miflin, former director of the Institute of Arable Crops at Rothamsted, near London, who is a proponent of the potential benefits of genetic modification of crops....argues that, under current monitoring conditions, any unanticipated health impact of such foods would need to be a 'monumental disaster' to be detectable." Nature, Volume 398:651, April 22, 1999
"Because of the potential scale of use of GM material in the environment and in the food chain, there is a need for a considerable strengthening of the UK disease surveillance systems, both in their scope and depth. Disease surveillance and event monitoring procedures will need to be sufficiently robust to deal with the potential emergence of new diseases associated with GM material which will be obscure and difficult to diagnose." British Medical Association statement on GM foods May 1999 http://www.bma.org.uk/public/science/genmod.htm
"....things should have been more properly assessed, reviewing all the issues in respect to safety ..... The Chardon LL hearing has raised several safety concerns for government regarding human health.... [there are] a large number of unknowns yet and we'll have to wait and see....the government's got into a very bad position due to bad decisions taken early in the process". Linda Smith, DETR, 4th meeting of the Agriculture & Environment Biotechnology Commission (AEBC), February 2001. http://www.i-sis.org/AEBCnorwich-pr.shtml
NEED FOR GM?
"From a scientific perspective, the public argument about genetically-modified organisms, I think, will soon be a thing of the past. The science has moved on and we're now in the genomics era." Professor Robert Goodman of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (former executive vice president for research and development at Calgene, the developers of the renowned genetically engineered Flavr Savr tomato) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science February 18 2001.
"Genetic transformation is just one particular wrench in the biotechnology tool box. We have lots of other tools to accelerate the development of new wheat varieties.... It's a numbers game and ultimately non-transformation biotech offers the greatest potential." Tom Crosbie, Monsanto's global head of plant breeding (Farmers Weekly, 25 February 2000)
For more information on this solution to the GM debate see: www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/GMdebatesolution.htm
UNITED NATIONS ANALYSIS OF GLOBAL FOOD NEEDS TO 2030?
FAO report reveals GM crops not needed to feed the world
'An ordinary miracle' - sustainable agriculture without GMOs New Scientist - Feb 2001 see: http://www.biotech-info.net/ordinary_miracle.html
QUOTES FROM SCIENTISTS
"Almost everything we grow, everything we eat is the root result of human intervention, human breeding and so on. But this is unnatural in a different sort of way from the kinds of breeding programs that have characterized humanity for ten thousand years....
Certainly, humanity's record for using technology wisely, sensitive to its potential effects on society, on people, on environment is, at best, mixed and hardly encouraging....
We have not yet identified, yet alone cloned, the gene for wisdom, and some skepticism about our ability to manage powerful new technologies is appropriate.... "
Robert Shapiro,Chief Executive of Monsanto - speech on genetic engineering presented at State of the World Forum, Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco, CA , October 27, 1998
"The perception that everything is totally straightforward and safe is utterly naive. I don't think we fully understand the dimensions of what we're getting into." Professor Philip James (author of the "James" report commissioned by Tony Blair on the structure and functions of the proposed UK Food Standards Agency to oversee national food safety standards), Director of the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, on genetically engineered food, 3rd February 1998, the Scottish Daily Record
"We're in a crisis position where we know the weaknesses of the genetic concept, but we don't know how to incorporate it into a more complete understanding. Monsanto knows this. DuPont knows this. Novartis knows this. They all know what I know. But they don't want to look at it because it's too complicated and it's going to cost too much to figure it out." Richard Strohman, Professor Emeritus, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Strohman-Safe-Food.htm
Fundamental scientific conceptual errors in the development of recombinant DNA technology see: http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/oecdgmerrors.htm
GE fantasy shattered by human genome project www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/GEfantasy.htm
Central Government - DETR/MAFF/Dept of Health
"GM oil-seed rape has already been extensively tested in North-west Canada and from those tests we know all the problems it can cause. I don't see the point of more experiments here because we know it all already.... I can't say to people what they ought to do. It is commendable to go about it the political way, but eventually, if all else fails, people will take the law into their own hands." Dr Arpad Pusztai, Aberdeen Press and Journal, March 1 2001
Political compliance V Sound science www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/compliance.htm
ROLE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT
West Dorset poll autumn 2000:
Lib Dem random survey of over 2300 households revealed:
1. 72% said GM crops should not be grown in Dorset (plus 12% 'don't know')
2. 71% said GM crops should require planning permission (plus 17% 'don't know')
West Lindsey District Council, Lincolnshire, unanimous resolution March 2001: "Apart from the risks to both human and animal health, and the environment as a whole, it is now becoming clear that the planting of these crops could economically damage our farming industry, and therefore our community.
I therefore ask Mr Chairman, that at tonight's Full Council meeting, can we decide, as a matter of utmost urgency, to endeavour to arrange a delegation to meet with Mr Meacher, to discuss our concerns and to ensure that local democracy is immediately applied to the planting of these GM Crops?" Councillor Gary Fenwick, West Lindsey District Council, Lincolnshire 6 March
Michael Meacher, Minister of the Environment, March 2000 "Now, of course, if local authorities all over the country declared they didn't want it, then it probably would not be possible to go ahead." (BBC Radio 4 'Today Programme' interview on GM field-scale trials, 17 March 2000
"Well, I agree with you in the sense that when you use these methods you don't know what part of the chromosome that the new gene is being introduced into and that is, you know, what I would say is a drawback to the technology." Professor Bevan Mosely, former head of the Institute of Food Research, Reading, and member of the United Kingdom's Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) responsible for reviewing the safety of genetically modified foods, in a response to the question - "So how can we know that something isn't really going to go horrendously wrong?" - put to him by Charles Colett of Radio Wey Valley, Hampshire, United Kingdom, February 1998.
"I see worries in the fact that we have the power to manipulate genes in ways that would be improbable or impossible through conventional evolution. We shouldn’t be complacent in thinking that we can predict the results." Colin Blakemore, Waynflete professor of physiology at Oxford University, and President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, The Independent, London, August 17, 1998
"There is... a need to develop more effective and appropriate screening methods to alert companies and government agencies to the unexpected consequences of the often random insertion of genetic traits into plants." >From Professor Philip James' evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology, March 1999.
"Potentially disastrous effects may come from undetected harmful substances in Genetically Modified Foods." Dr Andrew Chesson, vice chairman of European Commission scientific committee on animal nutrition and formerly an ardent advocate of food biotechnology Daily Mail, UK, 13 Sept 1999. (A year earlier Dr Chesson chaired the audit committee which ruled there was no evidence to support Dr Pusztai's claims on the toxicity of GM potatoes).
"Why don't we require a pharmaceutical type analysis of the safety of these foods with proper trials?" Jack Cunningham, UK cabinet minister with overall responsibility for biotechnology, raising a variety of issues in relation to GM crops and food in a leaked internal memo to one of his civil servants, February 1999
"It's astonishing that this study has not been assessed and found wanting by the government, and that it's been left to Friends of the Earth to have it properly reviewed.. [the nutrition tests done are] not of a standard that would be acceptable for publication in a scientific journal." Dr Steve Kestin, University of Bristol's department of clinical veterinary science, on high mortality rates on chickens fed Chardon LL GM maize, Guardian Nov 4 2000
"We don't know shit about biology." Craig Venter, the scientist whose company completed the sequencing of the human genome in 2000 ("Decoding the genome" Ralph Brave, Jan. 9, 2001)
"In everyday language the talk is about a gene for this and a gene for that. We are now finding that that is rarely so. The number of genes that work in that way can almost be counted on your fingers, because we are just not hard-wired in that way." Craig Venter, Celera Genomics, London Times, 12 February 2001
"The experts [at the Royal Society of Canada] say this approach [of 'substantial equivalence'] is fatally flawed for genetically modified, or GM, crops and exposes Canadians to several potential health risks, including toxicity and allergic reactions", Toronto Star, 5 Feb 2000.
More quotes at: http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/gmoquote.htm