Farmers Face Dire Reality As GE Crops Backfire

Published: Tue 28 Aug 2012 08:44 AM
Farmers Face Dire Reality As GE Crops Backfire
Resistance amongst pests, and overuse of chemicals are playing havoc with ecosystems and creating a poverty trap for farmers despite promises to solve their problems made by advocates of GE crops.
Consumers are also being exposed to increased toxins as crops for food and clothing become increasingly loaded with the very same pesticides originally positioned to be a way of reducing chemicals, and as a way of saving farmers time and money.
Now even pro-GE experts are speaking out against new GE crops, which threaten to add to these problems. Australian expert Andrew Parkes [1] says he was “totally committed” to GE cotton but is now warning that the problems faced because of insects' “prodigious ability to become resistant to everything thrown at them… will not be solved by adding another trait. If we don’t focus on the long term we won’t have an industry,” he says.
The warning is backed by the work of Dr. Charles Benbrook [2], establishing that Bt cotton (400-1000g/ha) produces up to 4,000 times more Bt than the soil microorganisms (0.25g/ha), which were the source and inspiration for genetically engineered crops.
The most concerning finding of Dr. Benbrook's research relates to the level of insecticides to be found in corn. Bt corn (2,800-4,200g/ha) produces up to 16,800 times more toxin than the soil microorganisms. These excessively high levels of GE insecticidal toxins are in food that is typically consumed as a staple by many populations.
However there is yet more to come as GE crops are 'stacked' with new genes to resist multiple chemicals, and produce multiple insecticides.
The Monsanto-Dow AgroSciences SmartStax Corn expresses six different Bt Cry proteins, three for corn borer and three for corn rootworm control. The total expression of endotoxins is 3.73 kg per hectare: 12-times more than the insecticides that would have been used if the plants were not GE.
"Staple foods have become chemical factories and store houses; farmers are not benefiting, consumers are not buying if they can avoid doing so, and consumer health is at risk of compromise by increased exposure to these toxins," says Jon Carapiet, national spokesman for GE-Free NZ in food and environment.
The situation has raised questions about the impact of these changes on human reproduction.
"Is it just a well meaning experiment gone terribly wrong, or is there an agenda at work relating to population control and control of the food supply, which in turn will control the global community?" asks Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ in food and environment.
“Monsanto, Syngenta, Du Pont, and Dow are all now big players with a history. Monsanto brought us Thalidomide, DDT, PCB’s and 2,4,5T, of which 2,4-D makes up 40%. Their need to feed their bottom lines has become an unprecedented threat to human health and the environment,” she says.
There do exist non-GE sustainable and ethical approaches to population control, safe food production and improving plant and animal varieties that can perform in all kinds of climates. GE technology is not a science as much as it is a marketing product that is set to remove choice from governments, and the farmers and consumers they are sworn to serve and protect.
"It's time New Zealand's government re-established the Bio Ethics Council," says Jon Carapiet. "There is a growing ethical and ecological mine-field created by corporately-driven GE outside containment."
New Zealand must take heed of these problems and pursue a 'clean, green, natural, safe' Brand strategy to genuinely protect the interests of current and future generations.

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