Update on GM technology & doubts about Monsanto’s commercial viability

Good news from Poland about our valued contributor, New Delhi’s Devinder Sharma below, who continues to point out the adverse effects of  genetic modification of plants.

The escape of these micro‑organisms into the environment is an ever‑present danger

As early as 1998, Winin Pereira and Subhash Sule wrote: “Energy is used for manufacturing synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and other agricultural chemicals and even for genetically modifying seeds. If the crops are processed for consumption, further energy is required  . . .  The use of genetically engineered bacteria makes the process of ethanol production quicker and cheaper.[GEBM, 1995] This has lowered the cost considerably, but the other costs and toxicity problems remain, while the escape of these micro‑organisms into the environment is an ever‑present danger.” Energy & Lifestyles [Indranet 1998]  

In October Political Cleanup, a sister site, reported on the World Trade Organisation’s pressure on the European Union government to increase cultivation and import of GM crops and feed. Another post included examples of the influence of GM corporates on UK & US governments. 

Opposing stalwarts  – in England 

Genetic engineer Dr Michael Antoniou [Kings College] said that GM crops are a ‘want’ rather than a ‘need’, citing the recent UN FAO report by scientists that advocates agroecological methods including Marker Assisted Selection plant breeding technology, a multi-gene approach to producing plants which are tolerant to conditions such as drought and salinity. 

 Though Dr Antoniou uses biotechnology for medical purposes he stresses that the processes are contained and do not affect the reproductive organs of patients. If anything goes wrong the effect is limited to the patient in question. They do not affect the genetic makeup of future generations or of other patients – whereas GM plant technology is used in open fields and spreads.

He adds that we would have to live with the consequences.  

in Poland . . . 

The vigorous ICPPC campaign for a moratorium continues. Jadwiga Lopata and Julian Rose wrote to the Polish president: “As you may be aware, the new interest in the agricultural production of bio-fuels opens the door for GM oilseed rape and other GM seeds to be imported into European Countries for the purpose of processing into bio-fuels.

 At first glance this may not look like a problem, but the reality is that it can be a ‘Trojan Horse’ for contaminating the seed chain and by-passing existing controls.” 

 

and Bolivia . . .

Currently Bolivia grows GM soya, largely for export. Its president, Evo Morales, has decreed a five-year transition period in which to eliminate genetically modified (GM) crops from the national territory, as well as a process for rescuing local seeds in order to promote food sovereignty. 

“Obviously, we cannot support the assertions of the giant agribusiness consortia which see hybrid and GM seeds as the solution for the problem of world hunger,” said Oscar Mendieta-Chávez, advisor in the Rural Development and Lands Ministry. 

“These GM seeds are not the product of nature or of God, and therefore rather than being of benefit to the campesino farmer, they risk contaminating wild, local genetic resources as well as consumers,” he added.  

 

 

In India . . .

Devinder writes:

“Monsanto has quietly entered into an agreement with the Rajasthan government virtually taking over its agricultural research and extension. Well, we now learn that Monsanto is not alone. There are six other companies which have signed almost a similar kind of agreement with the Rajasthan government.

“The six companies are Monsanto, Pioneer Seeds Advanta Seeds, Krishi Dhan,  JK Seeds, Sriram Bio Seeds, and Kanchan Jyoti.” 

But is Monsanto failing commercially? 

Grist reported that Monsanto seems to have fallen from grace somewhat over the last year – stocks are down and Forbes magazine publicly reversed its accolade of ‘Company of the Year’ which it bestowed last December. 

The author of the Grist article, Tom Philpott, argues that Monsanto’s problems are not that the patent for Roundup has expired (opening the market to cheap imports), but reports coming in that GMOs are not quite the silver bullet that companies like Monsanto claim.

He refers to the writing of Doug Gurian-Sherman, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Centre for Food Safety’s Andrew Kimbrell. Both argue that conventional methods are generating significant gains in traits such as drought resistance and increased nitrogen use efficiency, whereas GMOs have failed. You can read Gurian-Sherman’s report here

And the news about Devinder and a Russian stalwart . . .  

From: “Fundacja ICPPC” <biuro@icppc.pl>
To: <news@icppc.freshsite.pl>
Sent: Friday, October 29, 2010 2:00 PM
Subject: [icppc] ICPPC Anniversary Conference Attracts Top Names

The International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside – ICPPC has enlisted acclaimed Russian scientist Irina Ermakova and leading Indian journalist Devinder Sharma to give key note addresses at their international conference entitled “Food Sovereignty, Self Sufficiency and the Family Farm” to be held November 20, 21 and 22, 2010, in Stryszow, Poland.

ICPPC is proud to welcome these two remarkable individuals to speak at our conference this November.

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