Genetically
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4 January 2001

Table of Contents

Gene Therapy Expert Faces Lifetime Ban from Human Experimentation
Synopsis of USDA violations of OFPA in Final Rule
An Interview with Prof. Dr Ann Clark
Clouds gather over Chinese and Australian GM crops
Early resistance of Helicoverpa armigera (Hubner) to Bt
Host-plant diversity of the European corn borer Ostrinia nubilalis:
soil fungi affected by RR(r) soybean regimes
MU researchers find fungi buildup in glyphosate-treated soybean fields
Herbicide Impact on Fusarium spp. and Soybean Cyst Nematode in Glyphosate-Tolerant Soybean.
Related Conventional and Transgenic Cotton Cultivars
Gene-Altered Catfish Raise Environmental, Legal Issues – LA Times
FDA Asks Corn Industry to Test Products for Starlink
Norway says no to GM food
Global review of commercialized transgenic crops: 2000

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Date: 1 Jan 2001 17:31:53 U
From: b1xqtq63 joseph.c@sympatico.ca

Gene Therapy Expert Faces Lifetime Ban from Human Experimentation

Authorities do not seem to be discussing criminal charges. Such charges would make genetic engineers more responsible for injuring people or the environment.

Wilson faces life ban

By Karen Birmingham, Nature Medicine January 2001 Volume 7 Number 1 p 6

The US FDA has reportedly started proceedings against James Wilson, head of the Philadelphia-based Institute for Human Gene Therapy, which may lead to his being banned for life from clinical experimentation.

Wilson was in charge of the fateful gene therapy trial that resulted in the death of Jesse Gelsinger (Nature Med. 6, 6; 2000;MEDLINE), who died as a result of being injected with a genetically altered virus when his medical condition was not suited to such a procedure. He is charged with several counts of failing to comply with clinical trial regulations and has 30 days to respond.


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Date: 2 Jan 2001 11:26:05 U
From: Ericka doodles@netins.net
From: Erorganic@aol.com

Synopsis of the Violations of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 in the USDA/NOP Final Organic Rule, published December 2000

16 page detailed documentation available by emailing request to erorganic@aol.com

Synopsis of USDA violations of OFPA in Final Rule

Sections:
Letter
Analysis by Eric Kindberg
The "100 Percent Organic" Labeling Category.
And what to do?

Letter

Hello,

To everyone interested in pure and unadulterated food and fiber products we offer these observations for critique by anyone. We have followed the development of USDA National Organic Program organic farm, handling operation and certification requirements from the beginning and offered the insights of multitudes of certified farmers, handlers and certifiers for USDA and NOSB consideration. After 10 years of continuous work, the Final Rule is still not harmonious with the authorizing legislation. Organic producers have never slowed in expanding the market to interested folks, nor assisting many others to become farmers and handlers. The entire market is based on the integrity of the "organic" label to meet our customers perceptions of "organic."

"Organic" in terms of how –the environment, livestock, farm and farm working families are treated, food and fiber are processed and the organic customer's expectations –all these parts of the organic system are treated and managed with integrity –with the vision of the wholeness of the system.

The USDA National Organic Program has made constructive improvements over the first and second proposed rule. But there are real and existing violations in the Final Rule.

Certified farmers, handlers, certifiers, and most important customers, consumer, environmental and public interest groups need to appraise how the violations of OFPA will effect their view of "organic." And, if appropriate, carry out a unified action to correct the situation. I have listed the alternatives I see for correcting the Final Rule Violations. There may be more. Either a groundswell of action comes or these violations will be solidified within the label for "organic." We all know misleading or deceiving customers as with lovers never really works.

I need to go back to trying to make a living organic farming and wish everyone the best in the New Year.

Analysis by Eric Kindberg

Ripplebrook Organic Growers, Inc. Fairfield, Iowa

The Final National Organic Program Rule has a number of violations of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 which you will find listed in detail in this paper.

They can and should be corrected.

THE MAJOR OFPA VIOLATIONS ARE:

The "100 Percent Organic" Labeling Category.

The other big change in the Final Rule are the changes in language and requirements of organic product labeling categories. At first reading it appears the USDA/NOP has created the "100 percent organic" labeling category to be pure and unadulterated "organically produced" food products. But closer analysis indicates the USDA/NOP in fact is allowing synthetic and non-organically produced substances to contact or be a part of a "100 percent organic" products.

This is in violation of OFPA and undermines the integrity of the "100 percent organic" labeling category.

We discuss this in detail below, but for those wanting to figure it out:

And what to do?

Alternatives Actions To Correct The Violations Of The Final Rule:

I would encourage everyone with an interest in quality development of organic farming and handling standards to consider these alternatives.


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Date: 2 Jan 2001 01:46:36 -0600
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk

An Interview with Prof. Dr Ann Clark

by Dru Oja Jay, ©Copyright 2000, Monkeyfist Collective.
http://monkeyfist.com/articles/731

Junk Science, Corporate Ideology, and Genetically Modified Food: An Interview with Prof. Ann Clark

An interview about science (more about science; more by Dru Oja Jay)

A researcher in Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph, Ann Clark has been a vocal critic of the biotech industry and its influence over research agendas, especially genetic modification (recombinant DNA). Many anti-GM activists have found it necessary to restrict their objections to GMOs isolated examples of damage done.

Clark, however, continues to question the fundamental basis for biotech research by raising more fundamental concerns, and addressing them with specific science: Do we really understand recombinant DNA well enough to release GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) into the ecology upon which we depend for sustenance? If something goes wrong, who pays for it?

Clark, funds her research on GMOs by consulting in addition to her teaching position at University of Guelph, has published widely, criticizing current biotech research, all available on her web site.

The issues Clark addresses range from the externalized costs of GMOs, to advice for farmers considering GM crops, to questions of toxicity and allergenicity in modified crops.

Clark generously answered these questions about GMOs and the nature of biotech via email.

What are some of the consequences of increasing corporate-directed research and funding in public institutions?

The credibility of academia in general, scientists in particular, and indeed, the very role of publicly funded universities in contemporary society is being compromised by the uncritical adoption of industry agendas by academia. Tolerating or indeed contributing to the fevered momentum which is promoting GM crops in the absence of meaningful risk assessment is scientifically unsound. To do so in the face of widespread and growing consumer concern – that is, by the people who are paying our salaries – is incomprehensible, arrogant, and reprehensible.

Do you consider this uncritical promotion an ideological application of science?

This is not science. This is technology in advance of science, profit-driven applications of commercial technology unfettered by scientific understanding of basic physiology and gene function, and real world implications for society and the environment. This is a solution in search of a problem.

What are the main risks of using recombinant DNA to engineer crops?

Unintended side effects, caused by the randomness of transgene insertion. I have recently completed a chapter commissioned by Environment Canada for a new book on globalization and biodiversity. It includes about 100 references, most of which are refereed, documenting potential – unacknowledged – impacts of known as well as unknown traits. The closest parallel to GMOs is exotic invaders, which usually cause no harm at all, but when they do, can be catastrophic.

The central concern is that GMOs are alive, can transmit genes to other organisms, and can change unpredictably themselves – specifically because of transgene insertion.

Are most biotechnology researchers aware of the risks posed by their research?

No. They discount, discredit, and bypass anything that challenges the continued flow of money, power, and prestige to their labs. This observation should not be construed to mean that most researchers are acting maliciously or dishonestly, just that they are enormously excited about their research, and don't want to lose the cash cow that is enabling them to do what they want to do. Further, the questions they are able to ask are determined by the funding source, which typically has little or no interest in assessing or monitoring risk.

Is there any proof that genetically modified crops on the market today provide tangible benefits to farmers?

Some farmers benefit some of the time, in terms of yield; most do not. Evidence of profitability benefit is scarce to non-existent. Herbicide tolerant (HT) crops yield less than isogenic or other best non-GM counterparts in all circumstances except when weeds are so burdensome that alternative weed control options are ineffective or expensive. In this case, one may ask how the production system in place has generated so wide a niche as to allow such a weed problem to develop in the first place, and if growing an HT crop is the best or only solution.

Are there avenues of research in biotechnology potentially more beneficial than those currently being pursued?

Not until we know a great deal more about how genes actually function, and how genes regulate physiological pathways, and how genes interact with environment. Until then, release of GM crops into the environment is premature, externalizing costs involuntarily onto society and the environment.

So why are they not being followed up?

Directions for commercial application are based on exactly that: potential for commercial success, and have nothing to do with societal benefit.

Is organic farming a viable alternative to extensive industrial farming on a large scale?

Yes, unquestionably.

What kind of institutional support would be necessary to make organic farming viable on a larger scale?

Good question. They seem to be progressing rather well despite a complete vacuum of institutional support in most settings. Much of what passes for organic or sustainable agriculture research today is simply replacing synthetic inputs with biologicals – which misses the whole point. Organic systems are designed to capture positive synergies in time and space, and in so doing, to avoid problems. Conventional agriculture is designed in such a way as to create ecological problems (pests; nutrient management; animal health) and then solve them with purchased inputs. Fundamentally different contexts need fundamentally different approaches.

Institutional resources need to start from the premise "first do no harm". Any resource allocations should be based on rigorous stakeholder consultation, both to identify and prioritize research/extension needs, and to conduct research that addresses meaningful questions – whether for real world farmers or for decision/policymakers whose actions so pivotally influence producer success.

Does ownership of genetic material have any scientific basis?

Ownership of individual genes is a ludicrous proposition, because genes – per se – do not act alone. They act in concert with other genes, as moderated by environment and other factors. Indeed, one of the positive outcomes of the current obsession with "things genetic" may well be to demonstrate the fallacy of this outdated notion of gene function.

The harm from gene patenting vastly outweighs any conceivable benefit, because like everything else, using the genes will come at a cost, and one which many of those in need will not be able to afford. Consider the current situation with AIDS drugs in Africa as a portent of things to come from gene-based pharmaceuticals.

Now that Aventis' StarLink and Monsanto Roundup Ready GM corn, not approved for human consumption, have gotten into the human food supply, is there any hope of ever getting them out?

I am unaware that RR corn is not approved for human consumption. My understanding is that only StarLink was approved for livestock but not human consumption. Can it be gotten out of the food system? Sure -- with enough money, anything is possible. How much money does Aventis have? And how much American taxpayer money is going down the toilet to bail them out?

Is there a scientific basis for the FDA's approval or rejection of StarLink or Roundup Ready corn?

No more so than for the approval of any GM crop. The process of assessing risk of allergenicity (the specific issue for StarLink) is dubious at best. As there is reportedly no actual test for allergenicity, government judges based on indirect indices. For all the other Bt proteins which have been approved (about 15 different crops, if memory serves), the target Bt Cry protein did not have characteristics associated with allergens.

In other words, they broke down rapidly in simulated digestion studies, and were heat unstable. The DNA and amino acid sequences of the gene and protein did not show homology with known allergens – hence – safe. Now, along comes a Bt Cry protein (Cry 9C) which does show characteristics of known allergens. It does not breakdown readily, and is heat stable. So, if they approve it anyway, they will have to acknowledge the meaninglessness of the entire approval process (as pertains to food safety risk).

This is not to say that Cry 9C is actually allergenic, toxic, or otherwise harmful. I do not know this to be true. Just that the method by which they are making this judgment is very weakly founded.


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Date: 2 Jan 2001 12:44:59 -0600
From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz
From: "NLP Wessex" nlpwessex@bigfoot.com

Clouds gather over Chinese and Australian GM crops

According to experts at the National Cotton Council of America (NCCA) it has been reported that Helicoverpa armigera (Cotton Bollworm) have developed resistance to Bt in two provinces of China. The study suggests that populations of H. armigera were resistant to both Bt and transgenic cotton expressing the Bt toxin.

If field resistance to Bt crops is already occurring in China in advance of their wholesale adoption then this raises major questions regarding the sustainability of the technology.

According to NCCA: "The risk of development of resistance in Bt cotton crops is probably greater than that for Bt pesticide formulations due to continuous and extensive expression of the delta-endotoxin in the plant tissues. Recently it has been reported that Helicoverpa armigera have developed resistance Bt in Yauggu and Xiuxiang provinces of China ....

Due to the development of resistance to Bt toxin the average mortality of newly hatched larvae of H. armigera declined significantly as compared to the susceptible strain.... New strategies are needed to maximize the durability and utility of GE cotton." (Report of an Expert Panel on Biotechnology in Cotton – International Cotton Advisory Committee – Nov 2000). [Note: the names given here appear to be those of the counties in two the different provinces of China concerned – NLP Wessex]

The main focus of such strategies to rescue transgenic Bt crops is currently directed at in-crop 'refugia' which are intended to promote the mating of insects susceptible to the toxin with those that may have developed resistance. However, a recent study by French scientists on maize indicated that the principal target pest (European Corn Borer) for transgenic maize varieties incorporating the Bt toxin does not move around within the crop as much as had been anticipated – thereby bringing into further question the likely long term sustainability of Bt transgenic crops in such circumstances.

To what extent this situation might also apply to other pests is not clear. However, in the cotton growing states of the US corn growers are already obliged to plant at least half their corn crops in non-Bt varieties in an attempt to prevent the build up of pests which are common to both corn and cotton crops – corn earworm/cotton bollworm (see: http://www.ncga.com/11biotechnology/insectMgmtPlan/FIG1A.htm ).

Meanwhile genes in pest populations for resistance to Bt "already exist in Australia and perhaps at a threateningly high level" according to the CSIRO Entomology Department in Canberra. Anticipating problems further down the line these scientists report that H.armigera "is capable of resistance of a magnitude that would result in significant, perhaps severe, damage" to Monsanato's transgenic Bt INGARD. cotton (see: http://www.cotton.pi.csiro.au/Publicat/Conf/coconf00/AREAWIDE/25/25.h.... ).

Additional work in Australia indicates that the Bt resistance gene may be dominant and not recessive http://www.cotton.pi.csiro.au/Publicat/Conf/coconf00/AREAWIDE/23/23.h.... ) further adding to the complications in current attempts to keep the technology alive.

One measure of sustainability in agricultural systems is simply: "can you keep on doing it?". The answer to this question in relation to the use of transgenic pest resistant crops looks increasingly like "no".

The contrast between the on-going degeneration of efficacy in agricultural systems using transgenics (for more information see: http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/gmagric.htm ) compared

with, for example, the astounding success of a more holistic system of agriculture recently introduced in China (reported in the prestigious journal 'Nature' http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nature/journal/v406/.... ) is an important indicator of the direction in which global agricultural research priorities need to be redirected.

NATURAL LAW PARTY WESSEX
nlpwessex@bigfoot.com    www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex

References:

  1. Shen, J.L., Zhen, W.J., Wu, Y.D., Lin, X.W., Zhu, D.F., Zhar W.J., Win, Y.D., Lin, X.W. and Zhu , X.F. 1998. Early resistance of Helicoverpa armigera (Hubner) to Bacillus thuringiensis and its relation to the effect of transgenic cotton lines expressing BT toxin on the insect. Acta Entomologica Sinica 41: 1, 8-14. [Abstract Below]

  2. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2000 Jun 22;267(1449):1177-84 Host-plant diversity of the European corn borer Ostrinia nubilalis: what value for sustainable transgenic insecticidal Bt maize? Bourguet D, Bethenod MT, Trouve C, Viard F, Unite de Recherches de Lutte Biologique, Institut National de la Recherche en Agronomie La Miniere, Gujyancourt, France. bourguet@jouy.inra.fr [Abstract Below]

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Date: 2 Jan 2001 12:44:59 -0600
From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz
From: "NLP Wessex" nlpwessex@bigfoot.com

Early resistance of Helicoverpa armigera (Hubner) to Bt

Early resistance of Helicoverpa armigera (Hubner) to Bacillus thuringiensis and its relation to the effect of transgenic cotton lines expressing BT toxin on the insect.

Shen-JinLiang; Zhou-WeiJun; Wu-YiDong; Lin-XiangWen; Zhu-XieFei; Shen-JL; Zhou-WJ; Wu-YD; Lin-XW; Zhu-XF

Department of Plant Protection, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China.
Source:Acta-Entomologica-Sinica. 1998, 41: 1, 8-14; 17 ref.
Published:1998
Original language:Chinese
Translated to:English

Abstract

Susceptible bioassay base line and discrimination concentrations were determined for Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) on a susceptible (SUS1) strain of Helicoverpa armigera using the diet infection method. Susceptibilities to commercial B.t. subsp. kurstaki formulations in newly-hatched larvae of H. armigera collected from 6 counties of 5 provinces in China were tested in 1995.

Results indicated that populations of H. armigera from Yanggu (Shadong), Handan (Hebei), Xinxian (Henan), Xiaoxian (Anhui) and Fengxian (Jiangsu) showed clear resistance to B.t.. The LC50s increased slightly but the slope (b) decreased significantly compared with that of the susceptible strain. However, the Dongtai population (Jiangsu) remained susceptible. Resistance to B.t. was diagnosed for the first time.

The effects of transgenic cotton lines expressing B.t. toxin on various populations of H. armigera using the leaf bioassay were also determined. The average mortality of newly hatched larvae of H. armigera (Yanggu and Xinxiang) with early resistance to B.t. declined significantly (16-29%) compared with those of the susceptible strain. It is suggested that populations of H. armigera from Yanggu and Xinxiang were resistant to B.t. and transgenic cotton expressing B.t. toxin. A resistant management strategy for B.t. is discussed.

Keywords:

entomopathogens-; natural-enemies; microbial-pesticides; transgenic-plants; cotton-; insecticide-resistance; gene-expression; toxins-; bioassays-; mortality-; transgenics-; formulations-; pathogens-; fibre-plants; agricultural-entomology
OD:Bacillus-thuringiensis; Helicoverpa-armigera; Gossypium-hirsutum; arthropods-; Gossypium-
GE:China-
BT:Bacillus; Bacillaceae; Firmicutes; bacteria; prokaryotes; Helicoverpa; Noctuidae; Lepidoptera; insects; arthropods; invertebrates; animals; Gossypium; Malvaceae; Malvales; dicotyledons; angiosperms; Spermatophyta; plants; Developing-Countries; East-Asia; Asia
CC:FF600; HH100; WW000
PT:Journal-article

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Date: 2 Jan 2001 12:44:59 -0600
From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz

Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2000 Jun 22;267(1449):1177-84

Host-plant diversity of the European corn borer Ostrinia nubilalis:

what value for sustainable transgenic insecticidal Bt maize?

Bourguet D, Bethenod MT, Trouve C, Viard F

Unite de Recherches de Lutte Biologique, Institut National de la Recherche en Agronomie La Miniere, Gujyancourt, France. bourguet@jouy.inra.fr

The strategies proposed for delaying the development of resistance to the Bacillus thuringiensis toxins produced by transgenic maize require high levels of gene flow between individuals feeding on transgenic and refuge plants. The European corn borer Ostrinia nubilalis (Hubner) may be found on several host plants, which may act as natural refuges.

The genetic variability of samples collected on sagebrush (Artemisia sp.), hop (Humulus lupulus L.) and maize (Zea mays L.) was studied by comparing the allozyme frequencies for six polymorphic loci. We found a high level of gene flow within and between samples collected on the same host plant. The level of gene flow between the sagebrush and hop insect samples appeared to be sufficiently high for these populations to be considered a single genetic panmictic unit.

Conversely, the samples collected on maize were genetically different from those collected on sagebrush and hop. Three of the six loci considered displayed greater between-host-plant than within-host-plant differentiation in comparisons of the group of samples collected on sagebrush or hop with the group of samples collected on maize. This indicates that either there is genetic isolation of the insects feeding on maize or that there is host-plant divergent selection at these three loci or at linked loci. These results have important implications for the potential sustainability of transgenic insecticidal maize.

--------------------
Robt Mann, consultant ecologist, P O Box 28878 Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand, (9) 524 2949


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Date: 2 Jan 2001 13:07:15 -0600
From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz

soil fungi affected by RR(r) soybean regimes

This new four-year study by University of Missouri reveals a particular impact of glyphosate applications on the soil bio-sphere in Roundup Ready soy crops. The study shows increases in levels of the fungus 'fusarium' as a result of the introduction of RR soy bean regimes linked to the use of glyphosate.

(The fungal genus Fusarium is one of the most economically important groups of fungi causing diseases on a wide variety of plants. Members of the genus are also pathogenic to humans and other animals and a number of species produce very important mycotoxins in food sources – see http://www.rbgsyd.gov.au/RBG/Hortbot/fusarium.html ).

No such study of the impact on soil micro-organisms is being carried out in the UK farm-scale trials of GM crops even though it is suspected that the management regimes introduced by GM herbicide resistant crops may affect soil biology as shown here. This constitutes a major deficiency in the UK farm scale trials.

It is, however, not just a problem which affects the UK or one which may be restricted only to environmental impact. There are also potential economic implications. According to these US scientists: "Right now, that's an ecological assessment that hasn't received much attention. The tests are often limited to small soil insects and earthworms.

We think it's been an oversight....potential yield impacts in subsequent seasons due to high soil Fusarium populations, resulting from continued use of glyphosate, needs further investigation...When you think about it, you have to wonder what's happening in the soil." Healthy functioning of soil micro-organisms is fundamental to long term sustainability in agricultural systems.

Even the high-tec farming press not normally associated with a holistic approach to farm management is starting to realise this, albeit rather late in the day: Bill Butterworth, Arable Farming, 25 September 1999, p.16 – 18. ".... Maybe this is what we have glossed over for 25 years; the right soil conditions to unlock the genetic potential of the plant....These mycorrhiza are bound up with plant nutrition and diseases..... The soil is like an enormous rumen, it is similarly complex and it is the plant's 'stomach'.

The connection between this soil rumen and the plant is all the soil micro-organisms and it appears to be substantially the soil mycorrhiza which are the last link in the chain. You can grow plants without them but it is much easier and more secure with them......Those who pay more attention to soil biology get higher yields and lower costs consistently. It does seem clear that not only can we sometimes get close to double the national average yield in a variety of crops, we may be able to do it consistently, across the farm and under a wide range of farming types. The pieces of the jigsaw are beginning to fit into place and it is the balanced management of the soil rumen which is going to deliver."

( For more on this type of approach to land management see: http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/geneticsmyth.htm )

Which governments in the world have taken the trouble to make an in-depth assessment of the potential impacts of transgenic crops and other genetically modified organisms (including the genetically engineered inoculants now sold in the US) on soil biology? The answer is 'none'.

This fundamental omission exposes once again the lack of a scientific approach to the introduction of this most radical technology, despite the pious refrains of the various associated academic and commercial interests that we must have a 'scientific debate'. Such refrains are largely a fraud, because they come from precisely the people who know better than anyone else that most of the science hasn't been done. Well before we waste any more time on the debate, let's first have some science. In addition to the US research immediately below we have also included a German study we posted before Christmas which indicates that other effects on soil micro-organisms arising from transgenic potatoes may also occur.

The US study on increased levels of fusarium as a result of glyphosate applications may be particularly important, however, as most Roundup Ready soy varieties are susceptible to the disease 'Sudden Death Syndrome' caused by Fusarium solani f. sp. glycines ( http://www.mosoy.org/dec97/soydoc.htm. RR soy varieties with the best

resistance to SDS (which has caused some heavy crop losses in recent years) may be only average compared to the most resistant conventional varieties (see: http://ipm.missouri.edu/ipcm/archives/v8n22/ipmltr3.htm ).

NATURAL LAW PARTY WESSEX
nlpwessex@bigfoot.com    www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex


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Date: 2 Jan 2001 12:44:59 -0600
From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz

MU researchers find fungi buildup in glyphosate-treated soybean fields

Forrest Rose Information Specialist
(573) 882-6843    RoseF@missouri.edu
Dec. 21, 2000

COLUMBIA, Mo. – A four-year study by University of Missouri researchers has found that Roundup herbicide applications change the microbial composition of soil in the field. They observed increases in fungi on the roots and in the soil around the roots of soybean plants, with "potential implications in future management."

"Experiments conducted in 1997 through 2000 at two Missouri locations revealed that Roundup Ready soybeans receiving glyphosate at recommended rates had significantly higher incidence of Fusarium on roots within one week of application compared with" soybeans that did not receive glyphosate, reported Pat Donald, MU plant pathologist, and Robert Kremer, an MU soil scientist and USDA Agricultural Research Service microbiologist.

In research plots at MU Delta Research Center in Portageville, Mo., and at MU Bradford Farm near Columbia, the scientists detected major colonization by several distinct types of the fungus in the glyphosate-treated fields. "Although soil Fusarium populations varied among locations, glyphosate significantly increased numbers at each location."

"There is a natural ebb and flow, but with Roundup Ready beans treated with Roundup, there was always a spike in the levels of the fungi studied," Kremer said.

Fusarium fungi are almost always found in soybean fields, but at elevated levels some can become pathogenic on susceptible plants and lead to lost yields through such diseases as sudden death syndrome and other root rots, Donald said.

Kremer said studies of ecological impact from transgenic plants should include an analysis of effects on the microbial makeup of the soil. "Right now, that's an ecological assessment that hasn't received much attention. The tests are often limited to small soil insects and earthworms. We think it's been an oversight."

"All of the ecological assessment is aboveground," Donald said, adding that such assessments should measure plants' and products' impact on the soil system, "especially if they're going to potentially increase pathogens."

Initially, the researchers believed the increased Fusarium through glyphosate application could provide a biological control for soybean cyst nematode as well as suppressing weed growth. "We thought it might be a double whammy," Donald said. "It didn't work out that way."

She and Kremer emphasized that soybean yields in their experiments were not affected by application of glyphosate as opposed to conventional herbicide treatments. However, "potential yield impacts in subsequent seasons due to high soil Fusarium populations, resulting from continued use of glyphosate, needs further investigation."

Kremer said the study shows the fungi "build up over the growing season. We need to look at it more and see whether there's a buildup of the organism from year to year."

He noted that more than half of Missouri soybeans are Roundup Ready. "When you think about it, you have to wonder what's happening in the soil."

Donald said soil microorganisms such as fungi and nematodes have both detrimental and beneficial associations with crops and the environment. "We need to have all the information that we can."

An abstract of the study can be found at the American Society of Agronomy website: http://www.asa-cssa-sssa.org/cgi-bin/abstract_database_search.cgi?obj....

Source: Robert Kremer (573) 882-6408; Pat Donald (573) 882-2716 American Society of Agronomy http://www.asa-cssa-sssa.org/cgi-bin/abstract_database_search.cgi?obj.... er Title Summary Number: S03-104-P


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Date: 2 Jan 2001 12:44:59 -0600
From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz

Herbicide Impact on Fusarium spp. and Soybean Cyst Nematode in Glyphosate-Tolerant Soybean.

Authors:

R.J. KREMER USDA-ARS P.A. DONALD A.J. KEASTER H.C. MINOR Univ. of Missouri

Abstract:

Increased and frequent use of glyphosate associated with Roundup Ready (RR) soybean production can affect activities of rhizosphere and soil microorganisms. Glyphosate influence on interactions of soybean with soybean cyst nematode (SCN; Heterodera glycines) and rhizosphere fungi may have potential implication in future management.

Field experiments were conducted to determine the impact of glyphosate applied to RR soybean on root and soil colonization by Fusarium spp. and SCN. In 1997 and 1998, RR soybean receiving glyphosate at 1X and 3X recommended rate had significantly higher incidence of Fusarium on roots compared with control (no glyphosate) at one Missouri site. In 1999, glyphosate, conventional herbicide mix (pendimethalin+imazaquin), and glyphosate+conventional were evaluated on four RR soybean varieties at eight sites.

Frequency of Fusarium on roots increased 0.5 – 5X at 2 or 4 wk after application of glyphosate or glyphosate+conventional herbicides compared with the conventional herbicide alone. Soil Fusarium populations varied among sites. Effects on SCN reproduction were variable. Increased Fusarium colonization of RR soybean roots with glyphosate application may influence potential disease level

Corresponding author: Robert J. Kremer, 573-882-6408 , KremerR@missouri.edu ---------------
Robt Mann, consultant ecologist, P O Box 28878 Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand (9) 524 2949


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Date: 2 Jan 2001 13:07:55 -0600
From: Robert Mann robt_m@talk.co.nz

Related Conventional and Transgenic Cotton Cultivars

The Journal of Cotton Science 4:232-236 (2000)
Plant Pathology and Nematology
http://www.jcotsci.org/2000/issue04/html/page232.html

Root-Knot Nematode Reproduction and Root Galling Severity on Related Conventional and Transgenic Cotton Cultivars

Patrick D. Colyer,* Terrence L. Kirkpatrick, W. David Caldwell, and Philip R. Vernon

Abstract

The root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita Kofoid & White), a widespread and serious pest of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) throughout the Cotton Belt, is managed in many areas in part through cultivar resistance. Recently, commercial cotton cultivars modified with genes for resistance to the tobacco budworm (Heliothis virescens F.), to glyphosate herbicide (e.g., Roundup, Monsanto, St. Louis, MO), or in some cases to both the budworm and the herbicide have been released.

The objective of this study was to compare the root-knot nematode resistance or susceptibility of several transgenic cotton cultivars with that of their unmodified parent cultivars. The cultivars were evaluated in a field naturally infested with the root-knot nematode and in a growth room in pots infested with the nematode. A dramatic increase in root-knot nematode susceptibility was seen in the transgenic cultivar, Paymaster 1560 BG, compared with its nontransgenic parent, Paymaster 1560.

Although only a limited number of cultivars were studied, the data demonstrate that differences in susceptibility to the root-knot nematode exist between some transgenic cultivars and their nontransgenic parents. These data indicate the importance of screening transgenic cultivars for resistance to pests other than the particular pest species targeted by the genetic modification before the transgenic cultivars are recommended for planting.

----------------------
Robt Mann, consultant ecologist, P O Box 28878 Remuera, Auckland 1005, New Zealand, (9) 524 2949


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Date: 2 Jan 2001 22:33:52 -0600
From: Ericka doodles@netins.net

Gene-Altered Catfish Raise Environmental, Legal Issues – LA Times

By AARON ZITNER, Times Staff Writer
LA Times, Tuesday, January 2, 2001
http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/20010102/t000000275.html

Gene-Altered Catfish Raise Environmental, Legal Issues Science: Modified plants and animals could wipe out other species, experts fear. Oversight is 'full of holes.'

AUBURN, Ala. – A few miles outside this college town, down a gravel road that runs through rolling woodlands, Rex Dunham has turned a set of muddy ponds into a high-security prison for fish.

Electric wire keeps the raccoons at bay. Netting blocks the herons from swooping in. Filters stop the fish from slipping out with the waste water.

Federal officials asked Dunham to protect the local environment from the catfish he grows here because nothing like them has ever cut the waters of the Earth. These catfish have been laced with DNA from salmon, carp and zebrafish, which makes them grow as much as 60% faster than normal. That could help farmers feed more people for less money and boost efforts to end world hunger.

But there also is a chance that fast-growing fish might touch off an environmental disaster, according to scientists who have studied the matter. Their greatest fear is that Dunham's catfish will escape and wipe out other fish species, as well as the plants and animals that depend on those fish to survive.

And now, some scientists and government officials are raising a second and equally troubling concern: that the federal government has limited legal authority to protect the environment from Dunham's catfish –or from some of the dozens of other genetically modified plants and animals now being readied for market.

"Here we are on the brink of remaking life on Earth through genetic engineering, and we do not have a thorough process for reviewing the environmental impacts," said William Brown, science advisor to Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. "The system is full of holes."

"My sense is that the current system is not going to be OK and that there are going to have to be changes –or a whole new system put in," said Bill Knapp, a senior fisheries official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

This view is far from universal. But concerns about the government's legal authority are significant enough that President Clinton ordered federal agencies in May to review the relevant laws and probe for holes. The review is due to be completed early this month.

Americans already eat modified corn, potatoes and other crops. Soon to come are the first such animals: disease-resistant shrimp, meatier chickens and fast-growing salmon. Thanks to mouse DNA, a new pig produces a less harmful manure. New crops include a rice, mixed with daffodil DNA, that includes more nutrients.

Dunham, an Auburn University researcher, already has started seeking federal approvals to sell his fish. And he could be among the first to win approvals to sell a genetically modified animal to American consumers.

Although there has been great attention paid to whether these foods are safe to eat, Brown and others say the potential risk to the environment could be an even bigger concern. And, the government is stretching outdated laws to cover the gene revolution, they say, as if using 19th century railroad laws to regulate airlines.

Some warn that genetically modified plants and animals could move into the wild and breed disruptive traits into local species, similar to the way African "killer bees" escaped a Brazilian research facility in 1957 and spread their aggressive traits. Others fear an opposite scenario: that instead of thriving, the modified plant or animal could interbreed with its natural cousins in ways that would destroy the species entirely.

Scientists call this the "Trojan gene" effect, because the modified organism is undermined by the new genes that it takes in. William M. Muir, a geneticist at Purdue University, has used a mix of laboratory observation and computer modeling to show that it could happen with gene-altered fish.

Fast-growing fish might enjoy a mating advantage in the wild, Muir says, yet produce young that are ill-equipped to survive. "This could locally take a population to extinction," he said.

And yet, federal officials say that no law requires people who alter fish genes to keep the fish isolated and away from local waters. The Agriculture Department was able to ask Dunham to build his "fish prison" only because his research is backed by federal funds.

Moreover, officials said, it is unclear whether any federal law penalizes a person who releases genetically modified animals into the wild.

More troubling to some critics is that certain species may escape federal regulation entirely.

For example, at least one company is altering the genes in creeping bentgrass, a common golf course turf, so that it is more resistant to weed killers. That would allow lawn managers to use herbicides without harming the turf. But it could also make the grass, which already invades lawns and gardens, harder for homeowners to control.

Officials are divided over whether the government has the authority to regulate genetic changes to the grass. The Agriculture Department claims authority over all "plant pests" and potential pests, and it is using that authority to (article cut off )


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 3 Jan 2001 16:08:33 -0600
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk

FDA Asks Corn Industry to Test Products for Starlink

By Randy Fabi, Wednesday January 3 10:07 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The US Food and Drug Administration (news – web sites) said Tuesday that it sent a letter to corn millers and food manufacturers urging them to screen yellow corn for possible StarLink bio-corn contamination.

The FDA said it sent the December 27 letter to the corn industry because it may have missed some StarLink corn in the government buy-back program established in late September.

StarLink, made by Aventis SA, is a variety of corn genetically engineered to repel pests by producing the pesticidal protein Cry9C. US regulators banned the corn from human consumption in 1998 due to concerns it might cause allergic reactions. he FDA believes that the best strategy for keeping Cry9C protein out of the food supply is to focus intervention as early as possible in the the letter said.

Traces of StarLink corn have been discovered in grocery store products, setting off a massive recall of more than 300 kinds of taco shells, chips, cornmeal and other foods.

The FDA recommended dry milling and food manufacturers take representative samples from incoming shipments of yellow corn and test 2,400 kernels for the presence of Cry9C protein.

The FDA recommends the companies use tests validated by USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). The tests validated to date are the TraitCheck Bt9 Lateral Flow Test Kit by Strategic Diagnostics Inc. and the Cry9C QuickStix Test Kit by EnviroLogix, Inc.

The FDA is urging the companies to divert any shipments that tested positive for Cry9C to animal feed or industrial uses.

The FDA recommends these sampling procedures be phased in by Jan. 25. s an additional layer of protection, the FDA is continuing its the FDA said.

Federal health officials are investigating some 44 Americans, who claimed they had intense itching, nausea and other allergic symptoms after eating foods with StarLink.

Although StarLink was grown on less than 1 percent of all U.S. corn fields, it was commingled with large quantities of corn. Aventis said in

November that all of the 2000 StarLink crop except about 75,000 bushels had been recovered.


Top PreviousNextFront Page

Date: 3 Jan 2001 16:09:05 -0600
From: jim@niall7.demon.co.uk

Norway says no to GM food

By Penny Leese, just-food.com correspondent
just-food.com editorial team, 3 Jan 2001

Norway has refused to approve three genetically modified products, which have been approved by the EU, writes Danish daily Aktuelt. The products concerned are two types of rapeseed oil and a test material to find out if milk contains antibiotics.

Although Norway is not an EU member, the country usually uses EU rules as a guideline, so as not to hamper trade within the Scandinavian free trade area. The Norwegian Minister for the Environment, Siri Bjerke, bases the ban on the fact that GMO products can make people and animals resistant to antibiotics.

However, Norway has not condemned all GMOs. For example, three genetically modified carnations have been allowed. They cannot grow in Norway, due to the climate. The new flowers have had their colour changed from white to violet and, additionally, they keep longer.


Top PreviousFront Page

Date: 3 Jan 2001 17:37:47 -0600
From: geno@zap.a2000.nl

Global review of commercialized transgenic crops: 2000

Clive James
Chair. ISAAA Board of Directors
ISAAA Briefs No. 21 – 2000
SOURCE: ISAAA, http://www.isaaa.org

Sections:
Preview
Introduction
Global Area of Transgenic Crops in 2000
Distribution of Transgenic Crops in Industrial and Developing Countries
Distribution of Transgenic Crops, by Country
Distribution of Transgenic Crops, by Crop
Distribution of Transgenic Crops, by Trait
Dominant Transgenic Crops in 2000
Global Adoption of Transgenic Soybean, Corn, Cotton, and Canola
Concluding Remarks
Acknowledgments

Preview

Published by: The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri- biotech Applications (ISAAA). Ithaca, New York Copyright: (2000) International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)

Reproduction of this publication for educational or other noncommercial purposes is authorized without prior permission from the copyright holder, provided the source is properly acknowledged.

Reproduction for resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without the prior written permission from the copyright holder. Correct Citation: James, C. 2000. Global Status of Commercialized Transgenic Crops: 2000. ISAAA Briefs No. 21: Preview. ISAAA: Ithaca, NY. Publication Orders: Please contact the ISAAA SEAsiaCenter, order online, or write to publications@isaaa.org

ISAAA SEAsiaCenter c/o IRRI, MCPO Box 3127 Makati City 1271, The Philippines

Introduction

Global population exceeded 6 billion in 2000 and is expected to reach approximately 9 billion by 2050, when approximately 90% of the global population will reside in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Today, 840 million people in the developing countries suffer from malnutrition and 1.3 billion are afflicted by poverty. Transgenic crops, often referred to as genetically modified crops (GM), represent promising technologies that can make a vital contribution to global food, feed, and fiber security.

During the last five years, 1996 to 2000, global adoption rates for transgenic crops were unprecedented and reflect grower satisfaction with the products that offer significant benefits ranging from more convenient and flexible crop management, higher productivity or net returns/hectare, and a safer environment through decreased use of conventional pesticides, which collectively contribute to a more sustainable agriculture.

Global reviews of transgenic crops have been published by the author as ISAAA Briefs annually since 1996. This publication, a Preview of the 2000 Annual Review to be published later, provides the latest information on the global status of commercialized transgenic crops. A detailed global data set on the adoption of commercialized transgenic crops is presented for the year 2000 and the changes that have occurred between 1999 and 2000 are highlighted.

The global adoption trends during the last five years from 1996 to 2000 are also illustrated. Given the intensity of the debate on transgenic crops in 1999, particularly the issues in relation to public acceptance, one of the key questions posed at the beginning of 2000 was whether the global area of transgenic crops would continue to increase in 2000; not surprisingly, there was much speculation.

Note that the words maize and corn, as well as rapeseed and canola are used as synonyms in the text, reflecting the usage of these words in different regions of the world. Global figures and hectares planted commercially with transgenic crops have been rounded off to the nearest 100,000 hectares and in some cases this leads to insignificant approximations, and there maybe slight variances in some figures, totals, and percentage estimates.

It is also important to note that countries in the Southern Hemisphere plant their crops in the last quarter of the calendar year; the transgenic crop areas reported in this publication are planted, not harvested, hectarage in the year stated. Thus, the 2000 information for Argentina, Australia, South Africa, and Uruguay is hectares planted in the last quarter of 2000 and which will be harvested in the first quarter of 2001.

Global Area of Transgenic Crops in 2000

The estimated global area of transgenic crops for 2000 is 44.2 million hectares or 109.2 million acres (Table 1). It is noteworthy that 2000 is the first year when the global area of transgenic crops has exceeded 100 million acres and almost reached 45 million hectares. To put this global area of transgenic crops into context, 44.2 million hectares is equivalent to almost twice the area of the United Kingdom. The increase in area of transgenic crops between 1999 and 2000 is 11%, equivalent to 4.3 million hectares or 10.6 million acres. This increase of 4.3 million hectares between 1999 and 2000 is about one quarter of the corresponding increase of 12.1 million hectares between 1998 and 1999.

During the five-year period 1996 to 2000, the global area of transgenic crops increased by more than 25-fold, from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 44.2 million hectares in 2000 (Figure 1). This high rate of adoption reflects the growing acceptance of transgenic crops by farmers using the technology in both industrial and developing countries. During the five-year period 1996 D 2000 the number of countries growing transgenic crops more than doubled, increasing from 6 in 1996 to 9 in 1998, to 12 countries in 1999 and 13 in 2000.

Distribution of Transgenic Crops in Industrial and Developing Countries

Figure 2 shows the relative hectarage of transgenic crops in industrial and developing countries during the period 1996 to 2000. It clearly illustrates that from 1996 to 2000 the substantial share, up to 85% of global transgenic crops, has been grown in industrial countries. However, the proportion of transgenic crops grown in developing countries has increased consistently from 14% in 1997, to 16% in 1998, to 18% in 1999 and 24% in 2000. Thus, in 2000 approximately one quarter (Table 2) of the global transgenic crop area of 44.2 million hectares, equivalent to 10.7 million hectares, was grown in developing countries where growth continued to be strong between 1999 and 2000, in contrast to the expected plateauing that is evident for the industrial countries.

Transgenic crop area is estimated to have increased from 39.9 million hectares in 1999 to 44.2 million hectares in 2000 (Table 2), resulting in a global increase of 4.3 million hectares in 2000, equivalent to 11% growth over 1999. Of this 4.3 million hectares, 3.6 million hectares, equivalent to 84% was in the developing countries – this compares with only 16%, equivalent to 0.7 million hectares in the industrial countries. Thus, the area of transgenic crops in developing countries grew by 51% from 7.1 million hectares in 1999 to 10.7 million in 2000, compared with a 2% growth in industrial countries where hectarage increased from 32.8 million hectares in 1999 to 33.5 million hectares in 2000.

Distribution of Transgenic Crops, by Country

In 2000, four countries grew 99% of the global transgenic crop area (Table 3). It is noteworthy that they are two industrial countries, USA and Canada, and two developing countries, Argentina and China. Consistent with the pattern since 1996, the USA grew the largest transgenic crop hectarage in 2000. The USA grew 30.3 million hectares, followed by Argentina with 10 million hectares, Canada with 3 million, and China 0.5 million hectares. In 2000, transgenic crop hectarage increased in 3 out of the top 4 countries growing commercialized transgenic crops. Increases were reported for the USA, Argentina, and China, with a decrease in area in Canada (Figure 3).

The 13 countries that grew transgenic crops in 2000 are listed in descending order of their transgenic crop areas (Table 3). There are 8 industrial countries and 5 developing countries. In 2000, transgenic crops were grown commercially in all six continents of the world – North America, Latin America, Asia, Oceania, Europe (Eastern and Western), and Africa. Of the top four countries that grew 99% of the global transgenic crop area, the USA grew 68%, Argentina 23%, Canada 7%, and China 1%. The other 1% was grown in the remaining 9 countries, with South Africa and Australia being the only countries in that group growing more than 100,000 hectares or a quarter million acres of transgenic crops.

In Argentina, a gain of 3.3 million hectares was reported for 2000 as a result of significant growth in transgenic soybean and corn and a modest increase in cotton. In the USA there was an estimated net gain of 1.6 million hectares of transgenic crops in 2000; this came about as a result of an increase in the area of transgenic soybean, cotton and canola, and a decreased area of transgenic corn. For Canada, a net decrease of 1 million hectares was estimated with most of it associated with the decrease in area planted with transgenic canola. For China, the area planted to Bt cotton was estimated to have increased by approximately 0.2 million hectares in 2000 to 0.5 million hectares.

A significant increase of up to 100,000 hectares of transgenic crops is reported for South Africa, where the combined area of transgenic corn and cotton is expected to almost double. In Australia, 150,000 hectares of transgenic cotton was planted in 2000, with Mexico reporting a modest area of transgenic cotton. The countries growing transgenic crops in 2000 include two Eastern European countries, Romania growing soybean and potatoes, and Bulgaria growing herbicide tolerant corn. Ukraine, which grew transgenic potatoes in 1999, has not confirmed any transgenic hectarage for 2000.

The three European Union countries – Spain, Germany, and France – which for the first time grew small areas of Bt corn in 1999, grew reduced areas in 2000; Portugal which grew Bt corn in 1999 withdrew registration in 2000 and no Bt corn was reported for Portugal in 2000. One additional country, Uruguay, reported the commercialization of transgenic crops for the first time in 2000, growing a small area, 3,000 hectares, of herbicide tolerant soybean.

Distribution of Transgenic Crops, by Crop

The distribution of the global transgenic crop area for the four major crops is illustrated in Figure 4 for the period 1996 to 2000. It clearly shows the dominance of transgenic soybean occupying 58% of the global area of transgenic crops in 2000; all of the transgenic soybean is herbicide tolerant. Transgenic soybean retained its position in 2000 as the transgenic crop occupying the largest area. Globally, transgenic soybean occupied 25.8 million hectares in 2000, with transgenic corn in second place at 10.3 million hectares, transgenic cotton in third place at 5.3 million hectares, and canola at 2.8 million hectares (Table 4).

In 2000, the global hectarage of herbicide tolerant soybean is estimated to have increased by 4.2 million hectares, equivalent to almost a 20% increase. Gains of approximately 2.7 million hectares of transgenic soybean are reported for Argentina and 1.5 million hectares for the USA, with adoption rates estimated at 95% of the 9.6 million hectares of soybeans grown in Argentina, and 54% of the national soybean area of 30.2 million hectares in the USA, in 2000.

Transgenic corn area in 2000 is estimated to have decreased globally by about 800,000 hectares (Table 4) with the major decrease in the USA and some in Canada. Some observers have identified the principal cause of the decrease in transgenic corn in the USA in 2000 to lower plantings of Bt corn by farmers who concluded that the low infestation of European Corn Borer in 1999 may not merit the use of Bt corn in 2000 on the basis that infestation would continue to be low.

Others have suggested that farmer uncertainty about markets for transgenic corn during the planting season may have led to decreased plantings of transgenic corn in 2000 by a small proportion of farmers. Decreases in transgenic corn in the USA and Canada have been offset by significant increases in transgenic corn in Argentina where adoption rates increased from 5 to 20% of the national corn crop, as well as an increase in transgenic maize in South Africa.

The net decrease in area planted globally with transgenic canola in 2000 is estimated at 600,000 hectares with all of the decrease in Canada, which is offset by a modest increase in transgenic canola in the USA. Canadian observers attribute the decrease in transgenic canola to three factors: firstly, the national canola hectarage decreased by 0.6 million hectares, from 5.5 million in 1999 to 4.9 million hectares in 2000; secondly, herbicide tolerant transgenic canola competed with mutation-derived herbicide tolerant canola varieties which increased in area and occupied 25% of the national acreage in 2000 D this compares with transgenic canola at 50% in 2000; thirdly, the low price of canola may have been a disincentive to farmers, who chose to decrease their cost outlays by planting conventional varieties.

In 2000, global area of transgenic cotton is estimated to have increased by 1.6 million hectares, from 3.7 million hectares in 1999 to an estimated 5.3 million hectares in 2000 D this is equivalent to a year-over-year increase of over 40% in the global area of transgenic cotton. The most significant increase was reported for the USA where the percentage of transgenic cotton increased from 55% in 1999 to 72% in 2000. China is reported to have significantly increased its transgenic cotton area to more than 10% of its national cotton area, and modest increases have been reported for Mexico, Australia, Argentina, and South Africa.

Distribution of Transgenic Crops, by Trait

During the five-year period 1996 to 2000, herbicide tolerance has consistently been the dominant trait with insect resistance being second (Figure 5). In 2000, herbicide tolerance, deployed in soybean, corn and cotton, occupied 74% of the 44.2 million hectares (Table 5), with 8.3 million hectares planted to Bt crops, equivalent to 19%, and stacked genes for herbicide tolerance and insect resistance deployed in both cotton and corn occupying 7% of the global transgenic area in 2000.

It is noteworthy that the area of herbicide tolerant crops has increased between 1999 and 2000 (28.1, to 32.7 million hectares) as well as crops with stacked genes for herbicide tolerance and Bt (2.9 million hectares in 1999 to 3.2 million hectares in 2000), whereas the global area of insect resistant crops has decreased from 8.9 million hectares in 1999 to 8.2 million hectares in 2000 (Table 5 and Figure 5). The trend for stacked genes to gain an increasing share of the global transgenic crop market is expected to continue.

Dominant Transgenic Crops in 2000

Herbicide tolerant soybean was the most dominant transgenic crop grown commercially in six countries in 2000 D USA, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, Romania, and Uruguay (Table 6). Globally herbicide tolerant soybean occupied 25.8 million hectares, representing 59% of the global transgenic crop area of 44.2 million hectares for all crops. The second most dominant crop was Bt maize, which occupied 6.8 million hectares, equivalent to 15% of global transgenic area and planted in six countries D USA, Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Spain, and France.

The other six crops listed in Table 6 all occupy <10% of global transgenic crop area and include, in descending order of area: herbicide tolerant canola, occupying 2.8 million hectares (6%); herbicide tolerant maize on 2.1 million hectares (5%); herbicide tolerant cotton on 2.1 million hectares (5%); Bt/herbicide tolerant cotton on 1.7 million hectares (4%); Bt cotton on 1.5 million hectares (3%); Bt/herbicide tolerant maize on 1.4 million hectares (3%).

Global Adoption of Transgenic Soybean, Corn, Cotton, and Canola

One useful way to portray a global perspective of the status of transgenic crops is to characterize the global adoption rates of the four principal crops – soybean, cotton, canola, and corn – in which transgenic technology is utilized (Table 7 and Figure 6). The data indicate that in 2000, 36% of the 72 million hectares of soybean planted globally were transgenic. Similarly, 16% of the 34 million hectares of cotton, 11% of the 25 million hectares of canola, and 7% of the 140 million hectares of corn, were transgenic. If the global areas of these four crops are aggregated, the total area is 271 million hectares, of which 16%, equivalent to 44.2 million hectares, is estimated to be transgenic. It is noteworthy that two-thirds of these 271 million hectares are in the developing countries where yields are lower, constraints are greater, and the need for improved production of food, feed, and fiber crops is the greatest.

Concluding Remarks

In the early 1990s, many were skeptical that transgenic crops could deliver improved products and make an impact in the near-term at the farm level. There was even more skepticism about the appropriateness of transgenic crops for countries of the developing world. The experience of the last five years, 1996 to 2000, when a cumulative total of 125 million hectares (over 300 million acres) of transgenic crops have been planted globally, has demonstrated that the early promises of transgenic crops are meeting expectations of large and small farmers planting transgenic crops in both industrial and developing countries.

The fact that legions of farmers in both industrial and developing countries around the world have made independent decisions to increase their transgenic crop areas by more than 25-fold in five years (after evaluating the technology following their first plantings of transgenic crops in 1996), speaks volumes of the confidence and trust farmers have placed in transgenic crops that can make a vital contribution to global food, feed, and fiber security.

Governments, supported by the global scientific and international development community, must ensure continued safe and effective testing and introduction of transgenic crops and implement regulatory programs that inspire public confidence. Leadership at the international level must be exerted by the international scientific community and development institutions to stimulate discussion and to share knowledge on transgenic crops with society that must be well informed and engaged in a dialog about the impact of the technology on the environment, food safety, sustainability, and global food security.

Societies in food surplus countries must ensure that access to biotechnology is not denied or delayed to developing countries seeking to access the new technologies in their quest for food security, because the most compelling case for biotechnology, more specifically transgenic crops, is their potential vital contribution to global food security and the alleviation of hunger in the Third World. In summary, we must ensure that society will continue to benefit from the vital contribution that plant breeding offers, using both conventional and biotechnology tools, because improved crop varieties are, and will continue to be, the most cost effective, environmentally safe, and sustainable way to ensure global food security in the future.

Acknowledgments

The provision of data on global adoption of commercialized transgenic crops by a legion of colleagues from the public and private sectors in industrial and developing countries is much appreciated; without their collaboration, this publication would not be possible. It is a pleasure to thank Dr. Randy Hautea, Director of the ISAAA SEAsia Center, his staff, and my wife Glenys James, for formatting the text, graphs, and tables. Whereas the assistance of everyone is acknowledged and greatly appreciated, the author takes full responsibility for the views expressed in this publication and for any errors of omission or misinterpretation.
GENET
European NGO Network
on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D – 38116 Braunschweig
Germany

phone: +49-531-5168746
fax: +49-531-5168747
email: genetnl@xs4all.be