Today in AgBioView: June 18, 2002:
* Re: Greenpeace China Study
* Re: No Logic
* Response to Thomas R. DeGregori, Ph.D.
* More on mutation breeding
* Re: Predators of bollworm
* RICH PICKINGS FOR FARMER CHARLES
* Extended GE ban `could do more harm than good'
* Ruckus Society 'Anarchists' Promoting High-Tech Havoc
* BIOTECH MAKES ITS MARK ON FARMING
* GENETICALLY ALTERED FOOD CREATES LABELING DILEMMA
FOR THE INDUSTRY
* GENES AND FOOD - Let corn be corn
From: "Patrick Moore"
Subject: Re: Greenpeace China Study
Date: Sun, 16 Jun 2002 17:48:39 -0700
Here is my response to the Greenpeace report on Bt Cotton in
COMMENTS ON THE GREENPEACE PUBLICATION CLAIMING
IMPACTS OF BT COTTON IN CHINA.
I refer to this document:
A Summary of Research on the Environmental Impact of Bt Cotton
Published by Greenpeace, June 2002.
Patrick Moore, Ph.D.
First, some general points:
1. The word "adverse" is used in the document as if all "impacts"
"adverse". It seems that Greenpeace believes that cotton grown
conventionally with 13 chemical applications per season is the
or ýbaselineţ condition and that any variance from that, even
populations of certain insect species, is an "adverse" impact.
2. It seems that Greenpeace thinks some insects are "good" and
insects are "bad". A decrease in the population of bollworm
called an "adverse" impact while an increase in other insect
also described as an "adverse" impact. Meanwhile there is no
whether or not Greenpeace considers a reduction in bollworms to
"adverse" or "beneficial".
3. No mention is made of increased yields from Bt cotton, even
is a significant beneficial environmental impact because it
amount of land needed to produce a given amount of cotton.
4. Even though the report explicitly mentions that Bt cotton results
reduced chemical pesticide applications there is no mention that
this is a
"beneficial" impact. In fact the word beneficial seems to be entirely
absent from the document (perhaps also missing from the
5. The media release that Greenpeace issued on June 3,
publication of the report, claims that "farmers growing this GE crop
now finding themselves entangled in Bt-resistant superbugs".
There is absolutely no evidence or mention in the report of actual
resistance to Bt in bollworms in cotton fields. This statement is
therefore a case of misinformation. The report simply states the
scientifically obvious, that insects are able to develop resistance to
strategies we develop to control them. This is a fact of evolution
will always be necessary to develop new strategies as crop pests
resistance to existing ones.
6. There are no statistical tests applied to any of the data in the
report. Therefore it is not possible to determine at what confidence
any of the apparent differences in insect populations are
Now I will go point-by- point through the report:
BT COTTON'S IMPACTS ON NON-TARGET ORGANISMS
1. Impacts on Natural Enemies of Bollworm
The June 3 media release characterizes this section as
there is "a significant reduction of the parasitic natural enemies of
cotton bollworm". A careful reading of the report does not support
The first study reported, Prof Wu Kongming, states "The tests
predator populations in Bt cotton to be higher than in conventional
grown using chemicals and much lower than in conventional
The second study, Dr. Cui Jinjie, states "the impacts of Bt cotton
predator population dynamics were not obvious."
The third study, Prof. Zhang Qingwen, states "Studies indicated no
difference between Bt cotton and non-Bt cotton."
The fourth study, Prof. Shen Jigliang, states "These results
Bt cotton has a slight impact on the rate of parisitization of
Perhaps Greenpeace is confident that no one will actually read the
report but will only use their media release to obtain information. It
clear from the report itself that there is no basis for claiming
"significant reductions" in bollworm predators in Bt cotton fields.
In addition, there is no comparison made between bollworm
predator populations. It seems obvious that if the bollworm
reduced by using Bt cotton that the predators of bollworm will also
2. Impacts on Secondary Pests
In the June 3 media release Greenpeace states that Bt cotton
increase in secondary pests (which) replaced the cotton bollworm
primary pest in some of the cotton fields."
In this section the evidence is very clear. In fields of conventional
cotton with no chemical treatment population of secondary pests
than in Bt cotton, whereas in fields of conventional cotton grown
chemical treatment populations of secondary pests are lower than
cotton. This is exactly what would be expected. The reduction in
treatments made possible by using Bt cotton results in higher
populations (other than the target insect) than in fields where no
chemicals are used and lower populations than where more
used. How Greenpeace manages to characterize this as "adverse"
difficult to imagine. Surely it is somewhat "perverse" for an
environmental group to describe reduced chemical use and
populations as "adverse".
As for the claim that secondary pests are "becoming the primary
isn't it obvious that if you effectively control the "primary" pest that
the "secondary" pest will automatically become the "primary" pest?
3. Impacts on Insect Community Diversity
In this section Greenpeace makes the argument that Bt cotton
results in a
"destabilized insect community." (media release, June 3). Again,
evidence presented in the report does not support this conclusion.
report states that "one could conclude that insect communities will
less stable in Bt cotton fields, suggesting potential outbreaks of
pest species." Note the use of the words "could, suggesting, and
potential." In other words there is no actual evidence that insect
populations are less "stable" in Bt cotton fields.
Besides, using the term "destabilized insect community" is rather
meaningless when talking about monoculture cotton plantations.
RESISTANCE OF COTTON BOLLWORM TO Bt COTTON
1. Resistance development of Cotton Bollworm
The report states that "Total chemical applications in cotton have
reduced from 13 sprayings per season to 7 sprays in the Yellow
Valley area and from 5-7 sprays down to 3-5 in the Yangtze River
area (by using Bt cotton)." Greenpeace does not mention that this
positive result. Instead, in the June 3 media release, they state that
cotton has "forced farmers to continue the use of chemical
This is extremely misleading. It makes the reader think that Bt
made it necessary to use pesticides when in fact Bt cotton has
possible to reduce pesticide use.
There is no information given about the actual amount of pesticide
which chemicals were used in conventional and Bt cotton.
The report comes to the conclusion that "Bt cotton control of
would be reduced from 100% to 30% when the 17th generation of
bollworm was fed Bt cotton at the seedling stage. At the 40th
the resistance to the bollworm strain is increased 500-1000 times
to the original population."
All these "studies" were done in the laboratory. There is no
given of any resistance in the field after 6 continuous years of Bt
plantings. Basically the lab studies were designed to breed Bt
strains of cotton bollworm. All biologists know that if you force-feed
bollworms with Bt cotton leaves for many generations that
likely to develop in the population. This is one of the ways that
evolution works, adaptation to a changing environment by genetic
for traits that increase the probability of survival.
The Greenpeace report is a classic example of the use of
"science" to support misinformation and distortion of the truth.
who has studied the introduction of Bt cotton into China and other
countries knows that it results in reduced chemical use, reduced
non-target organisms, including other insects, reduced exposure
chemicals by farm workers, increased productivity, and increased
benefit to farm owners. To date there are no substantiated
impacts from Bt cotton. Once again, Greenpeace demonstrates
policy on genetic modification (zero tolerance) can only be
resorting to distortion of the facts and false interpretation of data.
Please distribute this freely.
The Greenpeace-published report on environmental impact of Bt
China is a garbled and biased report: Shirong Jia and Yufa Peng's
Shirong Jia is a professor at the Biotechnology Research Institute,
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), Beijing, China;
of the National GMO Biosafety Committee; and the national
transgenic Bt cotton research and development during 1996-2000.
Yufa Peng is a professor and director of the Center for Biosafety
Research, Institute of Plant Protection, CAAS, Beijing, China; a
the National GMO Biosafety Committee; and Chief Scientist of the
Fundamental Science Program on GMO Biosafety.
We, as scientists in the fields of agricultural biotechnology and
protection, respectively, after carefully reading the report "A
Research on the Environmental Impact of Bt Cotton in China"
Dayuan Xue, Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences, and
Greenpeace in June 2002, would like to express our personal
The conclusions made by the author of the report are incorrect.
a look at the facts. In 1997, the GMO biosafety committee of the
of Agriculture approved its first commercial cultivation of the
Bt cotton varieties developed by the CAAS scientists and Monsanto
respectively. Each GM cotton variety had undergone a thorough
assessment by the National GMO Biosafety Committee prior to its
Monitoring of long-term effects on the environment and the
resistance in insect (cotton bollworm) population to the transgenic
gene(s) or Bt-toxin have been carried out by the Institute of Plant
Protection, CAAS since 1997. Moreover, both governmental and
private-sector funded research on biosafety were significantly
in the last 5 years. For example, there are four projects in the
Transgenic Crops Program, 6 projects in the 863 National High
Program, 7 projects in the 973 National Fundamental Science
Program, and 3
projects in the Tenth Five-year-Plan National Key Program. These
examples of government-funded research projects mainly dealing
environmental safety study of GM crops.
According to the scientific data generated from these
third-party research and information available in the Chinese
in the last three to five years, the greatest environmental impact of
cotton was its benefit to the environment that was a significant
(70-80%) of the chemical pesticide use. It is known that pesticides
in cotton production in China are estimated to be 25% of the total
of pesticides used in all the crops. By using Bt cotton in 2000 in
Shandong province alone, the reduction of pesticide use was
1500 tones. It
not only reduced the environmental pollution, but also reduced the
harmful accident to the human and animals caused by the
pesticides. Farmers and scientists in China are currently realizing
benefits of using GM insect-resistant cotton crops. Risks to
insects and the environment are negligible.
As of the end of 2001, 13 insect-resistant transgenic cotton
were grown in 12 provinces in China. Since most of these
to Northern China, we will take this area as an example. Cotton is
most important cash crop in the Northern China. Cotton bollworm
occurs 4 generations each year and causes severe damage to
and yield loss. For example, in 1992 alone the yield loss caused
bollworm in Northern China was valued 10 b RMB. In order to
cotton bollworm, farmers have to spray insecticides 15 to 20 times
whole season. After planting Bt cotton, only 1 or 2 insecticide
needed for controlling the third or fourth generations of the
the late growing stage of cotton plants. This results in a significant
reduction in the use of pesticides and labor cost. Farmers warmly
the Bt cotton and the acreage of Bt cotton has been extended to
1 m ha in aggregate since 1997. The economic and social benefit
estimated to be more than 2 b RMB. No risks to beneficial insects
environment have been observed in the field.
Therefore, based on the above fact, we think that the conclusions
the author of the report published by Greenpeace are incorrect. In
the report has only collected a very limited research data. A large
of positive results have not been quoted by the author, and many
results have been painted in a negative way. In conclusion, the
many research data is garbled in accordance with the author's
1. Peer-review. It should be emphasized that the report has not
2. Impact on natural enemies. The said adverse impacts on
parasitic enemies in the report are based on limited work in an
laboratory environment, which does not reflect the natural cotton
environment. As of today, there are no adverse impacts reported
parasitic enemies in the Bt cotton fields.
It should be noted that any agriculture practice may have both
and negative impacts. If an adverse impact on natural parasitic
does occur because of Bt cotton killing most of the bollworms, the
pesticides that kill a much broad range of insects including many
parasitic enemies would result in a much worth adverse impact on
enemies. This is common knowledge. Why the report did not
mention a word
3. Secondary pests. Cotton aphids is the second important insect
cotton in China. Published paper and data from Dr. Wu's group at
Institute of Plant Protection, CAAS showed that because less
were used in the early stage of cotton growing season, the natural
of cotton aphids were significantly increased, and cotton aphids
under control. During 1997-2001, field observations indicated that
population in Northern China was 443 to 1646 times lower in Bt
fields than that in non-Bt cotton fields with regular spray of both
pyrethroid and organophosphorus insecticides. Here again this
result has not been quoted in the report.
It is known that the cry1A protein is specific to certain lepidoptera
insects. Therefore, it is not surprising that Bt cotton is not able to
control other insects such as plant bugs, spider mites, beet
Because of less insecticides were used in the early stage of
growing season, these insects may become major insects in the
However, it is not a fault of Bt cotton and farmers may apply other
insecticides to control it according to the population density of
4. Development of resistance to Bt cotton. The fact is that,
resistance monitoring in the natural field conditions, cotton
still susceptible to Bt and there is no resistance of cotton bollworm
Bt has been discovered yet after five years of Bt cotton planting.
Resistant insect strains have been obtained in laboratories but not
In Northern China, multiple-cropping system is a common
practice. In this
case, corn, wheat, cotton, soybean and other crops are grown in
region or neighboring field, which would act as a natural "refuge"
cotton bollworm. A survey should that 70% of cotton bollworm is
corn field that may provide a huge "refuge". According to the data
generated by Dr. Wu's group, the resistance of bollworm to Bt is
controlled by an incomplete recessive gene after crossing and
back-crossing of resistant insects with susceptible insects. The
this natural refuge for delaying resistance development in insect
population is under more detailed evaluation.
In addition, other resistance management strategies have been
well. For example, Dr. Guo's group has used gene stacking for this
purpose. After 17 generations of repeated selection in laboratory,
resistance ratio of cotton bollworm to transgenic tobacco
double gene (cry1A plus CpTI) was 3.0, while that of transgenic
with single gene of cry1A was 13.1. The results indicate that such
two-gene system could have a potential to delay the resistance
in cotton bollworm population. Again the author did not cite this
(for further reading please refer to the book "Transgenic Cotton",
by Shirong Jia, Sandui Guo and Daochang An, published by
Publisher, China, 2001, In Chinese).
Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 10:30:24 -0400
From: "Charles M. Rader"
Subject: Re: No Logic
>The argument is made that Bt cotton causes a decrease in the
>of the predators that feed on the bollworm.
Of course, by decreasing their food supply, we would expect the
populations to decrease. By analogy, if we were to find a way to
crime, we would hire fewer policemen.
From: "Frances B. Smith"
Subject: What's for Dinner? (washingtonpost
Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 09:34:06 -0400
A "book review" in Sunday's Washington Post Book World by
Nichols Fox uses
Kathleen Hart's book Eating in the Dark to take potshots --
and scare stories -- at food produced agricultural biotechnology.
Date: Fri, 14 Jun 2002 15:16:42 -0700
From: "Henry I. Miller"
The following is a partial answer to Sam Johnston's query about
A FOOD LABEL WE DONÝT NEED
Henry I. Miller, MD
Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson told a
international biotechnology conference in Toronto on Monday that
administration opposes mandatory labeling to identify foods that
derived from gene-spliced, or genetically modified (GM) plants or
organisms. He said that such mandatory labeling would serve no
and would ýonly frighten consumers.ý
ThompsonÝs statements aroused the ire of anti-biotechnology
who, invoking the consumer's ýright to know,ţ argue that we
let consumers know what's in their breakfast cereal and let them
their own choices. That sounds good, even libertarian. But it
worked that way in practice. Britain's mandatory_labeling law,
a senior regulator at its inception several years ago as "a question
choice, of consumer choice," has had the opposite effect. It
stampede by food producers, retailers and restaurant chains to rid
products of all gene-spliced ingredients so they wouldn't have to
introduce new "warning" labels and risk losing sales.
A broad scientific consensus holds that modern techniques of
engineering are essentially a refinement of the kinds of genetic
modification that have long been used to enhance plants,
and animals for food. Because of the precision and predictability of
technology, the products of gene_splicing are even more
-- and as safe as --the genetically improved foods that have long
our diets, such as seedless grapes, sweet corn and high_yield
(Except for wild berries, virtually all the fruits, vegetables and
that we eat have been genetically improved by one technique or
Following long_standing precedents in food regulation, the FDA
requires safety information on labels when a new food raises
safety, nutrition or proper usage. These questions can reflect, for
example, the presence of a substance that is completely new to
supply, an allergen presented in an unusual or unexpected way
example, a peanut protein transferred to a potato), changes in the
of major dietary nutrients, or increased levels of toxins normally
in foods. But there is no requirement for disclosure of the use of
particular techniques to make food or food ingredients.
The FDA's current approach was upheld indirectly by a federal
court, which found in 1996 that there exists no consumers' "right to
obscure information about food. That case involved a Vermont law
labeling of dairy products from cows treated with a gene_spliced
to increase their productivity. "Were consumer interest alone
there is no end to the information that states could require
to disclose about their production methods," the court wrote.
the courtÝs concern, some California activists have demanded
identify machine-harvested -- as opposed to handpicked --
will it end?
The need to segregate gene-spliced foods, especially the
processed foods that contain small amounts of derivatives of corn
soybeans, would raise production costs and pose a particular
to products in this competitive market with low profit_margins. To
maintain the accuracy of labels, gene-spliced fruits, vegetables
grains would have to be segregated through all phases of
planting, harvesting, processing and distribution -- adding costs
compromising economies of scale. A 1994 analysis by the
Department of Consumer Affairs, a state watchdog agency,
the additional costs would be ýsubstantial,ţ and that ýwhile the
food processing industry is large, it is doubtful that it would be
willing or able to absorb most of the additional costs associated
labeling biotech foods.ţ The analysis concluded that ýthere is
concern that consumers will be unwilling to pay even the
for biotech foods necessary to cover biotechnology research and
development, much less the additional price increases necessary
the costs associated with labeling biotech food.ţ
Just the possibility of consumers rejecting "produced by
foods already has had repercussions. Take Joe Six-pack's
example. In North Dakota, which leads the nation in the production
barley for beer, the 1999 crop was the smallest in more than a
reduced by a fungal disease called scab. But following the
Japanese brewers Kirin and Sapporo and American baby food
Gerber and Heinz, which have rejected gene-spliced ingredients in
products, U.S. brewers are reluctant to turn to gene-spliced,
scab-resistant barley, which is under development. The result?
about supplies, higher costs of production and scab-infested
for brewing, which gives beer an off taste.
If enough people really want to avoid gene_spliced food, niche
will arise, as they have for kosher and organic products --
consumers are willing to pay a premium for foods certified to be
"gene-splicing free." No government mandate is needed.
Henry I. Miller is a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of
ýPolicy Controversy in Biotechnology: An InsiderÝs View.ţ From
was director of the FDAÝs Office of Biotechnology.
Date: Fri, 14 Jun 2002 17:23:08 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Response to Thomas R. DeGregori, Ph.D.
Response to Thomas R. DeGregori, Ph.D.
The Greens are using multiple names, multiple sites, interlocking
organizations with sites, and frequent linking to one another
their multiple sites to promote their ideals. The more a site is
to other sites with similar information the more likely it is to come
high on a search engine list. This may not be a wholesale
the web-servers. Most server organizations feel, "What you post is
concern- as long as the Feds wont knock at our door." Freedom of
speechisn't freedom from ignorance. Wearing hipboots while
mining for the
truth is more like it.
Most scientist do not have the patience, the mediaskills, or time to
counter this propaganda. They are scientist, not salesmen or
agri-company trying to do the same is tarred with it's own self
Activist groups are erroneously NOT seen as having financial or
self-interest, so they hold the moral high ground for many. There
centrist counter to these problems since most sites are generated
extremest. Scientist are also too busy doing the actual work of
to put up a lay-friendly site.
Lay-advocacy will be a long time coming because, "Why should I
my time to agri-business. They should take care of their own." In
addition GMO's are complicated- Without a firm science education
a lot of
crazy things can be seen as plausable to even a generally
person who has no training in interpretation of information.
education in the US is losing ground, not merely failing to keep up
technical advances of late.
Here's hoping that polarization does not fester to the point that any
threat or solution (organic or bio-tech) is ignored until there is
damage. Here's hoping that reasonable regulations and
(organic or biotech) are implemented and followed thru in action
spirit, and not just "on paper." I both hate salmonella, and I am
concerned about monoculture of our foodstuffs and the rush to
Starlink is probably harmless, but the desire to "sell the product"
not take into account real-life situations or real life farming.
My background is psychology and data gathering. The numbers
watch our for those delusions/ biases, everyone harbors at least
Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 15:18:46 -0300
From: "Bob MacGregor"
Subject: More on mutation breeding
I have always wondered why the issue of mutation breeding isn't
more forcefully when supporters of genetic engineering try to
the inconsistency and illogic of blind opposition to the technology.
Sure, mutation breeding is mentioned occasionally, and Ihave
estimates that over 2200 plant varieties in use now originated from
technique (though I have never seen a list of these varieties
A recent article in New Scientist (11 May 2002, pg. 5) summarizes
that suggests to me that mutation breeding could be much more
concern than we suspected. The critical finding of the research is
that mutations are introduced randomly in the genome of the
concern we see mentioned in the occasional AgBioView posting),
radiation seems to introduce a higher intergenerational mutation
That is, the initial exposure to
radiation isn't the end of the mutation events; they continue into
generations without additional, continuing exposure to radiation.
Assuming these results are confirmed, and assuming these
apply to plants as well as to lab animals, then the anti-tech folks
want to add mutation-bred monster crops to their hit list before
"contaminate" the world, including pure organic crops, with their
mutant DNA. It is inconceivable that Greenpeace, et. al.
mutation-bred crop varieties as "conventional" and "safe" while at
same time condemning carefully-monitored GE crops as
untested health and environmental risks.
They are looking in the wrong place for boogiemen; they should
the IAEA list of radiation-mutants, not the USDA list of GMOs.
Subject: Re: Predators of bollworm
Date: Sat, 15 Jun 2002 04:59:44 +0530
I am also on the same view about the pest control. There are lot of
predators in nature to take care of the pests. And also lot of
host plants which can be grown as catch crops, monitoring crops,
crops, intercrops, companion crops, etc.. Further there are also
products locally available to contain the pests and
things can be utilized effectively to contain the pestsand diseases.
There is a natural balance which can not be altered by man. If he
that the natural balance can be altered he is altering him self .
is not a humanbeing .He is something else. There are lot of
Tamil Nadu-India, which never use pesticides or fungicides for
where there is no pest or disease damage. We use to educate the
adopt IPM technologies to contain the pests and diseases.Do you
no what is
Let me tell you now.
- the integration of Plants, Pest, Predators, People and Polices (
- the integration of Concepts, Methods, Ecology, Biological
Social, Behavioral and System science.
- the integration of philosophy and psychology of the ecosystems
and its components.
- a monitoring process in the crop ecosystems.
- the processes of free thinking and self Decision making.
- a process to make the Farmers as experts in their fields.
- a process to protect the Natural Enemies.
- a process to protect the environment with out any pollution.
- a process where internal resources are fully utilized and
external resources are eliminated.
- a counseling process with the plants.
- to grow a healthy crop.
- to protect our food, water and air from poisoning.
- to sustain Agriculture.
- to lead a healthy and quality life.
- to sustain the society as a whole in tact.
Please let us all counsel with each others including plants and
which feed us.
Otherwise we will be nowhere??????