Home Page Link AgBioWorld Home Page
About AgBioWorld Donations Ag-Biotech News Declaration Supporting Agricultural Biotechnology Ag-biotech Info Experts on Agricultural Biotechnology Contact Links Subscribe to AgBioView Home Page

AgBioView Archives

A daily collection of news and commentaries on

Subscribe AgBioView Subscribe

Search AgBioWorld Search

AgBioView Archives





March 1, 2007


European Inertia; Not Much Difference; Asian Decade; People, Plants and Genes; Eco-Freaks; No Crop Circles in GM Fields


Today in AgBioView from http://www.agbioworld.org - March 1, 2007

* EU Must Wake Up from 'GM Food Inertia'
* Are GM and Conventionally Bred Cereals Really Different?
* DuPont Boosts Research Into Genetically Modified Crops
* The Second Decade of Commercialization of GM Crops will be in Asia
* It's Futile to Refute ISAAA's Report on Global Status of Biotech Crops
* Future of Genetically Modified Foods
* Religious Leaders Should Not Mislead the Public about GM Foods
* People, Plants and Genes: The Story of Crops and Humanity
* Eco-Freaks: Environmentalism Is Hazardous to Your Health!
* Aliens Refuse to Make Circles in GM Crops

EU Must Wake Up from 'GM Food Inertia'

- Anthony Fletcher, Nutra Ingredients, March 1, 2007 http://www.nutraingredients.com

When it comes to GM food, the EU needs to wake up from its political inertia, according to biotechnology pressure group EuropaBio. The organisation, responding to what it sees as an opportunity being passed up, is holding a conference on 13 March 2007 in Lyon, France to discuss the issue.

Panellists will include Dr Hans Kast, president and CEO of BASF Plant Science Holding, and Dr Bernward Gerthoff, chairman of the German Association of Biotech Industries-DIB. "The proven benefits that green biotechnology can bring to farmers, the environment, consumers and society are already acknowledged and recognised by many at European level," said the organisation.

"Despite a very stringent regulatory system for the assessment, approval and monitoring of agricultural biotech products put in place in Europe, there are still endless debates between opponents and advocates. "Such debates result in a highly politicised European process for product authorisation that is very slow and in some instances prohibits the placing on the market of safe and beneficial products."

EuropaBio claims that the consequence of this ambivalent position is the denial of freedom of choice for European farmers and consumers and negative influence on developing countries towards their adoption of biotech crops including those produced in their own countries to meet their own needs. Indeed, within the European biotechnology sector, there is a real fear that the bloc is lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of access to agricultural biotechnology.

Marc Van Montagu, the president of the European Federation of Biotechnology, told journalists in Brussels recently that the technology, which has been oriented to helping developing countries, could also be of great benefit to European food production. Montagu's comments follow the publication of new figures from The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

The new statistics show that in 2006 the number of hectares globally cultivated with GM crops increased by 12 million hectares. Most of this growth came from countries such as China and India, while most EU farmers "continue to be held back by a dysfunctional regulatory system and by disproportionate co-existence rules," according to Montagu.

The issue of GM approval within the EU is one of the most contentious in agriculture. The recent announcement that US authorities had traced amounts of unapproved genetically modified (GM) food in samples of rice prompted the EU to clamp down on all imports from the US.

The immediacy of this action illustrated the stringent controls the EU has in place to guard against unauthorised products entering the food chain, and also reflected consumer fears over the technology. Nonetheless, in 2006, farmers cultivated approved biotech crops on 65 000 hectares in six European Member States (Portugal, Spain, Germany, France, Czech Republic and Slovakia). EuropaBio said that this would likely increase this year.


Are GM and Conventionally Bred Cereals Really Different?

- Shane Morris, Feb. 26, 2007. Links at http://www.gmoireland.blogspot.com

Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception, who the anti-GM groups often quote, has said that GM crops are inherently "unsafe" due to the insertion of genes (for example see HERE by GMFREE Ireland). By the way, this book is a non-peer reviewed text with tens, if not hundreds of scientific errors and misleading statements.

Smith suggests, often by using dodgy references, one even a TV show?!? that GM crops are "inherently unsafe" due to the impact of the transgene on the target plant genome. He states: "The process of inserting foreign genes can damage the structure and function of the host’s DNA, switch genes on or off, create never-before-seen genetic sequences, and render the genome unstable."

and even "Insertion of foreign genes and their new proteins may create complex, unpredictable interactions, not well understood. Similarly, inserting two or more foreign genes into the same plant may also cause interactions that have not been studied. "

These claims were shredded in a recent wheat study published in Trends in Food Science and Technology in the following paper:

> Are GM and conventionally bred cereals really different? (click HERE)
> Peter R. Shewry , , Marcela Baudoa, Alison Lovegrovea, Stephen Powersa, Johnathan A. Napiera, Jane L. Warda, John M. Bakera and Michael H. Beale
> Abstract: Concerns over the safety of GM crops have led to detailed comparisons of their composition and performance with those of conventionally bred crops, under both field and glasshouse conditions. Such studies of wheat have shown that it is possible to develop GM lines which are substantially equivalent to conventional varieties. This information is important to inform the debate on the future development of GM food crops.

The two most important lines I feel are: "Comparison of the pairs of transgenic and ‘‘parental’’ lines (B102-1-1 v L88-31, B13554 v Cadenza, B1118 v Cadenza) showed only a small number of differentially expressed genes, with none differing by more than 2-fold. In contrast, comparison of the two non-transgenic sister lines (L88-31 and L88-18), which were produced from a single cross between the cultivars Olympic and Gabo, showed that a larger number of genes were differentially expressed in developing endosperms, 92 at 14 days (13 by greater than 3-fold) and 527 at 28 days (85 by greater than 2-fold). "

And "A striking result from our studies was the small numbers of differentially expressed genes between the transgenic and control lines when compared with sister lines (L88-31, L88-18) produced by a conventional crossing programme. This is consistent with the hypothesis that transgenesis is a highly precise and controlled method of crop improvement compared to conventional breeding in which many thousands of genes may differ between the lines."

Clearly, if one is to take a case by case approach (as opposed to all GM crops are good or all GM crops are bad) this study shows that in this particular case, the transgenic wheat plants produced are more similar (i.e. show less change) to the control plants than the wheat plants produced by conventional breeding.

So what does this all mean, in simple terms this study has shown traditional breeding causes hundreds and thousands of genes to be mixed having a much greater impact on the target plant genome than genetic engineering that caused less changes on the genome level in this case. It is known from past experience that this large scale 'natural' mixing can have all sorts of unpredicted impacts on the plant genome. This has been seen before with conventional plants, for example the conventionally bred Lenape potato that was found to have dangerous levels of solanine, a poisonous glycoalkaloid (see HERE) caused the introduction of mandatory testing requirement for all new potato varieties in the US and the 'naturally bred' celery that caused farm workers to have a severe skin rash (see HERE).


DuPont Boosts Research Into Genetically Modified Crops

- St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 28, 2007

DuPont Co.'s Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. unit said Tuesday it will increase research staff by about 20 percent this year as part of a plan to speed development of new genetically modified crops. Pioneer will add 400 employees: 370 in research and the rest in sales and marketing. Some of the researchers are being redeployed from crop-chemicals units, where 1,500 job cuts were announced in December.

Locally, Pioneer is adding a full-time scientist to the staff of six currently working at a research center in Mascoutah, Ill. The station, which also will get a budget increase, mainly is responsible for developing biotech and hybrid soybeans best suited for growing in this region, said spokesman Pat Arthur.

Chief Executive Charles O. Holliday Jr. is boosting Pioneer research by $100 million this year as the unit introduces products to compete with Creve Coeur-based Monsanto Co., the world's biggest developer of genetically modified crops. The initiative is funded with savings from production and job cuts in units that make pesticides and herbicides.

Pioneer's pipeline includes a biotech trait, Optimum GAT, which allows crops to withstand applications of glyphosate and ALS herbicides. Optimum GAT soybeans are expected to reach the market in 2009, followed a year later by corn, Arthur said.

The company also is expanding its line of low-linolenic soybeans, which produce shelf-stable cooking oil that can reduce the use of trans fat-filled partially hydrogenated soybean oil. In 2009, DuPont plans to launch soybeans that also contain high levels of healthy oleic oil. The Mascoutah center will work with both of these traits, Arthur said. DuPont's expansion will be at 67 sites in 20 nations, he said. About 60 percent will be hired for North America.


"The Second Decade of Commercialization of GM Crops will be in Asia"

- Rolly Dureha, BioSpectrum (India), February 08, 2007

Dr Clive James, chairman and founder, ISAAA, was in India recently to release the finding of the ISAAA Annual Report 2006. In an exclusive chat with BioSpectrum, Dr James shared the key highlights of the report, its impact, and the future prospects of the GM technology.

* How do you view the ISAAA activities in India?
- The ISAAA activities in India have been extremely successful. When we established the office here, the aim was to share knowledge with all segments of the Indian society. And if I can use an example from the 2005 release that we did from Sao Paulo, Brazil, we were able to reach 500 million people on a global basis. That is an incredible number; almost eight percent of the global population and 195 million of those people were in India. So we have been more successful in sharing knowledge in India than any country in the world. This is very good as it is through knowledge that people can make knowledge-based decisions about this technology.

Our philosophy in terms of sharing is that we share the knowledge but we respect the independence of others to make decisions based on that knowledge. In this context, the investment in India has been very successful. We will continue to work at the different levels with different institutions to even excel on the 195 million people that we reached in 2005 and hopefully the target for 2006 will be 250 million or more.

* What are the highlights of the ISAAA Annual Report in 2006?
- The release in 2006 is probably one of the most powerful releases that we have made. And the reason for this is that it has reached three major breakthroughs. First, 2006 is the first year when we have breached the 100-million hectare mark, 102 million hectares were planted in 22 countries in 2006 with transgenic crops, a very important historical milestone. Second, the number of farmers reached over 10 millions for the first time, 10.3 million compared to 8.5 million in 2005 and amazingly 90 percent of those are resource-poor farmers. So we have 10.3 million farmers in 2006 that have benefited significantly from this technology.

The third significant milestone is that if one looks at the period from 1996 to 2006, there has been double digit growth every single year, which tells something about the farmer's view about this technology. So over the 11-year period, we have actually planted more than half a billion hectare, 577 million hectares to be precise.

Now from India's point of view, the most important development in 2006 has been that for the first time, India has planted more Bt cotton than China. India is now the leader in Asia in terms of acreage. In 2006, 3.8 million hectares, almost a tripling of area from 2005 when it was 1.3 million hectares, compares with China at 3.5 million hectare. And in terms of number of farmers there were 2.3 million farmers that benefited from Bt cotton in India in 2006.

* From Asia's perspective, what has been the progress made in agricultural biotechnology?
- If one looks at the first decade of commercialization, from 1996 to 2005, undoubtedly the first decade belonged to the Americas. But my sense is that the second decade of commercialization will be in Asia with the two most populous countries, China and India playing a major part in it. If we look at the figures in 2006, then the biggest absolute gain was still in the US at 4.8 million hectares. The US still has 53 percent of the global acreage but if one looks at the percentage in the developing countries, it has increased every single year, from 1996 until 2006. In 2006, 40 percent of the total global area was grown in developing countries. Now that is a trend that we see continuing.

The technology may also be developed in the public sector, in public sector institutes in India, China and Brazil. So the landscape of who owns the technology will change and that is a big issue for many people. Once you get the technology coming out of the public sector, the critics of this technology will not be able to say that it is exploitation by the private sector; they will have to find another reason.

* What is your take on the detractors of this GM technology?
- I think Greenpeace is green with envy. Probably they would like to be in the driver's seat where they see decreasing acreage of GM crops, because of dissatisfaction, low acceptance but in fact the reverse is true. It is true that the adoption of GM technology is increasing at the rate of more than 10 percent per year, but what one sees is that in 2006, more than half of world's population lives in countries where biotech crops have been approved, have been used and are generating very significant benefits.

So I think Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth must be feeling very frustrated that all their predictions are going the other way. It is a mystery to me that how Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth can say that this technology is not delivering any benefits when over the last six weeks, we have five reports: one from the National Council of Agriculture in Washington DC, another one from Switzerland-from independent public sector institutes looking at the environmental issues and coming up with positive comments; last week we had PG economics documenting the fact that in the first ten years farmer income went up by $27 billion; Reports from Argentina estimating that Argentina alone has benefited at the farm income level by about $20 billion.

And if we look at the benefits for the rest of the world due to the fact that they are producing more soyabean and therefore the lower prices, it adds up to another $47 billion; so the total benefits are to the tune of $67 billion. We see a very rigorous analysis of the benefits in these studies. So finally, do we believe that all these five studies are wrong, while Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth that provide no data suggest it is the other way. I think that the public can decide.

* What is the future agenda and vision for ISAAA?
- We will continue to share knowledge and build up a database that is very significant. This will constitute a body of evidence, which will be very important in summarizing and documenting what actually happens at the field level. We will work with different groups at the farmer level, policy level, and government, both federal and state, level to make sure that they have the necessary information. The next decade will brings a whole new set of traits which will be very important for a country like India, in particular, golden rice which will be available for commercialization within 5 years from now.

Next a drought gene will be released, probably in 2010-2011, in the US. It will be in corn but the gene will also be available in cotton, in soyabean, and in wheat. The gene is available from both in the public and private sector. We are looking at omega 3 soyabean becoming available in about five years. High lycine corn has been already approved in the US in 2005.

The quality traits that people have been talking about for a long time are going to become available as well as the agronomy traits like the drought gene. The other factor that is going to have a huge influence on the whole adoption of biotech crops is biofuels- jatropha in India for biodiesel, ethanol from sugarcane.

So biotechnology and GM technology in particular will play a very important part in making the biofuels competitive in terms of price. If we look today at Brazil, for instance, it is the biggest producer of sugarcane in the world and can produce ethanol at 18 cents a liter. That compares with 31 cents a liter in the US from corn. These are the exciting developments and my sense is that even though the rate of adoption in the first decade was unprecedented, we will see even steeper rates of adoption in the second decade and Asia will be the region where most of that will happen.'


It's Futile to Refute ISAAA's Report on Global Status of Biotech Crops

- James Wachai, http://www.gmoafrica.org/ February 12, 2007

Soon after Clive James, the chairman, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) released this year's report on adoption of biotech crops, anti-technology activists had a field day trashing it.

Hours before the report's release, Greenpeace International released its own version showing that "there is irrefutable evidence that governments, farmers and consumers throughout the world recognize that GE (genetically engineering) is unreliable, unviable or downright dangerous."

I had a chance to skim through Greenpeace's report, and my conclusion was it is not field-based. The report has all the hallmarks of armchair research. I figure out that all it was compiled from media clippings, and was solely for publicity purposes. Tactics like these have no place in the debate about genetically modified crops.

Greenpeace is a well-endowed organization, financially. The world would have expected it , just as ISAAA did, to dispatch researchers to the field to obtain first-hand information on the global status of genetically modified crops. It certainly didn't. Instead it resorted to fabrications which in itself puts its reputation on the line.

On several occasions, I have argued against dragging politics into genetically modified (GM) food debate. GM foods are products of science, and they should be treated as so. Debate on GM foods should delve on the science behind them. This way we will be able to separate wheat from chaff.

Clive James conducted a comprehensive study on the global status of genetically modified crops. He went to the field, interviewed farmers, government officials, community-based organizations, and agricultural scientists, and finally analyzed his data using every available scientific tool. Who can question the validity and reliability of such a study? One would have expected those criticizing James' report to question his methodologies.

It's interesting to listen anti-technology activists try to discredit agri-biotech, at a time when a country like Brazil is unveiling plans to invest $5 billion in biotech research. Are they really living in this world?


The Future of Genetically Modified Foods

- http://www.gm.org/?p=13 February 26, 2007

Although it can be said that the science and technology behind genetic modification is still in its early stages, the possibilities seem hopeful for scientists. As new ways are discovered on how to create better genetic modified foods, time can only tell if such a future is looming nearby. With new discoveries of genetic modification in some of the most important food staples around the globe come a host of new benefits.

One of the benefits seen to be brought about by the genetic modification of food is by making them taste better. A good and an already existing example of such genetically modified foodstuff is the special slow-ripening tomato. A genetically modified breed of tomato has already been out in the market in some parts of Europe as well as the US that has been specially bred to lengthen the ripening process of tomatoes. Ordinary tomatoes have a rather quick shelf life after being harvested. That is why most of them are usually harvested when they are still green. This practice, although able to give ordinary tomatoes more time to ripen, can affect the development of the flavors that are looked for in such commercial produce.

But through the help of genetic modification, the gene that is responsible for the softening of ripe tomatoes can be reduced in tomatoes. This allows the tomatoes to ripen slowly and in naturally to develop its full flavors without affecting its shelf life. Such a genetically modified tomato can end up tasting better and with a more flavorful tang that any ordinary tomato can be.

In the future, the development of genetically modified food is seen not only to help make them taste better or stay longer, it can also be used to help develop foods that can greatly improve health. The future is bright for developing genetically modified food products that contain more essential nutrients. Genetically modified food can also be developed to help fight disease. Not long into the future, genetically modified food can help in the fight for cancer. Such food products can be genetically modified to contain more cancer-fighting substances such as anti-oxidants which help in neutralizing harmful free radicals in the body. Genetic modification may also be able to help make food products in the future that not only help provide the body with more nutrients, but also with substances that help stimulate the body’s natural defense mechanisms to better fight diseases.

The development of genetically modified food products are not only seen to help make them taste better or provide better nutrients to promote better health. They can also be developed in order to lessen the time for processing them. Genetic modification is also being tapped to create and develop food products that are not just processed faster, but also require less effort and resources to prepare and serve. In the future, food products can be genetically modified in order to make food processing more efficient. This can be made possible by developing foods that contain more ingredients aiding in the eventual processing of food and minimizing the unwanted ones. Such a simple concept may take years and years to develop but the future remains bright for such technology to flourish and further enhance life as we know it. Genetic modification may be the one holding the key.


Religious Leaders Should Not Mislead the Public about GM Foods

- James Wachai, http://www.gmoafrica.org/ Feb. 19, 2007

In an article appearing in AsianNews.it, the archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, is reported to have sent a letter to Philippines president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, urging her to stop the sale of genetically modified (GM) rice "because it poses health risks to consumers."

According to the cardinal, "Independent and environmentally-concerned local and international scientists already warned that genetically-modified crops and food products could be very harmful to the environment and to human beings."

Some people might ask why Cardinal Rosales'stance on GM foods matters to Africa. I am not a Catholic myself, but I gather that Catholic Cardinals don't issue public pronouncements, especially on an issue as sensitive as GM foods, from the blues. Such must be endorsed by the Vatican.

So when Cardinal Rosales wholesomely condemns GM foods, the question that springs up in my mind is, "Is he expressing his personal views or those of the Vatican? If he's reinforcing the Vatican's view on GM foods, then I must be worried, because millions of Africans – most of whom can't feed themselves - subscribe to the Catholic faith. But I doubt Cardinal Rosales' views on GM foods mirrors those of the Vatican.

In appreciation of the potential of agricultural biotechnology to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in poor countries, the Vatican's Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace in August 2003, produced a document supporting GM foods.

"The problem of hunger involves the conscience of every man, and in particular, those of the Christians," said Cardinal Renato Martino, then the head of the council. "The Catholic Church follows with special interest and solicitude every development in science to help the solution of a plight that afflicts such a large part of humanity," added Martino in remarks broadcast by Vatican Radio. These were very wise words from a church that works with the poor of the poor.

Agricultural biotechnology is a practical solution to food insecurity, especially in poor countries and it's encouraging that the Vatican appreciates this fact. For Cardinal Rosales to attempt to contradict his own church is to miss the mark.

It's instructive to mention that there's no grain of truth in what the Cardinal says about GM foods. No scientist, contrary to his assertion, has established that GM foods pose health risks to consumers and the environment. It would have been helpful for him to quote a study that states so.

Cardinal Rosales needs to remember that such respected bodies as the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Academies of Science, haven't found any negative health effects of consuming GM foods.

Religious leaders are the ears and the eyes of the common man/woman. The world expects them to be the custodians of truth, morality and integrity. Making generalized and unfounded allegations about GM foods, as Cardinal Rosales recently did, negates these values.


People, Plants and Genes: The Story of Crops and Humanity

New Book by Denis J. Murphy, Oxford University Press, July 2007, £29.95 (paper), ISBN-10: 0-19-920714-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-19-920714-5; 384 pages http://www.oup.com/uk/catalogue/?ci=9780199207145

Modern societies still rely on plants for most of their food needs, not to mention clothing, shelter, medicines and tools. This special relationship has tied together people and their plants in mutual dependence for over 50,000 years. Yet despite these millennia of intimate contact, people have only gone on to domesticate and cultivate a few dozen of the tens of thousands of edible plants available. Thanks to the latest genomic studies, we can now begin to explain how, when, and where some of the most important crops came to be domesticated, and the crucial role of plant genetics and climatic change in these processes. Indeed, it was their unique genetic organisations that ultimately determined which plants eventually became crops, rather than any conscious decisions by their human cultivators.
Written by an experienced lecturer and plant molecular biologist, who has worked extensively on crop improvement and has long-standing interests in the history of agriculture and the applications of modern biotechnology. Provides a comprehensive overview of the complex story of human-plant interactions, from the hunter-gatherers of the Palaeolithic Era, through to the 21st century and the molecular genetic manipulation of crops. Incorporates the latest genomic studies to explain the history of crop plant domestication. Demonstrates how our new understanding of plant genomes is set to usher in a new phase in plant breeding.

This book provides a comprehensive overview of the complex story of human-plant interactions, from the hunter-gatherers of the Palaeolithic Era, through to the 21st century and the molecular genetic manipulation of crops. It links the latest advances in molecular genetics with the science and history of plant domestication, the evolution of plant breeding, and the implications of this new knowledge for both the agriculture of today and the future.

Denis J. Murphy is the Head of Biotechnology Unit Division of Biological Sciences, University of Glamorgan


Eco-Freaks: Environmentalism Is Hazardous to Your Health!

- John Berlau (Author), Amazon.com price 17.15, Hardcover, 256 pages, Nelson Current (November 28, 2006), ISBN-10: 1595550674

Mother Nature is not a gentle person, and Berlau's pointed reporting reveals the very real dangers to people and their environments when Eco-Freaks prevent us from restraining her. In Eco-Freaks, award-winning journalist John Berlau provides a much needed and startling expose about how the environmental movement with its radical, shortsighted eco-activists has actually helped amplify the dangers of natural disasters and destroyed the lives and property of millions of Americans.

As Berlau writes, "America . . . is still mighty prosperous, but environmentalism is putting us on the brink of danger as well. As technology after technology that our grandparents put in place is being banned, and new technologies never even come to market, we risk a public-health disaster. Environmentalists have promoted all sorts of doomsday scenarios about population explosions and massive cancer crises from pesticides that have been shown to be false. But now, because we have done away with so many useful products based on those scares, we are in danger of an old-fashion doomsday returning, because we've lost what protected us from the wrath of nature. Indeed, as we will see throughout this book, public health hazards caused by environmental policies are already on the scene."

"Berlau makes a powerful case. . . . Thinking environmentalists who read this book will be forced to revisit at least some of their most deeply held beliefs." - Joel Himelfarb, Washington Times

"Berlau says a lot of things that are not generally known that needed to be said." - Bruce N. Ames, recipient, National Medal of Science, 1998


Aliens Refuse to Make Circles in GM Crops

Health-conscious ETs steer clear of genetically modified plants

- Dick Kennedy, UFO Correspondent. Weekly World Inquisitor


"Only the best, most natural crops are good enough for aliens; The long-terms effects of these 'frankenstein crops' are just so uncertain"

Alien visitors to planet Earth are boycotting genetically modified (GM) crops, claims a leading scientist.

Buck Uranus, chief astronomer for the William H Carpenter Foundation in Nevada, believes the extraterrestrials are refusing to create crop circles in GM maize, wheat and other cereals because of fears of possible side-effects.

The scientist has conducted a major survey of crop circles created over the past five years and says he has not found a single example left in fields containing GM crops.

"In my spare time, I channel messages from alien beings," said Uranus, "and from what I've been hearing, these guys have got some serious reservations about what we're doing down here. One of them told me he's even thinking of using another planet for his artwork."

According to Uranus, one shape-shifting lizard said: "The long-term effects of these 'frankenstein crops' are just so uncertain. Let's face it, it's not natural. And after the rigours of crossing many light years of space in order to leave some pretty patterns in your fields, we'd rather not take that extra risk."

The visitors from outer space also have fears about contamination of plants on their own worlds, says Uranus. He claims that one Gray told him: "Just imagine -- we accidentally pick up a few seeds on our undercarriage and take them home without knowing. They could spread like wildfire then and we'd end up paying Monsanto an annual fee just to grow flooble beans on our own planet. Madness."

Monsanto has not commented on these allegations.