Category Archives: Industrial agriculture

GMO corn fails in Brazil; farmers blame Monsanto, Syngenta, etc.

 

corn-nightA long-time friend in Vermont, Chris Hendel, sent us this story from Reuters: BT corn seeds, hyped as being resistant to pests, have largely failed to do that in Brazil, and have led to bug resistant crops and greater farmer dependence on toxic chemicals.

This maps onto resistance identified in Iowa.

The Brazilian farmers, though, are going after the pesticide corporations.

According to Caroline Stauffer:

Producers want four major manufacturers of so-called BT corn seeds to reimburse them for the cost of spraying up to three coats of pesticides this year, said Ricardo Tomczyk, president of Aprosoja farm lobby in Mato Grosso state.

The companies involved are Dow, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta.

At the same time that farmers are fighting GMO corn in Brazil, timber corporation Suzano and their subsidiary Futuragene are seeking permission for the first ever GMO trees in Brazil–genetically engineered eucalyptus trees.

There is also an application pending here in the US to legalize highly toxic, flammable and water greedy GE eucalyptus trees for industrial plantations.

To support the effort to stop GE trees, sign our petition calling for a ban.

By Caroline Stauffer,  Jul 28, 2014.

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Genetically modified corn seeds are no longer protecting Brazilian farmers from voracious tropical bugs, increasing costs as producers turn to pesticides, a farm group said on Monday.

Producers want four major manufacturers of so-called BT corn seeds to reimburse them for the cost of spraying up to three coats of pesticides this year, said Ricardo Tomczyk, president of Aprosoja farm lobby in Mato Grosso state.

“The caterpillars should die if they eat the corn, but since they didn’t die this year producers had to spend on average 120 reais ($54) per hectare … at a time that corn prices are terrible,” he said.

Large-scale farming in the bug-ridden tropics has always been a challenge, and now Brazil’s government is concerned that planting the same crops repeatedly with the same seed technologies has left the agricultural superpower vulnerable to pest outbreaks and dependent on toxic chemicals.

Experts in the United States have also warned about corn production prospects because of a growing bug resistance to genetically modified corn. Researchers in Iowa found significant damage from rootworms in corn fields last year.

Read more here.

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Neonicotinoids making toxic for aquatic life Midwest US rivers and streams

sites in Iowa sampled for neonicotinoids in 2013A recent US Geological Survey, Insecticides Similar to Nicotine Widespread in Midwest, has found neonicotinoids (neonics) in rivers and streams throughout the Midwest, due to their use in corn and soybean production. The USGS says that this survey is the first of its kind in the US, and notes an increase in neonic use in the Midwest:

Effective in killing a broad range of insect pests, use of neonicotinoid insecticides has dramatically increased over the last decade across the United States, particularly in the Midwest.  The use of clothianidin, one of the chemicals studied, on corn in Iowa alone has almost doubled between 2011 and 2013.

Neonics do not break down quickly in the environment: “This means they are likely to be transported away in runoff from the fields where they were first applied to nearby surface water and groundwater bodies.”

The highest concentrations happen in the spring, when seeds are first treated with the neonics. The report argues that during this time especially the water may become toxic to aquatic life.

A recent report has shown the devastation caused by neonics to the lower rungs of the food chain, calling it the new DDT, and connected its use to the colony collapse of bees.

In 2013, The EU banned neonic use throughout the continent for three years, and there’s some rumblings in Washington about regulation. That said, Minnesota’s recent actions suggest ways that states can act.

The use of neonics is directly linked to corn and soybean industrial agriculture, which already strangles much of the Midwest; this is just more evidence for just how unsustainable and toxic this production has become.

 

 

 

 

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Mexican judge bans Monsanto GMO soybean crops

2013 Monsanto protests in Mexico. Photo: cipamericas

2013 Monsanto protests in Mexico. Photo: cipamericas

A federal judge in Mexico overturned a permit that allowed Monsanto to plant GMO soy when evidence proved that the frankenplants endangered native honeybee colonies.

Victory is sweet!

In his article, “Monsanto in Mexico: Court rules against the Gene Giant in Yucatan,” Devon G. Pena explains the situation:

According to reports appearing in the Mexican print media, a federal district court judge in Yucatán yesterdayoverturned a permit issued to Monsantothe U.S.-based multinational corporation that is a leading purveyor of genetically modified crops (GMOs). The permit, which had been issued by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food on June 6, 2012, allowed the commercial planting of GM soy bean in YucatánThe ruling was based on consideration of scientific evidence demonstrating (to the judge’s satisfaction) that GMO soy crop plantings threaten Mexican honey production in the states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán. (Read More)

Across the globe, governments backed by corporate cash call for scientific evidence that GMOs are harmful, but when that proof is placed before them, they dodge reality and keep on pushing their agendas. Mexico revoking Monsanto’s permit shows other governments that it is not too late to turn away from Big Ag and back to the people.

 

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by | July 25, 2014 · 3:00 PM

Busted! Research on food waste shows no need for GM crops

foodwaste-(1)An increasing population needs an increasing food supply, right? At least, that’s the excuse politicians and corporations have been force-feeding the public, justifying their pursuit of genetically modified foods. They tell us that organic processes and farming techniques in tune with nature just aren’t up to the task of feeding the nearly 7 billion people on the planet.

That myth is now busted, and the proof is in the nearly 222 million tons of food wasted by industrialized nations every year. “If we eliminated this unnecessary food waste, we could potentially provide 60-100 percent more food to feed the world’s growing population,” writes Andrew Gunter in his Huffington Post article, “Big Ag Profits From Food Waste.”

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Filed under Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Solutions, Waste

Earth Minute: Anne Petermann on Neonics

A farmer spraying crops with insecticide in Bedfordshire. Photograph: David Wootton/Alamy published in The Guardian

A farmer spraying crops with insecticide in Bedfordshire. Photograph: David Wootton/Alamy published in The Guardian

Neonicotinoids, or Neonics, an insecticide nerve poison widely used in homes, gardens and farms, have been found to be 5,000 to 10,000 times more toxic than DDT, and are contributing to shocking declines in bees, pollinators, earthworms, birds and bats.

They also known to contaminate streams, ponds, rivers.

Not surprisingly, the pesticide lobby-influenced Environmental Protection Agency and US Department of Agriculture are misrepresenting or remaining silent about the dangers of neonics.

But a major study by the American Bird Conservancy last year clearly documented the “massive impacts on American songbirds”  from these pesticides and criticized the EPA for failing to act.

Ole Hendrickson, a member of the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides explained the danger, “Instead of wiping out the top of the food chain, killing hawks and eagles as DDT did, neonics are wiping out the bottom of the food chain. [...] Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson once said if we wipe out the world’s insects, we will soon follow them to extinction.”

For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project.

 

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GM agriculture does not deliver higher yields than organic processes

bananas-925216“Failure to Yield,” a study produced by the U.S. Union of Concerned Scientists, shows that the bio-fortification of bananas in Uganda and genetic engineering of bovines in the “1000 bull genome project” does not actually combat hunger, malnutrition or result in higher yields. A recent article in the Inter Press Services by Julio Godoy explains how these two projects fall short when compared to traditional, organic methods.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture

How ‘the New DDT’ Wreaks Havoc on the Bottom of the Food Chain

Note: This new report documents another instance of industrial agriculture wreaking havoc on ecosystems and harkening a new Silent Spring.  It is also one more reason why the model of industrial GMO crops must not be applied to trees, or we risk the threat of Silent Forests.

–The GJEP Team

By Stephen Leahy, June 24, 2014.  Source: MotherBoard

The same insecticide nerve poison that is contributing to the shocking declines in bees and other pollinators is also behind the sharp declines in many other insect species, along with insect-eating birds and bats. Even important creatures like earthworms, which keep our soils healthy, are being damaged by systemic insecticides called neonicotinoids (neonics) and fipronil, a new four-year international meta-analysis has found.

“It’s the new DDT but different,” said Ole Hendrickson, a former scientist at Environment Canada and member of the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides that complete the Worldwide Integrated Assessment (WIA) analysis. It’s the first examination of all the science on the topicmore than 800 studies. The task force is compromised of 50 independent scientists from all over the world who spent the last four years trying to figure out why so many bees, butterflies, and other insects are disappearing.

“Instead of wiping out the top of the food chain, killing hawks and eagles as DDT did, neonics are wiping out the bottom of the food chain,” Hendrickson told me. “Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson once said if we wipe out the world’s insects, we will soon follow them to extinction.”

Read more of Leahy’s article on Motherboard at VICE

 

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Will Brazil turn the Amazon into a factory of genetically modified trees?

Source: ejolt (Environmental Justice Organizations, Liabilities and Trade)

By the World Rainforest Movement.

Will the Brazilian government give a permit to plant genetically modified eucalyptus trees on a commercial scale? That’s the breakthrough expected by Suzano, one of the biggest Brazilian pulp and paper companies, and its fully owned biotechnology firm Futuragene. To export pulp and to feed its paper mills in Brazil, the company has planted almost 400 thousand hectares of large-scale monoculture fast-growing eucalyptus plantations in seven Brazilian states.

Suzano´s argument that this is a safe enough technology can be countered by the risks and especially the huge uncertainties that exist around this new technology which should at least postpone any introduction at commercial scale for now. Even the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) that has seriously failed by allowing certification of millions of hectares of large-scale monoculture plantations in spite of the many negative social and environmental impacts, at least applies the rule that GE technology should not be used in certified plantations. At least for this reason then, FSC should decertify Suzano, an FSC-certified company.

But another argument deserves a strong and immediate reply: Suzano argues that their new genetically engineered eucalyptus tree will result in a 20% increase in productivity and by introducing such trees, Suzano affirms it will need less land and could therefore reduce the use of chemical inputs and make more land available for food production.

That looks convincing. However, the experience in Brazil itself shows a quite different story. According to EJOLT´s report “A Global Overview of Industrial Tree Plantations”, in the past decades the Brazilian eucalyptus trees that are used in industrial plantations succeeded to achieve a 60% increase in productivity per hectare (not using genetically engineered trees), increasing from 27 m3/ha/year in the 1980s to 44 m3/ha/year currently. More important however is that the area covered by these plantations in the country never decreased for that particular reason. They actually increased from about 4 million hectares at the end of the 1980s to more than 7.2 million hectares today, and the Brazilian plantation industry plans to duplicate this area by 2020. The Brazilian “success story” of being the country with the highest wood productivity per hectare worldwide has never been a reason to use less land, on the contrary. Higher productivity gave these companies such an advantage that they expanded their plantations and pulp mills more and more, increasing their profits.

Suzano´s move to GE eucalyptus trees to increase productivity even more also attends its aim to explore a new use of its wood: producing pellets to be exported for energy production, to co-fire with coal in the UK. For this reason, Suzano has expanded its plantation in the Northeastern state of Maranhão over the past years, causing new conflicts with traditional communities that have been experiencing that their communal territories used for cattle grazing, fruit collection and other activities, get invaded by eucalyptus plantations. This has led to several conflicts, which gave reason to include Suzano in the recently launched EJOLT´s Atlas on Environmental Conflicts.

To summarize, Brazilian experience has learned that rather more than less lands will be occupied when productivity increases, and rather more than less conflicts will arise. Suzano´s demand for commercial planting of genetically modified eucalyptus trees led WRM, together with groups in Brazil and Latin America, to launch a letter to the Brazilian authorities to express their deep concern and urge the Brazilian government not to authorize the commercial release of yield enhanced genetically modified eucalyptus by Suzano/FuturaGene or by any other company that also has, or will present in future, a request for such a release.

A statement from the international Stop GE Trees Campaign in support to this letter is available for sign-ons.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Greenwashing, Industrial agriculture