Glyphosate is toxic to mouth cells

April 2012
Spreading Pesticide
Chinese farmer sprays pesticide on crops
Photo IFPRI-Images on Flickr
Glyphosate is the largest selling herbicide world-wide. It's been in use for decades to clear weeds from private and public paths, roads and play-areas, from waterways, and from agricultural fields both pre-planting and pre-harvest. More recently, glyphosate's use has risen exponentially with the advent of GM commodity crops able to survive it, plus the ensuing glyphosate-resistant weeds which need ever increasing doses of the herbicide to kill them.

Tadpole tails and Roundup herbicide

April 2012
Tadpoles were used in a Roundup study
Photo by Olaf Tausch (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A study has been published which shows, for the first time, that Roundup herbicide stimulates adaptive physical responses during the development of a vertebrate animal.

Roundup is a very widely-used weed-killer. It is sprayed, in particular, on crops genetically transformed to survive it, and can end up in many non-target areas which are the homes of wildlife.

Adaptive physical responses produce important permanent changes during an animal's development which tailor the individual to the particular environment it's going to live in. Conversely, an inappropriate adaptive change can disadvantage the animal.

The study used tadpoles as a model vertebrate.

Glyphosate disrupts chromosomes


April 2012
Frog and lily
Frog on lily pad. Photo by Macomorphosis on Flickr

Environmental pollutants have exacted a very heavy toll on amphibians (frogs, toads etc.) around the globe.

A particular offender has been identified as glyphosate, a weed-killer now widely and repeatedly sprayed on crops genetically transformed to withstand it.

Frogs are particularly vulnerable to chemicals because of their life-cycle and physiology. Tadpoles and spawn are unprotected and live immersed in pooled water along with whatever contaminants have collected there. Adult frogs have skin which serves as a 'lung', and doesn't have the tough, impermeable qualities of, for example, mammalian skin.

A recent study by Argentinean scientists on the effects of glyphosate on two species of frog yielded some ominous results.

Non-GM super rice in China

rice farmer
Chinese rice farmer
Photo by kevsunblush on Flickr
April 2012
“ ... non-GM, breeding methods are fast and inexpensive, hugely successful, and uniquely able to introduce stable complex changes in plants. GM crops have not progressed beyond two basic traits (herbicide-tolerance and Bt-insecticide generation), both of which are extensions of the existing, unsustainable, chemical-dependent model of agriculture. GM crop development remains, not only limited in scope, but expensive, inefficient, and monopoly-, and patent-dependent.”

If you suspect the above statement is anti-GM extremism, look at what's happening in China, a country held up by the pro-GM lobby as a shining example of the benefits Britain is missing out on by not growing GM crops.


Operation exterminate mosquitoes

April 2012
Female Aedes aegypti mosquito
By James Gathany [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
'Dengue fever' is an illness caused by a virus which is transmitted from person to person by biting female mosquitoes belonging to the species Aedes aegypti.

Infection can lead to a full continuum of disease: the symptoms are 'flu-like, but are rarely fatal and up to half of cases are asymptomatic; Dengue Shock Syndrome and Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever are potentially life-threatening; the latter is seen most often in children and causes death in 5% of cases.

The focus of control of dengue is to eliminate the mosquitoes which carry the virus and so break the cycle.

To this end a UK biotech company, 'Oxitec' (see below), has created self-destructing GM mozzies.

EuropaBio ambassadors an old and failed tactic

April 2012

Bob Geldof an 'interested' party. By IMF Photograph/Stephen Jaffe
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In October, 2011, the Guardian newspaper reported the latest stunt being pulled to promote GM in Europe.

Documents leaked from a PR company employed by biotech industry representative, 'EuropaBio' (see below) detailed how high-profile “ambassadors” such as Bob Geldof were to be recruited to lobby European leaders on GM policy.


EuropaBio

EuropaBio, is the European Association for Bioindustries based in Brussels. It is the 'voice of the European biotech industry' made up of some 600 companies. Members include all of the major European multinationals who have significant biotechnology interests, such as Bayer, Novartis, Monsanto Europe, Nestlé, Rhone-Poulenc, Unilever, and GlaxoSmithKline.

The primary focus of EuropaBio's lobbying is the European Union, where it seeks to shape legislation in a way that suits its members' interests. It provides a steady flow of information about biotechnology to the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Ministers.


Interestingly, the tactic has been tried before.

Put pressure on Morrisons

April 2012
Morrisons
Entrance to Morrisons. Photo by mattingham on Flickr
Morrisons supermarket has dropped its GM-free feed requirement for poultry produce.

The reasons it gives seem to be three-fold.

One, is that the move will take some pressure off farmers, by which Morrisons seems to mean the pressure of the higher cost of non-GM feed. As GM Freeze has pointed out, the supermarket's acceptance of cheaper feed is likely to lead to a drop in the price it will pay farmers rather than, as Morrisons hint, any benefit. Sceptics might suggest that the pressure on farmers is due to the supermarket's refusal to give them a fair price for their poultry products.

Put pressure on Walmart / Asda

April 2012
ASDA!
Asda / Walmart store in UK. Photo by joshuawillis on Flickr
Americans are about to be fed a hush-hush GM sweet corn. It will be sold to them fresh, frozen or canned, but otherwise it will be unprocessed and indistinguishable from any other sweet corn.

Monsanto's incentives to farmers to grow its new GM sweet corn seed are the stacked genes put in to combat insect pests plus a gene put in for herbicide-resistance. After that, the product's GM nature will vanish from view and the Company will be relying on supermarkets to sell the GM vegetable to consumers. (See below)

But, what if the supermarkets refuse to stock it?