The Bt 'pest' refuge that isn't

December 2014


Early scientific wisdom on crops genetically transformed to produce their own insecticides, such as 'Bt' proteins, highlighted a number of fundamental weaknesses.

First, the ubiquitous presence of a single insecticide in a monoculture will result in the rapid evolution of resistant pests.

Second, the presence of a single insecticide throughout the growing season will result in the rapid evolution of resistant pests.

Third, the presence of a single insecticide which isn't at a high enough concentration to kill will result in the rapid evolution of resistant pests.

Russian-led study to address safety concerns over GMOs

December 2014

What's in the GM safety pipeline in 2015?

There are moves afoot to embark on some "highly ambitious" science regarding ongoing concerns about Roundup Ready maize, including the Roundup herbicide it's sprayed with and the active ingredient of Roundup, glyphosate.

GM-free Scotland has already reported Prof. Séralini's plans to extract more data from his controversial life-long rat GM feeding study by analysing the pesticide residues and physiological markers in stored tissue samples (see HOW MUCH DISEASE IS ROUNDUP CAUSING? - December 2014).

Now, it has emerged that an even bigger experiment will be underway soon.

The experiment, conceived by Russian scientists, will be conducted in Russia and Western Europe, and has already raised most the $25 million needed.

How much disease is Roundup causing?

December 2014
Photo of sign which says hazardous pesticides in use
Pesticide warning sign. CC photo by the justified sinner on Flickr
"We have dispersed hundreds of millions of tonnes of (chemical pollutants and GMOs) in the ecosystem. Most are stable and toxic and penetrate every form of life. For instance, results show that there is no human breast milk on the planet that is free from insecticides (such as DDT) and plasticizers. There is no fetus without several hundred pollutants attached to its genes. There is no Member of the European Parliament measured without at least fifty pollutants in his blood." (G. E. Séralini's team)

This toxic mix from our environment and food now includes artificial DNA, analogues of viral DNA such as the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus gene promoter (CaMV), novel proteins, analogue 'Bt' insecticides, and increased levels of agrichemicals associated with GMOs.

Within the last 20 years there has been an alarming increase in serious illnesses in the US, along with a marked decrease in life expectancy. The onset of serious illness is appearing in increasingly younger cohorts.

Following on from the data presented last year by Dr. Nancy Swanson describing disturbingly parallel annual increases of chronic diseases and glyphosate use [1], her investigation has now been expanded and published.

Fast fat GM eucalyptus trees

December 2014
 
Photo of eucalyptus trees
Eucalyptus trees. CC Photo by Victor Camilo on Flickr
An application to plant transgenic eucalyptus trees in Brazil is underway. If successful, this will mean vast monocultures of GM trees spreading across the country. Eucalyptus is not a food, but its products and presence have huge impacts on humans.
 
Details about the artificial DNA construct in the trees are sparse, but the gene is based on one found in a tiny fast-growing weed. The novel enzyme generated by the gene seems to disrupt the cellulose (woody material) around plant cells and induce faster cell division and growth rate. As a result, the GM eucalyptus has a thicker trunk and is big enough to harvest in only five-and-a-half years, instead of the seven years needed for current commercial conventional varieties.
 
The primary purpose of all that extra eucalyptus wood is to produce paper, but other uses are being explored such as bioplastics and renewable fuels; one particular suggestion has been pellets for export to the UK to co-fire with coal in our power stations. 

Elusive GM safety evidence

December 2014

A review of the scientific evidence on the relationship between GM crops and animal health has just been published. This carefully constructed search for a robust body of studies concluded that the task was "impossible" to do "properly" because of the fragmented nature of the approach to testing and the gaps in the presentation of the methodology and data.

The studies had all been peer-reviewed and published. Notably, reports submitted to regulatory authorities were omitted due to insufficient detail.

Fast fat animals

December 2014

A 2014 review of the "Prevalence and impacts of genetically engineered feedstuffs on livestock populations" seems to have come up with an animal version of the trillions of GM meals which 'prove' safety [1].

The stated purpose of the study is three fold.

GM feed 'prevalence' is described in a "summary of the suppliers of GE and non-GE feed in global trade".