Thoughts from a broken mind
Here are a few of the stories about this. Yes the stories are about the same thing but have different takes on it.
Over 2,000 farmers and others within the food industry are threatening to take the US government to court to make sure that feds act quickly in investigating the potential outcome of a new genetically modified crop.
A coalition of concerned members of America’s agriculture community said on Wednesday that they will take legal action to ensure that the federal government investigates what will happen if biotech companies are allowed to proceed with a space-age, man-made variant of corn.
As RT reported last week, Dow Chemical is awaiting the government’s go-ahead to start using a mutated corn crop that is resistant to a powerful pesticide produced with 2,4-D, the same compound crucial to the make-up of the notorious Vietnam War-era killer Agent Orange. Once approved, the new corn will be able to thrive as farmers douse their fields in the pesticide, eradicating unwanted weeds in the process. Opponents are concerned that the aftermath of a surge in the chemical’s use could be catastrophic for people, plants and the agriculture industry as a whole, though.
“These are the most dangerous chemicals out there,” attorney John Bode tells Reuters. Bode is fighting on behalf of the Save Our Crops Coalition to have Washington intervene and is no stranger to how the government goes about these matters — he served as assistant secretary of agriculture in the Reagan administration.
While The Natural Resources Defense Council has tied 2,4-D to cases of cancer, genetic mutations and neurotoxicity, it’s not even just humans that are expected to be affected by the pesticide. “These herbicides have been known to drift and volatilize to cause damage to plants over 10 miles away from the point of application,” the Save Our Crops Coalition pleads.
Last week the Environmental Protection Agency threw out a petition that asked them to ban the sale of the pesticide. Despite pleas from opponents at the National Resource Defense Council and the Center for Food Safety, the EPA said they would continue to allow the pesticide in question to be sold. While 2,4-D is currently a regularly used chemical in crop fields, the expected introduction of a corn variant immune to it is expected to cause a spike in sales — and, in turn, disease.
“There’s no reason to continue allowing a toxic Agent Orange-ingredient in the places our children play, our families live and our farmers work. EPA must step up and finally put a stop to it,” Dr. Gina Solomon, of the UCSF OEM Residency and Fellowship Program wrote.
In addition to Dow’s plan to use 2,4-D on crops immune to its effects, the Monsanto corporation is also planning a new crop that will be resistant to a similar herbicide made with the herbicide dicamba.
“The danger that 2,4-D and dicamba pose is a real threat to crops…nearly every food crop,” Steve Smith, director of agriculture at Red Gold, tells Reuters. Red Cold, the world’s largest canned tomato processor, is joined in the opposition by companies that grow crops for brands including Del Monte and Seneca. Members of the Save Our Crops Coalition also include the Indiana Vegetable Growers Association and the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association.
Although the EPA has decided to continue the sale of 2,4-D, the Save Our Crops Coalition is asking the agency to conduct a Scientific Advisory Panel meeting and draft advisors to oversee a panel that would address the issue of herbicide spray drift. They are also demanding through their lawyers that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigate what impact could occur if the new crop is approved and pesticide sales go up. The US federal regulatory process requires both the EPA and USDA to respond to the coalition’s legal petition. After which, they can file a federal lawsuit to demand answers.
(Reuters) – A coalition of more than 2,000 U.S. farmers and food companies said Wednesday it is taking legal action to force government regulators to analyze potential problems with proposed biotech crops and the weed-killing chemicals to be sprayed over them.
Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical, and Monsanto Co. are among several global chemical and seed companies racing to roll out combinations of genetically altered crops and new herbicides designed to work with the crops as a way to counter rapidly spreading herbicide-resistant weeds that are choking millions of acres of U.S. farmland.
Dow and Monsanto say the new chemical combinations and new crops that tolerate those chemicals are badly needed by corn, soybean and cotton farmers as weeds increasingly resist treatments of the most commonly used herbicide – glyphosate-based Roundup.
“They (farmers) need this new technology,” said Dow AgroScience Joe Vertin, global business leader for Dow’s new herbicide-protected crops called “Enlist.”
But critics say key ingredients in these new herbicides – 2,4-D for Dow and dicamba for Monsanto – already are in use in the marketplace and have proved damaging to “non-target” fields because they are hard to keep on target. Wind, heat and humidity can move the chemical particles miles down the road, damaging gardens, crops, trees. Many farms have suffered significant damage in recent years even though the chemicals are currently sprayed under tight restrictions.
“These are the most dangerous chemicals out there,” said John Bode, a Washington lawyer hired by the Save Our Crops Coalition. Bode served as assistant Secretary of Agriculture in the Reagan administration.
Unlike many other protestors of new biotech crops, the coalition comprises many grower groups that use and support biotechnology. This is not a biotech complaint, they say, but one focused on the danger of the chemicals to be used with the biocrops.
“The danger that 2,4-D and dicamba pose is a real threat to crops…nearly every food crop,” said Steve Smith, director of agriculture at Red Gold, the world’s largest canned tomato processor, and a leader of the Save Our Crops Coalition.
The coalition represents more than 2,000 farmers and groups such as the Indiana Vegetable Growers Association, the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association, and major food processors Seneca and Red Gold.
Over the last four years, more than $1 million in damages have been filed in lawsuits and insurance claims by Midwestern growers who have suffered crop losses due to 2,4-D and dicamba that has drifted onto their farms, Smith said.
Those losses would increase with the new herbicide-tolerant crops because farmers would then be spraying more of the herbicides and later in the growing season, the coalition says.
In their legal petitions, the group is asking the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct an environmental impact study on the ramifications of a release of a new 2,4-D tolerant corn that is to be accompanied by Dow’s new herbicide mix containing both 2,4-D and glyphosate. It wants a similar environmental impact statement on the dicamba and glyphosate herbicide tolerant crops being developed by Monsanto.
The coalition is also demanding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conduct a Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) meeting and appoint advisors to the panel to address herbicide spray drift.
The legal petitions are provided for as part of the regulatory process and require a response from the agencies before petitioners can file suit to force a response.
Dow’s plans to roll out as early as 2013 its 2,4-D tolerant corn and new 2,4-D based herbicide as the “Enlist Weed Control System” is a hot button issue for many groups because of high profile problems in the past with 2,4-D, which was a component of Agent Orange defoliant used in Vietnam.
A separate petition started by the Center for Food Safety says that 2,4-D, will “likely harm people and their children, including farmers, and the environment” and says USDA has not properly assessed the impacts of Dow’s plan for a new 2,4-D based crop system.
Dow AgroSciences executives say the fears are unwarranted as their herbicide formulation does not have the problematic “drift” and volatility problems that other 2,4-D formulations have that cause farms even miles away to be impacted when one farmer sprays the herbicide on his fields.
Dow says as long as farmers use their formulation under their specifications, they would not have the same problems associated with current versions of 2,4-D on the market.
“We’re highly into stewardship and want to be sure the farmers get this right,” said Dow spokeswoman Kenda Resler-Friend.
“Nobody wants trouble with their neighbor. They want to do the right thing.” Kenda Resler-Friend.
Coalition members say no matter how good Dow’s formulation might be, generic versions of 2,4-D on the market will be much cheaper and many farmers will use those more volatile versions on the new 2,4-D tolerant crops.
(Editing by Ryan Woo)
By Ian Berry
A group of produce farmers and processors is asking the U.S. government to examine the potential impact of new herbicide-tolerant genetically modified seed traits that Dow Chemical Co. DOW -0.03% and Monsanto Co. MON -1.08% plan to market in the next couple of years.
The petitions from the group, calling itself the Save Our Crops Coalition, coincide with complaints from some environmental groups that the new crops will lead to dramatically increased use of the herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba, posing a threat to the environment and nearby crops.
The coalition includes state vegetable grower associations from Indiana to Pennsylvania as well as Red Gold, a large tomato processor, and Seneca Foods, which produces canned vegetables for the Green Giant label. The group said it is not opposed to genetically modified crops, and is opposing the new seed traits out of concern about herbicide damage to other crops.
The new products in question are a Dow AgroSciences corn seed that includes a trait making the crop tolerant of 2,4-D, and a Monsanto soybean seed that would be tolerant of dicamba. Dow plans to begin selling the seed for the 2013 season, pending regulatory approval, while Monsanto’s new product would be a year behind that.
The seed companies’ efforts come as farmers increasingly grapple with weeds that have developed resistance to glyphosate, an herbicide that has dominated the market in recent years and has been marketed by Monsanto under the Roundup brand. The erosion of Roundup’s dominance has ignited competition among seed and chemical companies to offer alternatives.
Opponents of the new Dow and Monsanto traits say that 2,4-D and dicamba are more harmful than glyphosate, and more prone to drifting onto neighboring fields.
The new seeds would prompt a dramatic increase in the use of both herbicides, which “threaten the survival of the specialty crop production in the Midwest,” said Steve Smith, director of agriculture for Red Gold, an Indiana-based processor.
“It’s time USDA, the stewards of American agriculture, stood up and considered the cumulative impacts of all these crops,” Smith said.
The group is petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency to examine to what extent these chemicals, when applied, can drift onto other fields, either in spray form or as vapor. It is petitioning the U.S. Department of Agriculture to examine how the chemical’s drift would cumulatively affect yields on neighboring fields.
In February the USDA extended by two months a public comment period on Dow’s new corn trait as it considers approval. The comment period ends April 27.
Dow AgroSciences said additional environmental assessment is unneeded, and that its 2,4-D includes new technology that vastly reduces drift.
The subsidiary of Dow Chemical said it is “disappointed in the organization’s recent actions, given that we have worked with many current SOCC members for years to develop a product specifically designed to address their concerns.”
It noted that 2,4-D is already used on corn, and said that farmers need the new technology as they deal with glyphosate resistance.
Monsanto didn’t specifically address the petitions in a statement, but said “as we’ve developed dicamba crops, we have taken time to clearly understand both the weed pressure that farmers face and the environment in which they farm.”
A coalition of vegetable growers wants U.S. regulators to study the potential damage facing their fields from a new generation of herbicide-tolerant crops developed by Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) and Monsanto Co. (MON)
The new crops will increase use of older herbicides that can drift onto neighboring fields, according to petitions filed by the Save Our Crops Coalition today with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency. The group wants USDA to conduct an environmental review before approving Dow’s modified corn and EPA to convene an advisory panel to examine impacts from increased application of the chemicals.
The new crops are an alternative to seeds that tolerate Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, to which some weeds are now resistant. Dow would be first to market if its corn, which is tolerant to the older herbicide 2,4-D, gets USDA approval before planting next year.
Herbicides like 2,4-D and dicamba can drift and “have proven to be America’s most dangerous herbicides for non-target plant damage,” said the crop coalition, which was formed this month to fight the increased use of the chemicals. The group includes can and jar-maker Ball Corp. (BLL) and Seneca Foods Corp. (SENEB), the maker of Libby’s foods.
Save Our Crops has more than 2,000 members including those at member groups such as the Indiana Vegetable Growers Association and the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association, Steve Smith, the coalition’s chairman, said in a telephone interview. Smith is agriculture director at Red Gold, the world’s largest closely held canned tomato processor.
Dow and Monsanto are developing new formulations of 2,4-D and dicamba intended to address growers’ concerns.
Dow’s new 2,4-D reduces by at least 90 percent the chemical’s tendency to be absorbed into the air and drift, Kenda Resler Friend, a spokeswoman for the Midland, Michigan-based company said today in an e-mail. The herbicide is already approved by EPA for corn, and an additional USDA evaluation of the crop by the USDA is “unnecessary,” she said.
Dow expects its Enlist system, including 2,4-D and related crops, will generate more than $1 billion in earnings as farmers look for ways to control weeds that are no longer killed by glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. The number of weed-resistant acres in the U.S. rose by 25 percent in the past year, the company said.
Monsanto is seeking USDA approval for dicamba-tolerant soybeans for planting in 2014. It is developing a reformulated herbicide with BASF SE. (BAS)
Monsanto is working with an advisory council, including growers of vegetables and other specialty crops, to identify issues associated with dicamba-tolerant beans, Kelli Powers, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis-based company, said today in an e- mail. Monsanto will take steps to ensure dicamba is used responsibly, she said.
By Razi Syed
KARACHI: A thorough study and research is needed to discuss the contents of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in connection with the long awaited agreement for introducing cottonseed technology (BG-II and RRF) in the country, growers said on Wednesday.
A MoU was signed between Monsanto and the government of Pakistan, which provides a framework, to continue discussions focused on introducing BT cotton in Pakistan. Pakistan signed a MoU with Monsanto for introducing Bollgard-II technology on April 10, 2010.
“Monsanto requirements to pay a fine if its seeds are passed on between farmers without payment to the company and it wants a complete ban on the sale of any other variety of seeds in the province’ is not acceptable.
Ex-Chairman Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA), MPA Sindh, Rana Abdul Sattar said Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) should discuss contents of the signed accord for implementing technology in Punjab and Sindh for growing BT Cotton.
Sattar said, “Tolerance to CLCV is critical for any germplasm to succeed in Pakistan otherwise our soil and weather conditions will not accept the new seed planting in the country”.
The scientist should start trial production to assess the BT genes behavior in Pakistan’s soil conditions and climate.
The approval process of BT cotton has taken long, growers have started importing poor quality and smuggled BT seed. He asked Aamir Mahmood Mirza, country lead, Monsanto Pakistan Private Limited to focus on realities and avoid demanding unfair concessions. This led to use of smuggled seed. The pirated varieties are not developed for Pakistan’s agronomic conditions and do not perform well, especially against mealy bugs and CLCV.
Monsanto said the only aim was to protect their own intellectual property rights. The company is not against the use of other seeds, just against the illegal transfers of its own seeds.
Monsanto also feared since Pakistan has weak Intellectual Property Rights, it needed government protection.
According to Monsanto, the rigorous scientific studies conducted demonstrate that Bollgard and its products are safe for the environment, human beings, animals and agriculture.
Monsanto is committed to developing new high performing products for farmers, and is currently working on a three-protein Bt cotton technology. Pakistan uses about 40,500 tonnes of cottonseed every year, about 25 percent of which comes from more than 770 seed companies operating in Pakistan. The remaining seeds are shared among the farmers.
The primary advantage of BT cotton is that it produces a disease and parasite-resistant crop, which requires less usage of pesticides and more environmentally friendly. The provincial governments of Punjab and Sindh would only sign agreements with the company if it funds the set up of research and development centres for the cottonseed. The company wanted to sell the Bollgard-2 seeds in the market on a third party engagement which would conduct surveys to see how much seed was sold by the company in the market.
Government was then to pay the company an amount of $21 per acre for the unpaid acres as ‘compensation for losses’ and royalty agreements. The company indulged in similar practices in the US and Canada where it has sued by a number of farmers.
After proper evaluation and with involvement of the relevant technical people, marketing and seed companies should be allowed to run the business. Regulatory process should be independent of the involvement of commercial seed sector whether local or multinationals.
What do you think, would you eat GMO Crops? Should you wear something that grows its own poisons?