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Re: More on Bt
Thanks again Chuck for your comments.
However, my main effort was not directed at certified Bt use in organic
farming. It was on the invasion of GM Bt microbes into organic production. If
GM Bt microbes are allowed in organic agriculture the door is open to Bt crops
and lawyers may try to force the GM door in organic certification.
It seems to me that traditional chemical and GM IPM has no business in organic
agriculture programs and those who deal with both may grow schizophrenic.
Finally, U Conn provides information to organic farmers and uses of a Google
search quickly points to advise to organic farmers urging use of GM Bt microbes
even though they are not certified. U Conn as all extension agencies needs to
insure that information is timely and not deceptive. These aspects along with
the serious problems associated with apparent faculty misconduct in
environmental areas of the faculty need a thorough review.
Sincerely, Prof. Joe Cummins
Quoting Chuck Benbrook <benbrook@HILLNET.COM>:
> Two things. On the Univ. Conn posting, the author of the original
> study has been contacted, and here is what Vern Grubinger has to say about
> his 1995 article, subsequently posted to the Univ. of Conn website --
> From Vern Grubinger, Univ. of VT ---
> thanks for bringing this to my attention - here's what I think has
> happened: 'Pesticides for Organic Growers' was an article I wrote over 8
> years ago that was published in the July 1995 Grower (Vol 95 issue 7), the
> now-defunct New England Vegetable and Small Fruit Newsletter. I believe it
> was accurate at the time. Apparently it was placed on the UConn web site
> sometime thereafter.
> This article is NOT on my web site of on-line fact sheets,
> NOR is it being distributed from
> my office any longer. (Shredded!). I regret that UConn still has it on
> their web site, but I am SURE they would remove it if the inaccuracies were
> brought to their attention (and knowing the folks there I can say with
> confidence that their intention is NOT to spread disinformation among
> organic growers!)
> best regards, Vern
> We manage a large ag biotech website, with postings back to the
> 1997 period. We regard Ag BioTech InfoNet as an historical archive of what
> was being written, said, researched, and found out about GM crops. There
> is, as an inevitable result, a wealth of misinformation on the website. In
> some cases, it makes sense to leave such material on the web; in other
> cases, it does not, for example, if the purpose of an article is to provide
> growers with contemporary guidance in management decisions.
> On the underlying topic -- Bt insecticides and organic farming --
> Joe and others have raised concerns that organic farmers relying on Bt
> insecticides are doing what conventional farmers do, i.e. relying on a
> crutch and a toxin to kill insects that can and should be otherwise managed.
> I think almost every organic farmer would agree philosophically
> that their preferred approach to insect pest management is to use
> beneficials, biocontrol, resistant varieties, niche competition, and other
> prevention-based practices to keep populations below thresholds. And this
> is what successful organic farmers do for the most part. But many organic
> farmers work ground in areas surrounded by many large, intensive
> conventional farms, where flushes of pests, including adults very capable
> of migrating away from an OP or synthetic pyrethroid spray, or following
> cutting of an alfalfa crop or other harvest operation. When a nearby
> organic farm is in the wind direction of moving insects, their bio-based
> pest management systems can be literally overrun. Facing such situations,
> the organic farmer has three and sometimes four choices:
> 1. Spray with a conventional insecticide, save the crop, lose certification
> for three years (bad and very costly option).
> 2. Spay with an insecticide or other product approved for organic
> production, like foliar Bts or spinosad, or oils or Messenger, reducing
> losses and preserving certification.
> 3. Do nothing, taking the loss in yields, but preserving certification.
> 4. In a limited number of cases, there is a viable beneficial that can be
> purchased and released. This is often not a practical solution, since
> invasion of an organic field with adult insects requires a very speedy
> response, and deliberate release takes time to work.
> I personally would rather see an organic farmer apply Bt, or some
> other acceptable pesticide, to save as much of his/her crop as
> possible. This way, the farmer has a better chance of earning a decent
> return on organic production systems, some aspects of which do add cost.
> Plus, it is more likely the farmer will stay in business next year.
> For the most part, organic certifiers and inspectors do a good job
> flagging farmers that are relying solely on organically approved
> pesticides, i.e. spraying as intensively as they did when using
> conventional pesticides. Certifiers need to clamp down on such operations
> in order to manage resistance to today's acceptable pesticides. The
> organic farmer has a much smaller toolkit of allowed pesticides, and hence
> the loss of any of them could be a much bigger setback than the loss of
> another OP or synthetic pyrethroid to conventional farmers, who almost
> always have multiple products in six or more families of chemistry to
> choose from.
> From my research on Bt use on conventional and organic farms, in
> greenhouses, and on farms where Bt transgenics are grown, the biggest
> problem and risk of resistance are greenhouse<Bt crops<conventional
> farms<organic farms. The resistance risk in greenhouses that sometimes
> spray every day with a foliar Bt is probably 100,000 times greater than on
> an organic farm where 1-3 applications might be made in a season.
> Charles Benbrook Ag BioTech InfoNet <http://www.biotech-info.net>
> Benbrook Consulting Services CU FQPA site <http://www.ecologic-ipm.com>
> 5085 Upper Pack River Road IPM site <http://www.pmac.net>
> Sandpoint, Idaho 83864
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