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[SANET-MG] Global GM Crops Area Exaggerated
The US and Canada are deluged with the Borg model of GM spread.
"Resistance is futile prepare to assimilate" is a pessimistic view,
recognized even among organic farmers and their advocates. In EU and the
remainder of the world the false Borg propaganda is resisted with truth.
The article below is an example of the resistance. Let us hope that more
North Americans will resist assimilation.
ISIS Press Release 29/01/07
Global GM Crops Area Exaggerated
Ten years on, and the ‘growth’ in GM crops area is exposed to be more
hype than substance as opposition heightens Sam Burcher
A fully referenced version posted on ISIS members' website. Find out
more about ISIS membership
An electronic version of this report, or any other ISIS report, with
full references, can be sent to you via e-mail for a donation of £3.50.
Please e-mail the title of the report to: email@example.com
PR masquerading as fact
The biotech industry’s mouthpiece, the International Service for the
Acquisition of Agrobiotechnology Applications (ISAAA), has been exposed
for grossly inflating the figures of GM crops grown globally. Its latest
report lists countries growing GM crops that do not grow them, or that
have banned them. For example, Iran is down as having grown tens of
thousands of hectares of commercial GM rice in 2006, despite the fact
Iran has never approved or grown GM rice on any commercial scale.
Bob Phelps of Gene Ethics Network criticizes the report for making these
unsupported claims and ignoring the negative impacts of GM crops: “The
report emphasizes that 10.3 million farmers grew GM crops in 2006, but
this is just 0.7 percent of farmers world-wide. And just 600 000 farmers
grew 85 percent of all GM crops on industrial farms in North and South
America. Small Third World farmers are misused as fodder in the ISAAA’s
India’s bid to ban all GM field trials
The ISAAA launched the report in India, where the Supreme Court has
recently banned any new GM crop trials until further notice. However,
the exception to the ban, GM mustard developed at Delhi University,
involves a genetic engineering “Terminator” technique called a GURT
(Genetic Use Restriction Technology) that renders the seeds from the
plant sterile. (See Chronicle of An Ecological Disaster Foretold, SiS
16). The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) group, which instigated the
ban on GM crops in India, are now pursuing a ban even on GM mustard
because the University failed to reveal the full scientific facts to the
PIL are also concerned by the conflict of interest with the body that
regulate GM crops in India, the GEAC (Genetic Engineering Approval
Committee), whose co-Chair also sits as a Director of the ISAAA. There
is deep concern in India from all corners that their agricultural policy
is being manipulated by corporate entities that have targeted Third
World farmers with the full force of the US Government behind them. The
ISAAA report claims cost reductions for Indian farmers growing GM
cotton, which is another outright falsehood that should be challenged.
In fact, more than 100 000 farmers in India that became involved in
growing GM crops have committed suicide in the ten years since 1993 (See
Stem Farmers’ Suicides with Organic Farming, SiS 32.) And on average, a
further 16 000 farmers a year have killed themselves since 2003 because
of crop failures and debts incurred by buying the expensive GM
cottonseed and herbicides touted around Indian farms by Monsanto
(India's Bt Cotton Fraud, SiS 26). (To support the ban please see:
Romania reduces GM planting to zero and eight other EU countries have
Meanwhile in Europe, Romania has announced a ban of GM soya as of 1
January 2007, that is, a drop to zero planting, and is therefore
unlikely to plant the 100 000 hectares listed by the ISAAA.
Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini at Caen University, France, explained on
Radio Romania International that, “The soybeans grown in Romania are
treated with a very powerful pesticide named Roundup Ready, which has a
very toxic effect on human placentas and embryos. Roundup Ready
genetically engineered soya is not approved for growing in the EU”
(Glyphosate Toxic & Roundup Worse, SiS 26; Roundup Ready Sudden Death,
Superweeds, Allergens..., SiS 28). The ban on GM soya coincides with
Romania’s inclusion in the European Union. So far, all GM crops grown in
Romania have been unregulated, untraceable and unlabelled. The lack of
regulation is also a serious threat to farmers who may find their
produce restricted from entering into the EU market. Furthermore it also
hinders the potential for organic agriculture. The proposed
decontamination of GM crops in Romania is a process likely to take many
years, and may also become a test case of whether such decontamination
The ISAAA has also glossed over the ban of GM maize in Austria, and in a
further seven European countries, including Germany, that have banned
one or more GM crop.
Poland pushes for rejection of GM
Poland’s National Seeds Catalogue has already banned genetically
engineered seeds from its collection in 2006. In the European Parliament
in January 2007, a resolution towards the use of more GM technology was
supported by 22 MEPs, but rejected by 15 MEPs with 6 abstentions.
However, the Polish vice-Chairman of the Agricultural Committee in the
European Parliament, Janusz Wojciechowski, announced recently that he
fully rejects the resolution and supports a completely GM-free Europe.
The ICPPC - International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside
-is therefore hopeful that there is time for more MEPs to be informed of
the facts before the resolutions’ final plenary session on 14 March
2007. (For more information and for a letter to send to your MEP to
reject the motion, see http://www.icppc.pl/).
GM crops grown mostly in North and South America
Despite the ISAAA’s claims that agrobiotechnology is a global industry,
only 8 countries worldwide are growing 99 percent of GM crops
commercially. These are: USA 53.5 percent, Argentina 17.6 percent,
Brazil 11.3 percent, Canada 6 percent, India 3.7 percent, China 3.4
percent, Paraguay 2 percent and South Africa 1.4 percent.
The ISAAA figures for China’s planting under GM are 3.4 million
hectares, but Kraft Foods, the world second largest food producer has
committed to supply China with GM-free foods from 1 January 2007. The
Chinese Biosafety Committee has also stymied GM rice crops approval for
another year while more data on safety are assessed.
Brazil is listed as growing 11.5 million hectares of GM soybean and
cotton, but it continues to resist the GM industry’s attempts to gain
approval for GM maize.
South Africa’s hugely hyped figures called into question
South Africa is hyped up as having a massive increase in biotech crops
from 500 000 hectares in 2005 to 1.4 million hectares in 2006. But
according to a press release from Monsanto three months earlier, the
2006 area was a much more modest 609 000 ha. As Mariam Mayet of the
African Centre of Biosafety points out, it would mean an additional 800
000 ha planted in the space of three months if ISAAA figures were to be
South Africa has already rejected field trials of GM sorghum to protect
their own local varieties from contamination. The South African wine
industry has also closed ranks against the Biotech companies by opposing
two applications for field trials of GM yeasts and GM grapevines in 20
wine producing regions both in the Southern and Western Cape  (For
more on GM wines, see Self-Cloned' Wine Yeasts Not Necessarily Safe and
GM Grapevines & Toxic Wines, SiS 33).
The true picture emerges
Greenpeace pre-empted the ISAAA’s report with a summary of their own to
get a truer picture of the global status of GM crops. Jeremy Tager,
spokesperson for Greenpeace International said, “There is irrefutable
evidence that governments, farmers and consumers throughout the world
recognise that genetic engineering in unreliable, unviable or downright
dangerous.” (See GMO Free: Exposing the Hazards of Biotechnology to
Ensure the Integrity of our Food Supply; also GM Soya Fed Rats: Stunted,
Dead, or Sterile SiS 33, and GM Crops the Unfolding Nightmare, SiS33,
for the latest evidence of serious health hazards inherent to GM
Elsewhere in the world, rice suppliers in Thailand and Vietnam are
committed to keeping rice exports GM free. So is the world’s largest
rice processor, Ebro Puleva. This is a strategic move to capitalise on
the market opportunities that have opened up after the contamination of
US long grain rice stocks with an unapproved genetically engineered
variety LLRICE601 (USDA Poised to Deregulate Illegal GM Rice, SiS 32).
The Bayer rice scandal was financially disastrous for US rice producers,
as it met with strong disapproval from rice farmers, processors, and
governments worldwide. The Rice Producers of California have called for
a ban on the cultivation of GM rice, be it for commercial purposes or
for field trials.
Basmati farmers burn down GM rice
The All India Rice Exporters Association has lobbied the Indian
Government to prohibit field trials of GM rice in many basmati rice
growing states, including Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and the Punjab. So
strong is the desire to keep their fields GM-free that Indian farmers
burnt down the GM test plots that could potentially contaminate their
Rakesh Tikait, a national spokesperson for one of the largest farming
groups in India, the Bharathiya Kisan Union, explained the extreme
reaction of rice farmers. He said, “The threat to farmers’ livelihoods
is clear. Examples from across the country of Bt cotton failures show
that this technology is unsafe for humans and the environment, and that
it can neither be controlled nor regulated. We consider the threat
serious enough to warrant the destruction of test fields of GE rice to
stop its introduction and to protect ourselves”.
Goodbye biotechnology, hello nature
The ISAAA and the biotech industry may delude themselves with the
‘successes’ of genetic engineering and the constant expansion of
acreages planted to GM crops. The stark reality, however, is that the
global market has remained steadfastly hostile to GM crops, as the
recent tainted rice episode so amply demonstrates. And far from
benefiting the poor as the report claims, GM crops cost the poor at
least 3 times more in terms of seed and herbicide, misappropriation of
land and precious water resources, and incalculable harm to human,
animal, and environmental health.
Greenpeace concludes that the rejection of GM crops by farmers,
processors, consumers and governments alike reiterates the global
message to the biotech industry that there is no place in our future for
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