Monday, 1 February 2010

GM Crops Facing Meltdown in the USA

ISIS Press Release 01/02/10

Major crops genetically modified for just two traits - herbicide tolerance and insect resistance – are ravaged by super weeds and secondary pests in the heartland of GMOs as farmers fight a losing battle with more of the same; a fundamental shift to organic farming practices may be the
only salvation Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

Please circulate widely, keeping all links unchanged, and submit to your government representatives demanding an end to GM crops and support for non-GM organic agriculture

Artist Paul Hoppe
















Two traits account for practically all the genetically-modified (GM) crops grown in the world today: herbicide-tolerance (HT) due to glyphosate-insensitive form of the gene coding for the enzyme targeted by the herbicide, 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS), derived from soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, and insect-resistance due to one or more toxin genes derived from the soil bacterium Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis).
Commercial planting began around 1997 in the United States, the heartland of GM crops, and increased rapidly over the years.
By now, GM crops have taken over 85-91 percent of the area planted with the three major crops, soybean, corn and cotton in the US [1]] (see Table 1), which occupy nearly 171 million acres.


Table 1. GM crops grown in 2009 in the USA

The ecological time-bomb that came with the GM crops has been ticking away, and is about to explode.

HT crops encouraged the use of herbicides, resulting in herbicide-resistant weeds that demand yet more herbicides.
But the increasing use of deadly herbicide and herbicide mixtures has failed to stall the advance of the palmer superweed in HT crops. At the same time, secondary pests such as the tarnished plant bug, against which Bt toxin is powerless, became the single most damaging insect for US
cotton.

Monster plants that can’t be killed

It is the Day of the Triffids - not the genetically modified plants themselves as alluded to in John Wyndham’s novel - but “super weeds that can’t be killed” [2], created by the planting of genetically modified HT crops, as seen on ABC TV news.

The scene is set at harvest time in Arkansas October 2009.
Grim-faced farmers and scientists speak from fields infested with giant pigweed plants that can withstand as much glyphosate herbicide as you can afford to douse on them. One farmer spent US$0.5 million in three months trying to clear the monster weeds in vain; they stop combine harvesters and break hand tools. Already, an estimated one million acres of soybean and cotton crops in Arkansas have become infested.

The palmer amaranth or palmer pigweed is the most dreaded weed. It can grow 7-8 feet tall, withstand withering heat and prolonged droughts, produce thousands of seeds and has a root system that drains nutrients away from crops. If left unchecked, it would take over a field in a year.

Meanwhile in North Carolina Perquimans County, farmer and extension worker Paul Smith has just found the offending weed in his field [3], and he too, will have to hire a
migrant crew to remove the weed by hand.

The resistant weed is expected to move into neighbouring counties. It has already developed resistance to at least three other types of herbicides.

Herbicide-resistance in weeds is nothing new. Ten weed species in North Carolina and 189 weed species nationally have developed resistance to some herbicide.

A new herbicide is unlikely to come out, said Alan York,retired professor of agriculture from North Carolina State University and national weed expert

Read the rest of this article here:

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/GMCropsFacingMeltdown.php


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Biotech Crops Cause Big Jump in Pesticide Use: Report

Carey Gillam - Reuters - KANSAS CITY - Tue Nov 17, 2009


KANSAS CITY (Reuters) - The rapid adoption by U.S. farmers of...

Boreal Forests Store More Carbon than Tropical Forests

Posted: 15 Nov 2009 09:58 PM PST

Report Calls for Global Climate Talks to Consider Boreal’s Impact

cbi-bsi-logo OTTAWA, Ontario—When the world thinks of forests and their value to offset global warming, tropical forests come to mind. A report released today shows that the global impact of Canada’s boreal forest, which stores nearly twice as much carbon per hectare as tropical forests, has been vastly underestimated.

“The Carbon the World Forgot” identifies the boreal forests of North America as not only the cornerstone habitat for key mammal species, but one of the most significant carbon stores in the world, the equivalent of 26 years of global emissions from burning fossil fuels, based on 2006 emissions levels. Globally, these forests store 22 percent of all carbon on the earth’s land surface.

“Past accounting greatly underestimated the amount and depth of carbon stored in and under the boreal forest,” said Jeff Wells, an author of the report. In addition to carbon storage in trees, organic matter accumulated over millennia is stored in boreal peatlands and areas of permafrost. Some of this boreal carbon has been in place for up to 8,000 years.

The boreal forest’s status as the most intact forest left on earth also offers a unique opportunity for plants and animals forced to adapt to shifting habitats. Most other habitats today are highly fragmented by human activity, creating a variety of additional obstacles for species survival.

In light of these findings, today’s report urges that international negotiations on carbon and forest protection consider ways to account for and protect the boreal.

“Any effective and affordable response to climate change should include preserving the world’s remaining, carbon-rich old-growth forests,” said Steve Kallick, director of the Pew Environment Group’s International Boreal Conservation Campaign. “This report makes clear that nations must look not just at the tropics but at all the world’s old-growth forests for climate change solutions.”

“Keeping that carbon in place by protecting boreal forests is an important part of the climate equation,” said Dr. Andrew Weaver, “If you cut down the boreal forest and disturb its peatlands, you release more carbon, accelerating climate change.” Dr. Weaver of the University of Victoria is a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel Prize.

“The collision of climate disruption and massive human degradation of ecosystems is seriously worrying globally,” said leading conservation biologist Dr. Stuart Pimm of Duke University. “These changes are surely novel in earth’s history.” Maintaining the boreal forest’s intactness will be critical to slowing ecosystem shifts and to providing migratory corridors for displaced wildlife.

“Conservation can be an important tool in the fight to mitigate climate change” said Larry Innes, Director of the Canadian Boreal Initiative. “International protocols and legislation need to create opportunities to maintain the carbon stored in intact boreal forest soils, peatlands, and wetlands while enabling indigenous and local communities to take a leadership role in determining how to best conserve not only carbon, but the full suite of ecological, cultural and economic values that the boreal forest represents.”

More than 1,500 international scientists led by authors for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended in 2007 that at least half of Canada's boreal forest be protected from further disturbance - in large part to keep both the boreal forest carbon bank and internationally significant wildlife habitats intact. Despite the current lack of international protocol, several Canadian First Nation, provincial, and federal governments have taken important steps to protect hundreds of millions of acres of Canada’s carbon rich boreal forest. In all, scientists are recommending that at least 300 million hectares be protected.

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For further information, contact:

  • Larry Innes, Executive Director, Canadian Boreal Initiative, linnes@borealcanada.ca ; 416-575-6776, 613-230-4739 ext 226.
  • Steve Kallick, Director, International Boreal Conservation Campaign, Pew Environment Group 206-327-1184; skallick@pewtrusts.org
  • Dr. Jeff Wells, science advisor to the International Boreal Conservation Campaign, 207-458-8492; jeff@interboreal.org
  • Dr. Stuart Pimm, Duke University, contact Sue Libenson, 907-766-2841; sue@interboreal.org
  • Dr. Andrew Weaver, University of Victoria, contact Sue Libenson, 907-766-2841; sue@interboreal.org

To view the full report and associated materials: http://borealbirds.org/carbonreport.shtml

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Thanks to David Childs for sharing.