The GE Emperor Has No Clothes


Dear Friends and colleagues,
RE: The GE Emperor Has No Clothes
A new report by a coalition of groups around the world debunks the often touted benefits of GE crops ie. that they will save the world from hunger by increasing yields and producing more food, control pests and weeds, reduce chemical use in agriculture and are a solution to climate change challenges.
According to the report, all of these claims have been established as false over years of experience all across the world. The report "The Emperor Has No Clothes" is a compilation of the many voices from around the globe speaking out on what is happening in their communities and countries and are exposing the illusion that GMOs are the solution to the world’s woes.
The report is available at:
With best wishes,
Third World Network
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10400 Penang,
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Item 1
A Global Citizens Report on the State of GMOs – False Promises, Failed Technoligies
People who point out the emptiness of the pretensions of powerful people and institutions are often compared to the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s fable who says that the emperos has no clothes.
The fable that GMOs are feeding the world has already led to large-scale destruction of biodiversity and farmers’ livelihoods. It is threatening the very basis of our freedom to know what we eat and to choose what we eat. Our biodiversity and our seed freedom are in peril. Our food freedom, food democracy and food sovereignty are at stake.
This report is a compilation of the many voices from around the globe speaking the truth about what is happening in their communities and countries and are exposing the illusion that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are, as Wendell Berry writes, "the latest answer-to-everything".
Un Rapporto Globale dei Cittadini sullo Stato degli OGM – False Promesse, Fallaci Tecnologie.
Le persone che sottolineano la superficialità e le falsità delle pretese dei potenti e delle istituzioni sono spesso paragonate al bambino della favola diHans Christian Andersen che ingenuamente dice che l’imperatore non ha vestiti.
L’illusione che gli OGM possano sfamare il mondo ci ha già portati alla devastazione su larga scala della biodiversità e dei mezzi di sussistenza degli agricoltori. Sono sotto attacco i fondamenti della nostra libertà di conoscere e di poter scegliere ciò che mangiamo. La preziosa biodiversità che resta e la libertà di semina sono minacciate insieme alla nostra libertà, alla democrazia e alla sovranità alimentare.
Questo rapporto è la raccolta di molte voci da tutto il mondo che dicono la verità su ciò che sta accadendo nelle loro comunità e paesi e stanno smascherando l’illusione in cui si racconta che gli OGM sarebbero , come scrive Wendell Berry "l’ultima e definitiva risposta a tutto".
Item 2
                                                                                                               September 2011
Genetic engineering has not increased the yield of a single crop, writes Vandana Shiva.
By Vandana Shiva
                We have been repeatedly told that genetically engineered (GE) crops will save the world. They will save the world by increasing yields and producing more food. They will save the world by controlling pests and weeds. They will save the world by giving farmers drought-tolerant seeds (and other seed traits) that will provide resilience in times of climate change.
                However, the GE Emperor (Monsanto) has no clothes. All of these claims have been established to be falsehoods from years of experience all across the world. And the fact is that genetic engineering has not increased the yield of a single crop.
                Navdanya’s research in India has shown that, contrary to Monsanto’s claim of a Bt cotton yield of 1,500kg per acre, the reality is that the yield is an average of just 400-500kg per acre. And in the US, a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists called Failure to Yield has established that genetic engineering has not contributed to yield increases in any crop. According to this report, increases in crop yields in the US are due solely to yield characteristics of conventional crops.
                In 20 years of commercialisation of GE crops, only two traits have been developed on a significant scale: herbicide tolerance and insect resistance.
                Herbicide-tolerant (or Roundup Ready) crops were supposed to control weeds, and Bt crops were intended to control pests. But instead of controlling weeds and pests, GE crops have led to the experience of superweeds and superpests and, in the US, Roundup Ready crops have produced weeds that are resistant to Roundup.
                Approximately 15 million acres are now overtaken by superweeds, and, in an attempt to kill them off, farmers have been paid US$ 12 per acre by Monsanto to spray even more lethal herbicides such as Agent Orange, which was used during the Vietnam War.
                In India, Bt cotton sold under the trade name Bollgard was supposed to control the bollworm. Today, the bollworm has become resistant to Bt cotton, so now Monsanto is selling Bollgard II, which contains two additional toxic genes. All that has happened is that new pests have emerged and farmers are using more pesticides.
                Monsanto has been claiming that through genetic engineering it can breed crops for drought tolerance and other climate-resilient traits. This is a false promise. As the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) states in its draft environmental assessment of the new drought-tolerant GE corn, "equally comparable varieties produced through conventional breeding techniques are readily available in irrigated corn production reviews".
                Helen Wallace of GeneWatch UK cautions: "The GM [genetic modification] industry must now stop its cynical attempts to manipulate the public into believing that GM crops are needed to feed the world."
                While the GE Emperor has no clothes – i.e. GE crops cannot feed the world – it has the potential for both harming and enslaving the world. There are enough independent studies to show that GE foods can cause health damage. For example, Biochemist Arpad Pusztai’s research has shown that rats fed with GE potatoes developed an enlarged pancreas, suffered shrunken brains and had damaged immunity, and Gilles-Eric Seralini’s research has shown that other organ damage can also occur.
                Acting on the order of the European Council, the Committee of Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN) and universities at Caen and Rouen were able to get hold of the raw data for Monsanto’s 2002 feeding trials on rats, which they made public in 2005. The researchers found that rats fed with three approved varieties of GE corn – NK603 (modified to be tolerant to Roundup) and MON810 and MON863 (both engineered to synthesise toxins used as insecticides) – all suffered organ damage.
                According to Seralini, a molecular biologist at the University of Caen, the data "clearly underlines adverse impacts on kidneys and liver and the dietary, detoxifying organs, as well as different levels of damage to the heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic systems
                The biotechnology industry has attacked Pusztai, Seralini and every other scientist who has done any independent research on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It would appear then that GMOs cannot coexist with the independence and freedom of science.
                Besides their impact on health, GMOs have severe ecological impact, the most significant being genetic contamination. (Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser lost his canola seed as a result of contamination from neighbouring GE crops.)
                In addition to causing harm to public health and ecosystems, GE seeds and crops provide a pathway for corporations to "own" seeds through patents and intellectual property rights (IPRs). Patents provide royalties for the patent holder and corporate monopolies. This translates into superprofits for Monsanto. For the farmers this means debt. More than 250,000 Indian farmers have been pushed to suicide in the last decade and a half. Most of the suicides have been in the cotton belt, where Monsanto has established a seed monopoly through Bt cotton.
                The combination of patents, genetic contamination and the spread of monocultures means that society is rapidly losing its seed freedom and food freedom. Farmers are losing their freedom to have seed and grow organic food, free of the threat of contamination by GE crops. Citizens are losing their freedom to know what they are eating, and to have the choice to eat GE-free food.
                This is why GE crops are an issue for democracy. Food democracy is everyone’s right and responsibility. Each of us must defend our food freedom and urge our governments to protect the rights of their citizens and stop supporting corporate takeover of our seeds and foods. Each of us is vital to create food democracy. – Third World Network Features.
About the writer: Vandana Shiva is the author of Earth Democracy and Soil, Not Oil. The Emperor Has No Clothes: GMOs, False Promises, Failed Technology is a new report to be published in October this year by Navdanya International. Written by a coalition of movements across the world, it will be launched with a special London conference on 6 October 2011.
The above article is reproduced from Resurgence, Issue 268, September/October 2011.
When reproducing this feature, please credit Third World Network Features and (if applicable) the cooperating magazine or agency involved in the article, and give the byline. Please send us cuttings. And if reproduced on the internet, please send the web link where the article appears to Third World Network is also accessible on the World Wide Web (
Item 3
GM crops promote superweeds, food insecurity and pesticides, say NGOs
Report finds genetically modified crops fail to increase yields let alone solve hunger, soil erosion and chemical-use issues
By John Vidal, environment editor
Guardian, 19 October 2011
Genetic engineering has failed to increase the yield of any food crop but has vastly increased the use of chemicals and the growth of "superweeds", according to a report by 20 Indian, south-east Asian, African and Latin American food and conservation groups representing millions of people.
The so-called miracle crops, which were first sold in the US about 20 years ago and which are now grown in 29 countries on about 1.5bn hectares (3.7bn acres) of land, have been billed as potential solutions to food crises, climate change and soil erosion, but the assessment finds that they have not lived up to their promises.
The report claims that hunger has reached "epic proportions" since the technology was developed. Besides this, only two GM "traits" have been developed on any significant scale, despite investments of tens of billions of dollars, and benefits such as drought resistance and salt tolerance have yet to materialise on any scale.
Most worrisome, say the authors of the Global Citizens’ Report on the State of GMOs, is the greatly increased use of synthetic chemicals, used to control pests despite biotech companies’ justification that GM-engineered crops would reduce insecticide use.
In China, where insect-resistant Bt cotton is widely planted, populations of pests that previously posed only minor problems have increased 12-fold since 1997. A 2008 study in the International Journal of Biotechnology found that any benefits of planting Bt cotton have been eroded by the increasing use of pesticides needed to combat them.
Additionally, soya growers in Argentina and Brazil have been found to use twice as much herbicide on their GM as they do on conventional crops, and a survey by Navdanya International, in India, showed that pesticide use increased 13-fold since Bt cotton was introduced.
The report, which draws on empirical research and companies’ own statements, also says weeds are now developing resistance to the GM firms’ herbicides and pesticides that are designed to be used with their crops, and that this has led to growing infestations of "superweeds", especially in the US.
Ten common weeds have now developed resistance in at least 22 US states, with about 6m hectares (15m acres) of soya, cotton and corn now affected. Consequently, farmers are being forced to use more herbicides to combat the resistant weeds, says the report. GM companies are paying farmers to use other, stronger, chemicals, they say. "The genetic engineering miracle is quite clearly faltering in farmers’ fields," add the authors.
The companies have succeeded in marketing their crops to more than 15 million farmers, largely by heavy lobbying of governments, buying up local seed companies, and withdrawing conventional seeds from the market, the report claims. Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta, the world’s three largest GM companies, now control nearly 70% of global seed sales. This allows them to "own" and sell GM seeds through patents and intellectual property rights and to charge farmers extra, claims the report.
The study accuses Monsanto of gaining control of over 95% of the Indian cotton seed market and of massively pushing up prices. High levels of indebtedness among farmers is thought to be behind many of the 250,000 deaths by suicide of Indian farmers over the past 15 years.
The report, which is backed by Friends of the Earth International, the Center for Food Safety in the US, Confédération Paysanne, and the Gaia foundation among others, also questions the safety of GM crops, citing studies and reports which indicate that people and animals have experienced apparent allergic reactions.
But it suggests scientists are loath to question the safety aspects for fear of being attacked by establishment bodies, which often receive large grants from the companies who control the technology.
Monsanto disputes the report’s findings: "In our view the safety and benefits of GM are well established. Hundreds of millions of meals containing food from GM crops have been consumed and there has not been a single substantiated instance of illness or harm associated with GM crops."
It added: "Last year the National Research Council, of the US National Academy of Sciences, issued a report, The Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States, which concludes that US farmers growing biotech crops ‘are realising substantial economic and environmental benefits – such as lower production costs, fewer pest problems, reduced use of pesticides, and better yields – compared with conventional crops’."
David King, the former UK chief scientist who is now director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University, has blamed food shortages in Africa partly on anti-GM campaigns in rich countries.
But, the report’s authors claim, GM crops are adding to food insecurity because most are now being grown for biofuels, which take away land from local food production.
Vandana Shiva, director of the Indian organisation Navdanya International, which co-ordinated the report, said: "The GM model of farming undermines farmers trying to farm ecologically. Co-existence between GM and conventional crops is not possible because genetic pollution and contamination of conventional crops is impossible to control.
"Choice is being undermined as food systems are increasingly controlled by giant corporations and as chemical and genetic pollution spread. GM companies have put a noose round the neck of farmers. They are destroying alternatives in the pursuit of profit."
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