Who Benefits from GM Crops?

THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE 
 
Dear Friends and Colleagues 
 
Who Benefits from GM Crops? 

For the last two decades, the biotech industry has claimed that genetically modified (GM) crops are the answer to eradicating global hunger, a figure that stands at 868 million people today. The burning question of whether this is true is addressed in a new report by Friends of the Earth International.  

The report states that 92% of GM crops—mainly soya, maize, oilseed rape and cotton—are grown in six countries by less than 1% of the world’s farmers. There is, however, growing resistance to and suspension of GM crops in all continents. One reason is that there is no scientific consensus on the safety of GM crops, as many critical questions remain unanswered. 

More than 99% of the GM crops grown are herbicide-tolerant, insect-resistant or a combination of both. Besides struggling with the high cost of GM seeds, the report highlights that farmers have to buy and apply more pesticides on these crops due to weed and insect resistance with worsening impacts on human health and the environment.  

“There are cheaper, better and more readily available solutions than GM crops to address hunger and malnutrition”, concludes the report which makes a strong call to invest in small-farm agro-ecology as the most sustainable solution to world hunger. Other recommendations include stopping agrofuel production on arable land, and taking steps to reduce the high levels of consumption of livestock products and retail and household waste in rich countries. 

A press release on the report (Item 1) and the executive summary of the report are reproduced below (Item 2). The full report is available at http://www.foei.org/en/what-we-do/food-sovereignty/latest-news/who-benefits-from-gm-crops-2014 

 
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Item 1
 
New Report: More States Suspend Genetically Modified Crops
 

LONDON (UK) / BRUSSELS (BELGIUM), April 30, 2014 – The number of countries cultivating genetically modified (GM) crops is in decline, with Poland and Egypt the latest countries to suspend GM crop production, according to a new report from Friends of the Earth International released today April 30 [1].

The report ‘Who benefits from GM crops?’ reveals that 90 per cent of GM crops are grown in just six countries and by less than one per cent of the world farming population. An analysis of industry figures shows the claimed increase in GM planting in 2013 remains confined to these six countries. [2]

There is also little evidence that new GM varieties are the best way to improve nutrition or increase our capacity to adapt to climate change. Ninety nine per cent of available GM crops on the market have been modified to resist pesticides or produce their own, resulting in spiraling pesticide use. The biotech industry is promoting GM ‘Golden Rice’ as a solution to Vitamin A deficiency despite a lack of evidence to prove if it is an appropriate or effective method.

“GM crops cannot form part of a 21st century solution to the hunger crisis. Despite the hype, GM crops are still based on an outdated chemical-intensive and polluting agricultural model,” said Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Food Sovereignty programme co-ordinator at Friends of the Earth International.

“GM companies profit from spraying pesticides and control the price of seeds. On every continent, public resistance to GM crops is growing” she added.

Countries such as Mexico, Kenya, Egypt and Poland have recently suspended cultivation of certain GM crops. Around the world, experts are calling for a shift to agro-ecological farming methods to tackle hunger and malnutrition. These methods have been shown to double yields in Africa and effectively tackle pests. [3]

“There are readily available, less risky and more effective solutions than GM to tackle hunger and poverty” said Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Food Sovereignty programme co-ordinator at Friends of the Earth International.

“The solution to the hunger crisis is not more GM crops, it is more low cost, high yield agro-ecological farming – the type of farming being threatened by GM,” she added.

Countries such as the USA, Argentina and Brazil, some of the world’s top producers of GM crops, are seeing an upward trend in the use of chemical pesticides as a result of their long-term adoption of GM crops. In the USA, 49% of farmers report problems with herbicide resistant weeds [4].

In Argentina, links have been made between high levels of pesticide use in areas growing GM crops and increased cancer rates and birth defects in local communities. Doctors and researchers are calling for more rigorous research on health effects of GM farming. [5]

In Africa GM crops are grown only in three countries, South Africa, Burkina Faso and Sudan. However, extreme pressure from biotech companies threatens to open up the continent to GM crops. A recent Kenyan decision to ban GM crops came under fire from lobbyists.

In Europe six countries have banned GM crops and public opinion against them is on the rise. [6] BASF and Monsanto pulled key GM crops from the European market in 2013.

ENDS

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACTKirtana Chandrasekaran, Food Sovereignty programme co-ordinator, Friends of the Earth International: + 30 693 8131 226 or email: kirtana.chandrasekaran@foe.co.uk

NOTES
[1] The Friends of the Earth International report ‘ Who benefits from GM crops, an industry built on myths’ is online at www.foei.org/resources/publications/publications-by-subject/food-sovereignty-publications/who-benefits-from-gm-crops-2014/

[2] List of countries cultivating GM crops in 2013 and 2012 according to Industry funded International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/44/executivesummary/and http://isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/46/executivesummary/default.asp

[3] A comprehensive United Nations assessment of world agriculture concluded in 2008 that GM crops had little role in alleviating poverty and hunger, and agro-ecological techniques were more suitable.The four-year UN effort – the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) is online at http://www.unep.org/dewa/assessments/ecosystems/iaastd/tabid/105853/default.aspx A report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter in 2011 to the Human Rights Council, Sixteenth session. United Nations General Assembly ‘Agroecology and the Right to Food’ also points to agroecological farming as the best way to increase productivity without expensive seeds and chemicals. It is online at http://www.srfood.org/en/report-agroecology-and-the-right-to-food

[4] A survey of thousands of U.S. farmers across 31 states conducted over three years by Stratus Agri-marketing, Inc., showed 49 percent of the farmers surveyed reporting glyphosate-resistant weeds on their farm in 2012, up from 34 percent in 2011. Stratus Ag Research (2013). One Million Acres of Glyphosate Resistant Weeds in Canada,http://www.stratusresearch.com/blog/one-million-acres-of-glyphosate-resistant-weedsin-canada-stratus-survey

[5] López SL et al (2012). Pesticides Used in South American GMO-Based Agriculture: A Review of Their Effects on Humans and Animal Models. Advances in Molecular Toxicology, Vol. 6 pp. 41-75, http://www.keine-gentechnik.de/fileadmin/files/Infodienst/Dokumente/2012_08_27_Lopez_et_al_Pesticides_South_America_Study.pdf and AP (2013). Argentine links Health Problems to Agrochemicals,http://bigstory.ap.org/article/argentines-link-health-problems-agrochemicals-2 [6] Poland joined Austria, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, and Luxembourg. France´s ban has been challenged in court.

 
Item 2
 
Who Benefits from GM Crops? An Industry Built on Myths
April 2014
Friends of the Earth International
 
 
Executive Summary: Who Benefits? 

Our relationship with food and the way in which we farm is under increasing pressure. Extreme weather events, a changing climate and a growing population are putting the food sovereignty of communities at risk. At the same time health experts have raised serious questions about our modern diet. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a ‘global obesity epidemic’1 yet an estimated 868 million people are suffering from chronic hunger.2 It is perhaps no wonder that there are calls for a fundamental change to the ways in which we farm and feed the world. 

The biotech industry has placed itself at the heart of this debate. Biotech corporations are working alongside governments and the aid community on initiatives they claim will improve yield and nutrition. Advocates argue that genetically modified (GM) crops can help to feed a climate-constrained world. 

This report examines the reality of GM crop production worldwide. It differentiates the claims from the reality, drawing evidence from the experiences of small farmers and the communities who live with GM. It finds: 

–  There is significant resistance to GM crops on all continents.  

–  Evidence from the cultivation of GM crops in North and South America, going back over two decades, shows increased levels of pesticide use due to weed and insect resistance – herbicide tolerant and insect tolerant (BT) GM crops do not provide an effective solution to the problem of agricultural pests.  

–  Emerging evidence of the negative impacts of pesticides on the environment and people’s health suggest that these GM crops are not sustainable.  

–  There is no scientific consensus on the safety of GM crops – with many doubts and questions unanswered.  
–  Bio-fortified GM Golden Rice is not the best solution for vitamin A deficiency.  

–  Despite hype around new GM varieties for improved nutrition and climate adaptation industry figures show about 99 per cent of the GM crops grown are still herbicide tolerant, insect resistant or a combination of both.*  

Where is GM grown? 

There is a shortage of independent data on GM crops, with many of the figures only available from the industry bodies. These figures from 2013 show that 18 million farmers grow GM crops in 27 countries worldwide. This figure represents less than one per cent of the world farming population.3 GM crops are predominantly found in six countries (92 per cent of GM crops) and these countries mainly grow just four GM crops: soya, maize, oilseed rape and cotton. Eighty eight per cent of arable land remains GM-free.4 

“Our relationship with food and the way in which we farm is under increasing pressure. Extreme weather events, a changing climate and a growing population are putting the food sovereignty of communities at risk.” 

North America 

The largest concentration of GM crops is in the United States where GM varieties of soya, maize and cotton account for 90 per cent or more of production of these crops. But there is also strong public opposition to GM in the US, with a growing campaign for GM food labelling. This has triggered fierce opposition from the food industry.5 

The first GM drought-resistant maize was approved for commercial production in the US in 2013, but official assessments suggest it is only designed to maintain yields under moderate drought conditions, and does not perform as well as regionally adapted conventional maize.6 

Canada has approved GM canola, maize and sugar beet, but there is no government data on how much is grown. Canada also approved production of genetically engineered fish eggs in 2013. 

This is the first time that the genetic modification of an animal has been authorised for food purposes. The eggs will be shipped to Panama for production. Researchers are developing some 35 species of GM fish, using genes from coral, mice, bacteria and even humans.7 The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it was considering an application to approve GM salmon for human consumption. Several retailers in the US and Europe have announced that they will not sell GM seafood.8 

South America 

In South America, GM soy, maize and cotton are grown most extensively in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. In Brazil, where 89 per cent of the soy is GM, Monsanto has been ordered to compensate farmers after a court ruled that the royalty fees being charged for Roundup Ready soy were unlawful. Claims from farmers are estimated to be in the region of $US 1 billon.9 

Asia 

In Asia, GM insect-resistant cotton is grown in India, China, Pakistan, and Myanmar, while GM maize is grown in the Philippines. In India, public protests led to a moratorium on the commercial introduction of Bt brinjal (aubergine). Attempts to introduce GM rice, GM papaya and GM maize to Thailand have so far failed,10 although new varieties of GM papaya, sweet potato, cotton and abaca are under development in the Philippines.11 

Asia has also been the testing ground for the first nutrient-enhanced GM crop, ‘Golden Rice’, with field trials carried out in the Philippines, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The crop has been genetically modified to increase levels of pro-vitamin A, designed to counter vitamin A deficiency which is a major problem in some developing countries and the major cause of blindness in children.12 There is widespread public concern about the wider impacts on farmers of Golden Rice and some of the field trials were destroyed by protestors.13 Little data is currently available about the effectiveness of Golden rice14 in curing Vit A deficiency and there do not appear to be plans to be make it available commercially. China, one of the world’s biggest rice producers, is reported to have decided not to commercialise GM rice because of concerns about safety.15 Even advocates of Golden Rice recognise that it is not the best solution to malnutrition. 

“The best way to avoid micronutrient deficiencies is by way of a varied diet, rich in vegetables, fruits and animal products.16 
 
Africa 

In Africa, GM crops are grown only in three countries (South Africa, Burkina Faso and Sudan), but as this report shows, the biotech industry has ambitions to extend its market into Africa, with the development of other nutrient-enhanced GM crops. Research is underway to add vitamin A and other micronutrients to African staple crops such as cassava, sweet potato and sorghum. African countries are under extreme pressure to allow GM crops in their countries, with industry associations lobbying heavily against a Kenyan decision to introduce a ban.17 

But African countries are also increasingly looking to alternative agricultural solutions, drawing on local knowledge and research to find more sustainable solutions. Co-chair of the biggest global assessment of agricultural science and winner of the World Food Prize and Alternative Nobel Prize, Hans Herren has said that such approaches have revealed far greater success in terms of increasing yields, and in pest control.18 

Europe 

In Europe, GM crops are only being grown on around 0.14 per cent of the farm land.19 One of the two previously authorised GM crops had its authorisation annulled by the highest European Court in 2013 and a number of European countries have banned the cultivation of GM crops.20 In recent years public concern in the EU about GMOs has increased to 66 per cent, up four points.21 Faced with this resistance, biotech company BASF announced in 2012 that promoting GM crops in Europe no longer made business sense,22 and Monsanto has withdrawn some of its applications from the authorisation process. But a number of GM applications remain, including a new variety of maize recommended for approval by the European Commission in 2013 despite opposition from the European Parliament and most member states.23 

Evidence of impacts 

While there has been no systematic international evaluation of GM crops, there is a growing body of evidence based on the experience of farmers and communities, which raises serious questions about their environmental impacts. Scientific discussions about these impacts have become highly politicised. 

More than 99 per cent of the GM crops grown are herbicide tolerant, insect resistant or a combination of both.24 These crops are essentially extensions of the pesticide-dependent model of industrial agriculture, suited to large scale, corporate-based food production. The industry claims these crops help reduce the environmental impact of these industrial models, but the evidence from farmers and rural communities suggests that this is not the case. 

Farmers in the US, India and Argentina have reported that they need to use increasing levels of pesticides on GM crops,25,26,27 and evidence from communities in Argentina and Paraguay has raised concerns about the health impacts of these pesticides.28,29,30 Costs have also been reportedly rising for GM seeds.31 

In the US, 21 different weed species have been identified that show resistance to glyphosate herbicides,32 with almost half of farmers affected.33 In Canada, 12 per cent of farmers in Ontario have reported problems with glyphosate-resistant weeds.34 Monsanto now advises farmers to use a mix of chemical products and to plough, which would seem to undermine its claims about the supposed environmental benefits of this model of farming. 

Government data from India suggests that after an initial reduction in pesticide use, farmers growing genetically modified Bt cotton need to increase pesticide use after the first two years,35 as insects develop resistance to the toxin in the plant. A recent scientific review found that at least five species of major pests have evolved resistance to Bt crops by 2010 – up from just one in 2005.36 

The Monarch Butterfly appears to be one victim of the spread of GM crops. In January 2014 it was reported that the number of these butterflies returning to Mexico to overwinter had declined to the lowest level since surveys began in 1993.37 Scientists believe a major factor in the decline is the rapid disappearance of milkweed from US fields as a result of the pesticide treatment for GM resistant crops.38,39 Milkweed is the only food source for the Monarch butterfly caterpillars – but levels have plummeted in maize and soybean fields. 

In Argentina links have been made between high levels of pesticide use in areas growing GM crops and increased cancer rates and birth defects.40 In the soy-growing Chaco region of Argentina, the rate of congenital birth defects is reported to have quadrupled.41 

More than 200 scientists, physicians, academics and experts signed an open letter in 2013 declaring that there was no consensus on the safety of GM crops, highlighting the lack of epidemiological studies on the potential health effects of GM food.42 

Rising costs 

The rising costs of seeds and inputs reflect the near-monopoly power of the biotech companies, and the growing market concentration in the wider agricultural input sector. Monsanto controls 98 per cent of the US seed market for soy and 79 per cent of the maize market,43 while in South Africa the company has a de facto monopoly over the R1.5 billion market for GM maize seed,44 as all seeds contain Monsanto patented traits. 

The high cost of seeds is seen as a particular problem for small farmers, many of whom already struggle with debt. A study in Burkina Faso found that because of the high costs, the risks of GM cotton production were “disproportionately high.”45 A study in the Philippines found that many GM maize farmers did not know they were growing GM maize because seeds were not clearly labelled.46 The same study found many farmers were getting into debt because of the cost of the seeds and inputs needed. 

Tackling hunger 

Those calling for a new Green Revolution argue that what is needed to tackle hunger is more intensified agriculture, which relies heavily on increasing use of non-renewable resources such as fertilizers and fossil fuels. There is mounting evidence that this system of farming is destroying the resource base we rely on to produce food.47, 48 Genetically modified crops have been developed as part of this damaging industrial model and it seems unlikely that they can successfully be adapted to meet the challenges and needs of smallholder farmers in the poorest parts of the world. 

The causes of chronic hunger are rarely to do with low crop yields per se, but are related to poverty, inequality of food access, andinequality of access to land and resources with which to grow food.49 Yet much of the food we currently grow is not used efficiently. Over half of cereals produced globally go towards feeding livestock in intensive systems,50 and approximately 1.3 billion tons of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted.51 

Growing support for agro-ecology 

At the same time there is growing evidence from around the world of sustainable food and farming models that guarantee food sovereignty while respecting and developing the role of small holders. The main such approach, agroecology, is both a science and a set of practices, as well as a social and political movement. It is the approach increasingly called for by international agencies as well as millions of small scale farmers. These approaches can control pests and also dramatically increase yields, doubling them in some countries.52 

Rather than relying on expensive inputs, farmers in Africa are increasingly turning to the ‘push-pull’ method to control pests. For example, they use inter-cropping with repellent plants to deter the insects, alongside a border of more attractive plants which entice the pests away.53 

Agro-ecological intensification methods have also been shown to successfully increase rice yields by as much as a third, according to studies in Kenya.54 The ´system of rice intensification´ known as SRI, uses a less intensive method of planting for irrigated crops in order to increase yields. Organic matter is added to improve soil fertility, water use is reduced, and planting methods are designed to improve the vigour of individual plants.55 

As a way to improve the resilience and sustainability of food systems, agroecology is now supported by an increasingly wide range of experts within the scientific community.56, 57, 58 

There are cheaper, better and more readily available solutions than GM crops to address hunger and malnutrition. Governments, policy advisors, donors and international agencies should: 

–  Build capacity to produce food for local consumption rather than for export, with an emphasis on small-scale farmers  

–  Increase investment in agro-ecology to support small farmers including: 
·         Participatory research that uses small holders’ traditional knowledge combined with modern approaches  

·         Research into enabling development and access to low cost traditional varieties of seeds and livestock breeds, led by local communities  

·         Provision of agricultural extension services so farmers can access and implement knowledge that will enable them to farm more sustainably, and which can ensure that farmers are involved in developing research programmes  

·         Support for the establishment of farmers’ cooperatives and other producer organizations for small holders ensuring local and national markets can work for smallholders  

–  End the large amounts of crops and land diverted from food to agrofuel production  

–  Introduce measures to reduce high levels of consumption of livestock products in rich countries that are eating up global grain supplies  

–  Reduce high levels of retail and household waste in rich countries, and prevent post-harvest loss in the developing world  

“There are cheaper, better and more readily available solutions than GM crops to address hunger and malnutrition.” 
 
Footnotes
 
2. FAO, (2013) The state of food and agriculture: food systems for better nutrition. Available at http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3300e/i3300e.pdf
 
3. FAO (2013). Statistical Year Book, World Food and Agriculture, page 22, http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3107e/i3107e00.htm
 
4. ISAAA (2014). Special Brief 46 – 2013 Executive Summary, Global Status of Commercialised Biotech/GM Crops: 2013, http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/46/executivesummary/default.asp
 

6. USDA (2011). Monsanto Company Petition for Determination of Non-regulated Status of Event MON 87460, Final Environmental Assessment, p33. http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/09_05501p_fea.pdf

7. Genetically Engineered Fish. Rep. Center for Food Safety, Jan. 2013.      http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/ge-salmon-fact-sheet.pdf
 
8. FOE Press Release (2013) Target, Giant Eagle, H-E-B, Meijer say no to genetically engineered salmon, http://www.foe.org/news/news-releases/2013-05-target-giant-eagle-h-e-b-meijer-say-no-to-ge-salmon
 
 
 

12.World Health Organization (2009). Global prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in populations at risk 1995–2005, WHO Global Database on Vitamin A Deficiency, p1, http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2009/9789241598019_eng.pdf

 

15.Yunzhang, J (2011). Commercialization of genetically modified staple food: not to proceed for 5 years except for corn. Economic Observer, 23 September, https://biosafety-info.net/article.php?aid=829

16. Biofortified rice as a contribution to the alleviation of life-threatening micronutrient deficiencies in developing countries, Golden Rice official website See http://www.goldenrice.org

 
18. Hans Herren reply to the Washington Post editorial piece on GMOs, http://envaya.org/TABIO/post/121542
 
19. See Table 1, Chapter 1, GMO cultivation in European countries, 2008-13
 
20. GMO-free-regions.org (2013). Poland bans cultivation of GM maize, potatoes. http://www.gmo-free-regions.org/gmo-free-regions/poland/gmo-free-news-from-poland/news/en/26883.html
Reuters (2013). Italy moves to ban growing of Genetically Modified Maize Type, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/12/us-italy-gmo- idUSBRE96B0OS20130712
 
21.European Commission (2010), Eurobarometer 354: Food-related risks, November 2010.     http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/factsheet/docs/reporten.pdf
 
22. New York Times (2012). BASF to stop selling genetically modified products in Europe, 16 January,      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/business/global/17iht-gmo17.html?_r=0

23.EU Health Commissioner (2013). EU Press Statement by EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg, on Commission’s decision on GM Pioneer 1507, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-960_en.htm

24.Calculations based on ISAAA Special Brief 44 (2012),   http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/44/executivesummary/ and Nature Special Report, GMO Crops: Promise and Reality, http://www.nature.com/news/specials/gmcrops/index.html
 
25. Stratus Research (2013). Glyphosate resistant weeds – intensifying, 25 January, http://stratusresearch.com/blog/glyphosate-resistant-weeds-intensifying

26. Coalition for a GM-Free India (2012). 10 Years of Bt Cotton: False Hype and Failed Promises, Cotton farmers’ crisis continues with crop failure and suicides, http://indiagminfo.org/?p=393

27. Huffington Post (2013). As Argentina’s Pesticide Use Increases, Many Worry About Growing Link To Health Problems, 20 October, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/20/argentina-pesticides-health-problems_n_4131825.html

28. López SL et al (2012). Pesticides Used in South American GMO-Based Agriculture: A Review of Their Effects on Humans and Animal Models. Advances in Molecular Toxicology, Vol. 6 pp. 41-75, http://www.keine-gentechnik.de/fileadmin/files/Infodienst/Dokumente/2012_08_27_Lopez_et_al_Pesticides_South_America_Study.pdf
 
29. AP (2013). Argentine links Health Problems to Agrochemicals, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/argentines-link-health-problems-agrochemicals-2
 
30. Paraguay.com (October 2013), Atribuyen a Transgénicos aumento de canceres de la Sangre en Pais,  http://www.paraguay.com/nacionales/atribuyen-a-transgenicos-aumento-de-canceres-de-la-sangre-en-el-pais-98393

31. Benbrook Charles (2012). Glyphosate Tolerant Crops in the EU- A Forecast of Impacts on Herbicide Use, Greenpeace International, http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/Campaign-reports/Genetic-engineering/Glyphosate-tolerant-crops-in-the-EU/

32. University of Michigan State 2,4-D and dicamba-resistant crops and their implications for susceptible non-target crops, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/24_d_and_dicamba_resistant_crops_and_their_implications_for_susceptible_non
 
33. University of Michigan State 2,4-D and dicamba-resistant crops and their implications for susceptible non-target crops http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/24_d_and_dicamba_resistant_crops_and_their_implications_for_susceptible_non
 
34. Stratus Ag Research (2013). One Million Acres of Glyphosate Resistant Weeds in Canada, http://www.stratusresearch.com/blog/one-million-acres-of-glyphosate-resistant-weeds-in-canada-stratus-survey

35. Coalition for a GM-Free India, (2012), 10 Years of Bt Cotton: False Hype and Failed Promises Cotton farmers’ crisis continues with crop failure and suicides http://indiagminfo.org/?p=393

36. Tabashnik B et al (2013). Insect resistance to Bt crops: lessons from the first billion acres, Nature Biotechnology, 31, 510–521, http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v31/n6/full/nbt.2597.html#t2

38. Pleasants J M & Oberhauser K S (2013). Milkweed loss in agricultural fields because of herbicide use: effect on the monarch butterfly population, Insect Conservation and Diversity, Vol 6, Issue 2, pp 135-144

39. Brower L P et al (2012). Decline of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico: is the migratory phenomenon at risk?, Insect Conservation and Diversity, Vol 5, Issue 2, pp 95-100

40. AP (2013). Argentine links Health Problems to Agrochemicals, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/argentines-link-health-problems-agrochemicals-2
 
41. AP (2013). Argentine links Health Problems to Agrochemicals, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/argentines-link-health-problems-agrochemicals-2
 
42. ENSSER (2013). No Scientific Consensus on GMOs Safety Statement, http://www.ensser.org/increasing-public-information/no-scientific-consensus-on-gmo-safety/
 
43.Reuters (2010). DuPont urges U.S. to curb Monsanto seed monopoly, 8 January, http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/01/08/monsanto-antitrust-idUSN087196620100108
 
44.Africa Centre for Biosafety (2012). Hazardous Harvest: Genetically Modified Crops in South Africa 2008-2012, http://www.acbio.org.za/index.php/publications/gmos-in-south-africa/379-hazardous-harvest-genetically-modified-crops-in-south-africa-2008-2012

45.Dowd-Uribe B (2013). Engineering yields and inequality? How institutions and agro-ecology shape Bt cotton outcomes in Burkina Faso, Geoforum, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2013.02.010

46. MASIPAG (2013). Socio-economic Impacts of Genetically Modified Corn in the Philippines, Anos Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines, www.masipag.org
47. High-level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition, Food Security and Climate Change

48. De Schutter, (2011), The new green revolution: How twenty-first-century science can feed the world The Solutions, Journal, Vol 2, Issue 4, August 2011

49. World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics (2013). Web Article of the World Hunger Education Service. http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm

50. UNEP (2009). The environmental food crisis – The environment’s role in averting future food crises p27, United Nations Environment Programme

51. FAO (2011). Global Food Losses and Food Waste: Extent, Causes and Prevention, J. Gustavsson et al, FAO, http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/mb060e/mb060e00.pdf

52.De Schutter, Olivier (2010). Report Submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. Human Rights Council, Sixteenth session. United Nations General Assembly ‘Agro-ecology and the Right to Food’. http://www.srfood.org/en/report-agroecology-and-the-right-to-food

53. ICIPE. African Insect Science for Food and Health, Push and Pull, http://www.push-pull.net/

54. Ndiiri JA et al (2013). Adoption, constraints and economic returns of paddy rice under the system of rice intensification in Mwea, Kenya Agricultural Water Management, Vol. 129 pp. 44–55, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S037837741300187X

55. Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, SRI International Network and Resources Center, Frequently Asked Questions http://sri.ciifad.cornell.edu/aboutsri/FAQs1.html

56. De Schutter, Olivier (2010). Report Submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. Human Rights Council, Sixteenth session. United Nations General Assembly ‘Agro-ecology and the Right to Food’. http://www.srfood.org/en/report-agroecology-and-the-right-to-food

57. ‘Trade and Environment Review’ United National Conference on Trade and Development, 2013. http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/ditcted2012d3_en.pdf
 
58. ‘International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development’ 2008. http://www.unep.org/dewa/agassessment/reports/IAASTD/EN/Agriculture%20at%20a%20Crossroads_Synthesis%20Report%20(English).pdf

Who Benefits from GM Crops?

 

Item 1
 
New Report: More States Suspend Genetically Modified Crops

LONDON (UK) / BRUSSELS (BELGIUM), April 30, 2014 – The number of countries cultivating genetically modified (GM) crops is in decline, with Poland and Egypt the latest countries to suspend GM crop production, according to a new report from Friends of the Earth International released today April 30 [1].

The report ‘Who benefits from GM crops?’ reveals that 90 per cent of GM crops are grown in just six countries and by less than one per cent of the world farming population. An analysis of industry figures shows the claimed increase in GM planting in 2013 remains confined to these six countries. [2]

There is also little evidence that new GM varieties are the best way to improve nutrition or increase our capacity to adapt to climate change. Ninety nine per cent of available GM crops on the market have been modified to resist pesticides or produce their own, resulting in spiraling pesticide use. The biotech industry is promoting GM ‘Golden Rice’ as a solution to Vitamin A deficiency despite a lack of evidence to prove if it is an appropriate or effective method.

“GM crops cannot form part of a 21st century solution to the hunger crisis. Despite the hype, GM crops are still based on an outdated chemical-intensive and polluting agricultural model,” said Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Food Sovereignty programme co-ordinator at Friends of the Earth International.

“GM companies profit from spraying pesticides and control the price of seeds. On every continent, public resistance to GM crops is growing” she added.

Countries such as Mexico, Kenya, Egypt and Poland have recently suspended cultivation of certain GM crops. Around the world, experts are calling for a shift to agro-ecological farming methods to tackle hunger and malnutrition. These methods have been shown to double yields in Africa and effectively tackle pests. [3]

“There are readily available, less risky and more effective solutions than GM to tackle hunger and poverty” said Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Food Sovereignty programme co-ordinator at Friends of the Earth International.

“The solution to the hunger crisis is not more GM crops, it is more low cost, high yield agro-ecological farming – the type of farming being threatened by GM,” she added.

Countries such as the USA, Argentina and Brazil, some of the world’s top producers of GM crops, are seeing an upward trend in the use of chemical pesticides as a result of their long-term adoption of GM crops. In the USA, 49% of farmers report problems with herbicide resistant weeds [4].

In Argentina, links have been made between high levels of pesticide use in areas growing GM crops and increased cancer rates and birth defects in local communities. Doctors and researchers are calling for more rigorous research on health effects of GM farming. [5]

In Africa GM crops are grown only in three countries, South Africa, Burkina Faso and Sudan. However, extreme pressure from biotech companies threatens to open up the continent to GM crops. A recent Kenyan decision to ban GM crops came under fire from lobbyists.

In Europe six countries have banned GM crops and public opinion against them is on the rise. [6] BASF and Monsanto pulled key GM crops from the European market in 2013.

ENDS

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACTKirtana Chandrasekaran, Food Sovereignty programme co-ordinator, Friends of the Earth International: + 30 693 8131 226 or email: kirtana.chandrasekaran@foe.co.uk

NOTES
[1] The Friends of the Earth International report ‘ Who benefits from GM crops, an industry built on myths’ is online at www.foei.org/resources/publications/publications-by-subject/food-sovereignty-publications/who-benefits-from-gm-crops-2014/

[2] List of countries cultivating GM crops in 2013 and 2012 according to Industry funded International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/44/executivesummary/and http://isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/46/executivesummary/default.asp

[3] A comprehensive United Nations assessment of world agriculture concluded in 2008 that GM crops had little role in alleviating poverty and hunger, and agro-ecological techniques were more suitable.The four-year UN effort – the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) is online at http://www.unep.org/dewa/assessments/ecosystems/iaastd/tabid/105853/default.aspx A report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter in 2011 to the Human Rights Council, Sixteenth session. United Nations General Assembly ‘Agroecology and the Right to Food’ also points to agroecological farming as the best way to increase productivity without expensive seeds and chemicals. It is online at http://www.srfood.org/en/report-agroecology-and-the-right-to-food

[4] A survey of thousands of U.S. farmers across 31 states conducted over three years by Stratus Agri-marketing, Inc., showed 49 percent of the farmers surveyed reporting glyphosate-resistant weeds on their farm in 2012, up from 34 percent in 2011. Stratus Ag Research (2013). One Million Acres of Glyphosate Resistant Weeds in Canada,http://www.stratusresearch.com/blog/one-million-acres-of-glyphosate-resistant-weedsin-canada-stratus-survey

[5] López SL et al (2012). Pesticides Used in South American GMO-Based Agriculture: A Review of Their Effects on Humans and Animal Models. Advances in Molecular Toxicology, Vol. 6 pp. 41-75, http://www.keine-gentechnik.de/fileadmin/files/Infodienst/Dokumente/2012_08_27_Lopez_et_al_Pesticides_South_America_Study.pdf and AP (2013). Argentine links Health Problems to Agrochemicals,http://bigstory.ap.org/article/argentines-link-health-problems-agrochemicals-2 [6] Poland joined Austria, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, and Luxembourg. France´s ban has been challenged in court.

 
Item 2
 
Who Benefits from GM Crops? An Industry Built on Myths
April 2014
Friends of the Earth International
 
 
Executive Summary: Who Benefits? 

Our relationship with food and the way in which we farm is under increasing pressure. Extreme weather events, a changing climate and a growing population are putting the food sovereignty of communities at risk. At the same time health experts have raised serious questions about our modern diet. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a ‘global obesity epidemic’1 yet an estimated 868 million people are suffering from chronic hunger.2 It is perhaps no wonder that there are calls for a fundamental change to the ways in which we farm and feed the world. 

The biotech industry has placed itself at the heart of this debate. Biotech corporations are working alongside governments and the aid community on initiatives they claim will improve yield and nutrition. Advocates argue that genetically modified (GM) crops can help to feed a climate-constrained world. 

This report examines the reality of GM crop production worldwide. It differentiates the claims from the reality, drawing evidence from the experiences of small farmers and the communities who live with GM. It finds: 

–  There is significant resistance to GM crops on all continents.  

–  Evidence from the cultivation of GM crops in North and South America, going back over two decades, shows increased levels of pesticide use due to weed and insect resistance – herbicide tolerant and insect tolerant (BT) GM crops do not provide an effective solution to the problem of agricultural pests.  

–  Emerging evidence of the negative impacts of pesticides on the environment and people’s health suggest that these GM crops are not sustainable.  

–  There is no scientific consensus on the safety of GM crops – with many doubts and questions unanswered.  
–  Bio-fortified GM Golden Rice is not the best solution for vitamin A deficiency.  

–  Despite hype around new GM varieties for improved nutrition and climate adaptation industry figures show about 99 per cent of the GM crops grown are still herbicide tolerant, insect resistant or a combination of both.*  

Where is GM grown? 

There is a shortage of independent data on GM crops, with many of the figures only available from the industry bodies. These figures from 2013 show that 18 million farmers grow GM crops in 27 countries worldwide. This figure represents less than one per cent of the world farming population.3 GM crops are predominantly found in six countries (92 per cent of GM crops) and these countries mainly grow just four GM crops: soya, maize, oilseed rape and cotton. Eighty eight per cent of arable land remains GM-free.4 

“Our relationship with food and the way in which we farm is under increasing pressure. Extreme weather events, a changing climate and a growing population are putting the food sovereignty of communities at risk.” 

North America 

The largest concentration of GM crops is in the United States where GM varieties of soya, maize and cotton account for 90 per cent or more of production of these crops. But there is also strong public opposition to GM in the US, with a growing campaign for GM food labelling. This has triggered fierce opposition from the food industry.5 

The first GM drought-resistant maize was approved for commercial production in the US in 2013, but official assessments suggest it is only designed to maintain yields under moderate drought conditions, and does not perform as well as regionally adapted conventional maize.6 

Canada has approved GM canola, maize and sugar beet, but there is no government data on how much is grown. Canada also approved production of genetically engineered fish eggs in 2013. 

This is the first time that the genetic modification of an animal has been authorised for food purposes. The eggs will be shipped to Panama for production. Researchers are developing some 35 species of GM fish, using genes from coral, mice, bacteria and even humans.7 The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it was considering an application to approve GM salmon for human consumption. Several retailers in the US and Europe have announced that they will not sell GM seafood.8 

South America 

In South America, GM soy, maize and cotton are grown most extensively in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. In Brazil, where 89 per cent of the soy is GM, Monsanto has been ordered to compensate farmers after a court ruled that the royalty fees being charged for Roundup Ready soy were unlawful. Claims from farmers are estimated to be in the region of $US 1 billon.9 

Asia 

In Asia, GM insect-resistant cotton is grown in India, China, Pakistan, and Myanmar, while GM maize is grown in the Philippines. In India, public protests led to a moratorium on the commercial introduction of Bt brinjal (aubergine). Attempts to introduce GM rice, GM papaya and GM maize to Thailand have so far failed,10 although new varieties of GM papaya, sweet potato, cotton and abaca are under development in the Philippines.11 

Asia has also been the testing ground for the first nutrient-enhanced GM crop, ‘Golden Rice’, with field trials carried out in the Philippines, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The crop has been genetically modified to increase levels of pro-vitamin A, designed to counter vitamin A deficiency which is a major problem in some developing countries and the major cause of blindness in children.12 There is widespread public concern about the wider impacts on farmers of Golden Rice and some of the field trials were destroyed by protestors.13 Little data is currently available about the effectiveness of Golden rice14 in curing Vit A deficiency and there do not appear to be plans to be make it available commercially. China, one of the world’s biggest rice producers, is reported to have decided not to commercialise GM rice because of concerns about safety.15 Even advocates of Golden Rice recognise that it is not the best solution to malnutrition. 

“The best way to avoid micronutrient deficiencies is by way of a varied diet, rich in vegetables, fruits and animal products.16 
Africa 

In Africa, GM crops are grown only in three countries (South Africa, Burkina Faso and Sudan), but as this report shows, the biotech industry has ambitions to extend its market into Africa, with the development of other nutrient-enhanced GM crops. Research is underway to add vitamin A and other micronutrients to African staple crops such as cassava, sweet potato and sorghum. African countries are under extreme pressure to allow GM crops in their countries, with industry associations lobbying heavily against a Kenyan decision to introduce a ban.17 

But African countries are also increasingly looking to alternative agricultural solutions, drawing on local knowledge and research to find more sustainable solutions. Co-chair of the biggest global assessment of agricultural science and winner of the World Food Prize and Alternative Nobel Prize, Hans Herren has said that such approaches have revealed far greater success in terms of increasing yields, and in pest control.18 

Europe 

In Europe, GM crops are only being grown on around 0.14 per cent of the farm land.19 One of the two previously authorised GM crops had its authorisation annulled by the highest European Court in 2013 and a number of European countries have banned the cultivation of GM crops.20 In recent years public concern in the EU about GMOs has increased to 66 per cent, up four points.21 Faced with this resistance, biotech company BASF announced in 2012 that promoting GM crops in Europe no longer made business sense,22 and Monsanto has withdrawn some of its applications from the authorisation process. But a number of GM applications remain, including a new variety of maize recommended for approval by the European Commission in 2013 despite opposition from the European Parliament and most member states.23 

Evidence of impacts 

While there has been no systematic international evaluation of GM crops, there is a growing body of evidence based on the experience of farmers and communities, which raises serious questions about their environmental impacts. Scientific discussions about these impacts have become highly politicised. 

More than 99 per cent of the GM crops grown are herbicide tolerant, insect resistant or a combination of both.24 These crops are essentially extensions of the pesticide-dependent model of industrial agriculture, suited to large scale, corporate-based food production. The industry claims these crops help reduce the environmental impact of these industrial models, but the evidence from farmers and rural communities suggests that this is not the case. 

Farmers in the US, India and Argentina have reported that they need to use increasing levels of pesticides on GM crops,25,26,27 and evidence from communities in Argentina and Paraguay has raised concerns about the health impacts of these pesticides.28,29,30 Costs have also been reportedly rising for GM seeds.31 

In the US, 21 different weed species have been identified that show resistance to glyphosate herbicides,32 with almost half of farmers affected.33 In Canada, 12 per cent of farmers in Ontario have reported problems with glyphosate-resistant weeds.34 Monsanto now advises farmers to use a mix of chemical products and to plough, which would seem to undermine its claims about the supposed environmental benefits of this model of farming. 

Government data from India suggests that after an initial reduction in pesticide use, farmers growing genetically modified Bt cotton need to increase pesticide use after the first two years,35 as insects develop resistance to the toxin in the plant. A recent scientific review found that at least five species of major pests have evolved resistance to Bt crops by 2010 – up from just one in 2005.36 

The Monarch Butterfly appears to be one victim of the spread of GM crops. In January 2014 it was reported that the number of these butterflies returning to Mexico to overwinter had declined to the lowest level since surveys began in 1993.37 Scientists believe a major factor in the decline is the rapid disappearance of milkweed from US fields as a result of the pesticide treatment for GM resistant crops.38,39 Milkweed is the only food source for the Monarch butterfly caterpillars – but levels have plummeted in maize and soybean fields. 

In Argentina links have been made between high levels of pesticide use in areas growing GM crops and increased cancer rates and birth defects.40 In the soy-growing Chaco region of Argentina, the rate of congenital birth defects is reported to have quadrupled.41 

More than 200 scientists, physicians, academics and experts signed an open letter in 2013 declaring that there was no consensus on the safety of GM crops, highlighting the lack of epidemiological studies on the potential health effects of GM food.42 

Rising costs 

The rising costs of seeds and inputs reflect the near-monopoly power of the biotech companies, and the growing market concentration in the wider agricultural input sector. Monsanto controls 98 per cent of the US seed market for soy and 79 per cent of the maize market,43 while in South Africa the company has a de facto monopoly over the R1.5 billion market for GM maize seed,44 as all seeds contain Monsanto patented traits. 

The high cost of seeds is seen as a particular problem for small farmers, many of whom already struggle with debt. A study in Burkina Faso found that because of the high costs, the risks of GM cotton production were “disproportionately high.”45 A study in the Philippines found that many GM maize farmers did not know they were growing GM maize because seeds were not clearly labelled.46 The same study found many farmers were getting into debt because of the cost of the seeds and inputs needed. 

Tackling hunger 

Those calling for a new Green Revolution argue that what is needed to tackle hunger is more intensified agriculture, which relies heavily on increasing use of non-renewable resources such as fertilizers and fossil fuels. There is mounting evidence that this system of farming is destroying the resource base we rely on to produce food.47, 48 Genetically modified crops have been developed as part of this damaging industrial model and it seems unlikely that they can successfully be adapted to meet the challenges and needs of smallholder farmers in the poorest parts of the world. 

The causes of chronic hunger are rarely to do with low crop yields per se, but are related to poverty, inequality of food access, andinequality of access to land and resources with which to grow food.49 Yet much of the food we currently grow is not used efficiently. Over half of cereals produced globally go towards feeding livestock in intensive systems,50 and approximately 1.3 billion tons of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted.51 

Growing support for agro-ecology 

At the same time there is growing evidence from around the world of sustainable food and farming models that guarantee food sovereignty while respecting and developing the role of small holders. The main such approach, agroecology, is both a science and a set of practices, as well as a social and political movement. It is the approach increasingly called for by international agencies as well as millions of small scale farmers. These approaches can control pests and also dramatically increase yields, doubling them in some countries.52 

Rather than relying on expensive inputs, farmers in Africa are increasingly turning to the ‘push-pull’ method to control pests. For example, they use inter-cropping with repellent plants to deter the insects, alongside a border of more attractive plants which entice the pests away.53 

Agro-ecological intensification methods have also been shown to successfully increase rice yields by as much as a third, according to studies in Kenya.54 The ´system of rice intensification´ known as SRI, uses a less intensive method of planting for irrigated crops in order to increase yields. Organic matter is added to improve soil fertility, water use is reduced, and planting methods are designed to improve the vigour of individual plants.55 

As a way to improve the resilience and sustainability of food systems, agroecology is now supported by an increasingly wide range of experts within the scientific community.56, 57, 58 

There are cheaper, better and more readily available solutions than GM crops to address hunger and malnutrition. Governments, policy advisors, donors and international agencies should: 

–  Build capacity to produce food for local consumption rather than for export, with an emphasis on small-scale farmers  

–  Increase investment in agro-ecology to support small farmers including: 
·         Participatory research that uses small holders’ traditional knowledge combined with modern approaches  

·         Research into enabling development and access to low cost traditional varieties of seeds and livestock breeds, led by local communities  

·         Provision of agricultural extension services so farmers can access and implement knowledge that will enable them to farm more sustainably, and which can ensure that farmers are involved in developing research programmes  

·         Support for the establishment of farmers’ cooperatives and other producer organizations for small holders ensuring local and national markets can work for smallholders  

–  End the large amounts of crops and land diverted from food to agrofuel production  

–  Introduce measures to reduce high levels of consumption of livestock products in rich countries that are eating up global grain supplies  

–  Reduce high levels of retail and household waste in rich countries, and prevent post-harvest loss in the developing world  

“There are cheaper, better and more readily available solutions than GM crops to address hunger and malnutrition.” 
 
Footnotes
 
2. FAO, (2013) The state of food and agriculture: food systems for better nutrition. Available at http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3300e/i3300e.pdf
 
3. FAO (2013). Statistical Year Book, World Food and Agriculture, page 22, http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3107e/i3107e00.htm
 
4. ISAAA (2014). Special Brief 46 – 2013 Executive Summary, Global Status of Commercialised Biotech/GM Crops: 2013, http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/46/executivesummary/default.asp
 

6. USDA (2011). Monsanto Company Petition for Determination of Non-regulated Status of Event MON 87460, Final Environmental Assessment, p33. http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/09_05501p_fea.pdf

7. Genetically Engineered Fish. Rep. Center for Food Safety, Jan. 2013.      http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/ge-salmon-fact-sheet.pdf
 
8. FOE Press Release (2013) Target, Giant Eagle, H-E-B, Meijer say no to genetically engineered salmon, http://www.foe.org/news/news-releases/2013-05-target-giant-eagle-h-e-b-meijer-say-no-to-ge-salmon
 
 
 

12.World Health Organization (2009). Global prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in populations at risk 1995–2005, WHO Global Database on Vitamin A Deficiency, p1, http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2009/9789241598019_eng.pdf

 

15.Yunzhang, J (2011). Commercialization of genetically modified staple food: not to proceed for 5 years except for corn. Economic Observer, 23 September, https://biosafety-info.net/article.php?aid=829

16. Biofortified rice as a contribution to the alleviation of life-threatening micronutrient deficiencies in developing countries, Golden Rice official website See http://www.goldenrice.org

 
18. Hans Herren reply to the Washington Post editorial piece on GMOs, http://envaya.org/TABIO/post/121542
 
19. See Table 1, Chapter 1, GMO cultivation in European countries, 2008-13.
 
20. GMO-free-regions.org (2013). Poland bans cultivation of GM maize, potatoes. http://www.gmo-free-regions.org/gmo-free-regions/poland/gmo-free-news-from-poland/news/en/26883.html
Reuters (2013). Italy moves to ban growing of Genetically Modified Maize Type, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/12/us-italy-gmo- idUSBRE96B0OS20130712
 
21.European Commission (2010), Eurobarometer 354: Food-related risks, November 2010.     http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/factsheet/docs/reporten.pdf
 
22. New York Times (2012). BASF to stop selling genetically modified products in Europe, 16 January,      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/business/global/17iht-gmo17.html?_r=0

23.EU Health Commissioner (2013). EU Press Statement by EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg, on Commission’s decision on GM Pioneer 1507, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-960_en.htm

24.Calculations based on ISAAA Special Brief 44 (2012),   http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/44/executivesummary/ and Nature Special Report, GMO Crops: Promise and Reality, http://www.nature.com/news/specials/gmcrops/index.html
 
25. Stratus Research (2013). Glyphosate resistant weeds – intensifying, 25 January, http://stratusresearch.com/blog/glyphosate-resistant-weeds-intensifying

26. Coalition for a GM-Free India (2012). 10 Years of Bt Cotton: False Hype and Failed Promises, Cotton farmers’ crisis continues with crop failure and suicides, http://indiagminfo.org/?p=393

27. Huffington Post (2013). As Argentina’s Pesticide Use Increases, Many Worry About Growing Link To Health Problems, 20 October, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/20/argentina-pesticides-health-problems_n_4131825.html

28. López SL et al (2012). Pesticides Used in South American GMO-Based Agriculture: A Review of Their Effects on Humans and Animal Models. Advances in Molecular Toxicology, Vol. 6 pp. 41-75, http://www.keine-gentechnik.de/fileadmin/files/Infodienst/Dokumente/2012_08_27_Lopez_et_al_Pesticides_South_America_Study.pdf
 
29. AP (2013). Argentine links Health Problems to Agrochemicals, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/argentines-link-health-problems-agrochemicals-2
 
30. Paraguay.com (October 2013), Atribuyen a Transgénicos aumento de canceres de la Sangre en Pais,  http://www.paraguay.com/nacionales/atribuyen-a-transgenicos-aumento-de-canceres-de-la-sangre-en-el-pais-98393

31. Benbrook Charles (2012). Glyphosate Tolerant Crops in the EU- A Forecast of Impacts on Herbicide Use, Greenpeace International, http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/Campaign-reports/Genetic-engineering/Glyphosate-tolerant-crops-in-the-EU/

32. University of Michigan State 2,4-D and dicamba-resistant crops and their implications for susceptible non-target crops, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/24_d_and_dicamba_resistant_crops_and_their_implications_for_susceptible_non
 
33. University of Michigan State 2,4-D and dicamba-resistant crops and their implications for susceptible non-target crops http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/24_d_and_dicamba_resistant_crops_and_their_implications_for_susceptible_non
 
34. Stratus Ag Research (2013). One Million Acres of Glyphosate Resistant Weeds in Canada, http://www.stratusresearch.com/blog/one-million-acres-of-glyphosate-resistant-weeds-in-canada-stratus-survey

35. Coalition for a GM-Free India, (2012), 10 Years of Bt Cotton: False Hype and Failed Promises Cotton farmers’ crisis continues with crop failure and suicides http://indiagminfo.org/?p=393

36. Tabashnik B et al (2013). Insect resistance to Bt crops: lessons from the first billion acres, Nature Biotechnology, 31, 510–521, http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v31/n6/full/nbt.2597.html#t2

38. Pleasants J M & Oberhauser K S (2013). Milkweed loss in agricultural fields because of herbicide use: effect on the monarch butterfly population, Insect Conservation and Diversity, Vol 6, Issue 2, pp 135-144

39. Brower L P et al (2012). Decline of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico: is the migratory phenomenon at risk?, Insect Conservation and Diversity, Vol 5, Issue 2, pp 95-100

40. AP (2013). Argentine links Health Problems to Agrochemicals, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/argentines-link-health-problems-agrochemicals-2
 
41. AP (2013). Argentine links Health Problems to Agrochemicals, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/argentines-link-health-problems-agrochemicals-2
 
42. ENSSER (2013). No Scientific Consensus on GMOs Safety Statement, http://www.ensser.org/increasing-public-information/no-scientific-consensus-on-gmo-safety/
 
43.Reuters (2010). DuPont urges U.S. to curb Monsanto seed monopoly, 8 January, http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/01/08/monsanto-antitrust-idUSN087196620100108
 
44.Africa Centre for Biosafety (2012). Hazardous Harvest: Genetically Modified Crops in South Africa 2008-2012, http://www.acbio.org.za/index.php/publications/gmos-in-south-africa/379-hazardous-harvest-genetically-modified-crops-in-south-africa-2008-2012

45.Dowd-Uribe B (2013). Engineering yields and inequality? How institutions and agro-ecology shape Bt cotton outcomes in Burkina Faso, Geoforum, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2013.02.010

46. MASIPAG (2013). Socio-economic Impacts of Genetically Modified Corn in the Philippines, Anos Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines, www.masipag.org
 
47. High-level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition, Food Security and Climate Change

48. De Schutter, (2011), The new green revolution: How twenty-first-century science can feed the world The Solutions, Journal, Vol 2, Issue 4, August 2011

49. World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics (2013). Web Article of the World Hunger Education Service. http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm

50. UNEP (2009). The environmental food crisis – The environment’s role in averting future food crises p27, United Nations Environment Programme

51. FAO (2011). Global Food Losses and Food Waste: Extent, Causes and Prevention, J. Gustavsson et al, FAO, http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/mb060e/mb060e00.pdf

52.De Schutter, Olivier (2010). Report Submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. Human Rights Council, Sixteenth session. United Nations General Assembly ‘Agro-ecology and the Right to Food’. http://www.srfood.org/en/report-agroecology-and-the-right-to-food

53. ICIPE. African Insect Science for Food and Health, Push and Pull, http://www.push-pull.net/

54. Ndiiri JA et al (2013). Adoption, constraints and economic returns of paddy rice under the system of rice intensification in Mwea, Kenya Agricultural Water Management, Vol. 129 pp. 44–55, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S037837741300187X

55. Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, SRI International Network and Resources Center, Frequently Asked Questions http://sri.ciifad.cornell.edu/aboutsri/FAQs1.html

56. De Schutter, Olivier (2010). Report Submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. Human Rights Council, Sixteenth session. United Nations General Assembly ‘Agro-ecology and the Right to Food’. http://www.srfood.org/en/report-agroecology-and-the-right-to-food

57. ‘Trade and Environment Review’ United National Conference on Trade and Development, 2013. http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/ditcted2012d3_en.pdf
 
58. ‘International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development’ 2008. http://www.unep.org/dewa/agassessment/reports/IAASTD/EN/Agriculture%20at%20a%20Crossroads_Synthesis%20Report%20(English).pdf

Who Benefits from GM Crops?

Friends of the Earth International

January 9, 2007

HIGHLIGHTSOF THE REPORT: ‘Who Benefits from GM crops? An analysis of the globalperformance of genetically modified (GM) crops 1996-2006’

1) In 2006 the spread of Genetically Modified (GM) crops worldwide showed signs of
stalling. Production of GM crops on a large scale continued to be limited to a few crops
and countries and have not addressed the main agricultural problems and challenges
facing farmers in most countries. They have not proven to be superior to conventional
crops, and the ‘second generation’ GM farm crops with attractive “food traits” promised
by the industry has not appeared.

2) As of December 2006 only four crops (maize, cotton, soy and canola) with only two
traits (herbicide tolerance and insect resistance) are widely cultivated by the world´s
biggest producer of GM crops, the United States , despite the fact that it approved 71
distinct biotech ‘events’ for commercial use so far.

In 2006 an official report of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)confirmed that GM crop yields are not greater than those ofconventional crops, stating that “currently
available GM crops do not increase the yield potential of a hybrid variety. […] In fact, yield may even decrease if the varieties used to carry the herbicide-tolerantor insectresistant genes are not the highest yielding cultivars.” Acompelling number of studies by independent scientists demonstrate thatGM crop yields are lower than, or at best equivalent to, yields fromnon-GM varieties. Reduced yields have in particular been
found with the dominant GM ‘RoundUp Resistant’ soy

3) The 2006 contamination of the world food supply with illegal GM rice in the Americas,
Europe, Africa and Asia, stemming from experimental trials in the US that were
supposedly concluded in 2001, shows the inability or unwillingness of the industry to
control its products. It also shows once again that once you get the genie out of the
bottle there is no way to get it back in.

4) A 2006 European Union-wide survey of public views reconfirmed the European
public’s opposition to GM food. The majority of Europeans think that GM food “should
not be encouraged”, and the survey concludes: “GM food is seen by them as not being
useful, as morally unacceptable and as a risk for society”.

5) GM crops commercialised today have on the whole increased rather than decreased
pesticide use, and do not yield more than conventional varieties. The environment has
not benefited, and GM crops will become increasingly unsustainable over the medium to
long term. Data from the United States, Australia and Brazil indicates that GM crops do
not yield more than comparable conventional varieties. Comprehensive and independent
analysis from the US, and indications from countries such as South Africa and Brazil,
indicate that GM crops do not reduce pesticide use, and may even lead to increased
chemical use for some GM varieties.

6) Small farmers and consumers have not benefited from GM crops. Data from across
the world demonstrates that GM crops have often performed worse than conventional
varieties in countries including India, Indonesia, Brazil and Paraguay. In recent years,
small scale farmers in China have earned more planting conventional cotton than the
GM (Bt) variety. No GM product commercialised today offers any benefits to the
consumer in terms of quality or price. GM feed does not even offer an advantage to the
feed industry.

7) To date, GM crops have done nothing to alleviate hunger or poverty. The great
majority of GM crops cultivated today are used as high-priced animal feed to supply rich
nations with meat. More than four out of every five hectares of GM crops are engineered
to withstand the application of proprietary herbicides sold by the same company that
markets the GM seed, and have little if any relevance to farmers in developing countries
who often cannot afford to buy these chemicals.

8) There still is a lack of comprehensive studies on the performance of GM crops in
every country that has commercialised them, and this consequently calls into question
their claimed benefits. No country in the world has produced a comprehensive study of
the real impact of GM crops at the farm level. There is no adequate analysis of pesticide use,yields, weed/pest resistance, or effects upon smaller growers over theshort, medium or long term that includes a comparison with existingconventional varieties and other agricultural methods such agroecology or organic food production.

9) Incredibly, industry-funded organisations like ISAAA have been accepted as the
official source about GM crops performance, even though they often employ dubious
data and flawed methodologies. Furthermore, ISAAA and other industry-funded
organisations virtually never confront or even acknowledge problems with GM
technology, thus making their conclusions biased.

10) GM cotton is not improving the livelihoods of farmers in the majority of countries
where it has been commercialised so far. Among them are:

– South Africa planted cotton in 39% less hectares in 2005/2006 than the previous year
due to low international prices and a strong Rand against the US dollar at the time of
planting. In addition GM cotton planting decreased from 86% of all commercial cotton in
2004/05 to 77% in 2005/06.

– In Australia the cotton sector has undergone a rough period over the last four years, dueparticularly to drought and low prices. At the end of November 2006,with planting of the 2006/07 crop almost complete, production isforecast to be the lowest in 15 to 20
years.

– In Mexico cotton production has been declining since 1996, the same year that GM
cotton was approved in Mexico. In addition GM cotton production for 2006/07 is
expected to decline to 50,000 metric tonnes from 70,000 metric tonnes in 2005/06.

– In Argentina cotton production dropped after the mid 90s, coinciding with the adoption
of GM cotton. These statistics clearly reflect that GM cotton does not drive Argentinian
farmers’ production.

– In Colombia, cotton production declined over 20% in 2006 from the area planted in
2005, mainly due to low international prices for cotton, the revaluation of the national currency, higher production costs, and restricted access to credit. Despitehaving planted GM (Bt) cotton, small-scale farmers continue havingproblems with pest attacks, which damage their crops and increaseproduction costs.

– In China, a 2006 study by Cornell University showed that in 2004 the net revenue of
hundreds of Bt farmers was significantly lower than that of non-Bt farmers. The reasons
are reportedly linked to the emergence of secondary pests such as mirids, and the need
for Bt cotton farmers to spray 15-20 times more pesticide than was previously needed to
kill these pests.

– In India despite penetration of Bt cotton due to aggressive marketing by Monsanto and
its local subsidiaries, the majority of small farmers are submerged in a circle of poverty
and debts. Small-scale cotton Indian farmers are facing hard times due to rising input
prices combined with falling output prices, exacerbated by frequent crop failure due to
unfavourable weather.

Click here for the executive summary of the report.

The full report can be downloaded from the link below.

Who Benefits from GM Crops?

Friends of the Earth International

January 9, 2007

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE REPORT: ‘Who Benefits from GM crops? An analysis of the global performance of genetically modified (GM) crops 1996-2006’

1) In 2006 the spread of Genetically Modified (GM) crops worldwide showed signs of
stalling. Production of GM crops on a large scale continued to be limited to a few crops
and countries and have not addressed the main agricultural problems and challenges
facing farmers in most countries. They have not proven to be superior to conventional
crops, and the ‘second generation’ GM farm crops with attractive “food traits” promised
by the industry has not appeared.

2) As of December 2006 only four crops (maize, cotton, soy and canola) with only two
traits (herbicide tolerance and insect resistance) are widely cultivated by the world´s
biggest producer of GM crops, the United States , despite the fact that it approved 71
distinct biotech ‘events’ for commercial use so far.

In 2006 an official report of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed that GM crop yields are not greater than those of conventional crops, stating that “currently
available GM crops do not increase the yield potential of a hybrid variety. […] In fact,
yield may even decrease if the varieties used to carry the herbicide-tolerant or insectresistant genes are not the highest yielding cultivars.” A compelling number of studies by independent scientists demonstrate that GM crop yields are lower than, or at best equivalent to, yields from non-GM varieties. Reduced yields have in particular been
found with the dominant GM ‘RoundUp Resistant’ soy

3) The 2006 contamination of the world food supply with illegal GM rice in the Americas,
Europe, Africa and Asia, stemming from experimental trials in the US that were
supposedly concluded in 2001, shows the inability or unwillingness of the industry to
control its products. It also shows once again that once you get the genie out of the
bottle there is no way to get it back in.

4) A 2006 European Union-wide survey of public views reconfirmed the European
public’s opposition to GM food. The majority of Europeans think that GM food “should
not be encouraged”, and the survey concludes: “GM food is seen by them as not being
useful, as morally unacceptable and as a risk for society”.

5) GM crops commercialised today have on the whole increased rather than decreased
pesticide use, and do not yield more than conventional varieties. The environment has
not benefited, and GM crops will become increasingly unsustainable over the medium to
long term. Data from the United States, Australia and Brazil indicates that GM crops do
not yield more than comparable conventional varieties. Comprehensive and independent
analysis from the US, and indications from countries such as South Africa and Brazil,
indicate that GM crops do not reduce pesticide use, and may even lead to increased
chemical use for some GM varieties.

6) Small farmers and consumers have not benefited from GM crops. Data from across
the world demonstrates that GM crops have often performed worse than conventional
varieties in countries including India, Indonesia, Brazil and Paraguay. In recent years,
small scale farmers in China have earned more planting conventional cotton than the
GM (Bt) variety. No GM product commercialised today offers any benefits to the
consumer in terms of quality or price. GM feed does not even offer an advantage to the
feed industry.

7) To date, GM crops have done nothing to alleviate hunger or poverty. The great
majority of GM crops cultivated today are used as high-priced animal feed to supply rich
nations with meat. More than four out of every five hectares of GM crops are engineered
to withstand the application of proprietary herbicides sold by the same company that
markets the GM seed, and have little if any relevance to farmers in developing countries
who often cannot afford to buy these chemicals.

8) There still is a lack of comprehensive studies on the performance of GM crops in
every country that has commercialised them, and this consequently calls into question
their claimed benefits. No country in the world has produced a comprehensive study of
the real impact of GM crops at the farm level. There is no adequate analysis of pesticide
use, yields, weed/pest resistance, or effects upon smaller growers over the short, medium or long term that includes a comparison with existing conventional varieties and
other agricultural methods such agroecology or organic food production.

9) Incredibly, industry-funded organisations like ISAAA have been accepted as the
official source about GM crops performance, even though they often employ dubious
data and flawed methodologies. Furthermore, ISAAA and other industry-funded
organisations virtually never confront or even acknowledge problems with GM
technology, thus making their conclusions biased.

10) GM cotton is not improving the livelihoods of farmers in the majority of countries
where it has been commercialised so far. Among them are:

– South Africa planted cotton in 39% less hectares in 2005/2006 than the previous year
due to low international prices and a strong Rand against the US dollar at the time of
planting. In addition GM cotton planting decreased from 86% of all commercial cotton in
2004/05 to 77% in 2005/06.

– In Australia the cotton sector has undergone a rough period over the last four years,
due particularly to drought and low prices. At the end of November 2006, with planting of the 2006/07 crop almost complete, production is forecast to be the lowest in 15 to 20
years.

– In Mexico cotton production has been declining since 1996, the same year that GM
cotton was approved in Mexico. In addition GM cotton production for 2006/07 is
expected to decline to 50,000 metric tonnes from 70,000 metric tonnes in 2005/06.

– In Argentina cotton production dropped after the mid 90s, coinciding with the adoption
of GM cotton. These statistics clearly reflect that GM cotton does not drive Argentinian
farmers’ production.

– In Colombia, cotton production declined over 20% in 2006 from the area planted in
2005, mainly due to low international prices for cotton, the revaluation of the national
currency, higher production costs, and restricted access to credit. Despite having planted GM (Bt) cotton, small-scale farmers continue having problems with pest attacks, which damage their crops and increase production costs.

– In China, a 2006 study by Cornell University showed that in 2004 the net revenue of
hundreds of Bt farmers was significantly lower than that of non-Bt farmers. The reasons
are reportedly linked to the emergence of secondary pests such as mirids, and the need
for Bt cotton farmers to spray 15-20 times more pesticide than was previously needed to
kill these pests.

– In India despite penetration of Bt cotton due to aggressive marketing by Monsanto and
its local subsidiaries, the majority of small farmers are submerged in a circle of poverty
and debts. Small-scale cotton Indian farmers are facing hard times due to rising input
prices combined with falling output prices, exacerbated by frequent crop failure due to
unfavourable weather.

Click here for the executive summary of the report.

The full report can be downloaded from the link below.

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