GENET archive

[Index][Thread]

GMO-FREE REGIONS & POLICY: Two of nine Boulder County (USA) committee say no to GE crops, two have some reservations



                                  PART 1


------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   ONLY 2 OF 9 CROP GROUP MEMBERS SAY NO TO GMOS

SOURCE:  Boulder Weekly, USA

AUTHOR:  Jefferson Dodge

URL:     http://www.boulderweekly.com/article-6280-only-2-of-9-crop-group-members-say-no-to-gmos.html

DATE:    18.08.2011

SUMMARY: "A straw poll of the members of the county?s Cropland Policy Advisory Group on Aug. 17 revealed that only organic farmers Ewell Culbertson and Richard Andrews favor a complete ban on genetically modified organisms on county-owned open space. ?The day is going to come when this technology is going to be exposed as a failure,? Culbertson said, adding that those who develop and use GMOs will be seen as ?a bunch of children playing with matches.? Toward the end of the meeting, two other CPAG members ? Emily Prisco and Jeannette Hillery ? showed interest in gradually reducing the use of GMOs on open space, but stopped short of endorsing an outright ban."

----- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/information-services.html -----


ONLY 2 OF 9 CROP GROUP MEMBERS SAY NO TO GMOS

Only two of the nine members of a county cropland advisory group believe genetically modified foods should not be grown on local open space lands.

A straw poll of the members of the county?s Cropland Policy Advisory Group (CPAG) on Aug. 17 revealed that only organic farmers Ewell Culbertson and Richard Andrews favor a complete ban on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on county-owned open space.

?The day is going to come when this technology is going to be exposed as a failure,? Culbertson said, adding that those who develop and use GMOs will be seen as ?a bunch of children playing with matches.?

Toward the end of the meeting, two other CPAG members ? Emily Prisco and Jeannette Hillery ? showed interest in gradually reducing the use of GMOs on open space, but stopped short of endorsing an outright ban.

CPAG isn?t expected to issue its recommendations until November, and the county commissioners likely won?t decide on the matter until early 2012.

On Wednesday night in Longmont, the majority of the advisory group expressed support for alternatives that allow for ?co-existence? among organic, conventional and GMO farmers. They endorsed creating a county approval process to regulate the use of genetically modified crops on a case-by-case basis. That approval process is still under discussion, but options include basing it on whether ?the weight of scientific evidence proves these crops to be unsafe for the community or environment,? or on a ?genetically engineered crop rubric.?

Culbertson and Andrews, the organic farmers, agreed that requiring all crops on county land to be grown organically, in accordance with the National Organic Program, would be too extreme. But they questioned their colleagues? faith in the concept of ?co-existence.?

?Organic farmers are threatened by [farmers who use chemicals], but not the other way around,? Andrews told the group, referring to the possible ?drift? of toxins and GMOs. ?That argument just falls flat for me.?

But other panel members disagreed, saying that it goes both ways, and that conventional/GMO farms could be contaminated by adjacent organic farms as well.

The advisory group, which was appointed by the county commissioners after a 2009 outcry about a proposal to grow genetically modified sugar beets on open space, has been meeting since February, but only took up the GMO issue last week. The group heard from one critic of GMOs and two pro-GMO experts at its Aug. 10 meeting, and complaints about that imbalance prompted county staff to bring in a fourth speaker, Dr. Charles Benbrook of The Organic Center, to this week?s meeting.

When asked about the viability of ?co-existence,? Benbrook told the group that all can agree on the concept of ?do no harm? to your neighbor, but accidents happen.

?The crux is, what happens when despite our best efforts, an adverse impact does happen?? he asked. ?What happens then? Who pays??

Benbrook added that the situation can and should be addressed quickly.

?I don?t think this is an unmanageable process by any means,? he said, ?but if we put our heads in the sand, it will get worse.?

CPAG member Daniel Lisco asked county officials whether they have seen any conflicts or problems related to the 2003 approval of GMO corn on county land, and David Bell, agricultural division manager for open space, replied, ?No.?

Culbertson agreed with the ?it?s a free country? argument raised by conventional/GMO farmers, saying people can do what they want on their private property. But this discussion, he said, is about the county?s public land, which is owned by the taxpayers, and he suggested putting the matter to a vote of the county?s residents.

Jules Van Thuyne said he could see having protocols for rotating glyphosate, the primary ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, but he said it would be wrong to ban or even reduce the use of GMOs because new technologies are constantly being developed, and it would be ?taking a step backwards.?

Dea Sloan agreed, saying that new technologies could prove to be beneficial to humans, and banning GMOs would lock the county in to a particular outcome.

Prior to the CPAG members? discussion, Benbrook told the group that despite reports of organic farming being outdated and quaint, large-scale organic farming is possible, citing a successful 4,000-acre organic operation in central Washington state.

He also said that whatever decision the county commissioners make on the cropland policy will be a ?bellwether? for the rest of the country, since Boulder is the ?epicenter of the organic food business in the United States.?

Benbrook also said that if the problems in the Southeast ? where weeds have widely become resistant to Roundup and have prompted farmers to return to more dangerous herbicides ? spreads to the Midwest, it will threaten the country?s food supply. He said the alarm has been sounded that Midwest farmers only have a few more years to alter their practices of overusing Roundup and GMOs.

?If they keep doing what they?re doing, they?re going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg,? Benbrook said. ?If what happens in the Southeast happens in the Midwest, that?s the backbone of our crop supply. And there?s no back-up plan.?

He said that even if Boulder County banned the use of Roundup on open space, it?s hard for farmers to find non-GMO seeds for corn and soybeans nowadays, because about 90 percent are genetically modified.

?It?s kind of a sweet deal for the seed companies, but not such a sweet deal for the farmers and the environment,? Benbrook said.

He added, however, that Roundup is actually a fairly benign chemical and ?is not nearly as toxic as some of the herbicides it replaces.?

If farmers have to return to toxic chemicals like 2,4-D to kill Roundup-resistant weeds, Benbrook explained, the drift from such toxins could kill crops on nearby fields. The problem is, science hasn?t advanced enough to consistently track when such drift is to blame for crop deaths.

?It?s kind of like a crime was committed, but there?s no way to determine what happened,? he said.

Benbrook also tipped his hat on which way he leans on the GMO question facing the group.

?I think Boulder County should not allow herbicide-resistant plants to be planted on public land,? he said.



                                  PART 2

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   BOULDER COUNTY ADVISORY GROUP LEANS TOWARD GMO CROPS

SOURCE:  Daily Camera, USA

AUTHOR:  Laura Snider

URL:     http://www.dailycamera.com/boulder-county-news/ci_18704622

DATE:    17.08.2011

SUMMARY: "The majority of the members of Boulder County?s Cropland Policy Advisory Group indicated Wednesday night that they would support the continued planting of genetically engineered crops on open space land owned by the county. Only two of the group?s nine members -- Ewell Culbertson, who runs Pachamama Organic Farm, and Richard Andrews, who runs the Andrews Family Organic Farm -- said they would support banning all genetically engineered crops on the 18,000 acres of cropland owned by the county."

----- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/information-services.html -----


BOULDER COUNTY ADVISORY GROUP LEANS TOWARD GMO CROPS

Final recommendations scheduled for release in October

The majority of the members of Boulder County?s Cropland Policy Advisory Group indicated Wednesday night that they would support the continued planting of genetically engineered crops on open space land owned by the county.

Only two of the group?s nine members -- Ewell Culbertson, who runs Pachamama Organic Farm, and Richard Andrews, who runs the Andrews Family Organic Farm -- said they would support banning all genetically engineered crops on the 18,000 acres of cropland owned by the county.

?As much as I?d love to see the county go all-organic, for me the biggest concern is the genetically engineered crops,? Culbertson said. ?I feel like the day will come when it will be obvious to everyone that this technology was a failed experiment. ... I would like to see it stop right here in Boulder County.?

The advisory group -- which includes three conventional farmers, three at-large members and an employee of an organic dairy in addition to Culbertson and Andrews -- has been meeting since February to hash out a set of recommendations for how the county should manage its cropland, including guidelines for pesticides, water use and soil health.

The group?s work to come up with a recommendation for whether genetically modified crops should be allowed has garnered the most public attention.

The group?s final package of recommendations won?t be completed until October, but members stated their preliminary stances on the issue Wednesday night after hearing from the final of four experts speak on the subject.

Five of the group members -- including all three conventional farmers -- said they would recommend a policy that supports many different types of agriculture and that gives tenant farmers the right to choose the crop system they prefer. The draft language discussed Wednesday for such a policy also grants the county the power to deny tenants the right to plant a specific crop in the future if ?the weight of scientific evidence proves these crops may be unsafe for the community or the environment.?

The five group members who supported such a policy also discussed adding provisions that would require tenants to get approval from the county before planting any genetically engineered crops.

The final two group members -- Jeannette Hillery and Emily Prisco -- agreed with the majority that genetically engineered crops should still be allowed on open space, but they said they would also support reducing the amount of genetically engineered crops planted over time.

?There is a necessity for all types of farming, and they do all need to get along,? Hillery said.

Prisco said she didn?t think it was necessary to eliminate genetically engineered crops, but she thought reducing the amount of acres planted with such crops might reduce the negative effects of glyphosate, the herbicide that many GMO crops have been modified to resist. Overuse of glyphosate -- known by the brand name Roundup -- can create herbicide-resistant weeds and affect soil quality over time.

?I don?t feel like (a complete ban) is necessary at this point, but I do feel trying a reduction would be important,? she said.

Genetically engineered corn has been allowed on county-owned agricultural land since 2003. In 2009, however, public opposition to planting GMO crops on county-owned land exploded after six tenant farmers asked county staffers for permission to plant genetically modified sugar.

The public can comment on the cropland policy at a meeting Sept. 1 in Longmont.

The county commissioners will make the final decision on the policy.



                                  PART 3

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   WEEDS ACQUIRE GENES FROM ENGINEERED CROPS

SOURCE:  New Scientist, UK

AUTHOR:  Andy Coghlan

URL:     http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2011/08/transgenenic-weed-doubles-its.html

DATE:    09.08.2011

SUMMARY: "She found canola at 288 out of 631 sampling sites on roadsides throughout the state, and of this, 80 per cent was genetically engineered, with resistance to one or other of the two weedkillers. She found two plants, just 0.7 per cent of the total, with double resistance.

?This is not a huge problem yet,? she told New Scientist. ?The sky is not falling in.? But she says it is the first evidence of GM canola outside the crop system in the US, a finding which deserves further investigation and caution, both by GM companies and by farmers, in order to avoid spawning too many weeds with resistance to multiple weedkillers."

----- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/information-services.html -----


WEEDS ACQUIRE GENES FROM ENGINEERED CROPS

Way back in 2001, New Scientist reported that genetically modified (GM) oilseed rape, known as canola in North America, was being grown so widely in Canada that many plants had ?escaped? from fields and become weeds. Most had been made resistant to broad-spectrum weedkillers such as Monsanto?s glyphosate, but the analysis we reported showed that some had acquired additional resistance by cross-breeding with modified crops that were resistant to other herbicides.

Despite this, no panic buttons were pressed, and farmers learned to manage the problem by rotating crops. That means different herbicides are used on a single plot of land, which helps wipe out weed-resistant survivors.

Now, 10 years on, similar ?stacked? hybrid canola weeds are being found in the US. Meredith Schafer of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville reported at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Austin, Texas, this week, that she had found ?escaped? canola plants in North Dakota that were resistant both to glyphosate, sold by Monsanto as Roundup, and to glufosinate, sold by Bayer Cropscience as LibertyLink.

As in Canada a decade ago, the discovery is a good demonstration that genes do get about in the wild. Neither company would have engineered resistance against a rival weedkiller into their own plants, so the only explanation is that the extra gene was acquired ?naturally?.

Several scenarios could explain how this happened, says Schafer, who conducted the project with her superviser, Cynthia Sagers. ?It could have happened if one farmer planted glyphosate-resistant canola, and his neighbour planted glufosinate-resistant canola, for example.? Canola plants escaped as weeds from one field could have been fertilised by pollen from the other, leading to a doubly resistant weed.

Schafer made the discovery during a comprehensive survey of North Dakota, a US hub of GM canola production, to find out how widespread GM canola weeds had become. She found canola at 288 out of 631 sampling sites on roadsides throughout the state, and of this, 80 per cent was genetically engineered, with resistance to one or other of the two weedkillers. She found two plants, just 0.7 per cent of the total, with double resistance.

?This is not a huge problem yet,? she told New Scientist. ?The sky is not falling in.? But she says it is the first evidence of GM canola outside the crop system in the US, a finding which deserves further investigation and caution, both by GM companies and by farmers, in order to avoid spawning too many weeds with resistance to multiple weedkillers.

Equally, there?s a risk that genes for weedkiller resistance will spread to wild relatives. In 2002, two separate teams showed in controlled studies that wild sunflower and sugar beet could swap genes with genetically modified relatives and become fitter in the process. The latest findings in canola confirm that this is happening. The question that remains is whether the new resistance will help weeds in any way.

The take-home message is that while GM crops have delivered benefits for farmers and the environment, there is still need for caution to prevent spread of resistance, both to ?feral? crop escapees and to natural weeds. After all, what better way for Monsanto and Bayer to destroy their own markets than for all weeds to become immune to their own weedkillers? Now that would be some own goal.



                                  PART 4

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   FARMERS FIGHTING UPHILL BATTLE WITH RESISTANT WEEDS

SOURCE:  Daily Dunklin Democrat, USA

AUTHOR:  Lecia Forester

URL:     http://www.dddnews.com/story/1747355.html

DATE:    26.07.2011

SUMMARY: "For the past few years, farmers in Southeast Missouri have been fighting a never-ending battle with an evergrowing population of weeds. Many have even resorted back to the ?old-fashioned? way of dealing with the situation and that is by hiring people with hoes to go and chop them down. [...] When asked about the problems that are being encountered in our area, Randy Caldwell, vice-president and branch manager of Progressive Farm Credit in Kennett, noted that that most of the farmers in our area that he has dealt with have hired people to chop the weeds down manually. He added the main culprits concerning weeds are Pigweed and Marestail."

----- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/information-services.html -----


FARMERS FIGHTING UPHILL BATTLE WITH RESISTANT WEEDS

For the past few years, farmers in Southeast Missouri have been fighting a never-ending battle with an evergrowing population of weeds. Many have even resorted back to the ?old-fashioned? way of dealing with the situation and that is by hiring people with hoes to go and chop them down.

According to a recent article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the problem is actually getting worse because the weeds are becoming increasingly resistant to the chemicals that are used to control them.

When asked about the problems that are being encountered in our area, Randy Caldwell, vice-president and branch manager of Progressive Farm Credit in Kennett, noted that that most of the farmers in our area that he has dealt with have hired people to chop the weeds down manually. He added the main culprits concerning weeds are Pigweed and Marestail.

?Pigweed is the big problem and a lot of it stems from the herbicides not working anymore. They?ve become resistant to it. The flooding and early rains really hindered that also because a lot of people didn?t get to put down pre-plant herbicides and [the] herbicides didn?t work as well as they should have because of all the rain.

?You?ve got to catch the pigweeds [when] they are two to three inches tall and you might be able to kill them. When they get much bigger than that you can?t do anything. Some have been able to stunt them. It?s not all weather related. The weather is intricate.?

When mentioned that this must be an ongoing problem, he said, ?This has been a building problem, particularly with the pigweeds. But, then again, they have been able to control them if they get them in the early stages but the early rains and [other] things kept that from happening and so the chemicals didn?t work so they have gone back to chopping cotton or beans and pulling some of the weeds by hand.?

Charles Parker, a cotton farmer, from Senath, Mo., noted that right now his crops are in pretty good shape but mentioned that one problem he had this year was getting planted.

?We got started late because of all the rains and floods. We were about 10 days late starting to plant,? he said, adding, ?It?s [the cotton crop] made a lot of progress in the last couple of weeks. He added that with the rains the area has had recently plus the irrigation he provides his crop, he feels ?pretty good about the crop.?

Parker noted, however, the weeds do present a problem and the ones that he faces the most problems with are the common ones of Pigweed and Marestail.

?With the varieties we?re planting now, Round-up won?t control them anymore. Used to, Roundup controlled them. For the last two years, Roundup hasn?t controlled them,? he said.

When questioned about the measures he is taking to combat the problem, Parker said, ?What we do is we put out, prior to planting, three different herbicides that help. We put out Valor, and Clarity and a chemical called Firstshot. We put that out prior to planting, usually about 30 days before planting. You need some time there because you could damage your cotton.

?We put out a grass herbicide which also helps on some of the weeds.We use Trifluralin, and when we get down to that, of course, we spray on top with Roundup and some other herbicides. This time we used a herbicide called Warrant and then there?s another you put on top with your Roundup called Dual. These all help [but] what it boils down to we can?t let these resistant weeds go to seed. We?re in pretty good shape right now but there will still be some more. We don?t like to let any of them go to seed, so anytime we see a weed out there, we?re going to try and get it.?

Parker said that he has had as many as 13 workers chopping cotton for him at one time, trying to get a handle on the weeds.

Rick Ward, assistant manager with Ag Distributors in Kennett, said, ?There are a lot of choppers out there chopping these [Pigweed and Marestail]. That?s about the only way they can get rid of these. They are showing an ALS mode of action resistance. The chemicals are limited to what you could use to take care of this problem. Let?s say you spray the first of the month, these chemicals usually last close to a month. If you can, you go out there and try to put something else before that one runs out to last some more.?

Ward then mentioned some of the chemicals that are used in the treatment of these weeds. The list includes Caparol, Cotoran, Diuron, Treflan, Prowl, Dual Magnum, Warrant, MSMA, Staple LX, Roundup, Touchdown, and Valor. Many of these chemicals when sprayed will keep the weeds from coming up but will only suppress them for awhile.

?It is not a permanent answer but it helps,? Ward said.

When asked what he thought the future held for the crops, he said, ?There are a few seed companies that have a Liberty Link gene [cotton], and I think most of the farmers are going to start leaning toward that Liberty Link cotton.?

Ward then told what the difference was between the cotton now being planted and the Liberty Link cotton.

?Roundup cotton and Liberty Link? Well, Roundup is where you spray Roundup over the top and Roundup?s not killing these weeds. The Liberty Link cotton has got a gene in it and you spray the chemical Ignite over it and Ignite will kill them right now.

As well as the above chemicals, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, farmers across the Midwest and in the South are increasingly, using herbicide cocktails to combat weeds in the cotton, corn and soybean fields and this worries environmental scientists who say these combinations employ older, more toxic herbicides that glyphosate (the generic name for Monsanto?s Roundup) was supposed to replace.

Paul T. Combs, co-owner of Baker Implement, also noted the resistance the crops are showing to chemicals.

?Now, [the farmers are] having to go back to plowing fields mechanically with the cultivators or hiring labor to chop the fields. We?re going back to the old fashioned way of weed control which is a little more expensive but that?s what?s required until we come out with a new generation of chemicals.?

Another farmer, Steve Worrell, a rice and soybean farmer, from Rives, Mo., also is having trouble this year with Pigweed and has experienced resistance to chemicals as well as chopping.

?We have just had a gradual, over the last couple of years, a resistance to Roundup on our Pigweeds,? Worrell said. ?Where we rotate with rice, we don?t have the problem because we?ve killed the weeds when we grow the rice and we can rotate back to soybeans and we have a pretty clean crop. But, the problem we have, and I farm quite a bit of ground that I can?t plant in rice and it?s just soybeans only and they just keep getting worse every year. We?ve used every chemical in the arsenal this year and we?ve still got a lot of grown up fields. That?s just a problem and we haven?t come up with an answer for it yet. We did a lot of chopping last year.?

Worrell noted that they haven?t hired any choppers this year because after chopping twice last year, the weeds still came back and went to seed anyway.

?That?s not really going to be the answer for us,? Worrell said. ?All of our beans are broadcast beans. They are not in rows anyway. You may do pretty good when you have cotton in rows, but with these broadcast soybeans, you miss a lot of weeds and they go to seed. It?s just not going to work. It?s going to have to be another approach.?

In order to combat the problem that Worrell and his brother faces with their crop, they have made the decision of rotating some of their crops back to grain sorghum. The reason for this being is that there is a usage of some chemicals that will kill the weeds.

?[We?ll] try to go back into a rotation like that to try to control them until something better comes along,? he said.

One may wonder how the weeds became so resistant to the chemicals being sprayed. Mike Milam, an agronomy specialist with the University of Missouri Delta Extension Office said, ?It?s a very complicated story but the reason the resistance [is down] is the main thing it?s being sprayed constantly with Roundup [since the late 1990?s. That?s why they are building up resistance. The thing that needs to be done is they have some programs with pre-emerge chemicals they can use. They can use the post emergence sprays. There is some new genetically materials that are out, genetically modified materials that are out this year. They are able to use a spray for Ignite over the top of the cotton.?

Weed Scientist Jason Wyrick of the Delta Center noted how Roundup, or glyphosate, started being used alone noting that we have ?abandoned the foundations that we grew up with.? He did note that there is always new technology coming down the pipeline but this would not be a save all. He added that residual herbicides are also being used.