GENTECH archive


Re: Bt pesticides, archive 2418

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Roush <>
To: Dorothy Bowes <>
Cc: <>
Date: Thursday, 23 December 1999 13:56
Subject: Re: Bt pesticides, archive 2418

During that moratorium, will you then either shut down the cotton industry in Australia (think twice; there are jobs and life styles of middle income rural people at stake) or answer those folks in places like Narrabri and Gunnedah that are concerned with their pesticide exposure, all rather than allow Bt cotton to be grown because the oil can be used in food? Will you prefer that atrazine is used to control weeds in canola rather than relatively less risky glyphosate? Even moratoria have risks; who bears the human and environmental cost?

Dorothy wrote:
The cotton industry is not my problem. I didn't ask them to go into business. Instead of gene technology money should have been invested on the development of organic systems that are more environmentally friendly.

Dorothy, for me that's a real worry in this debate. It's too easy to declare that something "is not my problem", when it is clearly a problem for the community. I find such an attitude to be selfish. The cotton industry and governments have invested heavily in research non-chemical systems in Australia and the US for 40 years. The problem is simply that the pests are very hard to control and have thus far defeated us. As I have said many times on this server, if you think it is easy, you should go try it. I have tried, including 7 years actually in cotton fields.
like a lot of people I have major concerns about the degradation of the Australian environment.  The soils are fragile, we don't have a lot of water, salinity is becoming a problem, we are still clearing land for farming at the risk of having less water in our rivers and dams, more salinity and soil erosion....  If someone doesn't take some meaningful initiative to turn this around we will have a desert that will not sustain life.  We need to learn to work with the land - not push it to the max - and I don't believe gene tech has offered any solutions at all.  New Scientist 18 December p. 5 has written up the issue Wytze brought to the list on pesticides and GE crops.  Indeed, the GE soya already on the market would indicate that we can expect higher MRLs for agrichemicals used.  So while you may have reduced the number of chemicals used - I suspect you have not reduced the overall volume.  Having said that I have not actually seen any data relating to this.  BUT - increased MRLs are not acceptable.

Canola is also not an option for anyone with food chemical sensitivity.

Fine, they can select other oils from current labelling.

What makes you think glyphosate is not a problem?

Years of studying the data and complaints of critics.

Many people suffer excruciatingly when it is used in their environment.

I can't find a polite way of saying this, but the evidence I have seen, and even conversations with people like yourself, don't support glyphosate as the cause.

Who bears the cost now of inadequate risk assessments that have already caused health and environmental damage.

Such as ???????????  
Migraine, asthma
There are many people in the community that are affected very severely by chemicals in their neighbourhood, including Roundup.  Even in cities we are subjected to agrochemical use.  We have herbicides and pesticides used around us to control weeds and insect pests.  While you may think this should not be a problem in the city environment, it mixes with the city pollution - industrial emissions, motor exhausts, etc and I suspect if anyone ever measured the cocktail it would be very toxic.  The problem is that nobody takes complaints seriously.  In fact when I endeavoured to get some cooperation from government in regard to which component of a particular pesticide was causing a problem in my community, the issue was passed on to the manufacturer who did the industry standard thing and threatened to sue me.  Nobody seriously registers or investigates complaints and all efforts to have an adverse reaction complaints mechanism established have resulted in the health monitoring plan being put on the back burner for the last three years or more.  A health monitoring plan would be a wonderful performance indicator as to how efficient risk assessments really are.  People with chemical sensitivities are not recognised by the government or the medical profession in this country. We don't even know how many there are, or how seriously they are affected.
You may be right, glyphosate may not be the cause, it may be another component of the formulation e.g. a solvent.  How will we ever know if we don't seriously investigate the health claims and the chemical involved.  Only a small percentage of chemicals that are widely used have been comprehensively studied for toxic effects (in animals) and this rarely includes studies for chronic low-level problems in humans, neurologic, neurobehavioural, endocrine, reproductive or pulmonary effects. Until we can get the current technology right I don't believe we should be moving on to gene technology.  it is clear to me we don't have the scientific expertise to prove safety. 
Merry Christmas and I will leave you with this little gem I found in a magazine somewhere
Your mind is a garden
Your thoughts are your seeds
You can have flowers
Or you can have weeds