GENTECH archive


Re: Rachel #63, archive 747

>From                                                        .

>.           RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY #637           .

>.                    ---February 11, 1999---                    .

>.                          HEADLINES:                           .

>.                       AGAINST THE GRAIN                       .

>.                          ==========     

Among the many comments in this article that are misleading or just
plain wrong, the following stand out and require commment. 

> The

>new genetically engineered seeds require high-quality soils,

>enormous investment in machinery, and increased use of


Blatantly wrong. The key genes have been introduced into widely used
current varieties and require no more special treatment than do the
traditional versions of the same varieties.  In fact, the insect
resistant crops require much less chemical.

>There is evidence that their per-acre yields are

>about 10% lower than traditional varieties (at least in the case

>of soybeans),[1,pg.84] ..

Also wrong, the clearest evidence of which is that growers are so happy
with yields that they are planting even more land to the crops. 



>The plain fact is that fully two-thirds of the genetically

>engineered crops now available, or in development, are designed

>specifically to increase the sale of pesticides produced by the

>companies that are selling the genetically engineered


Perhaps true but certainly misleading.  The farmers may be using more
of Monsanto's herbicide but they are using a lot less of the
competition's pesticides, which are generally more persistent.  

>Monsanto's other major line of genetically engineered crops

>contains the gene from a natural pesticide called Bt.... Farmers who
try to

>minimize their use of synthetic chemical pesticides rely on an

>occasional dusting with Bt to prevent a crop from being overrun

>with leaf-eating caterpillars....

Resistance has already evolved to Bt in the diamondback moth in at
least 10 countries. Far from "an occasional dusting", Bt is used as
often as 3 times a week. Resistance occurred in as little as 4 years.
While I was in New York, potato growers used Bt up to 6 times a

We have already demonstrated that transgenic crops can actually make Bt
last longer than Bt sprays:

<fontfamily><param>Times</param><bigger><bigger>Roush, R.T.  1994.
Managing pests and their resistance to <italic>Bacillus
thuringiensis:</italic>  Can transgenic crops be better than sprays?
Biocontrol Sci. Technol<italic>. </italic><bold>4</bold>, 501-516.

Shelton, A. M., Tang, J. D., Roush, R. T. and Earle, E. D.  1998.  Can
we manage resistance to Bt-engineered plants? Results of greenhouse and
field tests.  Proceedings of the Sixth Australian Applied Entomological
Research Conference, Brisbane, Australia, October 1998. pp. 258-266.