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Published on December 3rd, 2011 | by Jeremy Bloom

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Monsanto’s GMO corn is failing

Monsanto’s genetically modified (GMO) corn is the crack cocaine of agriculture. It gives a great temporary high, but in the long term its no Monsanto crop circlejust really, really, bad for you in all kinds of ways.

How bad? The EPA says Monsanto’s corn is suffering severe damage from insects in four states. Which means their designer genes have pushed insect pests to evolve immunity. The superbugs are here.

I hate to say I told you so, but…

I told you so. We’ve been saying for years that this was one of the biggest dangers of GMO corn. (See: The trouble with Monsanto and GMO – Dr David Suzuki spells it out).

Here’s the problem: Instead of developing healthy, broad-based agricultural techniques, Monsanto’s products encourage farmers to go for the big bucks and short-term profits.

That means planting corn in the same fields over and over. It means counting on Monsanto’s Bt traits that kill bugs… but not taking adequate measures to ensure those bugs don’t evolve resistance and then spread like wildfire.

How do I know they’re not adequate measures? Because if they were, we wouldn’t have resistance outbreaks in four states! Oh, and also the EPA called the efforts “inadequate”.

The EPA report “does throw a harsher light on the longer- term efficacy of the trait,” Chris Shaw, a New York-based analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co., told Bloomberg Businessweek.

Double fail

And Bloomberg adds that this comes on top of another fail:

Monsanto’s most advanced resistance problem is with crops engineered to tolerate its Roundup herbicide. Weeds that are no longer killed by Roundup have invaded 14 million acres of U.S. cotton, soybean and corn, according to Syngenta AG, a Swiss chemical maker. A Dow Chemical Co. study this year found as many as 20 million acres of corn and soybeans may be infested.

St. Louis Today, Monsanto’s home town newspaper, reports:

According to the EPA memo, Monsanto has not been doing investigations in enough cases because the company’s threshold for testing is too low. The scientists also concluded that the company isn’t testing samples close enough to the problem fields, and that the company may not have collected samples from all the fields where farmers reported problems.

 

Doubling down

Monsanto’s response is to double-down, pushing so-called “stacked” seeds that carry more than one genetically engineered trait. But the EPA is concerned that would just lead to even stronger superbugs.

“They’re saying that resistance will evolve more easily on the second protein,” said Bill Freese, of the Center for Food Safety.”That’s very important.”

What happens when Monsanto’s seeds fail? It’s going to be a big problem… because Monsanto has seen to it that there are no other seeds.

Monsanto now controls nearly 100% of the corn seed market in the US, after buying up or burying most of their competition.

What can you do?

Contacts:

  • Tom Vilsack – USDA Alfalfa Comments Line:  301-851-2300
  • President Obama  202-456-1111 (or send a written message online)
  • Monstanto               314-694-1000

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About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue.



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