Recent Studies Point To Concerns With Genetically Engineered Foods

(Putative Source absent 5/2015: www.scup.no/mehd/ho )

 Two recent studies point to new concerns about genetically engineered foods and crops. In the December 2 issue of the journal Nature, New York University researchers found that roots from common genetically engineered Bt corn exude the pesticide into the soil, bind with soil particles, and remain active (ie toxic) in the soil for 243 days. Dr. Charles Benbrook, former member of the National Academy of Sciences and head of Benbrook Consulting Services, believes that the NYU study is as important as an earlier study by Cornell researchers which found that pollen from genetically engineered Bt corn was toxic to the Monarch butterfly study. "What goes on underground in a field planted with today's Bt-corn varieties is largely a mystery.  Enhance the toxin levels 100- to 1,000-fold and it becomes a mystery of some consequence and immediacy, "Benbrook says. The registrations for the current wave of engineered Bt crops expire in 2001. The biotech industry will be looking for EPA approval for a new wave of Bt crops designed to address the corn root worm complex, a particularly stubborn pest which has developed a resistance to every single pest tool including crop rotation, according to Benbrook. "It's going to take a pretty high level of Bt to control them." Another study published in December issue of the international scientific journal Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease (no 4, 1999) found that the use of the Cauliflower Mosaic Viral promoter (CaMV) in the process of genetically engineering food has the potential to reactivate dormant viruses or create new viruses in all species to which it is transferred.Ca MV is found in practically all current genetically engineered crops released commercially or undergoing field trials. Its instability increases the possibility of promotion of an inappropriate over-expression of genes to the transferred species. The development of cancer may be one consequence of such inappropriate over-expression of genes. The scientists behind the research, Mae-Wan Ho, Angela Ryan, and Joe Cummins "strongly recommend that all transgenic crops containing Ca MV 35S or similar promoters should be immediately withdrawn from commercial production or open field trials. All products derived from such crops containing transgenic DNA should also be immediately withdrawn from sale and from use for human consumption or animal feed". For pre-publication full text, see:  www.scup.no/mehd/ho

 

Rodale Study Finds Organic Superior In Withstanding Drought

 

The Rodale Institute's Farming Systems Trial in Kutztown, Pa., reported that organic test plots did better than conventional plots during 1999's East Coast drought. Rodale compared soybean systems under organic and conventional management, and figures show yields of 30 bushels per acre from legume-based organic soybeans compared to only 16bushels per acre from conventionally grown crops. Pennsylvania was one of 14 states declared a drought disaster area by the U.S. Department of Agriculture this summer. Because Kutztown received only 4.4 inches of rain from June through August compared to an average of 13.4 inches in normal years, The Rodale Institute's organic soybean yield is even more impressive. Scientists at the Institute say improved soil conditions because of organic management is the reason for the strong performance. The trial's manure-based organic soybean plots also performed well above the level of conventional plots, achieving 24 bushels per acre. "Over time, organic practices encourage the soil to hold on to moisture more efficiently than conventionally managed soil," Jeff Moyer, Farm Manager at The Rodale Institute's Farming Systems Trial. "The higher content of organic matter also makes organic soil less compact so that root systems can penetrate more deeply to find moisture." In addition, organic practices reduce nitrate leaching and erosion.