Media 29: BBC Today programme – why wasn’t DEFRA’s Owen Paterson asked about GM-created superweeds, resistant insects and its glyphosate herbicide’s links with several cancers?

Omissions in a presentation by Owen Paterson

In a highly selective promotion for GM agriculture, Paterson extolled India’s GM cotton, but failed to mention that the pink bollworm had become resistant to Bt cotton Gujarat in India and also in Australia, China, Spain and the United States.

He also appeared to accuse opponents of responsibility for blindness because the ‘golden rice’ was not widely adopted – in fact it has not yet been approved for use, as the International Rice Research Institute makes clear.

The truth is that children eating a varied diet, including leafy green vegetables and fruit, will have sufficient vitamin A. The real problem – never addressed – is that poor and landless families cannot afford to buy such food.

Professor Benbrook on resistant weeds: a major problem for many farmers reliant on GE crops in USA and Canada

The open-access, peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe published a study by Washington State University research professor Charles Benbrook in October 2012. It finds that the use of herbicides in the production of three genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops — cotton, soybeans and corn — has actually increased. Benbrook writes that the emergence and spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds is strongly correlated with increased herbicide use. Read his report here.

superweed chartThe agribusiness research consultancy Stratus reports that nearly half of US farms report superweeds and reproduces its line chart (left). The problem has now spread to Canada, quoting the Manitoba Co-operator’s review of the Stratus survey: “More than one million acres of Canadian farmland have glyphosate-resistant weeds growing on them.”

Experts at the University of Arizona: insect resistance to pesticides used in GM technology

Nature Biotechnology summarises the findings of a team of experts at the University of Arizona: “Analyzing data from 77 studies of 13 pest species in eight countries on five continents, the researchers found well-documented cases of field-evolved resistance to Bt crops in five major pests as of 2010, compared with only one such case in 2005. Three of the five cases are in the United States, where farmers have planted about half of the world’s Bt crop acreage”

Paterson says no-one has told him about health hazards of this technology: he should ‘do the homework’ and consult this research list

There is a huge body of research into human exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides listed here, with a few examples below: “Even at very low doses may result in reproductive and hormonal problems, miscarriages, low birth weights, birth defects, and various cancers—especially haematological cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and hormonal cancers such as breast cancer.” The most recent, published in the US Journal of Food Chemical Toxicology, links glyphosate with breast cancer, as research shows that it induces growth of human breast cancer cells.

Our government should be compelled to commission an impartial assessment of this evidence.

Owen Paterson says that these problems have not been brought to his attention. A printout of this web-post will be sent to him today, with a copy to my MP.



Posted on June 20, 2013, in Conflict of interest, Corporate political nexus, Government, Lobbying, Vested interests and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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