Spanish GM maize protests/South African Trade Unions reject GMOs/growing resistance to Roundup herbicide/illegal crops in India (15/9/2003)

"Farmers are planting too many Roundup Ready crops" - Stephen Powles, expert on weed resistance at the University of Western Australia (item 2)

1.Spanish Protesters Invade GM Maize Fields
2.Scientists fret over weeds' growing resistance to Roundup herbicide
3.2-million-strong Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) calls for moratorium on GMOs
4.Terminator Tech In Crops, Chinese Bt Genes In Cotton Likely : Experts

WTO Derailed at "Second Seattle" in Cancún
Third World countries stand up to the U.S. and the EU as in Seattle.
1.Spanish Protesters Invade GM Maize Fields
Sat September 13, 2003

ARANJUEZ, Spain (Reuters) - Spanish farmers and ecologists  on Saturday invaded fields of genetically-modified maize to  protest against cultivation of the crop in the only European  country where it is grown on a commercial scale.

Around 80 protesters, some dressed in white suits that  mimicked the protective outfits scientists wear to clear up  biological hazards, picked corncobs, cordoned off GM plants,  unfurled banners and spray-painted slogans on walls at three GM  trial sites throughout Spain.

The protests were timed to coincide with demonstrations at  the World Trade Organization meeting in the Mexican resort of  Cancun, where agriculture has been one of the main sticking  points.

Organizers said this was the first time farmers have risked arrest by interfering with GM crops at a protest in Spain, where 20,000 hectares of genetically modified maize were  cultivated in 2002, out of a total of 460,000 sown to all  maize.

"I'm here to demonstrate my repulsion at genetically  modified crops," said one 24 year old co-operative member. "We  want to spark a debate on GM crops, because in Spain there is silence on this issue."
2.Scientists fret over weeds' growing resistance to Roundup herbicide
By Emily Gersema
The Associated Press, September 14 2003 [shortened]

"Farmers are planting too many Roundup Ready crops," said Stephen Powles, an expert on weed resistance at the University of Western Australia.

The herbicide is vital for food production systems in the United States and in many other parts of the world, Powles said. Should weed resistance become widespread, he said, "The problem will become a crisis."
In 1996, Australia was the first to note that weed resistance to glyphosate was developing in rigid ryegrass found in a few grain and sorghum fields. Five years later, South Africa reported seeing the resilient rigid ryegrass had infested a few hundred acres of vineyards.
In 2000, University of Delaware scientists reported that in some soybean fields, mare's tail was resisting glyphosate. Since then, resistant weeds been reported in Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.
Monsanto Co., which markets Roundup Ready crops in addition to the herbicide, said the problem is not nearly that severe. "Most of the situations that we're dealing with, we're dealing with very small acres," said Greg Elmore, a soybean technical manager at Monsanto. "We're not talking about a whole county. In some cases, we have one field only."
Regardless, farmers could turn to tilling and a combination of other chemicals besides glyphosate, he said.
3.2-million-strong Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) calls for moratorium on GMOs

While the South African Dept. of Agric. has capitulated to U.S. corporate interests and blindly promotes GMOs at every opportunity, the 2 million strong Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has called for a moratorium on GMOs (GM foods & crops).


36 Food safety and genetically modified/engineered organism (crops and food) [GMOs]. (FAWU)

1. The continued disagreement on the safety of Genetically Modified Organisms [GMOs] between the United States and European Union as well as some countries of the South with some in the North.

2. The continued donation of GMO maize and other food products by the US to some famine stricken African countries, and accompanying black-mail by the pro GMO camp and accusation of genie-pigs experiment by the anti GMO camp.

1. That new technologies, including GMOs and other biotechnology initiatives, needs to be tried and tested of their safety for human health and environmental protection.

2. That the masses of the famine stricken or threatened people cannot wait for very long time and at the same time should not be speedily pushed to utilizing GMOs but that reasonable time need to be set aside for research on perceived or actual aftereffects and benefits of GMOs. Resolve 1. To call on Government to place moratorium on rolling out GMO products to retail markets for consumption by human beings

2. To call on Government to adequately zone current trials on GMO experiments to limited areas and ensure adequate protection from human use and environmental application

3. To call on Government to mobilize its research agencies to join with the relevant university's departments in conducting an independent and objective research project on the efficacy, efficiency and safety of GMO, including for human consumption and environmental sustainability

4. To call on Government to reject any patenting, copy rights and other so-called intellectual property rights that accompany the introduction of these new technologies in its interaction with initiators of GMO bio-technology

5. To call on Government to convene a food safety and GMO summit in which all civil society formations in addition are invited to participate and debate the role of GMOs.

We urge everyone to send them a message of support on this issue at:

COSATU 8th National Congress: 15-18 September 2003, Johannesburg:
4.Terminator Tech In Crops, Chinese Bt Genes In Cotton Likely: Experts
Financial Express, India, Sept 15, 2003
Ashok B Sharma
New Delhi, Sept 14
Some experts in the country have started doubting the presence of Chinese Bt genes in the illegal transgenic cotton seeds being sold by Navbharat Seeds. Even some sense the presence of transgenic seeds in commercial cultivation in the country.
 One of such experts is the founder director of the Hyderabad based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Dr Pushpa M Bhargava. Speaking to FE, Dr Bhargava said "possibly the transgenic cotton seeds being distributed by Navbharat Seeds contain Bt genes developed in China. Navbharat cotton seeds may contain two types of Bt gene and that is why the crop in the initial years was more resistant to pests than that developed by the Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB)." He said that the farmers in Gujarat are prefering Navbharat Bt cotton seeds than those developed by MMB as Navbharat seeds have given better results in the initial years.
 Dr Bhargava said that the Bt genes developed in China are not yet approved in India and no crop containing more than one Bt genes has yet been approved in the country. Hence the government should be proactive in getting the Navbharat cotton seed tested in laboratories. He said that it seems certain that the Navbharat cotton seeds do not contain any Bt genes developed by Mahyco in collaboration with Monsanto as neither the Mahyco nor the Monsanto India and MMB are interested in taking any legal action against Navbharat for biopiracy.
 He cautioned that unless the government takes stringent action in time to check the illegal use of unapproved transgenic seeds, the country's agriculture will be at stake. Indicating the presence of terminator seeds in commercial cultivation in the country, Dr Bhargava said that some farmers have informed him that they are using terminator seeds (illegally produced) in cultivation. He said that already there is a video recorded cassette showing the use of terminator seeds in commercial cultivation. He said that the use of terminator seeds and unapproved transgenic seeds are frought with severe consequences as there may be gene flow to other crops in the vicinity.
 Dr Bhargava said that there are reports from China that while the incidence of bollworm on Bt cotton has decreased there has been consequent increase in other pest population affecting the crops. He said it has been found that the resistance of Bt cotton to bollworm has started declining with the subsequent generation of crops. He said that similar will be the case with the Bt cotton developed by Navbharat and MMB in India. He said that Bt cotton has failed in Andhra Pradesh as per the reports of the state government.
 The convenor of the Gene Campaign, Dr Suman Sahai has joined Dr Bhargava in criticing the performance of Bt cotton. She said that during her recent visit to many cotton growing states she had discussed with farmers and scientists and found that Bt cotton is not resistant to pink bollworm. She also cited evidences from scientific papers of I Morin, Shai, Liu, Yong-Biao, Bruce E Tabashnik, Timothy J Dennehy, Amanda L Patin and Alan C Bartlett to substantiate her point. In reply to Dr Sahai's recent comments, Ranjana Smetacek of Monsanto India said that there are several scientific evidences to prove that Bt cotton is equally resistant to pink bollworm.
 Dr Bhargava lambasted the government for approving MMB's Bt cotton seeds without any careful scrutiny and transparency. He said that intially the department of biotechnology gave permission to MMB to procure 100 grams of Bt cotton seeds from Monsanto for research. The permission for procuring Bt genes for commercial use was not sought from the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Research (NBPGR). The Review Committee on Genetic Modification (RCGM) has the powers to give permission for conductiing small scale field trials limited to one acre only, but the RCGM overstepped its limitation and gave permission to conduct field trials on one acre each in 40 locations. This is a violation of the powers vested with RCGM, he said.
 Dr Bharghava also alleged that the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) also did not act with transparency and did not make public the results of field trials conducte under its purview. He said that the GEAC while approviing Monsanto's Bt cotton seeds for commercial cultivation failed to take take into account the experience of Bt cotton in other country, particularly in Thailand and Texas in US where it has failed.
 However the CMD of the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI), Vishwa Nath seems upbeat on the performance of Bt cotton. He says that area under Bt cotton is likely to be higher this year at 1.25 lakh hectare as compared to 40,000 hectare in the previous year.

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