New report greenwashes GM crops over carbon emissions (11/3/2007)

1.'Biotech crops reduce emissions of greenhouse gas CO2'

GM WATCH comment: The growing concern over global warming has triggered 2 quite distinct responses from pro-GM lobbyists.

The first has been climate change denial. This has been the favoured response response of corporate libertarians, many of whom enjoy the financial backing of both Exxon and Monsanto. An obvious example of this would be the Monsanto/Exxon funded co-founders of AgBioWorld - the Competitive Enterprise Institute. CEI has been at the very heart of climate change denial in the US.

Other notable GM-promoting 'climate skeptics' include Dennis Avery, who's just co-authored a book on the subject, Paul Driessen, who popped up last week in Martin Durkin's 'The Great Global Warming Swindle', the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and Steve Milloy (aka the Junkman).

Among avid GM supporters actively promoting climate change denial in the UK have been the LM network, the Scientific Alliance, Philip Stott and the International Policy Network.

Other keen GM supporters, like Dick Taverne and Sense About Science, are closet skeptics who stray dangerously close to denial or are notable for their public silence on the issue.

The biotech lobby's other response to global warming has been to try and use public and governmental concern as a platform for greenwashing GM crops.

This takes two forms. The first is to say Global Warming is inevitable and only GM can breed the crops to survive the new climatic conditions - this despite the fact that GM is lagging behind conventional plant breeding when it comes to delivering drought resistant crops.

The second tactic is to claim that GM crops are reducing farming's carbon footprint. The article below provides a classic example of the latter tactic.

It's based on a study commissioned by Monsanto  from Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot of PG Economics Limited. The study - called, "GM Crops: The First 10 Years -- Global Socio-economic and Environmental Impacts" - is an updated replay of a report PG Economics produced a year earlier for Monsanto called "GM Crops: The Global Socio-economic and Environmental Impact & The First Nine Years".

The GM-supporting proprietors of PG Economic have a history of producing these kind of reports to order for the biotech industry - see http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=308
 - and they can be seriously misleading. See item 2 for examples of just how amazingly misleading in relation to global warming.
1.'Biotech crops reduce emissions of greenhouse gas CO2'
Press Trust of India, March 11 2007
New York, March 11. (PTI): Genetically Modified crops increase farm output, improve farmers' income and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study.

In 2005, biotech crops planted on 87 million hectares of land around the world reduced carbon dioxide emissions by nine billion kg, which is equivalent to removing nearly four million family cars from the road for an entire year, according to a study by Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics Limited of Dorchester, UK.

The study "GM Crops: The First 10 Years -- Global Socio-economic and Environmental Impacts" was commissioned by Monsanto, the world's leading provider of biotech crops.

Herbicide-tolerant biotech crops planted using conservation tillage practices helped to retain carbon in the soil, as plowing allows naturally occurring carbon dioxide to escape into the air, according to the study published in peer-reviewed journal AgBioForum.

Also, Insect-resistant crops dramatically reduced the need for spraying, while also significantly reducing farm fuel usage, it says.

"Simply put, biotech crops have changed the way people farm," Brookes said.

The study estimates that since their commercialisation in 1996, biotech crops have saved farmers 1,679 million litres of fuel through reduced field operations -- eliminating 4,613 million kg of carbon dioxide emissions.

Worldwide, use of biotech crops decreased the environmental impact of crop production associated with pesticide use by more than 15 per cent, the study says.

Since 1996, herbicide tolerant and insect-resistant biotech crops reduced pesticide sprayings by 224 million kg of active ingredient -- a 6.9 per cent reduction worldwide.

According to Brookes' estimates, biotech crops contributed $5 billion in net farm-level economic benefit to farmers.

Combining biotech insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant traits in corn has boosted farm income by more than $3.1 billion since the traits' introductions, Brookes says.

According to a forecast by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, biotech crops will be under cultivation in 40 countries by 2015 with at least 20 million farmers planting 200 million acres annually.
[based on] http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=5825

Monsanto has commissioned a report from PG Economics Ltd. The report was written by the company's directors: Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot. Barfoot also heads an organisation called Bioportfolio which has the motto: 'Serving the biotechnology industry' and both Brookes and Barfoot have a long and controversial history of producing reports that do exactly that.

A paper summarising the new report has also been published by the Journal of Agrobiotechnology Management & Economics (aka AgBioForum). Although this is being presented to journalists as a peer reviewed journal, it has the well known pro-GM lobbyist CS Prakash on its board and it is funded by the Illinois-Missouri Biotechnology Alliance whose purpose is "to fund biotechnology research... directed at expanding the volume of profitable businesses in the US food and agricultural sector".

The science in the new report is somewhat less than impressive. It's not even clear where half of their figures come from. Most of the references are presentations at biotech conferences and unpublished articles and very few appear to have been peer reviewed. Some of the cited papers

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