Suspension of GM crops welcomed (30/10/2007)

1.Suspension of GM Crops in France Welcomed - GM Freeze
2.Bt Crops Threaten Aquatic Ecosystems - ISIS

EXTRACT: The researchers conclude that 'widespread planting of Bt crops has unexpected ecosystem-scale consequences' (item 2)


1.GM Freeze Welcomes Suspension of GM Crops in France
IMMEDIATE RELEASE 30th October 2007

GM Freeze has warmly welcomed the statement by French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, that the commercial planting of GM crops in France has been suspended.

The announcement was made at a national conference on the environment held this week [1].

Previous refusals by French governments to approve commercial licenses for GM herbicide tolerant oilseed rape allowed time for new evidence to emerge about the long term harm the crop would cause to farmland wildlife [2].

Yesterday, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas announced his intention to ban two GM maize varieties resistant to insect pest (Syngenta Bt11 maize and Pioneer’s 1507 maize) because of concerns about the Bt toxins they produce harming the non target species such as butterflies [3].

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said

'The French Government has clearly listened to concerns about the uncertainty surrounding the health and environmental safety of GM crops and we warmly welcome this announcement. It is another clear message to the biotech industry that Europe will not accept poorly tested GMOs. The Sarkozy announcement should kick start a debate on whether the GM intensive farming model is the right way forward for agriculture in Europe and the rest of the world. Many people now recognize that the long term care of the land, biodiversity and natural resources and the production of high quality food is the way forward. Let's hope Number 10 and Defra are also listening.'


Call to Pete Riley 07903 3410965


1. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7062577.stm

2. In 1997 the French Government refused to sign commercial marketing consents for two GM oilseed rape varieties produced by Plant Genetics Systems (since taken over and now part of Bayer CropScience) after a qualified vote in favour in December 1996. The Farm Scale Evaluations in the UK (1999-2003) found that GM herbicide tolerant spring and winter oilseed rape both significantly reduced the amounts of weeds and weed seeds in arable fields this reducing the supply of food for farmland birds and other species.

3. See http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBRU00606620071025


2.Bt Crops Threaten Aquatic Ecosystems
ISIS Press Release 30/10/07

Scientists find wastes from transgenic Bt corn impair growth of common aquatic insect and call on future risk assessment to include aquatic ecosystems previously overlooked. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

In 2006, 35 percent of the 33.1 million hectares of the corn planted in the United States was transgenic, modified to express the Bt toxin Cry1Ab from Bacillus thuringiensis. Bt corn is widely planted in the Midwestern US, often next to headwater streams. Yet, no environmental impact studies have been made of Bt crop by-products on stream insects such as caddisflies (trichopterans), which are common in streams, and closely related to the lepidopterans (butterflies and moths) targeted by the Cry1Ab protein in Bt corn.

As a group, the caddisflies have diverse feeding habbits. Some are filter- feeders, others scrape bioflims off submerged surfaces, and still others feed on detritus. All these caddisflies may consume Bt corn by-products.

A team of scientists led by Emma J. Rosi-Marshall at:Loyola University Chicago in Illinois have now carried out the first study on the fate of transgenic Bt corn wastes in headwater streams next to the fields and their impact on the caddisflies [1]

In laboratory trials, leaf-shredding trichopteran Lepidostoma liba fed Bt corn litter had less than half the growth rate of controls fed non Bt corn litter; while 43 percent of Helicopsyche borealis, an algal-scraping trichopteran, died when fed high concentrations of Bt corn pollen (2 to 3 times the maximum input expected during Bt corn pollen-shed) compared with 18 percent mortality in controls fed non Bt corn pollen.

In the field, 50 percent of filtering caddisflies collected during pollen-shed had pollen grains in their gut and detritus-feeding trichopterans were found in the accumulations of decomposing corn litter in the streams after harvest.

Bt crop by-products fall into the streams as pollen and detritus, they are stored in the sediment, eaten, and transported downstream, and hence their impacts could spread widely within the aquatic ecosystem.

The researchers conclude that 'widespread planting of Bt crops has unexpected ecosystem-scale consequences', and call on future assessment of potential non-target effects to be expanded to include relevant aquatic organisms such as stream insects.

They fell short of calling a halt to planting Bt corn next to streams, which would be in keeping with the evidence they have provided.


Rosi-Marxhall EJ, Tank JL, Royer TV, Whiles MR, Evans-White M, Chamgers C, Griffiths NA, Pokelsek J and Stephen ML. Toxins in transgenic crop byproducts may affect headwater stream ecosystems. PNAS 2007, 104, 16204-8.

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