Friday, December 05, 2003

"facts" &c.
Seriously, it's time to give up the claim that GM crops are bad for your health: "After months of risk assessment scientists at Europe's first food safety agency have given the green light to Monsanto's herbicide-tolerant GM maize. NK 60 is as safe as conventional maize, they declare" [Food Navigator]. Obviously, new varieties will have to be tested as they are developed, but there is nothing inherently dangerous (to human health) about the technology. People who are still trying to scare people with this claim are doing all of us a disservice.

Contrariwise, the oft-alleged benefit of pesticide reduction by GM crops has been revealed to be, um, disingenuous:

The planting of 550 million acres of genetically engineered (GE) corn, soybeans and cotton in the United States since 1996 has increased pesticide use by about 50 million pounds, according to a report released today by the Northwest Science and Environmental Policy Center....

Substantial increases in herbicide use on �Herbicide Tolerant� (HT) crops, especially soybeans, accounted for the increase in pesticide use on GE acres compared to acres planted to conventional plant varieties. Many farmers have had to spray incrementally more herbicides on GE acres in order to keep up with shifts in weeds toward tougher-to-control species, coupled with the emergence of genetic resistance in certain weed populations....

The report concludes that the other major category of GE crops, corn and cotton engineered to produce the natural insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in plant cells, continues to reduce insecticide use by 2 million to 2.5 million pounds annually. The increase in herbicide use on HT crop acres, however, far exceeds the modest reductions in insecticide use on acres planted to Bt crops, especially since 2001.

Try to focus, people.

12/11: Also, GM corn in cattle feed has identical results as normal corn.

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