News

2017-12-14 |

Human exposure to glyphosate increased 500 percent since GM crop introduction in the US

Glyphosate is a key ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup. Use of this herbicide has increased approximately 15-fold since 1994 when GM Roundup Ready (RR) glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced. Used mainly on RR soy and corn, glyphosate is also sprayed on a substantial portion of wheat and oats grown in the US. In July 2017, glyphosate was listed by California as a carcinogen, following the WHO cancer research agency’s classification as glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” to humans.

A study by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine (report published in the journal JAMA) compared urine excretion levels of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in 100 people living in a Southern California community who provided samples during five clinic visits that took place over a 23-year timespan between 1993 to 1996 and 2014 to 2016, starting just before the introduction of GM crops in the US.

The study found that prior to the introduction of GM foods, very few people had detectable levels of glyphosate, but as of 2016, 70% of the study cohort had detectable levels, an increase of approximately 500%. Among this 70%, the mean level of glyphosate increased from 0.203 μg/L in 1993-1996 to 0.449 μg/L in 2014-2016 while the mean level of AMPA went up from 0.168 μg/L in 1993-1996 to 0.401 μg/L in 2014-2016.

2017-12-14 |

Latest Monsanto GMO seeds raises worries of monopoly

Now some farmers say they are being forced to use the new GMO seeds to guard against dicamba.

Nathan Reed, a farmer in Marianna, Arkansas, whose crops were damaged by dicamba from fields more than two miles away, worries about his business.

"We use overwhelmingly non GMOs, not because we are anti-GMO but because we found some niche markets," Reed said at a public meeting last month. "We are in the business of making money, just like Monsanto is."

"It is going to put that ability at risk for us," he said.

Farming states Missouri, Minnesota and North Dakota have imposed restrictions on dicamba, though they permit farmers to use the herbicide one or two times at the start of the season.

2017-12-14 |

Playing God: are we prepared to use gene drive technology?

New biotech advancement allows scientists to reduce and even eradicate certain species, such as weeds or disease-causing insects, prompting a significant environmental debate.

It’s a technology with incredible potential.
It’s a technology with tremendous risks.
It might put an end to malaria.
It might eliminate the need for insecticides and possibly herbicides.
It could also have tragic consequences for bats and birds.
It could have unpredictable impacts on entire ecosystems.

The technology is called gene drive.

“It is arguably the genetic technology with more social, ethical and policy implications than any other to emerge in the last decade,” Sally Otto, a University of British Columbia zoologist, wrote on the Royal Society of Canada website.

2017-12-12 |

This Is How Badly Monsanto Wants Farmers to Spray Its Problematic Herbicide

Why is Monsanto offering such a sweet deal on its dicamba mix? It’s probably not what the company had in mind when it broke ground on a $975 million expansion of its dicamba plant in Luling, La., earlier this year.

The answer likely lies in the more than 3.6 million acres of non-dicamba-tolerant soybeans that the US Environmental Protection Agency reports were damaged by wayward dicamba applications during the 2017 growing season. In addition, the EPA notes, off-target dicamba hit a variety of fruit and vegetable crops, as well as residential gardens, trees, and shrubs.

2017-12-12 |

Native seeds are key to food security

For better agricultural performance, focus must be on inculcating better farming practices. Farmers must be encouraged to return to zero-budget farming, where they use their own desi seeds

In recent years, enlightened Indian farmers have begun to rethink the suitability of farming practices that involve injecting poison into the earth via fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides, and create problems of soil fertility, soil texture, soil preservation and erosion. There is a pervasive sentiment that unless the current system of intensive and uncontrolled use of chemical inputs is reversed, soil quality will worsen and our centuries-old agricultural biodiversity will be lost forever.

Chemical inputs have permeated our food-chain with deleterious impact on public health, which have not been adequately studied scientifically. But the cumulative loss due to growing expenditure on public health, insecticide resistance, crop-loss, bird-loss, pollution of ground water and pollinator decline runs into billions of dollars.

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