Daily News Archives
From January 21, 2005
Respond to Industry Funded GM Study
(Beyond Pesticides, January 21, 2005) A recently released
study funded by the biotechnology industry has aroused environmentalists
to speak out on the dangers that GM crops pose. The study, Management
Of GM Herbicide-tolerant Sugar Beet For Spring And Autumn Environmental
Benefit, was funded in 2001 and 2002 by a consortium of GM industry
interests, the Association of Biotechnology Companies (ABC).
The research team studied the effect of genetically modified sugar beets
on wildlife, in the midst of criticism that GM crops harm insects, birds
and other wildlife. They studied timing of herbicide application and
the effect of leaving weeds between crop rows. The researchers concluded
that “some genetically-modified crops can be managed in a way
that is beneficial to wildlife,” according to BBC
Year Freeze Campaign said the research showed different management
approaches would leave farmland wildlife short of food at some stage
of the year. Five Year Freeze Campaign Director Pete Riley stated, "The
choices offered by GM sugar beet cropping appear to offer farmland birds
three options: insufficient food throughout the year, early season food
or autumn food. We doubt that this last ditch attempt to save GM sugar
beet will have much credibility with regulators or farmers."
Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner Emily Diamand stated, "This
research, funded by the biotech industry, is a desperate attempt to
counter detailed Government research showing that growing GM sugar beet
would have a disastrous impact on farmland wildlife. Overall, the results
do not appear to show biodiversity benefits from growing GM crops, yet
they have been spun to give a different impression. GM crops remain
a threat to our food, farming and environment, no matter how the biotech
industry tries to sell it".
Friends of the Earth
points out the weaknesses to this study:
- The Farm Scale
Evaluation (FSE) trials have already shown that growing GM beet will
have a negative impact on farmland wildlife. In the FSEs, farmers
grew the crops and applied the herbicides as they normally would in
commercial practice - this gives a much better indication of the true
impact of growing these crops than this latest study does.
- This study was
funded by the biotech industry.
- Some of the
plots treated by band spraying glyphosate (spraying in strips 20cm
wide) produced more weed seeds in the summer, but not in the autumn.
The plots using a single spray of glyphosate produced more weed seeds
in the autumn, but not in the summer. So to produce more weed seeds
in summer and autumn (providing food for farmland birds) would need
two separate GM crop management schemes.
- The researchers
claim that GM crops provide more flexibility for farmers, but in fact
these management techniques are so complicated and intricate that
it is very unlikely that farmers will ever undertake them commercially.
- The study used
so many different variations of treatments of the glyphosate herbicide,
and not many replications of each treatment, that it is difficult
to draw robust conclusions from the results - the statistical validity
ACTION: To learn more about genetically engineered crops,
and their effect on health and the environment, see Beyond Pesticides’
Genetic Engineering Program Page. You
can help protect our land and food from genetically engineered ingredients
and crops by buying USDA
certified organic products. Lobby your supermarket to label GM food,
and support local efforts to prohibit growing GM crops.