The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left out

Gathered together in one place, for easy access, an agglomeration of writings and images relevant to the Rapeutation phenomenon.

Re: The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left

Postby admin » Sun Jan 24, 2016 8:40 am

More Illnesses Linked to Bt Crops
by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho



Further evidence has emerged on the link between common transgenic proteins and serious allergic reactions while regulators turn a deaf ear and approve yet more planting.

A fully referenced version of this articles is posted on ISIS members’ website. Details here

The same transgenic proteins implicated in two different GM crops

We recently reported illnesses and deaths among villagers of south Mindanao in the Philippines that are suspected of being linked to the genetically modified ‘Bt’ maize with an insecticidal protein from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis [1] (“GM ban long overdue, five deaths and dozens ill in the Philippines”, SiS 29).

Since then, similar illnesses are reported to have occurred in Madhya Pradesh, central India, as a result of exposure to ‘Bt’ cotton genetically modified with the same or similar insecticidal protein(s).

India began commercial planting of Bt cotton in 2002/03 with 38 038 ha (0.78 percent of hybrid area), increasing to 6.4 percent and 11.65 percent respectively in 2003/4 and 2004/5. Currently, nearly 9 million ha of cotton is grown in India, 2.8 million hybrid cotton.

Madhya Pradesh is India’s fifth largest cotton producing state, with Malwa and Nimad the main cotton growing regions. The Bt cotton varieties planted were developed by Monsanto, and carry the insecticidal Cry1Ac protein (Bollgard) or both Cry1Ac and Cry1Ab proteins (Bollgard II), according to an article on the industry’s website [2].

Farmers from the Nimad region in Western Madhya Pradesh began complaining of health hazards after Bt cotton was planted. This prompted a three-member team representing a coalition of non-government organisations to carry out a preliminary survey in six villages in Nimad region between October and December 2005.

Similar symptoms

The team interviewed 23 of the farm and factory workers who fell ill after having handled Bt cotton. All had itching skin, 20 had eruptions on the body, and 13 had swollen faces. In some cases, the itching was so bad that they had to discontinue work, or take anti-allergy medicine in order to be able to work.

The survey resulted in a report which concluded [3]: “All the evidence gathered during the investigation shows that Bt has been causing skin, upper respiratory tract and eye allergy among persons exposed to cotton... The allergy is not restricted to farm labourers involved in picking cotton but has affected labourers involved in loading and unloading Bt from villages to market, those involved in its weighing, labourers working in ginning factories, people who carried out other operations in the field of Bt cotton, or farmers who stored cotton in their homes etc.”

The team consisted of Dr. Ashish Gupta of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (People’s Health Movement, India); Ashish Mandloi, a graduate of Barwani College working with Narmada Bachao Anolan (Save Narmada River Movement) and associate of the National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements; and Amulya Nidhi, a health activist working in Maharastra and Madhya Pradesh specializing in Urban and Rural community Development, and associated with Shilpi Trust and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan.

The survey covered 6 villages in the Barwani and Dhar districts of Nimad region in Madhya Pradesh, interviewing various groups of people involved in handling cotton - women picking cotton, labourers loading-unloading cotton, ginning factory workers - as well as a local doctor and an agricultural scientist.

Allergy symptoms in farm workers and other workers handling Bt cotton

The team found allergy symptoms in people in direct contact with Bt cotton on their hands, feet, face, in their eyes and nose, with some becoming “very severely ill.”

The skin was the most common site of allergy: itching, redness, eruptions and swelling. Typically, after the first 4-5 hours of exposure, most people complained of itching on the face and the hand. Soon, the itching increased and by the time they finish the day’s work, they had redness on the hands and face and swelling of the face. After continued exposure of one to two days, small white eruptions would appear, most often on the face. The symptoms began to subside after varying periods from four to five days up to five to six months, but black discolouration would show on the skin.

The people affected did not have previous history of allergies even though they were involved in picking cotton earlier.

Those who had more severe symptoms of the skin tend also to have associated allergies of eyes and respiratory tract. Eye irritation, involving itching, redness, swelling and watery eyes affected 11 of the 23 individuals; 9 had upper respiratory symptoms of watering from the nose and excessive sneezing. Three had mild symptoms, while 10 each had severe and moderate symptoms respectively.

One woman had to be removed from the fields and taken to Barwani District Hospital where she remained for 9 days.

Cotton fibre appeared to be causing the allergy. (In the case of the Bt maize in the Philippines, the pollen was suspected to be the main culprit.) The owner of the ginning factory Mr. Sunil Patidar said that symptoms like itching, redness of eyes, watering of eyes and cough were found in labourers in his factory. Most of the labourers were having problems, and the year before, it was even more prevalent. He said that was why labourers were not ready to unload the cotton-loaded truck from Maharastra.

The labourers working in different ginning factories said itching of the whole body was very common, and only when they took Tab. Avil (a common anti-allergy medicine) every day were they able to work.

Kalibai of Kothra said she has been working for 20 years picking cotton and never had any symptoms until 2004, when she suffered very bad allergy from picking Bt cotton.

Dr. Ramesh Jar of Saigaon, Ayurvedic doctor, has been practicing in Aawli, Tal Thikri in District Barwani. He said he has already received around 150 cases of allergy from two villages of Aawli and Saigaon in 2005. In 2004, he had around 100 cases. He is prescribing Dexona injection and Levocetrigen for skin and anti allergic drops for eyes.

Dr. Debashish Baner, an agricultural scientist, thinks that Bt cotton produces Bt toxin in all tissues including cotton fibres.

The team is demanding a government enquiry; but that seems to have fallen on deaf ears so far.

Bt bacteria and spores were previously linked to allergic reactions

Bt toxins come from the soil bacterium Bacilllus thuringiensis (Bt), common strains of which produce a large family of insecticide Cry proteins each targeting a different range of insect pests. Strains of Bt have been used as sprays to control insect pests in the United States for many years before transgenic Bt crops were created.

A study published in 1999 funded by the US Environment Protection Agency found that exposure to the Bt sprays “may lead to allergic skin sensitisation and induction of IgE and IgG antibodies or both” [5].

Farm workers who picked vegetables that required Bt spraying were evaluated before and after exposure to Bt spray, and one and four months afterwards. Two groups of low, and medium exposure workers not directly exposed to Bt spray, but working at different distances from the sprayed fields were also assessed. Investigations included questionnaires, nasal/mouth lavages, assessment of ventilatory function, and skin tests. To authenticate exposure to the organism present in the commercial preparation, bacteria isolated from lavage specimens were tested for Bt genes by DNA-DNA hybridisation. Blood immunoglobulin G and IgE responses to spore and vegetative Bt extracts were assayed.

Positive skin-prick tests to several spore extracts were seen chiefly in exposed workers. In particular, there was a significant increase in the number of positive skin tests to spore extracts one and four months after exposure to Bt spray. The number of positive skin test responses was also significantly greater in high- than in low- or medium-exposure group of workers. The majority of nasal lavage cultures from exposed workers was positive for the commercial Bt organism as demonstrated by specific molecular genetic probes. Specific IgE antibodies were present in more workers from the high-exposure group than from low- and medium-exposure groups. Specific IgG antibodies also occurred more frequently in the high- than in the low-exposure group.

In a previous public health survey of a large number of individuals exposed to a massive Bt pesticide spraying programme [6], some of the symptoms recorded include rash and deep swelling. One worker developed inflammation of the skin, itching, swelling and reddening of the skin with redness of the eyes. Bt was cultured from the red eyes.

In 1992, Bt was used in an Asian gypsy moth control programme, and was found to be associated with classical allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal mucosa) symptoms, exacerbations of asthma, and skin reactions among exposed individuals reporting possible health effects after the spraying operations [7]. Similar findings occurred during another Bt spraying in the spring of 1994 [8].

Allergens trigger 75 percent of asthma cases

Allergenicity is of particular concern because approximately 75 percent of asthma cases are triggered by allergens [9] and illnesses and deaths due to asthma have rocketed in recent years. Asthma deaths tripled in the United States from 1 674 in 1977 to 5 438 in 1998. The costs of asthma doubled from $6.2 billion in 1990 to $12.7 billion in 2000 [10].

Bt crops were first introduced in the United States in 1996, and have expanded substantially in acreage since, with little or no further research on the toxicity or allergenicity of the Cry proteins released in greater and greater abundance into the environment. Limited studies carried out by a research team in Cuba showed that Cry1Ac is a powerful immunogen, and when fed to mice, induced antibody responses similar to those obtained with the cholera toxin. Furthermore, Cry1Ac actively binds to the inner surface of the mouse small intestine, especially to the ‘brush border’ membranes on the cells lining the small intestine [11].

It has also been shown that all the Cry proteins in Bt crops have amino acid sequence similarities to known allergens [12-14], and are hence potential allergens.

Regulators are guilty of gross negligence

Meanwhile, the biotech industry has been aggressively promoting GM crops worldwide, especially those with Bt biopesticide and in developing countries like India and the Philippines. The latest survey carried out by the industry-funded group ISAAA claims that the global area given over to GM crops has increased from 81 million ha in 2004 to 90 million ha in 2005 [15]. Bt crops now comprise 29 percent of the total (18 percent Bt, and 11 percent stacked Bt and herbicide tolerance).

Regulators continue to approve Bt crops, despite the fact that successive surveys carried out both by scientists and by non-government organisations have demonstrated that Bt crops have failed to match the performance of local varieties [16] and farmers who bought into the aggressive propaganda have ended up in debt, and worse, suicide [17-18], so much so that an “agrarian crisis” was declared in Maharastra.

The latest evidence of serious health impacts linked to Bt crops comes in corroboration of previous findings dating back to the 1980s that should have halted the development and approval of Bt crops then.

By now, it is simply gross negligence not to impose a ban on further releases of Bt crops until they have been proven safe by a thoroughly independent enquiry.
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Re: The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left

Postby admin » Sun Jan 24, 2016 8:42 am

GM Cotton Fiascos Around the World
by Rhea Gala



A fully referenced version of this article is posted on ISIS members’ website. Details here

GM cotton not environmentally friendly or safe

Cotton is responsible for more than 10% of world pesticide use including some of the most hazardous, and 25% of all insecticide use. As weeds and insects become resistant, more and more pesticides are needed in a vicious circle that’s a recipe for socio-economic, health and environmental disaster. About half of the GM cotton grown in the United States is herbicide resistant, and a comprehensive analysis by Dr. Charles Benbrook, a former Executive Director of the Board on Agriculture of the US National Academy of Science, confirmed that it required more herbicide than conventional varieties.

Most GM cotton crops worldwide are engineered with Bt for resistance to insect pests and promoted by firms like Monsanto as environmentally friendly, because they need less pesticide.

Monsanto’s GM cotton ‘Bollgard’ carries the cry1Ac gene from soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, (Bt) to produce a toxin that kills some cotton pests including the boll weevil. However, Bollgard does not resist sucking pests, such as aphids, that might also damage the crop and will therefore require subsidiary spraying.

GM cotton not friendly to farmers

GM cottonseed prices include a ‘technology fee’ that can go up every year, and is calculated on supposed savings from reduced pesticide use with the Bt variety in a particular location.

All farmers growing Monsanto’s Bt cotton sign a contract, called a Technology Use Agreement that is strictly applied. It stipulates that,

• Farmers cannot save seed for replanting
• Farmers are prohibited from supplying seed to anyone else
• Farmers must pay 120 times the technology fee, plus the legal fees of Monsanto, if they violate the contract.

The Indonesian experience: A cautionary tale

Indonesia was the first country in Southeast Asia to permit commercial GM farming against the warnings of scientists and activists on the environmental and socio-economic impacts. Fortunately, permission was granted only on a year-by-year basis, and the government reviewed the impact of the failed Bt crop.

The review was scathing. This "Gene Revolution", it said, seemed to be "a modern tool for cementing farmers’ dependence on seeds and transnational agrochemical corporations appearing in developing countries in different guises." The evidence from Indonesia is that "GM crops are nothing more than a profit-motivated deployment of scientific power dedicated to sucking the blood of farmers."

Monsanto promised Bt cotton would return 3-4 tonnes of cotton per hectare while requiring less pesticide and fertilizer than Kanesia, the local cotton variety. The seed was given to farmers with pesticide, herbicide, (including Roundup) and fertilizer as part of a credit scheme costing sixteen times more than non-Bt cotton. In fact, the average yield was 1.1 tonnes per hectare and 74% of the area planted to Bt-cotton produced less than one tonne per hectare. About 522 hectares experienced total crop failure. Despite that, the government extended approval for Bt cotton for another year; and the results were no better.

In 2001 farmers signed contracts, but in 2002 the seed price rose and the cotton price slumped. Farmers had no choice but to shoulder the debt and sell at the company’s rate; as a result, 76% of farmers who joined the credit scheme couldn’t repay their debt and many burned their cotton in protest against the government and the company (see "Broken promises", SiS 22

In 2003, Monsanto halted operations saying that the Indonesian Government’s decision to authorize Bt cotton production on a year-by-year basis had been a big obstacle to business investment. PT Monagro Kimia, a Monsanto subsidiary, was under investigation by the US Department of Justice and the Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission on suspicion that a payment of US$ 50 000 was made to Indonesian officials in 2002.

In January 2005, Monsanto was found guilty of authorising the bribe and fined $1.5m (see "GM cotton: corruption, hype, half-truths and lies", this series).

Bt cotton in India: Lessons not learned

Bt cotton entered commercial production in India in 2002 without comprehensive assessment for detrimental effects, and despite fierce protests by farmers and public interest organizations. Only six of India’s 29 states in the south and the west of the country have had permission to plant Monsanto’s Bt cotton. Four strains of Bt seed were available with at least one Indian variant of the licensed Monsanto varieties.

A 2002 study of Bt cotton in the Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh found a 35% reduction in the total yield of Bt cotton with a net loss of Rs 1295, compared to a net profit of Rs 5368 for non-Bt cotton. Bt cotton yield was 50% lower than that promised by Monsanto. Bollworm were predominant on both Bt and non-Bt crops showing that Bt cotton was ineffective against its target pest.

In 2003, there was 30% more rainfall than in 2002, and a new Bt hybrid compared favourably with the previous year; however it was still 9% less profitable than the non-Bt hybrids.

In 2004, farmers in the state of Andhra Pradesh grew Bt cotton on 10% of the cotton acreage. Half of the farmers growing Bt cotton bought licensed seed from Monsanto at 1 500 rupees per 400 gm packet, while the other half bought unauthorised hybrid Bt seed at between Rs 800 to 1 200 per packet. Non-Bt hybrid seed cost farmers about Rs 400.

Farmers found that, with fluctuating weather as in 2002, much of the crop showed signs of wilt, and although some Bt cotton recovered from severe moisture stress, the yield was very poor compared to non-Bt types; also the yield from the unlicensed Bt cotton was better than Monsanto’s seed because drought tolerant females had been chosen for crossing to produce the hybrid. Monsanto is now demanding royalties of 70% from these seed producers.

Many Bt plants were small with few bolls that were infested with bollworm and other pests, including cercospora leaf spot, so the cotton had been neither high-yielding nor resistant to bollworm as promised by Monsanto. On 12 October, hundreds of farmers in Warangal district protested on the streets where the seed and pesticide dealer shops were located and demanded compensation for their losses, staging a sit-in on the highway. A second protest took place two days later when senior officials promised to attend; a Monsanto official was subsequently kidnapped. Meanwhile there has been a bumper harvest in non-GM cotton.

Bt cotton in China

Monsanto received a permit in 1997 for commercial production of Bt cotton in China and has since shared the Bt cotton market with domestically developed varieties that have expanded quickly over the country’s cotton-growing area.

China has been held up as the success story in GM cotton, and is the key to statistics claiming benefit for small farmers from GM. However, earlier warnings of major problems have now been confirmed by a Chinese researcher who reports that the technology will not only be useless within six to seven years, but "could cause a disaster". Liu Xiaofeng, a researcher from Henan, China’s second largest cotton producing province, told Reuters that the cotton bollworm is indeed developing resistance and will not be susceptible to Bt cotton after 20-30 generations, or in six to seven years. Moreover, Bt cotton does not effectively control secondary pests such as Lygus bug.

The early warnings appeared in a study published in June 2002 based on the work of scientists at a research institute funded by China’s Environmental Protection Agency. It found that although Bt cotton was effective in bollworm control, it had adverse impacts on the parasitic natural enemies of bollworm, and was not effective in controlling many secondary pests that damaged the crop. The study also found the diversity indices of the insect community in Bt cotton fields to be lower than in conventional cotton fields, and that the cotton bollworm could develop resistance to Bt cotton.

Liu’s work has received further collaboration by another study published in October 2004, which found that Bt cotton did not reduce the total numbers of insecticide sprays because additional sprays were required against sucking pests.

Field trials in Africa

South Africa, already the sixth biggest producer of GM crops in the world, grows Bt cotton on large and small commercial scales, extolling the benefits to small farmers in spite of the serious debts incurred.

Although there is a glut of cotton in the world market and depressed prices caused by US subsidies to their own growers worth $3.7 b per annum, the US government and the world’s biggest agrochemical companies are putting pressure on West African countries to introduce Bt cotton, the ‘trojan horse’ for other GM crops waiting in the wings. In West Africa there are wild relatives of cotton that may be contaminated, but in the US, GM cotton is prohibited in Florida where wild relatives grow.

In November 2003, USAID, with the official support of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, declared that it wants to ‘GM-ize’ Africa.

Mali’s National Agricultural Research Institute has been negotiating with Monsanto and Syngenta for field trials of Bt cotton. There is a plan to convert the country’s crop to GM varieties over the next five years; local farmers and the public are unaware of this intention. West African farmers, already unable to sell enough natural cotton because of subsidies, are locked into a cycle of poverty with credit against next years harvest.

• Burkino Faso has been field-testing Bt cotton since July 2003 in collaboration with Monsanto. But Francois Traore, president of the National Union of Cotton Producers, says, "If we already have the means to reduce pesticide use, why look for things that are going to complicate life?"
• Benin has had a moratorium on GM products since March 2002, but is under constant pressure to introduce Bt cotton.
• Senegal ran an unofficial field trial of Monsanto’s Bt cotton, but efforts were abandoned after the cotton failed to perform.
• Egypt has a pro GM policy with field trials underway for Bt cotton and many other crops.
• Kenya has many research institutes pushing GM crops, and research on GM cotton is under way.
• Uganda has just published its first biosafety policy bill, which has yet to be made law by parliament, however it is expected to take up Bt cotton soon.
• Zimbabwe: The government destroyed some unsupervised field trials of Bt cotton conducted by Monsanto some years ago.

The Americas

In the US, home of Monsanto’s Bollgard first planted in 1996, there have been problems with erratic and disappointing yield, especially in Southeast Arkansas where costs were significantly higher on Bt acreage. In 2002, despite the use of supplementary pesticides, 7.5% of the Bt crop was destroyed by bollworm and 1.4% destroyed by Spodoptera and Pseudoplusia includens caterpillars. The total insecticide use has remained relatively stable due to the increasing importance of secondary pests; it is lower in dry states such as Texas, but increasing in the Mississippi delta.

Research on Bollgard cotton adopted in North Carolina, conducted between 1996-2003 by Jack Bacheler, North Carolina State University Extension entomologist found changes in insect communities, and that while damage from bollworms decreased, stink bug problems have increased.

In 2004, Bt cotton was grown in nine states and comprised more than 75% of all cotton grown. Most varieties are Roundup Ready (RR) or RR and Bt combined [1]. The proposed ‘technology fee for Bollgard II was US $99 ha in 2004, this is to be added to the seed price.

Bt cotton is also grown in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Columbia. In Columbia the vice-president of the biosafety council works for Monsanto and was thus able to both apply for and grant permission for release of a Bt crop in an area that is a centre of origin for some wild cotton species. Moreover, the pest responsible for 70% of pesticide use on cotton is the picudo, which is not targeted by Monsanto’s cotton. The small farmer will once again lose out due to this folly.

Overproduction of cotton devastating the environment and destroying poor farmers

World overproduction of cotton, a crop that degrades the environment by escalating requirement for pesticide, demand on scarce water resources and exhaustion of soil, is a subject for serious concern in its own right. Large commercial plantings - which attract subsidies in rich countries - create monoculture deserts and distort world markets. As a result, the poor producer in the south, who has traditionally grown a crop of one or two hectares, descends into a spiral of debt. The aggressive introduction of GM cotton will exacerbate all the problems of the conventional crop and, in developing countries, nullify centuries of successful local crop breeding by farmers, destroying their autonomy and control of seed, their livelihoods and cultural traditions.
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Re: The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left

Postby admin » Sun Jan 24, 2016 8:44 am

Transgenic Cotton Offers No Advantage: May decrease income by up to 40 percent or more.
by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Prof. Peter Saunders



The use of transgenic cotton does not provide increased returns to the farmer. This is the conclusion of a 4-year study reported in Agronomy Journal by researchers at the University of Georgia and the US Department of Agriculture [1].

The researchers grew a number of different cultivars of cotton at two locations in the state of Georgia. The transgenic varieties consisted of two main traits, herbicide tolerance and Bt biopesticides, alone and variously combined (stacked); they were

1. Bollgard (B), expressing the Bt toxin Cry1Ac from soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis to control the cotton bollworm

2. Bollgard II (B2) expressing two different Bt toxins, Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab, to delay the evolution of pest resistance

3. Roundup Ready (RR), tolerant to glyphosate herbicide;

4. Bollgard/Roundup Ready (BR)

5. BollgardII/Roundup Ready (B2R)

6. Liberty Link (LL), tolerant to herbicide glufosinate

Five different non-transgenic cotton cultivars were also grown. Each cultivar, whether transgenic or not, was managed to maximise profit, as consistent with practices recommended by the University of Georgia.

The results showed that “no transgenic technology system produced significantly greater returns than a non-transgenic system in any year or location.” The returns are dominated by yields, and could be reduced by 30-40 percent, as in 2004 at one of the two locations, when the non-transgenic variety produced a return of $1274.81 per ha compared with $858.73 for BR, $737.41 for B2R, and $876.14 for LL.

In some cases, the production costs for transgenic varieties (e.g. the cost of applying pesticides) were lower, but this was only enough to compensate for the higher cost of the seeds and technology fees. Choosing the right variety was important, which means that many farmers could improve their returns with more appropriate non-transgenic varieties rather than by adopting transgenic cotton. This will, however, be more difficult in future because seed companies are reducing the number of non-transgenic varieties they offer for sale.

The authors remarked that the high investment for transgenic crops before any yield is realised is a predicament for growers. That is true even in the US, and all the more so in the Third World, where farmers typically have no reserves to draw on. They must borrow to buy the seeds in the hope of paying back the loan from the proceeds of the harvest. A poor harvest or a low price can mean disaster. The authors also commented that a benefit often attributed to transgenic crops is that they allow farms to operate with fewer workers; but this is unlikely to be an advantage in the Third World where farms are small and labour costs are much less.

It is a pity that the researchers have not included organically managed cotton in their study, because it is clearly a much better option. Persistent and massive crop failures of transgenic cotton have contributed substantially to the worsening epidemic of suicides among farmers in India, where a timely return to organic cotton growing is saving lives, and turning despair into hope [2-4] (Organic Cotton Beats Bt Cotton in India, SiS 27; Message from Andra Predesh:Return to organic cotton & avoid the Bt cotton trap, SiS 29; Stem Farmers’ Suicides with Organic Farming, SiS 32).

Across the world, people are becoming aware that pesticide poisoning and devastation of the natural ecosystem are too high a price to pay for conventional cotton, and are opting, not for transgenic cotton, but for organic cotton [5] (Picking Cotton Carefully, SiS 34). World organic cotton supply has been growing at the average rate of 50 percent over the past 6 years (see Chapter 21 of Food Futures Now *Organic *Sustainable *Fossil Fuel Free [5]). It is not too late for cotton farmers in the US to get out of the transgenic cotton trap.


1. Jost P, Shurley D, Culpepper S, Roberts P, Nichols R, Reeves J and Anthony S. Economic Comparison of transgenic and montransgenic cotton production systems in Georgia. Agronomy Journal 2008, 100, 42-51. (doi:10.2134/agronj2006.0259)

2. Gala R. Organic cotton beats Bt cotton. Science in Society 27, 49-50, 2005.

3. Gala R. Return to organic cotton & avoid the Bt-cotton trap. Science in Society 29, 38-39, 2006.

4. Burcher S. Stem farmers’ suicides with organic farming, Science in Society 32, 42-43+46, 2007.

5. Ho MW, Burcher S, Lim LC, et al. Food Futures Now, Organic, Sustainable, Fossil Fuel Free, ISIS TWN, London & Penang, 2008.
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Re: The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left

Postby admin » Sun Jan 24, 2016 8:46 am

Scientists Confirm Failures of Bt-Crops: Ineffective against insect pests, harmful to health and biodiversity, yield drag, pest resistance.
by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho



A fully referenced version of this paper is posted on ISIS members’ website. Details here

Farmers were first

Scientific studies from many countries have now backed up what farmers have known for years, that Bt crops – genetically engineered with Bt toxin proteins from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis targeted at insect pests - often failed to protect against pest attacks, and have other problems as well.

Scientists in India, China and the United States found that the levels of Bt toxin produced by Bt crops vary substantially in different parts of the plant and in the course of the growing season, and are often insufficient to kill the targeted pests. This could lead to greater use of pesticides, and accelerate the evolution of pest resistance to the Bt toxin. Pest resistance to a Bt toxin has indeed arisen in the field in Australia.

The Bt toxins are a family of similar Cry proteins identified by numbers and letters. Each Cry protein differs somewhat in amino acid sequence and targets specific pests.


Scientists at the Central Institute of Cotton Research studied Bt cotton hybrids approved for commercial planting in India: Bollgard-MECH-12, Bollgard-MECH-162, Bollgard-MECH-184, Bollgard-RCH-2, Bollgard-RCH-20, Bollgard-RCH-134, Bollgard-RCH-138 and Bollgard-RCH-144. All the varieties were created by using Indian parent-varieties to which the crylAc gene was introduced from the Bt-cotton variety, Coker 312, ultimately derived from transformation event MON531 (Monsanto).

The researchers found that the amount of Cry1Ac protein varied across the varieties and between different plant parts. The leaves had the highest levels; whereas the levels in the boll-rind, square bud and ovary of flowers were clearly inadequate to fully protect the fruiting parts producing the cotton bolls. Increasing numbers of armyworm (Helicopverpa armigera) larvae survived as toxin levels went below 1.8 mg /g wet weight of the plant parts. Thus, a critical level of 1.9 mg/g was needed to kill all the pests. Regardless of plant varieties, the level of toxin decreased with the age of the plant, though the decrease was more rapid in some hybrids than in others. By 110 days, Cry1Ac expression decreased to less than 0.47mg/g in all hybrids.

In a separate study, scientists at the same institute tested the susceptibility of an insect pest from different regions in India to Bt toxin [2]. They took samples of larvae of the spotted bollworm, Earias vitella from 27 sites in 19 cotton-growing districts of North, Central and South India during the 2002 and 2003 cropping seasons and tested their susceptibility to Cry 1Ac toxin protein purified from E. coli strains expressing the recombinant protein. The LC50 - the concentration killing 50 percent of the larvae – of Cry1Ac ranged from 0.006 to 0.105 mg/ml. There was a 17.5 fold overall variability in susceptibility among the districts. The highest variability of 17.5 fold was recorded from districts of South India. The variability in pest susceptibility, like the variable expression of the Cry1A proteins in Bt crops, will reduce the efficacy of Bt pest control.

However, using recombinant CrylA proteins from bacteria to test for susceptibility in pests can be entirely misleading (see below).


A study was carried out in the Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing on two Bt cotton varieties: GK19, with a Cry1Ac/Cry1Ab fused gene, developed by the Biotechnology Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and BG1560, with a Cry1Ac gene, supplied by Monsanto [3]. The test site was in Tianmen County, Hubei Province, an intensive planting area in the middle of the Yantze River valley. The results showed that the toxin content in the Bt cotton varieties changed significantly over time, depending on the part of the plant, the growth stage and the variety. Generally, the toxin protein was expressed at high levels during the early stages of growth, declined in mid-season, and rebounded late in the season. In line with the study in India, the scientists found that the toxin content in leaf, square, petal and stamens were generally much high than those in the ovule and the boll. The researchers pointed out that such variability in toxin expression could accelerate the development of pest resistance to the toxin.


Scientists at the Southern Insect Management Research Unit of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) studied both Bt maize hybrids expressing Cry1Ab (such as event MON810) and Bt cotton varieties expressing Cry1Ac (such as event MON531) [4].

They found that Cry1Ab was variable depending on location in the same leaf as well as between leaves at different stage of growth. The tips of maize leaf at the V7 stage had a higher concentration compared with the middle section of the leaf, and the middle section of the V9 leaf had the lowest concentration. Also, the green tissues richest in chlorophyll had the highest toxin levels, the yellow-green tissues with reduce chlorophyll had less, and the white-yellow tissues poorest in chlorophyll had the least. The weight of fall armyworm larvae measured at day 5 of feeding showed a decrease that was significantly correlated with the amount of toxin present in the plant material, while there was 100 percent mortality in the southwestern corn borer larvae regardless of the level of toxin in the plant tissues.
In the Bt cotton, the level of CrylAc was significantly lower in boll tips where flowers had remained attached, compared with normal boll tips. Boll tips where the flowers remained attached are often the sites at which corn earworms, Helicopverpa zea (Boddie) penetrate Bt cotton bolls. In both Bt maize and Bt cotton, tissues that had low chlorophyll content also had reduced Cry1A proteins.

The US Environment Protection Agency recommends planting a certain percent of crop area with non-Bt varieties to serve as ‘refuge’, in order to ensure that enough susceptible insects are produced to limit the evolution of resistance. An important requirement for the refuge strategy to work effectively is a high level of expression of the toxin, so heterozygous insects (those with one copy of resistance gene) will fail to survive to reproduce. Thus, any reduction from high toxin levels will compromise the refuge strategy and the effectiveness of Cry1A proteins in pest control.

Researchers at the University of Arizona Tucson and the Arizona Cotton Research and Protection Council, Phoenix had found a “surprisingly high” frequency (0.16) of the Cry1Ac resistance gene in field populations of the pink bollworm in Arizona in 1997, which did not appear to increase further as expected in 1998 or 1999 [5]. However, the tests were done with the recombinant Cry1Ac protein produced in the bacterium, Pseudomonas fluroescens, and not from the Bt cotton plant, and could be giving entirely misleading results on the evolution of resistance in the field (“No Bt resistance?” SiS20) [6].

Bt resistance in Australia

A population of the Australian cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera – the most important agricultural pest in Australia as well as China, India and Africa - has developed resistance to Cry1Ac at 275-times the level that would have killed the non-resistant insect [7]. Some 70 percent of the resistant larvae were able to survive on Bt cotton expressing Cry1Ac (Ingard). The resistance is inherited as an autosomal semi-dominant trait (the heterozygote with one copy of the resistance gene is half as resistant as the homozygotes with two copies of the resistance gene).

Bt cotton varieties expressing Cry1Ac (Ingard) have been grown in Australia to control the cotton bollworm since 1996, and a new variety containing both Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab was commercially released in late 2003. Resistance monitoring in Australia and China had suggested that pest susceptibility to Cry1Ac was declining in the field. In 2001, a strain of cotton bollworm was isolated from the survivors in the New South Wales and Queensland monitoring programme that appeared to be resistant to Cry1Ac. The researchers have now confirmed the findings, and attributed the high level of resistance to a 3- to 12-fold over-expression of an enzyme, serine protease, which binds avidly to Cry1Ac toxin, preventing it from acting, and possibly, detoxifying it by breaking it down.

Canadian scientists find yield and economic disadvantage in Bt maize

Researchers at the Eastern Cereal and Oilseed Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, carried out a field experiment over three years to compare commercial corn hybrids with their corresponding Bt-hybrids belonging to the Monsanto and Syngenta [8]. They found that some of the Bt hybrids took 2-3 additional days to reach silking and maturity and produced a similar or up to 12 percent lower grain yields, with 3-5 percent higher grain moisture content at maturity in comparisons with their non-Bt counterparts. Higher grain moisture content increases drying cost. Bt hybrid seeds also have a $25-30 premium per ha.

The economic disadvantages are dwarfed in comparison with impacts on biodiversity and human and animal health that have been known for years, however (see below: also“Bt risks negligible” SiS 2002, 13/14).

Bt maize more woody

It has been known for some time that genetic modification is full of pitfalls, among which are many unintended effects. A paper published in 2001 [9] reported that the content of lignin (woody substances) was high by 33 to 97 percent in the Bt maize varieties tested: Bt11, Bt176 and Mon810. Now, researchers at environmental and agricultural institutes in Leipzig, Aachen and Muncheberg, Germany, and the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, have confirmed increases in lignin in two Bt maize lines, Novelis (event MON00810-6, from Monsanto) and Valmont (event SYN-EV176-9, from Syngenta), compared with their respective isogenic varieties, Nobilis and Prelude, all grown under identical conditions [10]. The increases in lignin are more modest, and are restricted to the stems of the plants: Novelis by 28 percent over Nobilis, and Valmont by 18 percent over Prelude.

Increase in lignin content will impact on the digestibility of the plant for livestock, it also decreases the rate at which the plant material break down, affecting nutrient recycling, the soil microbial community, and soil carbon balance.

Intriguingly, an earlier report has also found increased lignin in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soya, genetically modified to be tolerant to the herbicide Roundup [11], which caused the stem to split open in hot climate and crop losses of up to 40 percent.

These results suggest that genetic modification per se may be increasing lignin content, perhaps as a response to metabolic stress from the high levels of transgene expression driven by aggressive viral promoters.

Impacts on biodiversity and health

Bt toxins are known to harm beneficial/endangered insect species and soil decomposers [12]:

• Pollen from Bt-maize was lethal to the larvae of the monarch butterfly.
• Increased mortality of lacewing larvae fed on artificial diet containing Bt-maize or on corn-borer larvae that had eaten Bt-corn.
• Bt sprays used to reduce caterpillars in forests led to fewer black-throated blue warbler nests.
• A parasite of corn-borers, Macrocentris cingulum, was found to be reduced in Bt-cornfields compared with non-Bt corn fields.
• One preparation of Bt (var. tenebrionis), reported to be specific for Coleoptera, caused significant mortality in domestic bees.
• Soil-dwelling collembola, Folsomia candida, an important decomposer, suffered significant mortality from transgenic maize with Cry1Ab.
• Bt not only remains in the soil with Bt-plant debris, it is actively exuded from the plant roots where it binds to soil particles and persists for 180 days or more, so its effects on soil decomposers and other beneficial arthropods may be extensive.

Bt-toxins are actual and potential allergens for human beings. Field workers exposed to Bt spray experienced allergic skin sensitization and induction of IgE and IgG antibodies to the spray [13]. Recombinant Cry1Ac protoxin was found to be a potent mucosal immunogen, as potent as cholera toxin [14]. A Bt strain that caused severe human necrosis (tissue death) killed mice infected through the nose within 8 hours, from clinical toxic-shock syndrome [15]. Both Bt protein and Bt-potato harmed mice in feeding experiments [16]. All Bt-toxins along with many other transgenic proteins exhibit similarities to known allergens and are hence suspected allergens until proven otherwise (“Are transgenic proteins allergenic?” SiS 25) [17-19].

Recently, much publicity has been given to a report from scientists in Portugal published in the house journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, because it claimed “lack of allergenicity of transgenic maize and soya samples” [20].

A careful reading of the report reveals, however, that the researchers had no evidence that the small number of subjects they tested have ever been exposed to transgenic maize and soya. They wrote: “Bearing in mind that since 1998 all the GM products under testing were approved for commercialisation in the European Union.., we assumed that consumption of maize and soya food-derived products implied a consumption of GM soya and maize.” (emphasis added). Moreover, the tests performed were limited to skin pricks and IgE antibodies, both known to be limited in reliability [21]. Most of all, there are many allergies that do not involve IgE antibodies [22].

Nevertheless, the researchers stated, “In this study we did not obtain any differential positive results, which allows us to conclude that the transgenic products under testing seem to be safe regarding their allergenic potential.” (emphasis added).
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Re: The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left

Postby admin » Sun Jan 24, 2016 8:48 am

No Bt Resistance?
by Prof. Joe Cummins



Prof. Joe Cummins questions the recent report that there has been no Bt resistance outbreaks

Worldwide, over 62 million hectares have been planted with Bt crops – GM crops engineered with Bt toxins from soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis - and proponents have expressed pleased surprise that Bt resistant insects do not seem to have evolved [1,2]. But there’s more than meets the eye.

Bt toxins do not represent a single gene product but are products of different genes, variants of which are present in different strains of the bacterium. Bacillus thuringiensis is fairly common in soil and creek beds, but the varieties capable of strong insect control are rare and valuable. Strains containing multiple unique toxins are designated israelensis (Bti), kurstaki (Btk), azaiwai (Bta), tenbrionis (Btt) sotto (Bts), and entomocidus (Bte), etc. The strains are differently specific for insects of the Order Lepidoptera, Diptera or Coleoptera. The individual isolated toxin proteins are designated CryI, CryII , CryIII or CryIV, but each of these may require further identification related to small sequence differences. For example, .a toxin may be designated CryIA(b), CryIIIA, CryIVD, etc. [3]. Genes for the toxins introduced into a crop plant are usually altered to enhance their activity. Some codons are modified to those preferred by plants in contrast to bacteria. Usually, an intron is introduced into the bacterial gene to enhance rapid translocation from the plant nucleus to the cytoplasm. Examples of alterations of Cry genes to enhance activity are included in patents [4,5].

Insects evolve resistant to individual Cry toxins and cross-resistance appears to be limited. Resistance is most frequently due to nuclear genes, rather than cytoplasmic genes encoded by chloroplasts and mitochondria. Resistance can be recessive, requiring two copies of the resistance allele (variant of a gene) to give protection against Bt toxin; dominant, requiring only one copy of the resistance allele to give full protection against Bt toxin; or incompletely recessive, where one copy of the allele gives partial protection. Incompletely recessive alleles are recessive at high toxin levels but become dominant as the toxin level decreases [6,7].

The specificity of resistance to Bt toxin is demonstrated in laboratory experiments with the cotton bollworm. Resistant bollworm thrives on a diet containing Cry as well as on cotton modified with a gene for Cry1Ac. But this resistant bollworm was susceptible to commercial Bt spore formulations Dipel and XenTari, which contains multiple toxins. The bollworm was resistant to Cry1Ab but not to Cry2Aa or Cry 2Ab [8].

Thus, although millions of hectares have been planted with Bt crops, the target for developing Bt resistance is much smaller because there are many different Bt toxins to which the insects must develop resistance independently. In theory, a devastating resistance to all Bt toxins could evolve, but this has not yet been observed in laboratory or field experiments. A non-recessive Cry1Ac-resistant mutant of tobacco budworm showed cross-resistance to a wide array of Bt toxins [9], but such mutations are infrequent.

As mentioned above [1,2], there have been no outbreaks of resistant pests in Bt crops, although such outbreaks have been observed in sprayed populations of diamond back moth, and many laboratory experiments produced Bt-resistant insects [10].

Bt toxins kill by binding to target sites in cell membranes of the mid-gut and disrupt the membranes. One prominent mutation in resistant bollworm involves cadherin, an adhesion protein that binds together cells in solid tissue, thereby preventing disruption of the gut cells [10]. Recently, incomplete recessive alleles of Cry1Ac and Cry2Aa have been identified in bollworm during screening of Bt-cotton crops [11]. Apparently, the finding was not considered an "outbreak", even though it could be the start of one.

To stave off the impending threat of resistance outbreaks, regulators have introduced the ‘refuge’ strategy, the planting of non-Bt crops to prevent or slow the evolution of resistance. The refuge strategy is based on the assumption that resistance will be recessive, so sensitive heterozygotes will die from consuming Bt crop. If the mutation is dominant or or incompletely recessive, resistance will spread despite the refuge.

Greenhouse tests showed that the refuge could prevent the spread of resistant mutants if it was maintained as a block of non-Bt crop, rather than as a mixed crop of Bt and non Bt plants [12]. Regulators in North America have set a minimum of 20% non-Bt crop in block-planting.

The introduction of the refuge has meant that farmers would have to deal with the potential of 20% of their crops becoming infested, so regulators allowed the refuge to be sprayed with pesticide. In a position paper produced by the Environment Protection Agency and the United States Department of Agriculture, it states that [13], "In corn growing areas (no cotton), growers should plant a minimum of 20% non-Bt corn to serve as a refuge. In areas where European corn borer (ECB), southwestern corn borer (SWCB), corn earworm (CEW), or other target lepidopteran pests have historically been high, insecticide treatment of the refuge is anticipated."

Academics have lent their authority to affirm that spraying the refuge with pesticide was necessary to control emerging resistance [14,15]. It seems clear, however, that regulators not only permit, but positively encourage pesticide spraying over not just the refuge but the entire crop [13]. The refuge strategy is really a "double whammy" strategy! And yet, the pesticide spray is hardly mentioned in government documents promoting refuges [16], or in numerous academic publications on resistance management or in association with the "miraculous" absence of Bt-resistance outbreaks.

That there have been no reported major outbreaks of Bt resistant insects in the millions of hectares of Bt crop planted may be due to two major factors that have been overlooked. The first is the numerous unique Bt alleles used in Bt-crops, and the second is the simultaneous deployment of chemical pesticide sprays in the non-Bt refuge as well as on Bt-crops.


1. Tabashnik B, Carriere T, Denneity T, Morin S, Sisterson M, Roush R, Shelton A and Zhao J. Insect resistance to transgenic BT crops : Lessons from the laboratory and field. J Econ Entomol 2003, 96, 1031-8.
2. Fox J. Resistance to Bt toxin surprisingly absent from pests. Nature Biotech 2003, 21,458-9.
3. Bauer L. Resistance: A threat to the insecticidal crystal proteins of Bacillus thuringiensis. Florida entomologist 1995, vol?78, 414-44
4. Baum J, Gilmer A and Mettus A. Lepidopteran resistant transgenic plants. United States Patent 2001, 6,313,378B1 pp1-151
5. Carrozi N, Rabe S, Miles P, Waren G, and DeHaan P. "ovel insecticidal toxins derived from Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal crystal proteins. World Intelectual Property Organization 2002, WO02/15701 A2 pp1-130.
6. Liu Y, Tabashnik B, Meyer S, Carriere Y and Bartlett A. Genetics of Pink Bollworm resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis toxin Cry1Ac. J Econ Entomol 2001, 94, 248-52.
7. Tabashnik B, Liu Y, Dennehy T, Sims M, Sisterson M, Biggs R and Carriere Y Inheritance of resistance to Bt toxin Cry 1Ac in a field derived strain of pink bollworm (Lepidoptera:Gelechiidae). J Econ Entomol 2002, 95,1018-26.
8. Akhurst R, James W, Bird L, and Beard C. Resistance to the Cry 1 Ac delta endotoxin of Bacillus thuringiensis in the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). J. Econ Entomol 2003, 96,1290-9.
9. Gould F, Martinez-Ramirez A, Anderson A, Fere J, Silva F and Moar W. Broad spectrum resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis toxins in Heliothis virescens. Proc. Natnl. Acad Sci USA 1992, 89,7986-90.
10. Morin S, Bigs R, Sisterson M et al. Three cadherin alleles associated with resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis in pink bollworm"PNAS 2003, 100, 5004-9.
11. Burd A, Gould F, Bradley J, VanDuyn J and Moar W. Estimated frequency of non recessive Bt resistance genes in Bollworm,Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) (Lepidoptera:Notuidae) in eastern North Carolina, J Econ Entomol 2003, 96,137-42.
12. Tang J, Collins H, Metz E, Earle E, Zhoa J, Roush R. and Shelton A. Greenhouse tests on resistance management of Bt transgenic plants using refuge strategies. J Econ Entomol 2001, 94,240-7.
13. EPA and USDA Position Paper "EPA and USDA position on resistance management" 1999 ... 7may99.htm
14. Ives A and Andow D. Evolution of resistance to Bt crops: directional selection in structured environments. Ecology Letters 2002, 5,792-801.
15. Onstad D, Guse C, Porter P, Ruschman L, Higgins R, Sloderbeck P, Peairs (spelling?OK) F and Cronholm G. Modeling the development of resistance by stalk boring Lepidopteran Insects (Crambidae) in areas with transgenic corn and frequent pesticide use. J Econ Entomol 2003, 95,1033-43
16. Macdonald P and Yarrow S. Regulation of Bt crops in Canada. J Invertebrate Pathology 2003, 83, 93-9.
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Re: The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left

Postby admin » Sun Jan 24, 2016 8:52 am

Deadly gift from Monsanto to India
by Ram Kalaspurkar
organic farmer, Vidarbha Organic Farmers Association, Yavatmal, Maharashtra, India



To follow up on your articles, Organic Cotton Beats Bt Cotton in India ( SiS 27) and Message from Andra Predesh:Return to organic cotton & avoid the Bt cotton trap ( SiS 29), I enclose photographs of mealy bugs infested cotton plants in the demonstration plots of different seed companies in Vidarbha: Ganga Kavari, Paras Bbhrahma, and Banny. All of the plots have the Bollgard label. These mealy bugs have never been in our region on any plants before Bt cotton was introduced. I learned about the devastation of cotton in China two years ago. This alerted me to photograph and video the demonstration plots regularly. So, anybody can say with confidence now that the mealy bug has entered Vidarbha cotton fields through the Bt cottonseed.

Now when the cotton plants have died, the mealy bug is shifting to nearby plants. By mid June, farmers will go for the new cotton crop or plant another crop. But before that, the bug will have multiplied like any thing. It has shifted to Congress weed nearby, and many other weeds and plants in gardens.

At the same time I am studying the sudden death of plants. The new generation cotton seeds, called ‘Research Hybrid seeds'; are all male sterile. In short, they are terminator seeds; and proven by the high-level government committee in 1993. I have the report of it. The breeder then published an article advising farmers that they should not use the F2 seeds of such hybrids, as the plants coming out of them are 100 percent sterile. Your article, Killing Fields Near You ( ISIS News 7/8) confirmed this for me.

I am an organic farmer residing at Yavatmal in the state of Maharashtra. Our organisation, Vidarbha Organic Farmers Association, has been propagating organic farming since 1994. We have been helped a lot by Dr Vandana Shiva. She was the first person to tell us about about terminators. Right now, we are working for her organisation Navdanya.
Ram Kalaspurkar , organic farmer, Vidarbha Organic Farmers Association, Yavatmal, Maharashtra, India

Bt cotton plant infested with mealy bugs

Close-up of big mealy bug on Bt cotton plant

Other plant infested with mealy bug
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Re: The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left

Postby admin » Sun Jan 24, 2016 9:01 am

Food Futures Now: *Organic *Sustainable *Fossil Fuel Free
by Mae-Wan Ho, Sam Burcher, Lim Li Ching & others
March, 2008




How organic agriculture and localised food (and energy) systems can potentially compensate for all greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities and free us from fossil fuels

Most compelling! A succinct and pithy appraisal of the current state of the planet - and just the right resolutions.”

Sir Julian Rose , a leading exponent of organic farming, Chair of the Association of Rural Businesses

This excellent and timely report makes clear how vital it is that we make the right choices on how to produce and distribute our food in tackling climate change, and what those choices should be.

Dr. Caroline Lucas , Member of the European Parliament


• The largest single study in the world in Ethiopia shows composting gives 30 percent more crop yields than chemical fertilizers
• Scientists, too, find organic out yields conventional agriculture by a factor of 1.3, and green manure alone could provide all nitrogen needs
• Local farmers in Sahel defied the dire predictions of scientists and policy-makers by greening the desert and creating a haven of trees
• Organic urban agriculture feeds Cuba without fossil fuels
• Organic agriculture and localised food systems mitigate 30 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and save one-sixth of energy consumption
• Anaerobic digestion of farm and food wastes in zero-emission food and energy farms could boost total energy savings to 49.7 percent and greenhouse gas savings to 54 percent
• Cleaner, safer environment, greater biodiversity, more nutritious healthier foods
• Higher income and independence for farmers, more employment opportunities
• Regenerate local economies, revitalize local, indigenous knowledge, create social wealth.


Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and it is accelerating, says the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, released 17 November 2007. Eleven of the past twelve years are among the warmest since records began. Sea levels are rising faster than predicted. Heavy rains, droughts and heat waves are more frequent, and happening over larger areas of the globe. Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh two days earlier leaving a death toll of more than 10 000 and rising, a dramatic enactment of the “increase in intense tropical cyclone activity.”

It will be much worse as the century progresses, IPCC predicts, and has “very high confidence” that human activities are to blame, most of all, in burning fossil fuels. The annual growth rate of CO2 in the atmosphere has jumped from an average of 1.4 ppm a year since 1960 to 1.9 ppm over the past ten years.

The good news is we can do a lot to mitigate global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. IPCC tells us that keeping CO2 levels down to the most stringent levels will cost less than 0.16 percent of Global GDP a year up to 2030. Surprisingly, however, IPPC has failed to mention organic agriculture or sustainable food systems in mitigating climate change.

That is why Food Futures Now is so timely. It documents how organic, sustainable agriculture and localised food (and energy) systems can potentially compensate for all greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity and free us entirely from fossil fuels. It is a unique combination of the latest scientific analyses, case studies on farmer-led research, and especially farmers' own experiences and innovations that often confound academic scientists wedded to outmoded and obsolete theories. There is a welcome mix of practical know-how and new theoretical concepts to put things in the broadest perspective.

This volume is the second report of ISIS' “Sustainable World Initiative”, launched April 2005, to “make our food system sustainable, ameliorate climate change and guarantee food security for all.” We produced the first report, Which Energy? [1] in 2006, when it became clear that sustainable energy use is also a key issue, as fossil energies are depleting and demand for unsustainable “biofuels” is threatening food security and accelerating climate change. In that report, we made 18 recommendations for a mixture of renewable energy options at the medium, small, and micro-generation levels, including biogas from anaerobic digestion of biological wastes, solar and wind power. We ruled out nuclear energy, any energy-intensive extraction of fossil fuels or carbon capture and storage process that extends our dependence on fossil fuels, and energy crops for biofuels (unless they are shown to be truly sustainable).

We also recommended organic, low input sustainable farming for mitigating climate change, especially integrated food and energy production, with emphasis on the use of local resources, and consumption at the point of production.

The present volume is an extended, in-depth argument for this option, also touching on the transformation of the dominant knowledge system it entails.

I hope everyone will read it, policy-makers and citizens alike, scientists, farmers and the general public. Food Futures Now is a manual for social revolution to a post-fossil fuel economy that will restore the good life to all.

Mae-Wan Ho

February 2008



1 - Why We Need Organic Sustainable Food Systems Now

A global shift to sustainable food systems is urgently needed if we are to survive global warming, failing harvests, falling water tables and fossil fuels shortage
Sustainable food systems offer many synergistic benefits for tackling climate change, improving health and the environment and reducing poverty and inequality

2 - Beware the Doubly Green Revolution

The fake moral crusade to feed the world with genetically modified crops promoted as the second “Doubly Green Revolution” is doing even more damage than the first

The bad genetics involved has failed the test in science and in the real world

3 - Sustainable Agriculture: Critical Ecological, Social & Economic Issues

Major changes in international aid, financial and trade policies are needed if agriculture is to be truly sustainable

4 - Agriculture without Farmers

EU, US and WTO agricultural policies are sweeping farmers off the land, creating poverty and threatening world food security

5 - Biofuels = Biodevastation, Hunger & False Carbon Credits

A mandatory certification scheme for biofuels is needed to protect the earth's most sensitive forest ecosystems, to stabilise climate and to safeguard our food security

6 - Save Our Seeds

New threats from genetic engineering to the world's gene banks highlights the importance of in situ conservation and seed saving in local communities for sustainable food systems and food security

7 - Organic Boom Around the World

Challenges of Certification and Corporate Makeover

Certification is costly and complex and the organic food system is being taken over by food corporations that undermine its traditional values

8 - The Real Costs of Food Miles

Behind the statistics is a globalised food trade that's exacerbating poverty and climate change

Local food systems must be supported if we are to feed the world

Overall Benefits

9 - Scientists Find Organic Agriculture Can Feed the World & More

Comprehensive study gives the lie to claims that organic agriculture cannot feed the world because it gives low yields and there is insufficient organic fertilizer

Organic agriculture gives higher yields overall for the world

10 - FAO Promotes Organic Agriculture

FAO Report says organic farming fights hunger, tackles climate change, good for farmers, consumers and the environment

11 - Greening Ethiopia for Food Security & end Poverty

A remarkable project reversing the ecological and social damages of the Green Revolution that have locked the country in poverty

The world's largest single study of its kind now shows that composting increases yields two to three-fold and outperforms chemical fertilizers by more than 30 percent

12 - Organic Cuba without Fossil Fuels

Cuba's experience has opened our eyes to agriculture without fossil fuels, a possibility rapidly turning into a necessity for mitigating climate change as world production of petroleum has also peaked

13 - Organic Yields on Par with Conventional and Ahead During Drought Years, but Health and Environment Benefit Most

A long-term farm trial in the US comparing organic and conventional management comes out in favour of organic in all respects, with the greatest benefits for health and the environment

14 - Organic Cotton Beats Bt Cotton in India

Organic cotton from indigenous varieties incomparably superior to genetically modified Bt cotton in all respects

Agronomic Benefits

15 - Organic Production Works Soon after Conversion

A study shows organic production outperforms conventional in crop yield, soil fertility, pest reduction and economic return, soon after conversion from conventional

16 - System of Rice Intensification Increases Yields

The first reality check of a low-input rice-growing system turned out very favourable, and more successes documented since

17 - Brother Paul's Organic Cotton and Vegetable Farm

Jesuit brother broke all the rules he learned in agricultural college and showed how to bring food security to the world

Environment and Health Benefits

18 - Cleaner Healthier Environment for All

Organic agriculture greatly reduces environmental pollution from nitrates and pesticides, increases agricultural and natural biodiversity, improves health for plants, animals and people, and urgently needed for saving the honeybee

19 - Mitigating Climate Change

Organic, sustainable agriculture that localize food systems has the potential to mitigate nearly a third of global greenhouse gas emissions and save one-sixth of global energy use

20 - Organic Farms Make Healthy Produce Make Healthy People

Organic foods are richer in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that protect against cancer and degenerative diseases, and relatively free from harmful chemicals and additives that cause diseases

21 - Picking Cotton Carefully

Cotton is known as “white gold” in some parts of the world, but the price in pesticide poisonings and the decimation of ecosystems is too high to pay; a shift to organic cotton farming should be made mandatory

Socioeconomic Benefits

22 - Socially Sustainable Production

Evidence shows that production for local and national markets that puts farmers first increases productivity and food security, reduces poverty and hunger, and results in preserving rural life and economies while benefiting health and the environment

23 - Stem Farmers' Suicides with Organic Farming

Amid a rising epidemic of farmers' suicides in India, an organic farmer appeals to the father of the Green Revolution to embrace organic agriculture

24 - Organic Farmer Who Values His Freedom Above All

Moses & Mary Mulenga work hard on their organic farm and is richly rewarded in ways other than simply financial

Special Practices and Systems

25 - Greening the Desert. How Farmers in Sahel Confound Scientists

Scientists are catching up with farmers on how local knowledge and cooperation can work miracles

26 - One Bird Ten Thousand Treasures

Ducklings in paddy fields turned weeds to resources and increases yield and leisure for farmers

27 - Fantastic Rice Yield Fact or Fantasy

A low-input rice cultivation system invented in Madagascar and spreading all over the world is apparently exposed as without scientific basis, not so; the scientists are ignorant

28 - Saving the World with Biodynamic Farming

The importance of marginal farmers in India using an emergent agricultural knowledge system against the corporate takeover of farms

29 - Food for Thought

A small, diverse and self-sufficient farm in Britain that means to set an example for the rest of the country

30 - Multiple Uses of Forests

A global trend away from monoculture tree plantations towards multiple uses of native forests is good for conserving forest ecosystems, but progress is hampered by a dominant paradigm that treats forests like cornfields

31 - Sustainable Polycultures for Asia and Europe

Agro-forestry and other polycultures increase productivity and sustainability

32 - Circular Economy of the Pond-Dyke System

A land-water farming system developed over the past two thousand years offer strong support for the idea that a sustainable system operate in closed cycles like an organisms

33 - Dream Farm

Abundantly productive farms with zero input and zero emission powered by waste-gobbling bugs and human ingenuity

34 - Dream Farm 2: Organic Sustainable and Fossil Fuel Free

How to offset all anthropogenic carbon emissions and use no fossil fuels

An integrated food and energy farm to beat climate change and a path to social revolution
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Re: The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left

Postby admin » Sun Jan 24, 2016 9:06 am

Beware the New “Doubly Green Revolution”: The fake moral crusade to feed the world with genetically modified crops promoted as the second “Doubly Green Revolution” is doing even more damage than the first. The bad genetics involved in has failed the test in science and in the real world.
by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho



A fully referenced version of this article is posted on ISIS members’ website. Details here

An electronic version of this report, or any other ISIS report, with full references, can be sent to you via e-mail for a donation of £3.50. Please e-mail the title of the report to:

Bad genetics kills

When James Watson, who shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for the double-helix structure of DNA, came to the UK in October 2007 to promote his new book and autobiography, Avoid Boring People: Lessons From A Life In Science, he sparked outrage among fellow scientists. He said to a newspaper reporter that [1] he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africans” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really.” That was not the first time Watson abused his position to promote what the Federation of American Scientists condemned as “personal prejudices that are racist, vicious and unsupported by science” [2]. On a previous occasion, he suggested that people with low IQ had genes for stupidity, and he would like to prevent them from being born or give them gene therapy [3] (Why Genomics Won't Deliver, SiS 26).

Within a week of this latest transgression, Watson was suspended, and subsequently resigned, from his post as chancellor of the prestigious Cold Spring Harbour Molecular Biology Laboratory.

Nonetheless, it was precisely such eugenicist, genetic determinist propaganda that Watson had used so effectively in promoting the Human Genome Project in the 1980s. And if anything significant had come out of sequencing the human and other genomes, it was to explode the myth of genetic determinism once and for all [4] (see Living with the Fluid Genome, ISIS publication). Some of us had been arguing all along that genes and environment are inseparable well before the Human Genome Project was conceived. The surprise is how readily the environment could specifically mark and change genes and genomes to influence later generations. ‘The inheritance of acquired characters’ is nowhere as evident as in molecular genetics [5] (see Life After the Central Dogma series, SiS 24). It is part of the ecological genetics of the ‘fluid genome’ emerging since the 1980s that has made genetic determinism obsolete [4]. Unfortunately, our political leaders are still being ill advised by famous scientists adhering to the old discredited paradigm.

Another Nobel laureate (Nobel Peace Price 1970) who should know his genetics better is Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution. The Green Revolution was a reductionist approach to agriculture based on using genetics to breed genetically uniform high yielding varieties (HYVs), which has brought short-term increases in crop yields, but at tremendous environmental and social costs.

Borlaug has persisted in promoting this failed approach, especially in its later incarnation of genetically modified (GM) crops, as made clear in a Nature editorial published in October 2007, “Feeding a hungry world” [6].

Far from suffering disgrace, Borlaug is showered with awards, the most recent being the US Congressional Gold Medal, America’s highest civilian honour [7]. At the presentation event, M.S. Swaminathan, father of the Green Revolution in India, gave the keynote address.

India, meanwhile, is caught in a worsening epidemic of farmers’ suicide. Its agricultural minister acknowledged in the Indian Parliament that an estimated 100 000 farmers have taken their own lives between 1993 and 2003. The introduction GM crops to the country has escalated the suicides to 16 000 a year [7] (Stem Farmers’ Suicides with Organic Farming, SiS 32).

Borlaug is doing a great deal more damage to the world than Watson based on their bad genetics. The difference is that while Watson is now a liability in attracting grants and investments for genomics and related post-human genome endeavours, Borlaug serves as the ideal mouthpiece for the biotech industry’s fake moral crusade of feeding the world under the banner of the second, “doubly-green” revolution of genetically modified crops.

Lessons from the Green Revolution

The failures of the Green Revolution are widely acknowledged [8], and even by Swaminathan himself [9], who referred to “a fatigue” of the Green Revolution: a sharp drop in the yield of grain per unit of fertilizer applied as well as a drop in yield. In India, grain yield per unit of fertilizer applied decreased by two-thirds during the Green Revolution years. And the same has happened elsewhere.

Between 1970 and 2000, the annual growth of fertilizer use on Asian rice has been 3 to 40 times the growth of rice yields [8]. In Central Luzon, Philippines, rice yield increased 13 percent during the 1980s, but came at the price of a 21 percent increase in fertilizer use. In the Central Plains, yield went up only 6.5 percent, while fertilizer use rose 24 percent and pesticides jumped by 53 percent. In West Java, a 23 percent yield increase was accomplished by 65 and 69 percent increases in fertilizers and pesticides respectively.

However, it is the absolute drop in yields despite high inputs of fertilizer that finally punctured the Green Revolution bubble. By the 1990s, after dramatic increases in the early stages of the Green Revolution, yields began falling. In Central Luzon, Philippines, rice yields rose steadily during the 1970s, peaked in the early 1980s, and have been dropping gradually since. Similar patterns emerged for rice-wheat systems in India and Nepal.

Where yields were not actually declining, the rate of growth has been slowing
rapidly or leveling off, as documented in China, North Korea, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Since 2000, yields have fallen further, to the extent that in six out of the past seven years, world grain production has fallen below consumption. And consumption is increasing not as much by growing population as by by rising demand for biofuels in recent years [10] (see Chapter x). As a result, world grain stocks have dropped to their lowest since records began 30 years ago, and food prices have shot up worldwide.

The Green Revolution was an industrial style agriculture that packaged HYVs with fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation. And given optimum inputs, these HYVs did indeed increase yields dramatically, especially in the short term. In the longer term, Green Revolution agriculture depleted and degraded the soil, yields fall even as more and more fertilizers are used. Similarly, pests develop resistance to pesticides, and greater amounts have to be applied. Farmers and the general public become increasingly at risk from the toxic effects of pesticides and fertilizers that contaminate ground water.

At the same time, heavy irrigation resulted in widespread salination of agricultural land, while aquifers are pumped dry. It is estimated that 6 percent of India’s agricultural land has been made useless as a result of salination [8], and nearly a fifth of the sub-continent is withdrawing more water than is being replaced by rain [11]. In the Punjab, home of the Green Revolution, nearly 80 percent of groundwater is now “overexploited or critical.”

The high costs of fertilizer and pesticide put small farmers at a disadvantage right from the start, driving them off the land while big farmers grow bigger, thereby deepening the divide between rich and poor.

But even for those farmers who manage to keep going, the spiralling costs of more fertilizers and pesticides, and diminishing income due to falling yields, or massive crop failures from drought, pests, and diseases, to which the genetically uniform HYVs are especially susceptible, soon plunged farmers deeper and deeper into debt. For many of these farmers, the only exit from debt is suicide. This sorry tale has been told over and over again [12].

It is clear that the Green Revolution’s success in raising yields has failed to reduce poverty or hunger. India’s 26 m ton grain surplus in 2006 could feed the 320 million hungry people in its population, but starving villagers are too poor to buy the food produced in their own countryside [11].

The Green Revolution also led to the loss of indigenous agricultural biodiversity. This severely compromises food security for small farmers, as the indigenous varieties are more resistant to pest, disease, and drought than the genetically uniform HYVs. Monoculture HYVs also reduce the nutritional value of foods as soils become depleted of essential micronutrients. In Bangladesh, the promotion of Green Revolution rice led to a loss of nearly 7 000 traditional rice varieties and many fish species. In the Philippines, more than 300 traditional varieties disappeared.

Instead of learning from the failures of the Green Revolution, Borlaug, Swaminathan, and the biotech industry are offering the world a second “doubly green” revolution [8] in GM crops, and they are taking it to Africa with the help of corporate charities that are doing more harm than good in the world [13] (Philanthropy Gates Style, SiS 35).

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa

Bill & Melinda Gates and the Rockefeller Foundation announced a joint $150 million Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The creators of AGRA claim the initiative will bring benefits to the Africa’s impoverished farmers who have been bypassed in the first Green Revolution. Bill Gates is a confessed enthusiast for biotechnology [12], while the Rockefeller Foundation is notorious for having invested in creating The 'Golden Rice' , genetically modified to produce pro-Vitamin A, and aggressively promoted “to salvage a morally as well as financially bankrupt agricultural biotech industry” [14].

But, as pointed out by the Food First Institute [11], the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which brings together the key Green Revolution research institutions, has invested 40 to 45 percent of their £350 million annual budget in Africa; if not in the Green Revolution, in what? And if in the Green Revolution, it must have failed Africa, and not bypassed it.

The Green Revolution failed because it did not address the main causes of poverty and hunger, on the contrary it contributed to increasing hunger and poverty in the midst of plenty.

Overcoming poverty and hunger requires the redistribution of land and resources to enable farmers to grow food; they also need a fair and stable market, and ecological farming systems that free farmers from the shackles of expensive inputs of fertilizers and pesticides [15] (Organic Farmer Who Values His Freedom Above All , SiS 28). This is especially true for sub-Saharan African countries like Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and Mali where the area of unused, good quality farmland is many times greater than the area actually farmed. It is also the case in Zimbabwe and South Africa where the majority of farmers have been excluded from access to minimally acceptable farmland [11].

Borlaug claims to have reduced hunger in the world through the Green Revolution, and many of his critics are willing to give him credit for that. But this too turns out to be a myth.

In the two decades from 1970 to 1990 spanning the Green Revolution, the total food available per person in the world rose by 11 percent while the estimated number of hungry people fell from 942 m to 786 million, a 16 percent drop.

However, if China is left aside, the number of hungry people in the rest of the world actually went up by more than 11 percent, from 536 to 597 million.

In South America, while per capita food supplies rose almost 8 percent, the number of hungry people went up by 19 percent. In South Asia, there was 9 percent more food per person by 1990, but there were also 9 percent more hungry people.

In China, the number of hungry dropped dramatically from 406 million to 189 million (a fall of 54.4 percent). As Food First Institute says [8], “ [it] almost begs the question: which has been more effective at reducing hunger-the Green Revolution or the Chinese
Revolution, where broad-based changes in access to land paved the way for rising living standards?”

The real causes of hunger in Africa

The growing hunger in Africa is largely due to the increased impoverishment of the rural people who once grew food, but have now left farming. Today’s African farmers could easily produce far more food than they do, if they can get credit to cover production costs, or find buyers or obtain fair prices to give them a minimum profit margin [11].

Rural Africa has been devastated by 25 years of ‘free trade’ policies imposed by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation, the US and EU [11]. The forced privatisation of food crop marketing boards - which once guaranteed African farmers minimum prices and held food reserves for emergencies - and rural development banks - which gave farmers credit to produce food – left farmers without financing to grow food and without buyers for their produce. Free trade agreements have made it easier for private traders to import subsidized food from the US and EU than to negotiate with thousands of local farmers. This effective dumping drives local farm prices below the costs of production and puts local farmers out of business.

A new technology package with GM crops is not going to make any difference to the social and structural problems, and judging by India’s recent experience, it would make things much worse [7]. It will further narrow the genetic base of indigenous agriculture, increase farmers’ indebtedness in paying for patented seeds, increase farmers’ vulnerability as GM varieties are more susceptible to crop failures, and bring extra environmental and health risks (see GM Science Exposed. [16], ISIS CD book). The “doubly green” revolution can only exacerbate poverty and hunger in Africa

So what does Africa need instead? This has been so obvious it hardly needs saying, as all forms of sustainable, agro-ecological farming systems around the world, including Africa have been staging a successful revival since the late 1980s [17] (The Case for A GM-Free Sustainable World, ISIS Publication). But it will be instructive to learn from Cuba’s experience, particularly in the light of freeing agriculture from its dependence on fossil fuels.

Lessons from Cuba: agriculture without fossil fuels

Cuba is where agriculture without fossil fuels has been put to its greatest test, thanks to the collapse of trade with the former socialist bloc; and it has passed with flying colours [18-20].

Before 1989, Cuba was a model Green Revolution farm economy, based on huge production units, and dependent on vast quantities of imported chemicals and machinery to produce export crops, while over half of its food was imported. The Cuban government’s commitment to equity, and favorable terms of trade offered by Eastern Europe, ensured that Cubans were not undernourished [11]..

The collapse of the socialist bloc and the tightened US trade embargo exposed the vulnerability of Cuba’s Green Revolution model, and it was plunged into the worst food crisis in its history. Cuba lost 85 percent of its trade, including both food and agricultural inputs, and without those inputs, domestic production fell, resulting in a 30 percent reduction in caloric intake in the early 1990s. Cuba was faced with a dual challenge of doubling food production with half the previous inputs.

But by 1997, Cubans were eating almost as well as they did before 1989, with little food and agrochemicals imported. Instead, Cuba concentrated on creating a more self-reliant agriculture: a combination of higher crop prices paid to farmers, agroecological technology, smaller production units, and urban agriculture.

The way Cuba responded was an inspiration to the rest of the world. It began with a nation-wide call to increase food production by restructuring agriculture. It involved converting from conventional large-scale, high input monoculture systems to smaller scale, organic and semi-organic farming systems. The focus was on using low cost and environmentally safe inputs, and relocating production closer to consumption in order to cut down on transportation costs.

Urban agriculture was a key part of this effort. A spontaneous, decentralized movement had arisen in the cities. People responded enthusiastically to government initiative. By 1994, more than 8 000 city farms were created in Havana alone. Front lawns of municipal buildings were dug up to grow vegetables. Offices and schools cultivated their own food. Many of the gardeners were retired men aged 50s and 60s, and urban women played a much larger role in agriculture than their rural counterparts.

By 1998, an estimated 541 000 tons of food were produced in Havana for local consumption. Food quality has also improved as people had access to a greater variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Urban gardens continued to grow and some neighbourhoods were producing as much as 30 percent of their own food.

The growth of urban agriculture was largely due to the State’s commitment to make unused urban and suburban land and resources available to aspiring urban farmers. The issue of land grants in the city converted hundreds of vacant lots into food producing plots, and new planning laws placed the highest land use priority on food production.

Another key to success was opening farmers markets and legalising direct sales from farmers to consumers. Deregulation of prices combined with high demand for fresh produce in the cities allowed urban farmers to make two to three times as much as the rural professionals.

The government also encouraged gardeners through an extensive support system including extension agents and horticultural groups that offered assistance and advice. Seed houses throughout the city sold seeds, gardening tools, compost and distribute biofertilizers and other biological control agents at low costs.

New biological products and organic gardening techniques were developed and produced by Cuba’s agricultural research sector, which had already begun exploring organic alternatives to chemical controls, enabling Cuba’s urban farms to become completely organic. In fact, a new law prohibited the use of any pesticides for agricultural purposes anywhere within city limits.

Cuba did not invent urban agriculture. It has been a worldwide movement since the 1970s, and by 1999, an estimated 14 percent of the world’s food was produced in urban areas. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of sustainable development, as more and more of the populations worldwide are becoming urbanized. It presents both a challenge and an opportunity for town planning and design to transform the concrete jungle into habitats surrounded by open fields and gardens, which can attract and support wildlife at the same time. Imagine growing up in cities with urban agriculture instead of existing slums and soulless housing estates. (See Organic Cuba without Fossil Fuels [21], SiS 37 for further details.)

Food Sovereignty for all

Today, across Africa, Latin America and Asia, farmer-to-farmer movements, farmer-led research teams and farmer field schools have already discovered how to raise yields, distribute benefits, protect soils, conserve water and enhance ago-biodiversity on hundreds of thousands of smallholdings in spite of the Green Revolution [11]. A survey of 45 sustainable agricultural projects/initiatives spread across 17 African countries covering some 730 000 households revealed that agro-ecological approaches substantially improved food production and household food security. In 95 percent of the projects, cereal yields improved by 50 to 100 percent, with additional positive impacts on natural, social and human capital.

The concept of food sovereignty developed by La Via Campesina and brought to the public debate during the World Food Summit in 1996 has gained tremendous popularity and support. It is stated as follows [22]: “Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to define their own food and agriculture; to protect and regulate domestic agricultural production and trade in order to achieve sustainable development objectives; to determine the extent to which they want to be self-reliant; to restrict the dumping of products in their market; and to provide local fisheries-based communities the priority in managing the use of and the rights to aquatic resources. Food Sovereignty does not negate trace, but rather it promotes the formulation of trade policies and practices that serve the rights of peoples to food and to safe, healthy and ecologically sustainable production. ”

Food sovereignty is opposed to patenting seeds [11]; it also includes agrarian reform, with limit on the maximum farm size, equitable local control over resources such as seeds, land, water and forests. The Food Sovereignty approach is increasingly taken seriously by other sectors such as organisations representing consumers, urban poor, indigenous peoples, trade unions, environmentalists and human rights activists, researchers and other experts. It also forms the basis for collaboration between the FAO and farmers groups and other civil society actors, as announced by FAO Secretary General Jacques Diouf at the 2002 World Food Summit.

Given appropriate land reform and institutional support in finance and marketing, there is no doubt that farmers in Africa, India and elsewhere can free themselves from the cycle of indebtedness, increasing poverty, hunger, malnutrition and ill-health, especially with zero-input organic farming methods based on indigenous crops and livestocks [23] (see Dream Farm 2, Organic, Sustainable, Fossil Fuel Free, in Food Futures Now, ISIS Publication). The really green revolution has started in Ethiopia a few years ago, when the government adopted organic agriculture as a national strategy for food security. Crops yields have doubled and tripled while reversing the damages of the failed Green Revolution [24] (see Greening Ethiopia for Self-sufficiency series, SiS 23).
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Re: The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left

Postby admin » Thu Feb 04, 2016 5:50 am

The Largest Wave of Suicides in History
FEBRUARY 12, 2009



The number of farmers who have committed suicide in India between 1997 and 2007 now stands at a staggering 182,936. Close to two-thirds of these suicides have occurred in five states (India has 28 states and seven union territories). The Big 5 – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh– account for just about a third of the country’s population but two-thirds of farmers’ suicides. The rate at which farmers are killing themselves in these states is far higher than suicide rates among non-farmers. Farm suicides have also been rising in some other states of the country.

It is significant that the count of farmers taking their lives is rising even as the numbers of farmers diminishes, that is, on a shrinking farmer base. As many as 8 million people quit farming between the two censuses of 1991 and 2001. The rate of people leaving farming has only risen since then, but we’ll only have the updated figure of farmers in the census of 2011.

These suicide data are official and tend to be huge underestimates, but they’re bad enough. Suicide data in India are collated by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a wing of the Ministry of Home Affairs, government of India. The NCRB itself seems to do little harm to the data. But the states where these are gathered leave out thousands from the definition of “farmer” and, thus, massage the numbers downward. For instance, women farmers are not normally accepted as farmers (by custom, land is almost never in their names). They do the bulk of work in agriculture – but are just “farmers’ wives.” This classification enables governments to exclude countless women farmer suicides. They will be recorded as suicide deaths – but not as “farmers’ suicides.” Likewise, many other groups, too, have been excluded from that list.

The spate of farm suicides – the largest sustained wave of such deaths recorded in history – accompanies India’s embrace of the brave new world of neoliberalism. Many reports on that process and how it has affected agriculture have been featured right here, on the Counterpunch site. The rate of farmers’ suicides has worsened particularly after 2001, by which time India was well down the WTO garden path in agriculture. The number of farmers’ suicides in the five years – 1997-2001 – was 78,737 (or 15,747 a year on average). The same figure for the five years 2002-06 was 87,567 (or 17,513 a year on average). That is, in the next five years after 2001, one farmer took his or her life every 30 minutes on average. The 2007 figures (detailed below) place that year, too, in the higher trend.

What do the farm suicides have in common? Those who have taken their lives were deep in debt – peasant households in debt doubled in the first decade of the neoliberal “economic reforms,” from 26 per cent of farm households to 48.6 per cent. We know that from National Sample Survey data. But in the worst states, the percentage of such households is far higher. For instance, 82 per cent of all farm households in Andhra Pradesh were in debt by 2001-02. Those who killed themselves were overwhelmingly cash crop farmers – growers of cotton, coffee, sugarcane, groundnut, pepper, vanilla. (Suicides are fewer among food crop farmers – that is, growers of rice, wheat, maize, pulses.) The brave new world philosophy mandated countless millions of Third World farmers forced to move from food crop cultivation to cash crop (the mantra of “export-led growth”). For millions of subsistence farmers in India, this meant much higher cultivation costs, far greater loans, much higher debt, and being locked into the volatility of global commodity prices. That’s a sector dominated by a handful of multinational corporations. The extent to which the switch to cash crops impacts on the farmer can be seen in this: it used to cost Rs.8,000 ?($165 today) roughly to grow an acre of paddy in Kerala. When many switched to vanilla, the cost per acre was (in 2003-04) almost Rs.150,000 ($3,000) an acre. (The dollar equals about 50 rupees.)

With giant seed companies displacing cheap hybrids and far cheaper and hardier traditional varieties with their own products, a cotton farmer in Monsanto’s net would be paying far more for seed than he or she ever dreamed they would. Local varieties and hybrids were squeezed out with enthusiastic state support. In 1991, you could buy a kilogram of local seed for as little as Rs.7 or Rs.9 in today’s worst affected region of Vidarbha. By 2003, you would pay Rs.350 — ($7) — for a bag with 450 grams of hybrid seed. By 2004, Monsanto’s partners in India were marketing a bag of 450 grams of Bt cotton seed for between Rs.1,650 and Rs.1,800 ($33 to $36). This price was brought down dramatically overnight due to strong governmental intervention in Andhra Pradesh, where the government changed after the 2004 elections. The price fell to around Rs.900 ($18) – still many times higher than 1991 or even 2003.

Meanwhile, inequality was the great man-eater among?the “Emerging Tiger” nations of the developing world. The predatory commercialization of the countryside devastated all other aspects of life for peasant farmer and landless workers. Health costs, for instance, skyrocketed. Many thousands of youngsters dropped out of both school and college to work on their parents’ farms (including many on scholarships). The average monthly per capita expenditure of the Indian farm household was just Rs.503 (ten dollars) by early this decade. Of that, 60 per cent roughly was spent on food and another 18 per cent on fuel, clothing and footwear.

Farmers, spending so much on food? To begin with, millions of small and marginal Indian farmers are net purchasers of food grain. They cannot produce enough to feed their families and have to work on the fields of others and elsewhere to meet the gap. Having to buy some of the grain they need on the market, they are profoundly affected by hikes in food prices, as has happened since 1991, and particularly sharply earlier this year. Hunger among those who produce food is a very real thing. Add to this the fact that the “per capita net availability” of food grain has fallen dramatically among Indians since the “reforms” began: from 510 grams per Indian in 1991, to 422 grams by 2005. (That’s not a drop of 88 grams. It’s a fall of 88 multiplied by 365 and then by one billion Indians.) As prof. Utsa Patnaik, India’s top economist on agriculture, has been constantly pointing out, the average poor family has about 100 kg less today than it did just ten years ago – while the elite eat like it’s going out of style. For many, the shift from food crop to cash crop makes it worse. At the end of the day, you can still eat your paddy. It’s tough, digesting cotton. Meanwhile, even the food crop sector is coming steadily under corporate price-rigging control. Speculation in the futures markets pushed up grain prices across the globe earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the neoliberal model that pushed growth through one kind of consumption also meant re-directing huge amounts of money away from rural credit to fuel the lifestyles of the aspiring elites of the cities (and countryside, too). Thousands of rural bank branches shut down during the 15 years from 1993-2007.

Even as incomes of the farmers crashed, so did the price they got for their cash crops, thanks to obscene subsidies to corporate and rich farmers in the West, from the U.S. and EU. Their battle over cotton subsidies alone (worth billions of dollars) destroyed cotton farmers not merely in India but in African nations such as Burkina Faso, Benin, Mali, and Chad. Meanwhile, all along, India kept reducing investment in agriculture (standard neoliberal procedure). Life was being made more and more impossible for small farmers.

As costs rose, credit dried up. Debt went out of control. Subsidies destroyed their prices. Starving agriculture of investment (worth billions of dollars each year) smashed the countryside. India even cut most of the few, pathetic life supports she had for her farmers. The mess was complete. From the late-’90s, the suicides began to occur at what then seemed a brisk rate.

In fact, India’s agrarian crisis can be summed up in five words (call it Ag Crisis 101): the drive toward corporate farming. The route (in five words): predatory commercialization of the countryside. The result: The biggest displacement in our history.

Corporations do not as yet have direct control of Indian farming land and do not carry out day-to-day operations directly. But they have sewn up every other sector, inputs, outlets, marketing, prices, and are heading for control of water as well (which states in India are busy privatizing in one guise or another).

The largest number of farm suicides is in the state of Maharashtra, home to the Mumbai Stock Exchange and with its capital Mumbai being home to 21 of India’s 51 dollar billionaires and over a fourth of the country’s 100,000 dollar millionaires. Mumbai shot to global attention when terrorists massacred 180 people in the city in a grisly strike in November. In the state of which Mumbai is capital, there have been 40,666 farmers’ suicides since 1995, with very little media attention.

Farmers’ suicides in Maharashtra crossed the 4,000-mark again in 2007, for the third time in four years, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. As many as 4,238 farmers took their lives in the state that year, the latest for which data are available,?accounting?for a fourth of all the 16,632 farmers’ suicides in the country. That national total represents a slight fall from the 17,060 farm suicides of 2006. But the broad trends of the past decade seem unshaken. Farm suicides in the country since 1997 now total 182,936.

To repeat, the five worst affected states?– Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh?– account for two-thirds of all farmers’ suicides in India. Together, they saw 11,026 in 2007. Of these, Maharashtra alone accounted for?over 38 per cent. Of the Big 5, Andhra Pradesh saw a decline of 810 suicides against its 2006 total. Karnataka saw a rise of 415 over the same period. Madhya Pradesh (1,375) posted a decline of 112. But Chattisgarh’s 1,593 farm suicides mean an increase of 110 over 2006. Specific factors in these states nourish the problem. These are zones of highly diversified, commercialized agriculture where cash crops dominate. Water stress has been a common feature, and gets worse with the use of technologies such as Bt seed that demand huge amounts of water. High external inputs and input costs are also common, as also the use of chemicals and pesticides. Mindless deregulation dug a lot of graves, lit a lot of pyres.

Maharashtra registered a fall of 215 farm suicides in 2007. However, no other state even touches the 3,000 mark. And AP (with 1,797) and Karnataka (2,135) – the next two worst hit states – together do not cross Maharashtra’s 4,000-plus mark. A one-year dip of 221 occurred in 2005 too, in Maharashtra, only to be followed by an all-time high of 4,453 suicides in 2006. The state’s trend shows no turnaround and remains dismal.

Maharashtra’s 2007 figure of 4,238 follows one and a half years of farm “relief packages” worth around Rs.5,000 crore ($1 billion) and a prime ministerial visit in mid-2006 to the distressed Vidharbha region. The state has also seen a plethora of official reports, studies and commissions of inquiry over 2005-07, aimed at tackling the problem. However, the 12,617 farm suicides in the same years is its worst ever total for any three-year period since the state began recording such data in 1995. Indeed, farm suicides in Maharashtra since that year have crossed the 40,000 mark. The structural causes of that crisis seem untouched.

Nationally, farmers’ suicides between 2002-07 were worse than for the years 1997-2001. NCRB data for the whole country now exists from 1997-2007. In the five years till 2001, there were 15,747 farmers’ suicides a year on average. For the six years from 2002, that average is 17,366 farmers’ suicides each year. The increase is distressingly higher in the main crisis states.

P. SAINATH is the rural affairs editor of The Hindu and is the author of Everybody Loves a Good Drought. A regular contributor to CounterPunch, he can be reached at
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Re: The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left

Postby admin » Sat Apr 09, 2016 5:34 am

BT sins ... Itchy scars! Haryana is today reeling under an itch invasion -- people say due to farming BT cotton. But state and central governments are rubbishing this, reports Anil Pandey
by Anil Pandey
The Sunday Indian
November 2, 2008




Haryana is itching. Large sections of Haryanvis in villages are itching -- and please don't laugh -- whoever you meet in major parts of the state is scratching himself or herself crazy. Because the western malaise of merciless avarice has spread myriad maladies in village after village of Haryana, now under the iron grip of BT cotton, the genetically modified cotton seeds that not just fleece farmers financially, but are now robbing them of their health and their cattle as well.

Hissar villages are itching. Sirsa villages are itching. Fatehabad villages are itching. These three districts form the heart of Haryana's cotton belt, and here cows and buffaloes are itching too. They are giving birth to premature calves, and the cows themselves are dying. The problem is when a premature calf is delivered, the family cannot even disclose that, as its price when it is ready for sale will drastically drop. In many cases, the cows' uteruses are protruding from the stomach. Even Harpal Singh Grewal, the rich NRI from Sirsa, who was in the government of India's steering committee for promoting organic farming says that BT cotton is ruining Haryana, but the government itself is in total denial mode.

Towards the beginning of this millennium, the government, suitably lobbied by Western mega-companies like Monsanto, allowed BT cotton to come in. The product was pushed. Farmers were impressed upon that the usual pest of cotton plants would die if they tried their tricks on the BT cotton plants, so their yields would skyrocket. Farm sector moneylenders gave loans and opened their own BT seed shops in the villages -- so their money came from both fronts. The transformation has been most rapid over the past two years.

But it was transformation at all levels. The most remarkable transformation is the health of humans and cattle. And though no sudden, unexplained proliferation in human deaths have been reported so far, the rate of cows and buffaloes giving up the ghost at short notices -- reportedly after a few months of being fed on oilcakes made from the husk and seeds of BT cotton seeds -- has reached alarming proportions.

And it is not surprising, if you are daily dealing with something as deadly as cyanide. As agriculture specialist and coordinator of the "Save the Farmer Movement", Sudhir Kaura, PhD, says: "Tests have shown that cyanide is used to prepare the seeds of genetically modified cotton."

Kaura stresses that the chemicals from the bodies of the cattle is coming out in milk and clarified butter, for which Haryana is fabled, both in terms of quality and quantity. Kaura says that is how humans have also got affected on a large scale, and his worst fear is that since Haryana ghee (clarified butter) is sold widely even outside the state, the maladies will surely spread out beyond its borders.

But here too farmers are losing out. On an average, a cotton farmer would not just depend on his cash crop, but sells between Rs five and six thousand from milk yield per cow or buffalo per month. Each cattle comes for between rupees thirty and rupees thirty-five thousand. The first symptoms of the disease is fall in yield of milkloss. Then there is greater loss: cattle treatment along with yield fall.


Sunita and Nirmala of Baraua village shows us the scars from scratching. But worse, Sunita laments about the illness of her now demised cow: "First I went to the government vet, who charged Rs 70 for a visit. That did not help, so I started visiting a private vet, who charged Rs 150 per visit, plus, of course, the cost of medicines. Eventually the cow died." Satpal from the same village says: "This year there have been too many cattle deaths." And ranbir from neighbouring Dhaniya village says: "As far as I know, at least five cows have died over the period of last 10 days."

We meet Grewal at his sprawling house in Thedi Baba Sawant Singh village in Sirsa district. He gives more concrete information: "I am linked to a charitable hospital, where our records show that victims of itching have increased massively this year, and all of them are related to BT cotton farming." Grewal took the TSI team to Kotli, a village of about 7,000 residents. People from this village go as far as Gujarat to work in cleaning cotton from seeds. Says Pawan Taneja, who runs the medical store in Kotli: almost every cotton worker from this village suffers from itching. Not a day passes by without a few of them coming to purchase medicines for that.

It is surprising that this has happened despite the sad experience of Andhra Pradesh. About a year ago, hundreds of sheep died after consuming oilcake and cattle feed induced with BT cotton seed.The state government's animal husbandry department had ordered a probe, which shows that the feed had high traces of cyanide. (A copy of the report, Lr Roc No. 117 / TFAL / 2007, dtd 12/3/07, is with TSI.)


Andhra farmers had thereafter been advised to keep their cattle distances from BT cotton plants and feed. But later, the ministry for environment, government of India reversed the test results and denied there was any cyanide in BT cotton plants -- they say American MNCs arms are long and pockets deep! Many scientists have raised questions about this reversal by the Central government. Even the director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, PM Bhargava has trashed the government report but warned the government against that disastrous effects of BT cotton farming, but to no avail.

And in Haryana, the state government have summarily rejected the allegation of itching and cattle deaths.SK Dangi, Director General of Animal Husbandry and dairy farming department told TSI: "There has been no instance of cattle maladies in haryana, nor any deaths due to disease." In fact, the DG Health Services, Haryana, goes one step ahead: "Why, just before you arrived I was in a long video-conference with the district health officials, but none of them ever told me of any such disease outbreak!" And the head of the animal nutrition division of Central Buffalo research Centre, Dr TR Chauhan was downright condescending and rattled off some advice, like cattle should not be given more than 35 per cent of its feed in the form of oilcakes, or that not more than 10 per cent of that ought to be cotton seeds, and in any case, that too much of even good things are bad and have side effects, and so forth.

These denials are trashed if one goes by the experiment conducted by Yoga specialist Acharya Baldev, guru of the godman Ramdev, in his farm. He ordered his cattle to be fed on BT cotton-seed and oil induced feed for a few months. The yield fell, and the cattle fell ill. Then he ordered that feed to be replaced by the usual feed, and the situation slowly but steadily reversed.

But for the farmers there is no escape: once you take BT cotton, you must keep doing so, because not only is the seed imbued with an artificial pest killer, it is also modified to ensure no regeneration, so that means every year you have to buy fresh seeds from the same company. They say in Haryana: "Jiskey ghar mein kaali, uskey ghar mein sada diwali" (a family that has a "black" -- meaning a buffalo -- is assured of prosperity). But the chase for money is turning that Diwali into diwaliyapan, or impoverishment, and the milk and ghee of Haryana are turning out to be toxic nutrients spelling disaster!
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