GM corn.... a VERY VERY LONG one... : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

Below are posted two articles on pollination of crops by GM corn. Also - in last week's local ad paper, there was an interesting article.. I'll sum it up at the very end.

, 2001 Corn Seed Tainted by Gene-Altered Protein - Report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Corn seed about to be sold to farmers for this year's crop was found to be contaminated by traces of a genetically modified variety of the grain that prompted massive recalls last year, the Washington Post reported on Thursday. Quoting government and industry sources, the Post said seed companies detected the contamination while testing their stocks to make sure the seed was free of the engineered corn, known as StarLink, approved in the U.S. only for animal feed. StarLink is not approved for human consumption because of concerns about potential allergic reactions. It was found in taco shells in September, leading to an eventual recall of more than 300 food products. The Post said the newly discovered contamination does not pose any immediate public health threat because none of the seed has been planted. But if the contamination is found to be widespread, farmers and grain exporters fear it could be devastating because major buyers of American corn in Europe and Asia have said they will refuse to buy any corn suspected of being tainted by StarLink, the Post said. Representatives of the seed industry and other corn and food industry officials were scheduled to meet Thursday with officials from the three federal agencies that oversee agricultural biotechnology, the Post reported. ``There may be low levels of the StarLink protein in some non-StarLink hybrid corn seed,'' an Agriculture Department official told the Post. Those attending Thursday's meeting will ''look into the issue and further evaluate what steps may be necessary to address it,'' the newspaper said. Industry sources told the Post that it was unclear how the seed corn came to contain the StarLink protein, called Cry9c. The sources were also quoted as saying the level of Cry9c being found in corn seed is very low. StarLink's developer, Aventis CropScience, a unit of Franco-German life science firm Aventis SA, maintains the corn is safe for human consumption. The pharmaceutical giant has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (news - web sites) to approve StarLink retroactively for human use to avert future disruptions of the corn supply, but the agency is under intense pressure from critics of biotechnology to keep the ban on human use, the Post said.

By Anthony Shadid, Boston Globe WASHINGTON - Susan and Mark Fitzgerald have farmed for 17 years on the black soil of the Minnesota prairie, a place ''where the wind likes to blow.'' They took all of the precautions they thought necessary to make sure their 100 acres of corn was organic, a tag that can double the earnings on their yield. The husband-and-wife team set up barriers of bushes, shrubs, and trees, planted the right crops in the right places, and bought corn seed guaranteed to be free of genetic engineering. No matter. The Fitzgeralds found themselves victims of ''genetic drift,'' a relatively new and disturbing phenomenon. When the harvest came, they tested their corn. To their surprise and dismay, genetically engineered kernels showed up in the hopper: a pesticide-producing seed known as Bt whose pollen apparently made its way from a neighbor's field, swept by wind or carried by birds or insects. They had to pull 800 bushels from the organic market, a loss they put at nearly $2,000. ''Everyone's wondering what you do,'' Susan Fitzgerald said. ''One can't speak alone; you're barking in the wind. It's you against Goliath.'' The Fitzgeralds' story highlights a problem most recently brought to light by the lingering trouble caused by contamination from StarLink corn. Across the nation, the planting of genetically engineered seeds has surged since their introduction in 1996, and now accounts for as much as a quarter of all corn grown in the United States, including Massachusetts. One effect - whose scope was unanticipated by regulators, companies, or farmers as recently as just a few years ago - is that insects, birds, and the wind are spreading biotech pollen to fields planted with conventional or organic crops miles away. As losses mount, the question is being asked: Who pays? Some farmers say it's the problem of their neighbors, while others accuse the seed companies. The seed companies look for help from the government in setting more flexible standards. And the government points back at the farmers as well as state courts hearing a growing number of lawsuits. ''We never really thought all this through,'' said Charles Hurburgh, director of the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative and an Iowa State University professor. ''Who would have known 10 years ago that this would have been an issue? There was no reason for this to be on the radar screen at the time.'' The most common recourse for such losses - insurance - is one that's not yet available to the nation's nearly 2 million farms. Insurance companies say their policies won't cover genetic drift, the term used to describe cross-pollination between biotech and nonbiotech fields. That reflects not only the novelty of the problem but also a sense that studies are still lacking on the scope of drift - how far pollen can travel, for instance, and how big farmers' losses might be. On one level, those losses are already substantial. Since 1997, the European Union has effectively barred US corn imports over the possibility that genetically engineered varieties unapproved in the EU have mixed with sanctioned crops. That has cost American farmers access to a $200 million-a-year market. More losses are likely as other countries restrict new biotech crops approved in the United States. On another level, questions remain over the biological implications of genetic drift for agriculture. Organic farmers fear that, given the unpredictability of pollination, they can never guarantee a biotech-free crop. Already, experts say virtually all commercial seeds in America have at least trace levels of genetically modified proteins, just five years after the introduction of the crops. Federal regulations require buffer zones around genetically modified crops - usually 660 feet - but that has already proved too limited. Some contend pollen can drift miles before settling on another crop. Plus, there's the possibility that seed gets mixed in storage bins and even combines. ''How do you trace where it came from? How do you determine the liability? All of this is brand new and people don't know how to deal with it yet,'' said Joe Harrington, spokesman for the American Association of Insurance Services in Wheaton, Ill. ''It's a brand new world.'' While no figures exist, anecdotal evidence suggests that cases such as that of the Fitzgeralds are becoming far more common. A judge last month ruled in favor of Monsanto Co., the St. Louis-based producer of biotech seeds, in its demand that a Canadian farmer pay for the company's genetically engineered canola plants found growing on his field. He claims his crop was contaminated after pollen blew onto his property from nearby farms. Similar lawsuits have been filed against domestic farmers, but the Canadian case was the first to go to trial. In 1998, cross-pollination was suspected of carrying a genetically engineered variety of corn to an organic farm in Texas. The contamination was not discovered until the corn had been processed and shipped to Europe as organic tortilla chips under the brand name Apache. When testing revealed traces of biotech corn, the shipment of 87,000 bags was recalled, costing the company more than $150,000. The manufacturer, Terra Prima of Wisconsin, chose not to sue the farmer. Aventis CropScience, meanwhile, is the target of several lawsuits over the mingling of its StarLink corn with other varieties, in the most publicized case thus far. StarLink, engineered to produce a protein toxic to insect larvae, was approved in 1998 only for animal use out of concern it could cause allergic reactions in people. It was later detected in taco shells, forcing a recall of more than 300 corn-based products and an ongoing and costly attempt to contain StarLink still in the market. Among the tangled legal issues prompted by its discovery was a class-action federal lawsuit filed in Iowa last year. The suit argues that cross-pollination by StarLink has hurt farmers' ability to export corn and to sell it to American food processors. A similar lawsuit was filed earlier in Illinois. Aventis has declined to comment, except to say that it remains committed to diverting StarLink and corn mingled with StarLink to approved uses. But its ordeal in trying to contain the damage hints at the breadth of the problem genetic drift poses and the potential liability involved. Different nations have set different standards for how much genetically engineered material they will permit without requiring a label on food. The European Union put the limit last year at 1 percent, one of the world's strictest. Japan, whose labeling requirement takes effect next month, decreed a 5 percent tolerance for products such as soybean tofu and corn flour. No tolerance is set for organic food in the United States, although levels like those found in the Fitzgeralds' corn have led to rejection by organic food processors worried what consumers might think. (Keith Jones, a USDA organic official, said the amount of biotech material allowed in organic food from genetic drift is on ''completely a case-by-case basis.'') StarLink, though, receives no tolerance since it was not approved for human use. Any contamination - one kernel in 2,400, for instance - is banned. With cross-pollination possible and even likely, Aventis itself has acknowledged the StarLink problem could persist for years, even though the seed was planted on less than .02 percent of cropland in 2000. ''I know you are wondering, `Will there ever be an end to this?''' the company's general manager, John A. Wichtrich, told the North American Millers Association last month. ''Unfortunately, as of right now, the answer is no. There will never be an `end' as long as there is a zero tolerance.'' Even with some tolerance, farmers and others insist the problem will only mount in coming years with the growing use of biotech crops, whose planting is expected to jump 10 percent this spring. Still undecided is how much is too much and where consumers will draw the line. Organic farmers, whose numbers have more than doubled since 1996, are particularly vulnerable. Aware of the threat or not, consumers buy their products with the understanding that they are free of biotech foods. Conventional farmers face similar problems: For export markets, they must worry about exceeding tolerances, like those in Europe and Japan. ''Once you introduce these seeds, they're hard to keep in one place,'' said Brian Leahy, executive director of California Certified Organic Farmers. ''This technology does not respect property rights.'' The US Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulate biotechnology along with the Food and Drug Administration, say liability for damages is not a federal issue. Rather, the two agencies argue, it should be decided by state courts. The National Corn Growers Association says it has no policy. Traditionally, farmers growing a crop for added value - organic, for instance - are responsible for protecting that crop, said Susan Keith, a lobbyist for the association. But, she added, biotech crops raise ''interesting questions.'' She said there might be a scenario in which genetic drift is treated like pesticide drift, a longstanding problem in agriculture and one in which courts have ruled against the farmer or company spraying the pesticides. Monsanto and Aventis, among the biggest players in agricultural biotechnology, refused to comment on liability issues. Loren Wassell, a Monsanto spokesman, would only say: ''We try to act responsibly and we encourage growers to be responsible and to communicate with their neighbors.'' But some farmers and activists say acting responsibly is not enough, and they expect a US court decision soon to back up their contention. ''What we have struck out as a position is: You patent it, you license it, you're liable for any contamination you deliver from it,'' said Bob Scowcroft, executive director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation. A court case might look at issues of trespass, nuisance, or negligence, all of which have applied in similar cases. Because the area remains so gray, though, legal experts say it is far from clear which way a court might rule - and the Canadian case suggests a judge could rule for the companies. Until then, farmers in Iowa and elsewhere are being told to take precautions in the event of legal action down the road. One set of guidelines urged farmers to avoid claims that their crop has not suffered from genetic drift, that it's free of biotech material, or that contamination didn't occur in the handling of the crop, all claims that might be used against them if any of those statements prove wrong. For Susan Fitzgerald, the Minnesota farmer, that may not be enough. Next year, she and her husband are planting organic soybeans, which don't cross-pollinate. They're talking to neighbors, too, about a lawsuit. Still, they worry there's only so much they can do to guard against drift. ''You can't tell the wind how hard to blow,'' said the 45-year-old Fitzgerald. ''You're at the mercy of the weather.'

Monsanto sued a Canadian farmer for use of their patented GM soybean seed. Problem was, it was saved from his own field, which had been cross-pollinated by his neighbor's field.

They WON..... Yes, this farmer has to pay Monsanto $10,000 up front and $78,000 from the top end of the sales of this year's crop. He is NOT allowed to save his seed for next year, and therefore must purchase it.

According to the judge, he was going to profit from this crop and therefore owed Monsanto for the use of its patented genes.

Monsanto said that he knew this would happen, and so would deliberately profit by saving the seed. Even though the tests showed far less contamination than Monsanto's lawyers accused of, the judge ruled in favor of the corporation anyway.

Presently, Monsanto and other manufacturers of the GM seeds have at least 4 suits pending in the United States......

The paper is Capital Press, and it does have a site, but I don't have the addy.

-- Sue Diederich (, April 23, 2001


Sue, know how Monsanto figured out that he was using seed containing their genes?They fly around spraying roundup on farmers fields then check satalite imaging to see which patches don't die.If your plants don't die and they have no record of you buying seed from them for that contract year you get a lawsuit.And no they don't ask for permission to spray they just do it.No compansation for killed crops either.Cargill,Monsanto and ADM, one of which was bought out by the other are the ONLY agricultural companies left.They own ALL the elevators.They own ALL the barges for transport of grain.They sell ALL the seed that is commercialy available to farmers.They provide ALL the pesticides,herbicides,and fertilizers.Plants are now being enginered to REQUIRE the use of these chemicals to grow.Want to talk about the feed lots?These companies also control almost all of the feed stocks for animals.They own almost all of the processing facilities.They own almost all of the distribution network.Farmers are rapidly becoming defacto tenents on there own property.Don't expect any great agrarian backlash or uprisings.Farmers only represent 2% of the US population and that same piddley 2% INCLUDES SMALL HOMESTEADERS.The Senate and Congress don't give a shit where the bread comes from.They only care that it arrives on time for the circus.Something for you all to ponder is this....Why did the government offer so many incentives for farm kids to go to college in the 60s and 70s? Give up? because it was found that those that went to college rarely returned to farming.It broke the cycle of family farming.Large agribusiness convinced the government that they could provide food more efficiently on large factory type tracts than small farmers.The big loans that were dangled like carrots to the foolhardy were also part of the big plan to eliminate small or non corperate farms and farmers.Think I'm full of crap? Use the PC you are on to research US farm policy and population growth theories of the 50s and 60s.

-- greg (, April 23, 2001.

Thanks, Greg. You saved me a lot of finger exercise. The only possible chance I see in this fight against these monsters is a class action lawsuit by all of humanity demanding the immediate destruction of all of the genetically engineered or biotech seed on the planet. Perhaps the public execution of the CEO's would be a nice little top off. It's as if they are poisoning the whole earth here.

Remember, "the LOVE of money is the ROOT of all evil". You guys should read Texxe Marrs book Days of Hunger, Days of Chaos. It's a very good compendium of all the genetic manipulations and "agrimopoly" stuff.

-- Doreen (, April 23, 2001.

On the plus side, it is now illegal in the state of Texas to knowingly sell the seeds for or to grow Starlink corn. It has cost Texas agribusiness far too much money. Supposedly similar legislation is pending in most of the plains states. I know the cat is already out of the bag, so to speak, but at least there will not be new crops of straight Starlink planted to continue to spread their pollen. I worry more about the genetic manipulation of the food chain than I do about war, atomic attack, fuel shortages, etc. The food is the most basic element of survival. If it is contaminated, or non-existent, we all die.

-- Green (, April 24, 2001.

Thanks Greg!!! I didn't know quite a few of the things you mentioned... Had that silly 'aching' feeling about it all though... I believe you 110%.

Doreen - aren't they??? If you look at things in the same twisted and paranoid way I do... They are murdering off how much of the total livestock population of the world?? Not to mention slaughtering the last holdouts of certain genetic populations. They are putting genes into our grains for pesticide resistance, herbicide resistance, to produce mules (the plant equivalent of castration), abnormal growth patterns, etc. I would seriously doubt that Round-up, etc. would be of any wondrous health benefits in the drinking water - and all liquids will eventually get there - we won't even get into the crystaline forms.

Is this all because the high interest, high principle loans didn't kill off ALL the farmers?? They know from their supposed best science that feeding meat to herbivores can cause similar (if not IDENTICAL) symptoms to BSE, CJD, Scrapies, etc. But, the government still encourages - let alone allows - large feedlot operations... There is a fight going on right now in Idaho over that... The government is still allowing the company to appeal, though three courts have ruled in favor of the citizens.

I'm glad that at least TX has seen the light - but do they do thorough testing? Of course, just passing the law is at least a step in the right direction!!!

I thoroughly agree that manipulation of food is of more importance than most of the things you mentioned. Lack of food will kill us off much faster than they could eliminate the water or oxygen... Its all the same... If the dollar is there, it can be food, shelter, clothing, water, air - whatever. Where the hell is the UN with their fight against crimes to humanity on this one??? LMAO..... Monopolies?? Poor Bill Gates... wrong business at the wrong time...

2% is a pretty small number, but could be effective if they (we) all worked together. Problem is... It'll never happen.

I should really stop starting these things... Only makes me mad as hell.

-- Sue Diederich (, April 24, 2001.

Yeah poor Bill Gates....I cry for him all the time.He did get screwed but then again he spent most of his life screwing over others.It is a wash to me.An anecdote..When International Harvester company reached an 11% market share they were forced to sell off holdings because they were a "monopoly". Odd how we have 2 MEGA agribusiness corps left.One of which has I think a 70% market share but no one is talking about splitting them up.These "creatures" literaly have a strangle hold on the food supply.

-- greg (, April 24, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ