Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 3rd 2014 Contents A43
August 3, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Genetically modified corn seeds
are no longer protecting Brazilian
farmers from voracious tropical
bugs, increasing costs as producers
turn to pesticides, a farm group
Producers want four major man-
ufacturers of so-called BT corn seeds
to reimburse them for the cost of
spraying up to three coats of pesti-
cides this year, said Ricardo Tomczyk,
president of Aprosoja farm lobby in
Mato Grosso state.
"The caterpillars should die if they
eat the corn, but since they didn t
die this year producers had to spend
on average 120 reais (US$54) per
hectare...at a time that corn prices
are terrible," he said.
Large-scale farming in the bug-
ridden tropics has always been a
challenge, and now Brazil s govern-
ment is concerned that planting the
same crops repeatedly with the same
seed technologies has left the agri-
cultural superpower vulnerable to
pest outbreaks and dependent on
Experts in the United States have
also warned about corn production
prospects because of a growing bug
resistance to genetically modified
Researchers in Iowa found signif-
icant damage from rootworms in
corn fields last year.
In Brazil, the main corn culprit is
Spodoptera frugiperda, also known
as the corn leafworm or southern
Bugs getting resistant
to GMO seeds
Seed companies say they warned
Brazilian farmers to plant part of
their corn fields with conventional
seeds to prevent bugs from mutating
and developing resistance to GMO
Dow Agrosciences, a division of
Dow Chemical Co, has programmes
in Brazil to help corn farmers develop
"an integrated pest management sys-
tem that includes, among other
things, the cultivation of refuge
areas," it said in an email.
Another company, DuPont, said it
had not received any formal notifi-
cation from Aprosoja.
The company s Pioneer brand has
been working with producers to
extend the durability of its seed tech-
nology and improve efficiency since
Spodoptera worms were found to
have developed resistance to the
Cry1F protein, it said in a statement.
Monsanto Co also said in a state-
ment that it had not been formally
notified by the group.
The other company, Syngenta
AG, did not immediately
respond to a request for com-
Tomczyk, who also spoke for
Brazilian farmers during a dis-
pute over seed royalty payments
to Monsanto that ended last
year, said Aprosoja encouraged
the planting of refuge areas. But
he said the seed companies have
not given clear instructions.
Healthy, non-GMO seeds
hard to get now
"There are barely any non-
GMO seeds available ... it is very
uncomfortable that the compa-
nies are blaming the farmers,"
Aprosoja hopes to reach a
negotiated agreement with the
seed companies, but if all else
fails farmers may sue to get
reparations for pesticide costs,
Brazil is harvesting its second
of two annual corn crops and
expects to produce 78 million
tonnes this crop year, slightly
less than last season s record.
Domestic prices recently fell to
their lowest in four years
because of abundant supplies.
GMO corn is a genetically modified crop.
Specific corn strains have been genetically
engineered for agriculturally desirable traits,
including resistance to pests and to herbicides.
Corn varieties resistant to glyphosate
herbicides were first commercialised in 1996 by
Monsanto, and are known as Roundup Ready
They tolerate the use of Roundup. Bayer
CropScience developed Liberty Link Corn that is
resistant to glufosinate.
BT corn is a type of maize that has been
genetically altered to express one or more
proteins from the Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria.
The protein is poisonous to certain insect pests.
GM maize has caused controversy with respect
to possible health effects, impact on other insects
and impact on other plants via gene flow.
One strain, called Starlink, was approved only
for animal feed in the US, but was found in food,
leading to a series of recalls starting in 2000.
In a 2010 study released by the International
Journal of Biological Sciences, analysing the
effects of genetically modified foods on
mammalian health, researchers found that
agricultural giant Monsanto's GM corn is linked to
organ damage in rats.
The study said:
"Effects were mostly concentrated in kidney
and liver function...some effects on heart, adrenal,
spleen and blood cells were also frequently noted.
...Our data strongly suggests that these GM
maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal
toxicity....These substances have never before
been an integral part of the human or animal diet
and therefore their health consequences for those
who consume them, especially over long time
periods, are currently unknown."
In November 2009, Monsanto scientists found
the pink bollworm had become resistant to first-
generation BT cotton in parts of Gujarat, India.
This was the first instance of BT resistance
confirmed by Monsanto anywhere in the world.
Bollworm resistance to first generation BT cotton
has been identified in the Australia, China, Spain
and the United States.
In 2012, a Florida field trial demonstrated that
army worms were resistant to pesticide-
containing GM corn produced by Dupont-Dow;
armyworm resistance was first discovered in
Puerto Rico in 2006, prompting Dow and DuPont
to voluntarily stop selling the product on the
One of Monsanto's signature genetically modified organisms, RoundUp Ready corn has been engineered to be
more resistant to glyphosate, the main ingredient in RoundUp pesticide. The cultivation of this crop has led to
increased pesticide resistance in both weeds and insects. Now, the corn variety is showing up unexpectedly
on soybean plantations, raising the cost of production, leading to greater pesticide usage and threatening
farmers' revenues. BUZZ.NATURALNEWS.COM
Brazil farmers say GMO corn
no longer resistant to pests
WHAT IS GMO CORN?
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