The Guardian June 26, 2002


Doubts over GM crops

Cotton has been hailed as a great example of the virtues of genetic 
modification. Bt cotton which incorporates a gene isolated from the 
bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) harms the cotton bollworm.

Monsanto, the leading GM company controls more than 80 per cent of the Bt 
cotton grown worldwide. It is not surprising that it went into overdrive 
questioning research findings in China that suggest Bt cotton not only 
permanently harms the environment but also fails to control the pest it has 
been created to kill off.

The study by the Nanjing institute of environmental sciences drew together 
laboratory and fieldwork undertaken by four scientific institutions in 
China over several years.

The study found that the resistance of Bt cotton to bollworm decreased 
significantly over time, meaning that larger amounts of pesticides would be 
needed to control pests within a few years.

The population of other pests in Bt cotton fields increased, some replacing 
the bollworm as the primary pest.

China is heavily involved in Bt cotton growing  it is the second largest 
producer after the United States.

Not surprisingly, Monsanto has dismissed the findings claiming that the 
report "is another example of baseless claims made by anti-GM activists 
like Greenpeace".

Research into long-term effects of GM plant material is still in its 
infancy  not enough time has passed since its introduction to be sure of 
its long-term effects and possible dangers to the world's food and plant 
supplies.

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