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.