The industry-funded International
Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) claims that
the global area of genetically modified (GM) crops reached 170.3 m hectares
(420 m acres) in 2012; a 100-fold increase since commercialization began in
1996; and “the fastest adopted crop technology in the history of modern
crops are still confined to 28 countries, with nearly 90 % planted in just
five. USA’s 69.5 m ha tops the list at 40.8 % of the total area; Brazil and
Argentina with 36.6 and 23.9 m ha account for 21.5 % and 14.0 % respectively; and
Canada and India with 11.6 and 10.8 m ha account for 6.8 % and 6.3 %
respectively. Herbicide (glyphosate) tolerant crops comprise nearly 60 %, Bt
crops 15% and stacked traits 25 %. The major crops are just three: herbicide
tolerant soybean (47 %) maize (Bt 4%, stacked traits 23 %) and cotton (Bt 11 %,
stacked traits 2%).
limited to two traits in three major crops that are largely kept out of most of
reason is its inability to deliver really useful traits. As Geoffrey Lean of
the Telegraph remarked in reviewing a new book by Prof Sir Gordon
Conway, formerly President of the Rockefeller Foundation and Chief Scientific
Adviser to the Department for International Development, and a known GM
supporter [2}: “But what emerges from his book, One Billion Hungry….is
how little – so far, at least – GM technology is contributing to beating
hunger.” In contrast, conventional breeding assisted
by genetic markers has been turning out miracles in the meantime, as described
in Conway’s book. Scientists at Britain’s National Institute
of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) have just created new wheat hybrids that could
increase yields by 30 %. But it is in Africa
that major successes have been tumbling out. Nerica rice varieties up to four
times as productive as traditional varieties with much shorter
growing season, more protein, resist pests and diseases, thrive on poor soils,
and withstand drought; also30 varieties of
drought-tolerant maize are boosting yield 20 to 30 % across 13 countries, climbing
beans treble production in Central Africa, wheat varieties thriving on salty soils,
plus a host of other wonders: blight-resistant potatoes, crops enriched with
vitamin A, iron and other essential nutrients.
The other reason is that resistance
to GM crops and GMOs (genetically modified organisms including transgenic
trees, fish and livestock) has been growing simultaneously worldwide as the failures
and hazards are coming to light behind the corporate propaganda.
GM crops are
hardly grown in Europe even though the European Commission has given commercial
approval for cultivation, showing every sign of caving in to the GM lobby. But
at the end of May 2013, Monsanto, the largest producer of GM seeds, announced it
is pulling out from Europe. Monsanto’s Europe representative Brandon Mitchener
told the press the company would no longer engage in any lobbying in Europe and
would not apply for approval of any GM plants . German Agriculture Ministry
issued a revealing statement: “The promises of GM industry have not come true
for European agriculture, nor have they for the agriculture in developing and
emerging economies.” Monsanto is the last company to depart Germany, if not
Europe, following Bayer CropScience, BASF and Syngenta. On 17 July 2013, Monsanto announced it will withdraw all EU approval requests for new GMO crops , to concentrate on growing its conventional seeds business in Europe, and to secure EU approvals to import its GM crop varieties widely grown in the US and South America. So, the company has not given up on pushing GMOs on Europe after all. It was setting up a smokescreen to put us off our guard.
Monsanto has been in the news simultaneously for its unapproved glyphosate tolerant GM wheat that has turned up in a farmer’s field in Oregon; and Japan and then South Korea suspended their wheat imports for fear of GM contamination, leading to a 4% drop in Monsanto’s shares . The shipments were eventually cancelled, which could cost US farmers billions .
In fact 8 European Union countries have imposed outright bans on crops approved: Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria and Poland . Switzerland has had a moratorium on GM crops since 2008, which was set to end in 2013. But in March 2013, the Swiss Parliament voted to prolong the moratorium ignoring the findings of their National Research Programme 59, which  “re-confirmed the safety of the commercial use of GM crops and recommended an end to the moratorium.” Denmark gave up on GM crops after having allowed Monsanto to carry out field trials of GM maize since 2009 . Italy is the latest to ban cultivation of GM maize (MON 810) citing environmental concerns . In addition, regions and local administrations at every level in 37 European countries have declared themselves GMO-free. As of 2010, this comprises 169 main regions (prefectures, etc.); 123 intermediate regions (provinces, districts, etc.), 4 713 local governments (municipalities and communities up to areas of 1 m ha), and 31 357 individuals ; and the movement is growing rapidly.
Within the heartland of GMOs the USA, the failures of GM crops and the problems created are most visible and most acute  (GM Crops Facing
Meltdown in the USA, SiS 46). A new study reveals that the US staple crop system has performed worse than non-GM Europe in yields, pesticide use, genetic diversity and resilience since GM crops were planted  (US Staple Crop System Failing from GM and Monoculture, SiS 59); with a dangerous downward trend in recent years. Meanwhile, a pitched battle is taking place to get GM crops out through GMO-labelling legislation that would unleash the power of consumers against the might of the biotech industry . Close to 95 % of Americans support GM labelling. In October 2011, the Center for Food Safety filed a legal petition with the FDA to require labelling of all GM food. In 2012, 55 members of Congress wrote a letter to the FDA commissioner in support of the petition. The FDA has received over one million public comments supporting the petition, the largest response ever received by the agency. Meanwhile, 37 GM food labelling bills have been introduced in 21 states in 2013. In the latest move in Washington, Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Peter DeFazio have jointly sponsored new federal legislation that requires labelling of all GM food in the US. The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act is the first national labelling bill to be introduced in Congress since 2010. The US Green Party has called Monsanto “a top risk to public health and the environment,” and has urged a moratorium on GM food crops .
2012, Peru imposed a 10 year ban on GMOs in the country, thanks to the effort
of farmers from Parque de la Papa in Cusco, a community of 6 000 anxious to
protect indigenous biodiversity especially of corn and potatoes on which their
livelihood depends .
In the same
month, Kenya banned import of all GMOs with immediate effect . This
followed a decision made by the cabinet on the basis of “inadequate research
done on GMOs and scientific evidence provided to prove the safety of the
On 1 June 2013,
the new administration in Venezuela announced a new law to protect farmers
against GM seeds 
On 22 July 2013, the Indian Supreme Court’s expert panel of scientists called for a ban on herbicide tolerant crops for India .
A critical juncture
The rising opposition to GMOs has
done little to diminish the aggressive expansionist agenda of the GM corporate
empire. Mexico is a major target. US biotech firms Monsanto, DuPont and Dow
have applied for permits to grow more than two million hectares of GM maize in
northern Mexico . Mexico is the birthplace of maize and a centre of
biodiversity. Since 2009, the Mexican government has granted 177 permits for
experimental plots of GM maize covering 2 664 hectares. Large-scale commercial
release of GM maize has not yet been authorised; but GM contamination of native
maize has already been discovered, as the result of what some regard as “a
carefully and perversely planned strategy”.
The other major strategy
of the GM corporate empire is seed monopoly and escalating seed costs. Conventional
non-GM seeds are pushed out at the expense of GM seeds, thereby reducing
farmers’ choices . The big four biotech seed companies – Monsanto DuPont/
Pioneer Hi-Bred, Syngenta, and Dow AgroSciences – now own 80 % of the US corn
market and 70 % of soybean business. The costs of seeds have increased two to
three fold since 1995. This is destroying the lives of farmers around the world;
the most visible in India, where the introduction of GM cotton has coincided
with an escalation of farm suicides ( Farmer Suicides
and Bt Cotton Nightmare Unfolding in India, SiS 45). At the
same time, farmers who want to return to conventional non-GM seed after experiencing
increased pest resistance and crop failures find themselves unable to do so, on
account of the limited availability of non-GM seeds .
Ban GMOs Now
This is a dangerous situation for
the future of food and farming, one that needs to be reversed as quickly as
possible, particularly as GM agriculture is failing on all counts. That can
only be achieved by a ban on GMOs, an action already taken by countries and
local communities around the world. We need to join forces with them, to put an
end to the GM corporate empire.
Ten years ago, 24
scientists from around the world formed an Independent Science Panel and
produced a report  (The Case
for A GM-Free Sustainable World, ISIS/TWN publication) summarizing
compelling evidence on the hazards of GM crops and the benefits of organic
agro-ecological farming, and called for a global ban on environmental releases
of GMOs, and a shift to non-GM sustainable agriculture. This report was widely
circulated, translated into several languages, and republished in the US a year
later. It remains the most succinct and complete account on the subject; but
crucial new evidence has come to light within the past decade that strengthens the
First of all, decisive
evidence has emerged on the unsustainability and destructiveness of
conventional industrial agriculture, of which GM is the most extreme; in stark
contrast to the proven successes of non-GM ecological farming: its productivity
and resilience, environmental and health benefits, and in particular, its enormous
potential for saving energy and carbon emissions in mitigating and adapting to
climate change. We presented all that in a comprehensive and definitive report
published in 2008 ( Food
Futures Now *Organic *Sustainable *Fossil Fuel Free , ISIS/TWN publication).
Our report is completely in line with the International Assessment of
Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report
, which resulted from a three-year consultative process involving 900
participants and 110 countries around the world; a sure sign of the scientific
consensus that has emerged around non-GM ecological farming as the way forward
in food and farming.
the case, we need to bring together all the damning evidence against GMOs on
health and the environment, especially in the light of new discoveries in
molecular genetics within the past ten years. That is the main reason for the
is a recipe for disaster, as this report will make clear. It is also standing
in the way of the shift to sustainable agriculture already taking place in
local communities all over the world that can truly enable people to feed
themselves in times of climate change. Future generations will not forgive us
if we do not stop the GM takeover now.
Please use this report, circulate it widely, and send
it to your political representatives.
Since the first
commercial growing began in 1996, the global area of genetically modified (GM)
crops is reported to have increased 100-fold. However, nearly 90 % are confined
to 5 countries, with top grower the US accounting for more than 40 %. GM crops
have been largely excluded from Europe and most developing countries because
opposition has been growing simultaneously as widespread agronomical failures
of the GM crops as well the health and environmental impacts are coming to
remains limited to three major crops – soybean, maize and cotton – and two
traits: herbicide (mainly glyphosate) tolerance (HT) at nearly 60 % and insect
resistance with toxins from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis
(Bt) at 15 %, with the remaining stacked traits (HT and one or more Bt) at 25%.
failures and hazards of glyphosate and glyphosate tolerant crops and Bt crops
are reviewed respectively in Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. Chapter 3 reviews the
range of hazards resulting from the uncontrollable, unpredictable process of
genetic modification itself in the light of advances in molecular genetics
within the past decade, which tells us why the technology cannot be safety
applied to grow our crops or produce our food.
Glyphosate & glyphosate tolerant crops
use has gone up sharply worldwide since the introduction of glyphosate-tolerant
GM crops. Herbicide use per acre has doubled in the US within the past five
years compared with the first five years of commercial GM crops cultivation,
the increase almost entirely due to glyphosate herbicides. Glyphosate has
contaminated land, water, air, and our food supply. Damning evidence of its
serious harm to health and the environment has been piling up, but the maximum
permitted levels are set to rise by 100-150 times in the European Union with
further hikes of already unacceptably high levels in the US if Monsanto gets
Scientific evidence accumulated over three decades documents
miscarriages, birth defects, carcinogenesis, endocrine disruption, DNA
damage, general toxicity to cells, neurotoxicity, and toxicity to liver
and kidney at glyphosate levels well below recommended agricultural use.
The major adjuvant POEA in glyphosate Roundup formulations is
by far the most cytotoxic for human cells, ahead of glyphosate and its
metabolite. It also amplifies the toxic effects of glyphosate.
A recent review blames glyphosate for practically all modern
diseases as its general chelating action affects numerous biological
functions that require metal cofactors. It is the most pervasive
environmental chemical pollutant that also inhibits enzymes involved in
detoxification of xenobiotics, thereby increasing their toxicity.
In addition, it kills beneficial gut bacteria that prevent pathogens from
colonizing the gut and promotes the growth of the pathogenic bacteria,
leading to autism and other diseases.
Rats fed Roundup contaminated and Roundup tolerant maize beyond
the required 90 days showed a startling range of health impacts. Females
were 2 to 3 times as likely to die as controls and much more likely to
develop mammary tumours. In males, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5
to 5.5 times as frequent as controls, while kidney diseases were 1.3-2.3
times controls. Males also develop kidney or skin tumours 4 times as often
as the controls and up to 600 days earlier. The harmful effects were found
in animals fed the GM maize that was not sprayed with Roundup, as well as
those that were, indicating that the GM maize has its own toxicities apart
from the herbicide.
Livestock illnesses from glyphosate tolerant GM feed including
reproductive problems, diarrhoea, bloating, spontaneous abortions, reduced
live births, inflamed digestive systems and nutrient deficiencies.
Evidence has also emerged of chronic botulism in cattle and farmers as the
result of glyphosate use.
Glyphosate is lethal to frogs and Roundup is worse; it increases
toxic blooms, and accelerates the deterioration of water quality. It use
also coincides with the demise of monarch butterflies.
Glyphosate poisons crops and soils by killing beneficial
microorganisms and encouraging pathogens to flourish. Forty crop diseases
are now linked to glyphosate use and the number is increasing.
Glyphosate-resistant weeds cover 120 million ha globally (61.8 m
acres in the US) and continue to spread; it is a major factor accounting
for the enormous increase in pesticide use since herbicide tolerant GM
crops were introduced.
Contamination of ground water supplies, rain, and air has been
documented in Spain and the US. Berlin city residents were found to have
glyphosate concentrations above permitted EU drinking water levels.
crops were sold on the premise that they would increase yields and reduce
pesticide use; instead they have resulted in too many crop failures, and the
introduction of Bt cotton is now acknowledged to be responsible for the
escalation in farm suicides in India.
Bt crops’ claim to reduce pesticide use is based on excluding the
Bt produced in the crops in total ‘pesticides applied’; but the Bt toxins
leach from the plants and persist in soil and water, with negative impacts
on health and the ecosystem comparable to conventional pesticides.
Fungicide use and insecticide treatment of corn and soybean have
gone up dramatically since the introduction of Bt crops.
The breakdown of Bt traits due to target pest resistance and
secondary pests has resulted in increasing use of conventional pesticides;
and pesticide companies are reporting 5 to 50% increase in sales for 2012
and the first quarter of 2013.
Contrary to industry’s claim that Bt is harmless to non-target
species, independent studies showed that Bt toxins elicit immune response
in mammals in some cases comparable to that due to cholera toxin. This is
consistent with farm workers’ reports of allergic symptoms affecting the
eyes, skin and respiratory tract.
A new study found Bt proteins toxic to developing red blood cells
as well as bone marrow cells in mice.
Toxicity to human kidney cells has been observed in vitro,
consistent with in vivo experiments in lab animals showing toxicity
to heart, kidney and liver.
Bt crops fail to control target pests due to insufficient
expression of Bt toxins, thereby promoting the evolution of resistance.
Bt crops promote the emergence of secondary pests when target
pests are killed. Primary and secondary pests are already huge problems in
the US, India and China, and are now hitting multiple crops in Brazil since
Bt maize was introduced.
Stacked varieties containing multiple Bt toxins are predicted to
hasten the evolution of multiple toxin resistance, as resistance to one
toxin appears to accelerate the acquisition of resistance to further
Bt toxins harm non-target species including water fleas, lacewings, monarch butterflies,
peacock butterflies and bees, which are
showing worrying signs of population decline across the world.
Bt toxins leach into the soil via the root of Bt crops where they
can persist for 180 days; this has been linked to the emergence of new
plant diseases and reduced crop yields.
Bt toxins also persist in aquatic environments, contaminating
streams and water columns and harming important aquatic organisms such as
New genetics & hazards of genetic modification
The rationale and
impetus for genetic engineering and genetic modification was the ‘central
dogma’ of molecular biology that assumed DNA carries all the instructions for
making an organism. This is contrary to the reality of the fluid and responsive
genome that already has come to light since the early 1980s. Instead of linear
causal chains leading from DNA to RNA to protein and downstream biological
functions, complex feed-forward and feed-back cycles interconnect organism and
environment at all levels, marking and changing RNA and DNA down the
generations. In order to survive, the organism needs to engage in natural
genetic modification in real time, an exquisitely precise molecular dance of
life with RNA and DNA responding to and participating fully in ‘downstream’
biological functions. That is why organisms and ecosystems are particularly
vulnerable to the crude, artificial genetically modified RNA and DNA created by
human genetic engineers. It is also why genetic modification can probably never
modification done by human genetic engineers is anything but precise; it is
uncontrollable and unpredictable, introducing many collateral damage to the
host genome as well as new transcripts, proteins and metabolites that could be
2. GM feed
with very different transgenes have been shown to be harmful to a wide range of
species, by farmers in the field and independent scientists working in the lab,
indicating that genetic modification itself is unsafe.
modification done by human genetic engineers is different from natural genetic
modification done by organisms themselves for the following reasons: it relies
on making unnatural GM constructs designed to cross species barriers and jump
into genomes; it combines and transfers genes between species that would never
have exchanged genes in nature; GM constructs tend to be unstable and hence
more prone to further horizontal gene transfer after it has integrated into the
gene transfer and recombination is a major route for creating new viruses and
bacteria that cause diseases and spreading drug and antibiotic resistance.
Transgenic DNA is especially dangerous because the GM constructs are already
combinations of sequences from diverse bacteria and viruses that cause
diseases, and contain antibiotic resistance marker genes.
is experimental evidence that transgenes are much more likely to spread and to
instability of the GM construct is reflected in the instability of transgenic
varieties due to both transgene silencing and the loss of transgenes, for which
abundant evidence exists. Transgenic instability makes a mockery of
‘event-specific’ characterization and risk assessment, because any change
in transgene expression, or worse, rearrangement or movement of the transgenic
DNA insert(s) would create another transgenic plant different from the one that
was characterized and risk assessed. And it matters little how thoroughly the
original characterization and risk assessment may have been done.Unstable transgenic lines are illegal, they should not be
growing commercially, and they are not eligible for patent protection.
is abundant evidence for horizontal transfer of transgenic DNA from plant to
bacteria in the lab and it is well known that transgenic DNA can persist in
debris and residue in the soil long after the crops have been cultivated. At
least 87 species (2 % of all known species) of bacteria can take up foreign DNA
and integrate it into their genome; the frequency of that happening being
greatly increased when a short homologous anchor sequence is present.
frequency at which transgenic DNA transfers horizontal has been routinely
underestimated because the overwhelming majority of natural bacteria cannot be
cultured. Using direct detection methods without the need to culture,
substantial gene transfers were observed on the surface of intact leaves as
well as on rotting damaged leaves.
9. In the
only monitoring experiment carried out with appropriate molecular probes so
far, China has detected the spread of a GM antibiotic resistance gene to
bacteria in all of its major rivers; suggesting that horizontal gene transfer
has contributed to the recent rise in antibiotic resistance in animals and humans
in the country.
10. GM DNA
has been found to survive digestion in the gut of mice, the rumen of sheep and
duodenum of cattle and to enter the blood stream.
11. In the
only feeding trial carried out on humans, the complete 2 266 bp of the epsps
transgene in Roundup Ready soybean flour was recovered from the colostomy bag
in 6 out of 7 ileostomy subjects. In 3 out of 7 subjects, bacteria cultured
from the contents of the colostomy bag were positive for the GM soya transgene,
showing that horizontal transfer of the transgene had occurred; but no bacteria
were positive for any natural soybean genes.
gastrointestinal tract of mammals is a hotspot for horizontal gene transfer
between bacteria, transfer beginning in the mouth.
is emerging that genomes of higher plants and animals may be even softer
targets for horizontal gene transfer than genomes of bacteria.
CaMV 35S promoter, most widely used in commercial GM crops, is known to have a
fragmentation hotspot, which makes it prone to horizontal gene transfer; in
addition. it is promiscuously active in bacteria, fungi, as well as human
cells. Recent evidence also suggests that the promoter may enhance
multiplication of disease-associated viruses including HIV and cytomegalovirus
through the induction of proteins required for transcription of the viruses. It
also overlaps with a viral gene that interferes with gene silencing, an
essential function in plants and animals that protects them against viruses.
15. The Agrobacterium
vector, most widely used for creating GM plants is now known to transfer genes
also to fungi and human cells, and to share genetic signals for gene transfer
with common bacteria in the environment. In addition, the Agrobacterium
bacteria as well as it gene transfer vector tend to remain in the GM crops
created, thereby constituting a ready route for horizontal gene transfer to all
organisms interacting with the GM crops, or come into contact with the soil on
which GM crops are growing or have been grown.
2008, Agrobacterium was linked to the outbreak of Morgellons disease.
The Centers for Disease Control in the US launched an investigation, which
concluded in 2012, with the finding: “no common underlying medical condition or
infection source was identified”. But they had failed to investigate the
involvement of Agrobacterium.
17. New GM
crops that produce double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) for specific gene-silencing are
hazardous because many off-target effects in the RNA interference process are
now known, and cannot be controlled. Furthermore, small dsRNA in food plants
were found to survive digestion in the human gut and to enter the bloodstream
where they are transported to different tissues and cells to silence genes.
accumulated over the past 50 years have revealed nucleic acids (both DNA and
RNA) circulating in the bloodstream of humans and other animals that are
actively secreted by cells for intercommunication. The nucleic acids are taken
up by target cells to silence genes in the case of double-stranded microRNA
(miRNA), and may be integrated into the cells’ genome, in the case of DNA. The
profile of the circulating nucleic acids change according to states of health
and disease. Cancer cells use the system to spread cancer around the body. This
nucleic acid intercom leaves the body very vulnerable to genetically modified
nucleic acids that can take over the system to do considerable harm.
serious harm to health and the ecological and agronomical impacts of glyphosate
and glyphosate tolerant crops are the most thoroughly researched, and for which
there is little remaining doubt. The same kind of evidence has now emerged for
Bt crops and Bt toxins. Evidence that genetic modification per se is
harmful is also convincing, and can be attributed to the uncontrollable process
of genetic modification itself as well as the dangers from the horizontal
transfer of the GM constructs, which can spread antibiotic resistance, create
new pathogens and trigger ‘insertion carcinogenesis’, as well as taking over
the body’s natural nucleic acid intercom to do harm.
is a compelling case for banning all environmental releases of GMOs now,
and with that the glyphosate herbicides. Action can be taken locally in
communities, villages, towns, municipalities, regions, as well as nationally and
globally. It must be done now; for time is running out. We need to shift
comprehensively to non-GM sustainable ecological farming in order to feed
ourselves under climate change. We the people need to reclaim our food and seed
sovereignty from the corporate empire before they destroy our food and farming
1 Double Jeopardy of Glyphosate & Glyphosate Tolerant Crops
2 Regulators and industry both culpable
3 How glyphosate works
4 Health impacts
4.1 Teratogenicity and reproductive effects
4.2 Endocrine disruption
4.5 Cytotoxicity of glyphosate & adjuvant
4.7 Internal organ toxicity
4.8 Acute toxicity
4.9 Glyphosate & modern diseases
5 Environmental and agronomic effects
5.1 Glyphosate resistant weeds
5.2 Effects on crop and plant health
5.3 Effects on soil ecology
5.4 Effects on ecosystems
5.5 Diseases of livestock
6 To conclude
2 Bt Crops Failing & Harmful to Health and Environment
1. Crop failures, farm suicides, & false accounting
2. Risks to human health
3. Breakdown of pest control
3.1 Bt toxin levels insufficient to kill pests
3.2 Secondary pest and disease infestations
3.3 Bt resistance in target pests
4. Environmental and ecological damage
5. To conclude
3 New Genetics & Hazards of GMOs
1. What’s a GMO?
2. The fluid genome and natural genetic engineering
3. GM inherently hazardous
4. What are the hazards of GMOs
5. Transgene instability & the illegality of GMOs
6. Horizontal gene transfer from GMOs does happen
7. Hazards of the CaMV 35S promoter
8. Hazards of Agrobacterium vector
8.1 Agrobacterium & Morgellons disease
9. RNA interference and double stranded RNA
10. The nucleic acid intercom
11. To conclude