Please circulate widely and repost, but you must give the URL of the original and preserve all the links back to articles on our website. If you find this report useful, please support ISIS by subscribing to our magazine Science in Society, and encourage your friends to do so. Or have a look at the ISIS bookstore for other publications
GM agriculture is failing
on all counts while hazards to health and the environment are coming to light. Opposition
to GMOs is gaining momentum worldwide but the expansionist GM corporate agenda
continues undiminished. GM agriculture 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. Take
action now to ban environmental releases of GMOs, locally in communities, villages, towns, municipalities,
regions, as well as nationally and globally. We the people need to reclaim our
food and seed sovereignty from the corporate empire before they destroy our
food and farming irreversibly.
The GM battle intensifies
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.
this report, circulate it widely, and send it to your political representatives.
“Genetically modified crops and
their significance for sustainable agriculture in Switzerland”, EuropaBio,
22 March 2013, http://www.europabio.org/news/genetically-modified-crops-and-their-significance-sustainable-agriculture-switzerland
“Green Party calls Monsanto a
top risk to health and the environment, urges a moratorium on genetically
modified food crops”, Press Release, Green Party, 16 May 2013, http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=618
Ho MW and Lim LC. The Case for a GM-Free Sustainable
World, Independent Science Panel Report, Institute of Science in
Society and Third World Network, London and Penang, 2003; republished GM-Free,
Exposing the Hazards of Biotechnology to Ensure the Integrity of Our Food
Supply, Vitalhealth Publishing, Ridgefield, Ct., 2004 (both available
from ISIS online bookstore http://www.i-sis.org.uk/onlinestore/books.php#1)
Mcintyre BD, Herren HR, Wakhungu J and Watson RT eds.
Agriculture at a Crossroads, International Assessment of Agricultural
Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, Synthesis Report,
Island Press, Washington D.C., 2009. http://www.unep.org/dewa/agassessment/reports/IAASTD/EN/Agriculture%20at%20a%20Crossroads_Synthesis%20Report%20(English).pdf
Ken Conrad Comment left 24th May 2013 17:05:46 I agree With Jon.
Dr. I.S. Perlingieri Comment left 25th May 2013 18:06:10 25 May 2013. Today is the day that the US and 36 other countries are participating in a global STOP MONSANTO day. The evidence is already overwhelming of the toxicity of GM crops. If the governments want to do business with criminals, then it is up to citizens from all over the world NOT to buy any products from corporations that continue to cause such massive harm to us and the entire web of life. We do have the Power of the PUR$E! The buck or eruo does stop at the cash register. We can choose not to buy and, therefore, NOT support financially any company that makes products designed to harm! Just think: if Monsanto did not have any sales for 2-3 weeks, how that would impact their balance sheet!
Jon Tattersall Comment left 24th May 2013 14:02:19 These are not the deeds of corporations.
They are the doings of men . They should be named.
william pina Comment left 31st May 2013 06:06:17 Hi there!!...Thank you for posting such important article about the big monsters,Monsanto
Dupont ect,I swear am just waiting for the they to see those stupid things Gmo's (ALL),stoped for good of the entire humanity,'cause those corporations does not care about anything but (Get rich)no matter who's beeing affected by their acts. That in the concerning is the all world,because(they)are trying to plant their poison everywhere,but just in those countries that don't offers resistance to those plans. ¡¡Fight,fight,fight and never stop fighing, until we make them stop. Thanks again....
Rory Short Comment left 17th June 2013 19:07:10 The problem that we are facing is much deeper and wider than that posed by GMO's alone. GMO's are the natural outcome of us seeing ourselves as being APART from Nature not, as us recognising, that we are a PART of Nature and thus seeking in our behaviour to be in harmony with Nature at all times.
Theresa Comment left 19th June 2013 13:01:56 Following on from Jon and Rory's comments, I think we need to keep an eye on the Rt. Hon.David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science - see more at:
Note the mention of the OECD here:
More information on the KBBE "concept?" here:
I am seeing my MP on Friday.
How best to address the issues????
One idea might be to immediately* push for stronger regulations (and promote discussion of the alternatives, see ETC Group's work on synbio for example and Corporate Watch are doing some good work) if moratoriums cannot be negotiated.
*Imperial College are shortly to have an International Synbio conference http://sb6.biobricks.org/. See speakers.
So who might be investing* in unsafe and unethical technologies? Which projects are safe and which are not? Are risks worth taking while there are alternatives?
* Info, 2 years old
Note: Soros, Dupont, BP (NASA ??).
Dr. I.S. Perlingieri Comment left 21st June 2013 12:12:06 21 June 2013
I am calling for a 4-day Nationwide General Strike in the US over the 4th of July holiday. As part of our collective global grievances, I have included Dr. Mae-Wan Ho's "Ban GMOs Now". Please help spread the word. The link can be found at:
My Part 2 (also referenced above) has more on Dr. Ho's GMO Ban.
lorina Comment left 13th October 2013 07:07:26 YES BAN NOW OF GMO'S
joan Russow Comment left 21st October 2013 23:11:14 I remember in 1999 in Delhi, Vandana Shiva held the Biodevastation II Conference, which Dr Mae Wong Ho and I attended. At that Conference there was a debate about tactics- to call for labeling or banning. In the end all the participants, except the International Consumer's Association whose campaign was labeling, signed the following Petition:
Biodevastastion II Global Ban Declaration
(i) A global ban on genetically engineered foods and crops;
(ii) A global ban on the patenting of life forms;
(iii) An end to the exploitation of the knowledge of farmers, peasants and indigenous peoples;
(iv) A global support program for promoting organic agriculture and other forms of ecological farming, and for instituting a fair and just transition program for affected farmers and communities.
Labelling addresses the right to know issue but not the equity issue - not everyone can afford GE-free or organic food and crops, and not the environmental issue- genetic drift and contamination. Monsanto and the other GE food and crops industries should have their charters or licences revoked and be charged with gross or criminal negligence for jeopardizing global food security and food sovereignty.