ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

19 December 2001

GMOS POLLUTE THE SAINT LAURENCE; BT CORN TOXIN HAS CONTAMINATED  RIVER SEDIMENT

Bt is a bio-pesticide that can have toxic effects on a variety of organisms. The theory is that, unlike chemical pesticides, it will biodegrade rapidly.

However, Canadian researchers report heavy contamination of the sediment of the Saint Laurence river by the Bt corn toxin. Their findings showed sediments drawn from the Saint Laurence had concentrations of the Bt-toxin 5 times higher than in drainage waters and sediments near agricultural land.

According to professor of toxicology, Jean-Francois Narbonne, this concentration-effect suggests "the roots of the Bt-corn plants transfer the gene sequence to other soil bacteria that then also secrete the Bt insecticide".

The Quebec study also showed that earthworms are harmed by this pollution, being particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of the Bt insecticide.

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GMOS POLLUTE THE SAINT LAURENCE; BT CORN TOXIN HAS CONTAMINATED RIVER SEDIMENT

December 18, 2001
Le Devoir, [via Agnet]
pgs. A1-A8
Pauline Gravel
(this is a rough translation of an article originally in French)

A recent study conducted in Quebec was cited as revealing heavy contamination  of the sediment of the Saint Laurence by the Bt corn toxin.

The story says these troubling results were cited by Jean-Francois Narbonne, professor of toxicology at l1 Universite de Bourdeaux, at an international symposium at the Pasteur  Institute in Paris which entitled: "OGM et alimentation: peut on evaluer des benefices pour la sante?" (Translation = GMOs and food: Can we evaluate the health benefits?)

"Applied as a spray or integrated into a GMO, the Bt insecticide is very interesting because it consists of a protein that is rapidly degraded, which is contrary to chemical pesticides that accumulate in the environment," explained Jean-Francois Narbonne.

The observations made by scientists at the Centre Saint-Laurent d1Environnement Canada and the Institute du recherche en biotechnologie a Montreal leaves them perplexed/confused about the environmental innocuousness/harmlessness of this variety of transgenic corn.

The scientists took samples of surface water and of sediment near fields of Bt corn that were near the shore of the Richelieu river. Most of the production of Bt corn (which represents 40% of the total corn production in Quebec) is grown on the South shore of the Saint-Laurence, along its main affluents the Chateauguay, the Richelieu and the Yamaska rivers.

"The scientists observed that the sediments drawn/taken from the Saint Laurence [at the mouth of the Richelieu river] contained concentrations of the Bt-toxin that were 5 times higher than in drainage waters and sediments near agricultural land, specified Jean-Francois Narbonne. Such an accumulation in the Saint Laurence leads to the belief that "the roots of the Bt-corn plants transfer the gene sequence to other soil bacteria that then also secrete the Bt insecticide," explained the professor. "Or maybe the characteristics of the sediment from the Saint Laurence is better at retaining the coding sequence."

He added that  earthworms are harmed by this pollution, because this Quebec study showed  that this beneficial organism is particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of the Bt insecticide.

These results add tarnish to the heraldry of Bt corn whose reputation has already been hurt by the results of a study that showed the variety of corn poisoned not only the corn borer but also monarch butterflies.

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PLEASE SUPPORT INDIA'S OPPOSITION TO GE COTTON & SCIENCE FRAUD ­ more details on who to contact (including corrections)

BIG THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY TAKEN ACTION.
Devinder Sharma says that the international support is greatly appreciated by campaigners in India.

THIS IS WHAT (ELSE) YOU CAN DO:

E-MAIL THE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee:
pmosb@pmo.nic.in

OR Click on the link to sign the 'Devinder Sharma/Making India Green' petition on this:
http://makingindiagreen.actionize.com/view.php?refid=729387&action=1025

You can also put in extra e-mail addes when sending the peition ­ see below

Others you can contact:

*Mr Ajit Singh, Agriculture Minister:
Fax: +91 11 3386004 / +91 11 3384555 am@krishi.delhi.nic.in

*Hukum Dev Narain, Minister of State for Agriculture:
Fax: +91 11 3386098 mos@krishi.delhi.nic.in

*Shri T. R. Baalu, Union Cabinet Minister (Environment & Forests)
Fax +91 11 3354590 / +91 11 4362222  mef@envfor.delhi.nic.in

*P.V.Jayakrishnan, Secretary of State for Environment & Forests:
Fax +91 114362016 secy@menf.delhi.nic.in

Online email to Office of the Prime Minister (Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee)

http://pmindia.nic.in/writetous.htm

*Call for an investigation into the science fraud perpetuated by the Dept of Biotechnology in their handling of the trials to date and their attempt to push through approval without due process. For example, field trials for Bt cotton have consistently been sown as much as two months late when the attatck of the American bollworm, the relevant insect pest for Bt cotton, is in the first two months of the crop being sown! The entire insect profile affecting the crop is thus favourably changed and the resulting data has been hyped as showing positive results. This amounts to a scientific fraud.

*Support proper research prior to commercialisation. The approval of GE cotton should not be rushed through without time to assess the potentially disastrous environmental, socio-economic and health impact for India. It could be a death trap for farmers and India.

*Point out that these crops will not benefit small farmers and landless workers but only destroy their jobs and increase the gap between rich and poor

PLEASE ACT and FORWARD TO ALL YOUR CONTACTS

For more on this see:
India's Prime Minister warned over GE "scientific scam"
http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/131201e.htm

BT COTTON WILL KILL FARMERS, FINANCIALLY AND LITERALLY
http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/121201f.htm

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