ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

17 September 2002


A pro-GM press conference was held at the Farmers Club yesterday. The intention was to act as a spoiler for the report released today on the impact of GM crops on US farming that has been commissioned by the Soil Assoiciation. It reflects the desperation of the biotech industry, which has promoted these crops with a massive wave of hype, to keep objective evidence on their real impact out of the public arena. Item 2 shows who's behind the pro-GM report and contrasts its findings with a more objective source.

1. Conflicting reports on GM crops
2. Mark Griffiths' response to the spoiler report


1. Conflicting reports on GM crops

John Vidal, environment editor
Tuesday September 17, 2002
The Guardian,2763,793532,00.html

The confusion and misconceptions surrounding GM agriculture were increased yesterday by authoritative reports from its supporters and opponents suggesting that the crops have dramatically helped US farmers and the environment in the worst drought for 50 years but have led to $12bn (£7.8bn) losses and forced a greater dependence on chemicals.

With Europe expected to lift its embargo on the growing GM crops soon, there are increasing efforts to persuade governments, farmers and the public of their benefits and disadvantages.

Yesterday a coalition of nine US farm groups reported that biotech crops had led farmers to adopt more environmentally friendly methods and use less pesticide. Minimal ploughing, the report says, has reduced soil erosion.

But research in the US by the Soil Association, the world's leading certifier of organic crops, suggests that it is more profitable for north American farmers to grow non-GM crops, and that claims of increased yields are false.


2. Mark Griffiths' response to the spoiler report

Here is Mark Griffiths' response to a piece on Farmers Weekly Interactive
( covering the pro-GM report.

You can see Mark's response at:

FWI today states: "GENETICALLY modified crops have transformed US agriculture for the better, claims a report by nine American farmers' groups... Report author Kimball Nill, technical director of the American Soybean Association, said the aim of the report was to put the record straight about GM crops."

The American Soybean Association is known to enjoy a close relationship with Monsanto. However, the latest USDA economic report on GM crops does not concur with the claims of this ASA author as detailed in a letter published in Farmers Weekly 16 August 2002 (see bottom). For some reason this USDA report does not appear to have been covered in the farming press.

Which is more likely to be an objective source of information - the economics service of the USDA or a trade association with a direct financial interest in promoting US farm exports to the detriment of European farmers?

The report referred to by FWI is also supported by the National Corn Growers Association. According to US farm group 'Cropchoice': "Syngenta, Monsanto and others contributed about 11 percent of the National Corn Growers Association‚s $7 million budget in fiscal year 2001, says spokesman Stewart Reeve. The money went toward banquets, conventions and leadership training seminars on such issues as ethanol and biotechnology. The American Soybean Association received $2.1 million of its $26.7 million budget in fiscal 2000 from Monsanto, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, BASF, Stein Seed Co. and others, says controller Brian Vaught. In 2001, the Association spent $280,000 to work with the Council for Biotechnology Information and the National Corn Growers to achieve a unified message about the benefits of transgenic crops."
(see )

More information available on the USDA GM crops economic report provided at:

Mark Griffiths BSc FRICS FAAV



Letter Published in 'Farmers Weekly' 16 August 2002
(Numbers in brackets refer to footnotes provided with web vesion, for further reference; title of letter produced by Farmers Weekly.)

The article "Data shows economic success for GM crops" (Arable, July 12) is misleading.

It quotes claims from a US National Centre for Food and Agricultural Policy study part funded by Monsanto and the Biotechnology Industry Organisation.

With the exception of Bt insecticide cotton, often planted where little integrated pest management is used, examination of USDA governmental data released in June gives a different picture.

First, GM crops do not increase yield potential and may reduce yields. [1]

Second, Bt insecticide GM corn has had a negative economic impact on farms. [2]

Third, GM herbicide-tolerant crops have produced no reduction in herbicide active ingredient applied. [3]

Fourth, the reports says: "Change in pesticide use from the adoption of herbicide-tolerant cotton was not significant." [4]

Fifth, for herbicide-tolerant soya, active ingredient of herbicide applied has increased. [5]

Sixth, it states: "The adoption of herbicide-tolerant soybeans does not have a statistically significant effect on net returns." [6]

It adds: "Using herbicide-tolerant seed did not significantly affect no-till adoption". [7]

The report comments that "the soybean results appear to be inconsistent with the rapid adoption of this technology" and that "An analysis using broader financial performance measures... did not show GE crops to have a significant impact." [8]

It concludes that: "Perhaps the biggest issue raised by these results is how to explain the rapid adoption of GE crops when farm financial impacts appear to be mixed or even negative." [9] The report does not refer to unreliable promotional advice fed to farmers.

The Prime Minister claims to seek a scientific debate on GM crops. Unless there is a willingness to look at all the scientific data and to avoid hype from vested interests, we are unlikely to get one.

Mark Griffiths

For references and more detail see:

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