ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

17 September 2002


We were forwarded the following comments from an American farmer concerning the Farmers Weekly article below about a pro-GM report issued by 'nine American farmers' groups':

"I only have two words for the entire article, "pure rubbish". [The] organizations esp, the commodity groups, corn soya and cotton get a LARGE portion of their budgets from the assorted agribusiness companies esp bio-tech. I know nothing about the agri-women except to assume they are victims of media and slick PR campaigns. The poultry groups are controlled by a few big growers, Tyson etc. The Milk Producers is an industry controlled group (hardly farmers) who wildly supported r-bovine growth hormone [a genetically engineered cattle drug banned in Canada and Europe]. So basically it is all crap and nothing more."

**USDA vs the American Soybean Association and other interested parties**

We have interpolated comments into the Farmers Weekly article below - mostly taken from the recent USDA GM crops economic report. More information on the USDA report, including references, is available at:

Several other comments interpolated are taken from the response of UK land agent Mark Griffiths to the FW article. Mark's response can be seen in full at: ]

As Mark says, "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?"


GM crops 'boost' agriculture

Source: FWi 16 September 2002
By Farmers Weekly staff

GENETICALLY modified crops have transformed US agriculture for the better, claims a report by nine American farmers' groups.

The report, Let the Facts Speak for Themselves, claims it is a myth that GM crops have failed to reduce pesticide use and are bad for the environment.

[USDA: GM herbicide-tolerant crops have produced no reduction in herbicide active ingredient applied. [3]
USDA: for herbicide-tolerant soya, active ingredient of herbicide applied has increased. [5]
USDA: "Change in pesticide use from the adoption of herbicide-tolerant cotton was not significant." [4]]

It refutes suggestions that US soya and corn exports have collapsed since biotech varieties were introduced and farmers are losing money.

[6.5 billion has been handed out in farm subsidies over the last three years in the US for maize and soya because of low prices caused by loss of trade due to GM crops. Contamination has also impacted on loss of foreign trade at an estimated cost of 1 billion, while one particular product recall left a bill of around 600 million. - 'Seeds of Doubt: North American farmers' experiences of GM crops']

Farmers would not grow GM crops unless they gave them a financial advantage, it concludes.

[USDA: " financial impacts appear to be mixed or even negative."
USDA: Bt insecticide GM corn has had a negative economic impact on farms. [2]
USDA: "The adoption of herbicide-tolerant soybeans does not have a statistically significant effect on net returns." [6]
USDA: "An analysis using broader financial performance measures... did not show GE crops to have a significant impact." [8]]

And far from causing harm to the environment, herbicide-tolerant crops have transformed much of US agriculture by reducing the need to ploughthe land.

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

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.]

"Various pressure groups and some media are hoodwinking the public by making unsubstantiated assertions about US farmersí adoption of biotechnology.

"Their random statements are ludicrous, untrue and deliberately misleading."

[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 American Midwest had suffered the worst drought for three decades but yields fell only 5% because 75% of the production area was GM soya, claimed Mr Kimball.

[USDA: GM crops do not increase yield potential and may reduce yields. [1]]

Henry Fell, chairman of the UK's Commercial Farmers' Group, which chaired the report's launch in London, said it was important to present all sides of the argument.

[so why does Henry present only the usual industry hype?]

The UK was being left behind because the momentum for GM crops on a global basis had become unstoppable. [Three-quarters of the world's GM food is grown in the USA and Canada - just 2 countries!]

"With our farming industry in the state that it is we need all the help that we can to ensures that we have a viable farming and rural industry," he said.

[There is no market for GM crops in the EU. Henry Fell is a sheep farmer! ]

"We must learn from what is happening in the rest of the world and benefit from their experience and advances in technology."

[USDA: GM crops do not increase yield potential and may reduce yields. USDA: " financial impacts appear to be mixed or even negative."]

The report has been endorsed by American Agri-Women, American Soybean Association, National Chicken Council, National Corn Growers' Association and the National Cotton Council.

Other supporters include the National Milk Producers Association, NationalPotato Council, National Turkey Federation and the United Soybean Board.

["Syngenta, Monsanto and others contributed about 11 percent of the
National Corn Growers Associationís $7 million budget in fiscal year 2001, says spokesman Stewart Reeve. 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 also comments of US farmer above]

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