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Farming News


SEEDS OF DOUBT (Sept 2002)
A report that shatters the industry myths of GM crops producing higher yields, reducing herbicide use,
improving farm incomes and benefiting the economy.
Download a pdf version for FREE from

USDA Report Exposes GM Crop Economics Myth
A report by the US Department of Agriculture which confirms much of what's revealed in the SEEDS OF DOUBT report

Monsanto's GM cotton fails in India
"Government should have asked agriculture colleges to conduct experiments before release.
This care was not taken and farmers who went for Bt with high hopes are now cursing it,"
Dr. Palarpawar, Dean of Anandwan College of Agriculture

GM Crops Have Failed
Lower yields /Bt resistance and more pesticides /Reduced profits

Iowa State University agricultural economist, Michael Duffy, concludes that the primary
beneficiaries of GM crops are not farmers but biotech companies.

RICS response to EU Commission biotech strategic vision
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors urges caution with GMOs

GM-free soybeans help boost Brazil’s economy

Brazil GM-free corn exports seen at record high

Bt corn has lost farmers about $92 million
New report questions whether planting GMO (Bt) corn is worth the cost:
less net profit, lower corn prices, and lost corn exports have all resulted  from GMO (Bt) corn

Prove you're GM-free, farmers told by Unilever

Farmers air Roundup Ready concerns
Volunteer GM canola (oilseed rape) a problem
Farmers air Roundup Ready concerns

GMOs pose liability threats for farmers, new paper finds

New U.S. Wheat Associates' Report 

A new U.S. Wheat Associates' report found that all representatives for Chinese, Korean and Japanese wheat buyers surveyed would not buy or use [GM] Roundup Ready wheat and that 82% of buyers from Taiwan and 78% of buyers from South Asia said they would reject the wheat that Monsanto has developed. 100 per cent of the Japanese buyers indicated that "regardless of government approval, contracts will stipulate no adventitious presence of GM wheat." Japan is the largest buyer of US wheat. For more on the report

"Trusting Monsanto to decide when there's enough acceptance out there would be a foolish mistake. Financially troubled Monsanto has everything to gain and nothing to lose by releasing GM wheat. It remains unclear what North Dakota farmers have to gain, but they clearly have huge markets to lose... we could let Monsanto decide. And maybe we also could get Enron to run our utilities and Arthur Andersen to keep the books." North Dakota farmer, Steve Pollestad, Grand Forks Herald, October 21, 2002

"I am going to ask you not to grow genetically modified wheat until we are able to sell the bread made from that wheat... if you do grow genetically modified or enhanced wheat, we will not be able to buy any of your wheat -
neither the GM nor the conventional." - Rank Hovis, in the North Dakota Wheat Commission's newsletter.

USDA Report Exposes GM Crop Economics Myth

The latest United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report reveals how the economic claims made for GM crops are either false or suspect. 

Letter Published in 'Farmers Weekly' 16 August 2002 

GM crop data was not so rosy 

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 

[1] p21 of USDA report ;[2] p30 of USDA report ;[3] p28 of USDA report ;[4] p28 of USDA report - see note to graph ;[5] p27 of USDA report ;[6] p23 of USDA report ;[7] p29 of USDA report ;[8] p23 of USDA report ;[9] p24 of USDA report


National Farmers Union of Canada calls for a moratorium
on the production, importation, distribution, and sale of GM food

In the UK the government and the National Farmers Union (NFU) have said that failing to adopt GM crops means losing out to our North American rivals.  But in December 2000 the Canadian NFU,  having identified the environmental and economic drawbacks, called for "a moratorium on the production, importation, distribution, and sale of GM food". 

The Canadian NFU policy statement says:

"many farmers rightly question the economic benefits of genetically modifying crops and livestock. While the benefits are questionable, risks and costs are real. Consumers are rejecting GM foods. Markets in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere are closing and domestic markets are likewise threatened. This is driving prices down. Closing markets and falling prices threaten to overwhelm any small, short-term economic benefits that GM crops or livestock may offer. Further, the proliferation of some GM crops has effectively deprived many organic farmers of the option to grow those crops.

Further, GM seeds and livestock give corporations increased control over family farms. Any initial economic benefits will be quickly outweighed as farmers are drawn further under corporate control.

The NFU policy on GM foods recognizes that almost all of the questions surrounding this technology remain unanswered... Because this technology has the potential to threaten the environment, human health, and the economic wellbeing of farmers, Canadians should debate and study before we plant and eat."

Biotech is being sold around the world on the basis of a myriad of claims and promises 
- many either unproven or untrue

Yields down with GM crops

An editorial in the Independent on Sunday (London), states that GM systems for soya are a plus for American farmers... "boosting yields enormously." 

Compare and contrast with the following expert comment from Vernon W.Ruttan, University of Minnesota economist

"Thus far, biotechnology has not raised the yield potential of crops"
Economist: Biotech Has Not Made Impact Yet , 11-21-2000 - Edited by Laura Engelson, Regional Editor, Farm Progress

Thousands of controlled varietal trials show significantly decreased yields with GM crops

A 1998 opinion poll of approximately 800 farmers in Iowa, carried out by the Leopold Centre at Iowa State University, revealed that most (53%) chose [GM] RR beans because they thought they produced higher yields than non-GM varieties. But when actual data from their farms was analysed the opposite was found. "It is interesting to note....that increasing crop yields was cited by over half the farmers as the reason for planting GMO soybeans, yet yields were actually lower", reported researchers at the Leopold Centre.

For more on the true story on GM crop yields

GM crops are bad for the U.S. economy

US corn exports to Europe dropped by 96% in 1999 because the US cannot provide non-GM corn.

US corn in 2000 is being hit by the GM Starlink fiasco:
50% of corn may be impure - Problem could cost ‘hundreds of millions’

US soybean sales to Europe have dropped by more than a billion dollars:  from $2.1 billion in 1996 to $1.1 billion in 1999. 

US soybean exports to Japan, the number-one destination for most of America's food exports, are expected to decline as soybean users continue to shift to non-GMO beans (eg from Brazil).

Genetic engineering is part of a failed farm policy which is driving farmers off the land. The USDA predicts corn prices below $2/bu through at least 2001 and soybean prices below $5/bu through 2004.

• Major buyers in Europe, Japan, Canada, and Mexico don't want GM crops.

• Domestic buyers, including Frito-Lay, Gerber, Heinz, Seagrams, the grocery chain Trader Joe's, North America's largest potato processor, and the entire sugar industry want non-GM crops. WORLD’S  LARGEST  POULTRY  PRODUCER  REJECTS  GM MAIZE

Anti-GMO sentiments thrive overseas 
Dale McDonald, Rooster News Network -- Friday, October 26, 2001 

"Early this week I worked my way through about 100 country reports from the USDA's Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS). These reports are written by attaches based in just about every country with which we have diplomatic relations, and they contain news and insights and report on trends that affect commerce in each country. 

If you think that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) aren't on every country's hot list, think again. From Poland to Korea to Australia to Mexico, GMOs are getting hit with consumer demonstrations, academic studies, government food labeling orders and outright bans."

For more on the US farming scene see CropChoice. com

Non-GMO crops are helping fuel Brazil's economic boom

Brazil enjoys non-GMO premiums on corn exports 

"The surprising strength of Brazilian corn exports has been  maintained deep into the inter-harvest period and the local produce has even started to attract premiums over U.S. corn... foreign buyers are paying up to $8 per tonne over the Gulf of Mexico FOB price to get hold of Brazilian corn. 

"Analysts said importers from Japan, Korea and Spain, amongst others, are willing to pay because they know that Brazilian corn is free of genetically modified organisms (GMO)  ...Brazilian corn has enjoyed international acceptance with ships going to 38 different countries over the past year. The sudden explosion of corn exports was the big surprise of the 2001-02 season."
Source: Dec 19, 2001 FWN Financial via COMTEX

And it's not just GM free corn that has Brazil's economy booming

"Throughout Brazil's history, rubber, sugar and coffee booms have fueled economic growth, but today, soy is the commodity shaping Latin America's largest economy. 

Soybeans have spurred a virtual gold rush... The soybean boom in Brazil is good news for the country's economy but not for U.S. farmers, who could see their crop overtaken by the Latin American country within a decade if present growth patterns persist." 

Helping to fuel the soy-based boom, once again, is Brazil's ban on genetically modified crops. Europe and Asia "are looking here first to buy, which gives us a significant advantage" - Cesar Borges de Souza, president of the large Caramuru grains cooperative 

see also: GM FREE Trade Advantage - below

Hyping GM crops: important 28-page report shows real picture

GM crops aren't working
One of the most successful pieces of hype is that GM crops are producing  "bumper crops". Another assumption is that GM crops are being rapidly taken up by American farmers because they're helping them compete economically. Greatly reduced use of agrochemicals (and hence environmental benefits) is a third major claim made for GM crops by the biotech industry.

A very important 28-page report provides the most powerful evidence to date of the full extent to which none of this is true of Monsanto's flagship GM crop Roundup Ready soya.

Increasing not decreasing agrochemical use

A new WWF report shows GM crops cannot be depended on to reduce pesticide use. The WWF report shows: 

•Herbicide-resistant GM crops often increase the use of the herbicide for which the crop is resistant and, because uncommon weeds emerged with the planting of the GE crops, do not necessarily reduce the use of other herbicides. 

•Bt crops do not necessarily result in reduced spraying of insecticides to control target pests. In fact, more acres of conventional corn are being treated with insecticides than before GM corn introduction. 

•GE crops will increase resistance of pests to both pesticides and the GE crop itself. This was predicted during the regulatory review of GM technologies. 

•The greater expense of GE seeds and the increased herbicide costs can hit farmers pockets. One analysis showed a 50 per cent increase in farmers’ weed management costs.

A separate WWF report on GM cotton also shows no appreciable reduction in the use of insecticides and herbicides.

Background Paper, "Transgenic Cotton: Are There Benefits for Conservation?" 
WWF International, March 2000 -- Download the report in either WORD or
PDF format from

No Reduction of Pesticide Use with Genetically Engineered Cotton,
Updated summary of the WWF International report, Fall, 2000

According to the updated report, although to date one fourth of American cotton is produced with genetically engineered Bt varieties, no significant reductions in the overall use of insecticides could be achieved . In fact,  those insecticides which could be replaced by the genetically modified Bt cotton, only make up a minor proportion of the insecticides used. Herbicide use shows a similar picture. 

The detailed results of the “Transgenic Cotton: Are there Benefits for Conservation?” study compiled on behalf of the WWF may be ordered from WWF Switzerland, Post Office Box, CH-8010 Zurich. Phone: ++41 (0)129721 21, or e-mail:

see also: Monsanto's GM cotton fails in India

Corporate control of farmers 1

Biotechnology giant Novartis has already threatened to withdraw the supply of non-GM sugar beet seed to the Republic of Ireland in the face of resistance to the development of GM varieties, warning that: "Given the  importance of Novartis on the Irish market, this would have serious implications for the Irish sugar beet industry."  For more on this

"We could be coming back to a situation like the Middle Ages where producers have to depend on a single, powerful company for their livelihood."
Quebec Agriculture Minister, Remy Trudel

Corporate control of farmers 2

According to US press reports, Monsanto has hired Pinkerton detectives to keep tabs on thousands of US farmers and seed dealers across the country, with hundreds of potential criminal "seed piracy" cases already under investigation. 

"Farmers are being sued for having GMOs on their property that they did not buy, do not want, will not use and cannot sell," North Dakota farmer, Tom Wiley   more on this

Corporate control of farmers 3

Strict contracts will dictate production methods and severely limit the farmer's share of any added value the new crops offer to food processors and retailers, according to Friedrich Vogel, head of BASF's crop protection business. 

Vogel's predictions are already proving true:

"After reviewing Monsanto's 2001 Technology Agreement, I would discourage any farmer from signing this document. Not only does this contract severely limit the options of the producer, it also limits Monsanto's liability. Marketing agreements and contracts are only effective if they serve to protect the interests of all parties involved. The protection of the Monsanto contract is strictly one-sided and I would encourage producers to carefully consider this before entering into this agreement."
Oklahoma's Secretary of Agriculture

GM crops threaten land values and sale of crops

UK supermarket chain TESCO is warning growers that it does not wish to purchase certain crops from land on which there has been GM trials. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has warned the Government that farmers who plant GM crops risk a fall in land values similar to the effect of an outbreak of disease or contamination.

GM FREE Trade Advantage

"Farmers are really starting to question the profit-enhancing ability of products that seem to be shutting them out of markets worldwide"
Cory Ollikka, Canada's National Farmers Union president calling for a moratorium on GM crops

The following is a transcript from the ABC National Rural News that is broadcast daily to all states on ABC Regional Radio’s Country Hour and on ABC Radio National. 

Non Genetic Canola Trade Advantage - Tuesday, 24th October 2000 

Australia’s status as a producer of non genetically modified canola has put it ahead of its main international competitor. 

The European Union is planning to buy Australian canola this harvest, rather than the genetically modified product from Canada. 

Clint Munroe, from Riverland Oilseeds, Victoria’s second largest canola crusher, believes Europe is looking to buy up to half a million tonnes from Australia. 

Clint Munroe, "I think it’s going to have a great impact for Australian farmers this season, having a GMO free canola crop, and the reason is that European supplies have fallen at the end of their season and they will require extra canola, they can’t buy it from Canada because their crop is GMO, so I think Australia might export  between three and five hundred thousand tonnes to Europe this season. And that’ll have a great impact and increase prices for  Australian farmers."


The Starlink fiasco started when in October 2000 traces of an Aventis GM corn [maize] called StarLink showed up in taco shells in the U.S. even though it was not approved for human consumption. It led to a massive recall of over 300 food brands. The 'StarLink' gene has also shown up unexpectedly in a second company's corn and in US corn exports. The Starlink fiasco has wide implications for the use of GM crops in farming.

"In Iowa, StarLink corn represented 1 percent of the total crop, only 1 percent. It has tainted 50 percent of the harvest." ABC NEWS  November 28, 2000

Dale Farnham, an Iowa State University agronomist:
``No one knows how far the corn pollen can travel, some studies have said a quarter of a mile``

"Aventis CropScience Wednesday was at a loss to explain why another variety of corn besides its StarLink brand is producing the [StarLink] Cry9C protein." 
United Press International November 22, 2000, Second corn variety producing Cry9C 

On the possibility of unintentional mixing of GM and non-GM post-harvest, agronomist Dale Farnham says: 
"There are no safeguards."

"The US Department of Agriculture claims to know where the maize — banned from all food use globally and only recently approved for US exports — is located. Aventis, the French firm which developed the genetically modified maize sold throughout the US maize belt in 1999 and 2000, says it knows, also. So do I:  StarLink maize is everywhere."
US agricultural journalist Alan Guebert writing in Farmers Weekly, December 8, 2000

Donald White, a University of Illinois plant pathologist, on why US farmers have gone for GM corn: 
"...what happens is there is a herd mentality. Everyone has to have a biotech program." White's view chimes in with a University of Iowa study on why farmers were growing GM soya which concluded, "It is interesting to note....that increasing crop yields was cited by over half the farmers as the reason for planting GMO soybeans, yet yields were actually lower". 

US corn exports to big buyers are being hurt: "...traders in Tokyo said on Wednesday the discovery that StarLink`s Cry9C protein had spread to another variety of corn only deepened doubts that U.S. corn can be kept free of genetic modification."

Analyst Dale Gustafson of Salomon Smith Barney:
``We have not yet seen GM wheat. If we did, we would be seeing the same problems in those consumer products.`` 

US corn farmer and GM seed salesman, Nebraska, Dec 2000:
" guys [US Government] created this monster; you clean it up. I have learned my lesson. No more GMO crops on this farm — ever." [quoted in UK 'Farmers Weekly' December 8, 2000]

All quotes unless otherwise indicated taken from:
Corn leaving bad taste in world markets as GMO worries build
Reuters, Wednesday -- November 22, 2000

Here are some excellent links to articles etc. on farming issues

Information on GM crop and agronomic performance issues - ** marked links are to articles on this site

Superb site relevant to a very wide range of GM farming issues - BEST ON THE WEB!

CropChoice. com
a US information source for farmers about biotech crops, alternatives, management options, and profitability.

"GM crops have higher yields, improved performance, and greatly reduce the use of agrochemicals. Farmers like them because they increase income."
Lim Li Ching and Jonathan Matthews debunk these myths, documenting the failures of GM crops around the world, including lower yields, Bt resistance and more pesticides, and reduced profits

Ten Reasons why farmers should think twice before growing GE crops
The tide appears to be turning against GM crops, but farmers may well be the last ones to know. 10 agronomic reasons why farmers should think twice about growing genetically engineered crops. Paper by Canadian university agronomist: Ann Clark which poses the following to farmers:

1. Do you really need what they offer, and is GM the best way to deal with it, given the likelihood of higher costs and lower yields?

2. Be very aware of insurance/liability risks from neighbouring farmers, environmentalists and consumers.

3. Don't assume that because it is in the marketplace, that it is "safe", has been tested for "environmental risk" (a la Monarch butterflies), or is necessarily in your best interests. Government is not asking the right questions. Trade interests are taking precedence over the interests of producers, consumers, or the environment.

4. Only industry data stands between you and potential risks from genetically engineered crops. Are you willing to entrust these companies with this responsibility?

Other papers on GE and farming issues by Ann Clark

Ag Bio Tech InfoNet
The agronomist Dr. Charles Benbrook's site with extensive information on the performance of genetically engineered crops, including important analyses of controlled studies of GM soya and its performance:
Benbrook, C.M. (1999) Evidence of the magnitude and consequences of the Roundup Ready soybean yield drag from university-based varietal trials in
1998, Ag BioTech InfoNet Technical Paper Number 1,  available as a pdf file
Benbrook, C.M. (2001) Troubled times amid commercial success for Roundup Ready soybeans: glyphosate efficacy is slipping and unstable transgene expression erodes plant defenses and yields, Ag BioTech InfoNet Technical Paper Number 4

University of Nebraska (2000) Research shows Roundup Ready soybeans yield less, IANR News Service

GM crops aren't working: Bt corn doesn't reduce spraying**
Evidence that there has been little or no change in corn insecticide use, despite the planting of millions of acres of GM corn in recent years and despite claims of vast reductions in pesticides

GM crops aren't working: soya**
Summary of important research showing the most widely grown GM crop, GM soya, leads to poor yields, increased chemical usgae and increased costs for the farmer

The Emperor’s Transgenic New Clothes
How GM crops are failing to deliver in the U.S. (in terms of yield etc) and how the truth is being hidden (see also link below)

GM crops aren't working: Short summary of the Emperor (see above) with additional information on wider GM crop problems**
A good short introduction on how GM crops aren't working - recommended reading in conjunction with GM crops aren't working: soya**

"I've been a seed dealer for Monsanto for 18 years and this is the year we are going to have to part ways. They've forgotten that they have to serve farmers. I don't think they care who we've got to grow for. They're just concerned with making a fast buck."
Steve Mattis, an Illinois farmer and seed dealer

"No, quality has not improved. I still believe the [GE] seed is a major, major problem and I think a lot of people agree with that."
William Dunavant Jr., chief executive of top U.S. cotton merchant Dunavant Enterprises, January 2002

"The promise was that you could use less chemicals and produce a greater yield.  But let me tell you none of this is true."
Bill Christison, President of the US National Family Farm Coalition

" guys [US Government] created this monster; you clean it up. I have learned my lesson. No more GMO crops on this farm — ever."
US farmer and GM seed salesman, Nebraska

"The only truly safe seed selection will be seed corn free of any genetic modification"
A.E. Staley Manufacturing Co. in a letter to corn suppliers, November 2000


For more in-depth coverage of GM crop issues, and excellent links:  NLP WESSEX