Daily Archives: February 15, 2010

Bloomberg India Rejects First GM Vegetable, Hampering Monsanto Expansion

February 09, 2010, 09:04 AM EST

By Jay Shankar and Thomas Kutty Abraham

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) — India’s government rejected the nation’s first genetically modified food after protests by farmers, hampering the expansion of seed makers including Monsanto Co. in the world’s second-most populous nation.

“There is no overriding food security argument for Bt brinjal,” or genetically modified eggplant, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said at a press conference in the capital, New Delhi. “Our objective is to restore public confidence and trust in Bt brinjal.” A moratorium will be imposed until safety studies are carried out “to the satisfaction of the scientific community,” he said.

Ramesh, 55, had to balance the technology’s promise to help feed a nation growing by 18 million people a year, more than the population of the Netherlands, and concern that food safety and threats to biodiversity have not been investigated. Monsanto, the world’s largest seed maker, supplied the gene for the vegetable and introduced genetically modified cotton in India eight years ago.

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Journal article says suppressed study found GM corn killed ladybugs

A recent article in Nature Biotechnology on how biotechnology companies restrict independent research described a study showing that a genetically modified corn killed ladybugs and that the study was suppressed by the corn’s developer.

In 2001, Pioneer Hi-Bred developed a GM corn variety that contained two Bt toxins, Cry34Ab1 and Cry35Ab1, to kill corn rootworms.

The company asked university laboratories to test for unintended consequences on ladybugs. Scientists fed the corn to ladybugs and found that nearly 100% died after the eighth day in the life cycle.

Pioneer forbade the scientists from publicizing the data. A scientist with the group who wants to remain anonymous said “The company came back and said ‘you are under no circumstances able to publicize this data in any way.’”

Pioneer submitted data to the EPA showing no harm to ladybugs and received government approval to commercialize the corn in 2003.

A Pioneer scientist says the commercialized variety contains a different genetic construct than the corn that killed the ladybugs.

The EPA was told about the independently produced data, but did nothing, according to the anonymous scientist. The same scientist also says Pioneer’s data is flawed.
(Source: Nature Biotechnology)