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GM industry fudges its figures again

04 February 2013

GM industry front group ISAAA (http://www.isaaa.org) has published its 2012 annual reports on commercial genetically manipulated (GM) crops. (1) There is a remarkable absence of 2012 statistics and their four reports recycle figures and empty claims from 2011.

"These reports reconfirm the GM crop industry has stalled as they offer just the same four broad-acre GM crops and two traits launched in 1996," says Gene Ethics Director, Bob Phelps.

"ISAAA presents one or two page briefs on soybean, corn, canola and cotton with the same two traits - Roundup herbicide tolerance and plants to make their own Bt insect toxins that kill the caterpillars of some moths (helicoverpa).

"This is in stark contrast to previous reports that gave copious statistics, maps and made great claims for the rapid growth and acceptance of GM crops. (2)

ISAAA's soybean report says: "Biotech soybean hectarage dropped in both the USA (29.2 million hectares) and Argentina (19.2 million hectares).

"75% was Monsanto's Roundup Ready soy, most of which goes to animal feed or biofuel production as few people want to eat GM if informed on labels."

ISAAA also claims two innovations last year: more maize (corn) stacked with double and triple genes for the same herbicide tolerance and Bt traits as before.

"This is just more of the same, putting pressure on insects and weeds to adapt and become even bigger management problems than before," Mr Phelps says.

"ISAAA fails to admit that insect resistance to Bt and Roundup tolerant weeds challenge farmers wherever GM crops are grown and require the use of tank mixes of more toxic synthetic chemicals." (3)

ISAAA also reported: "prospects of drought tolerant maize, expected to be commercialised in 2012".

But no actual plantings are reported and ISAAA merely asserts that: "Demand for feed maize to meet higher meat consumption will continue to increase," and: "Maize is continually being used for ethanol production in the US, estimated at 40% to 50% of total maize hectarage in 2011, contributing to increased demand as well."

Mr Phelps says: "It's wishful thinking that increased demand for a product will magically enable a failed technology to deliver on its false promises.

"Unsurprisingly, Monsanto's 2013 Pipeline Update makes similar claims to the ISAAA with a focus on yield - not the diverse agronomic and quality traits that farmers and shoppers were promised for the past 30 years.

"GM development pipelines contain only empty promises. Let's move on," Mr Phelps concludes.

(1) http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/biotech_crop_annual_update/default.asp (2) http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/43/default.asp
(3) http://www.businessinsider.com/study-gm-crops-cause-more-pesticides-2012-10
(4) http://www.monsanto.com/products/Pages/research-development-pipeline.aspx 

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