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Ten Years of Genetically Modified Crops Failed to Deliver the Promises Made by Biotech Giants

Posted Nov. 3, 2008 / Posted by: RConnors

Washington DC (US) / Brussels (Belgium) / Lagos (Nigeria) January 10, 2006 – Ten years after the first significant planting of Genetically Modified (GM) crops, no plants with benefits to consumers or the environment have materialized, despite renewed promises by biotech corporations, according to a new report by Friends of the Earth International. [1]

“Contrary to the promises made by the biotech industry, the reality of the last ten years shows that the safety of GM crops cannot be ensured and that these crops are neither cheaper nor better quality. Biotech crops are not a solution to solve hunger in Africa or elsewhere," said in Nigeria Nnimmo Bassey of Friends of the Earth Nigeria.


The biotech industry continues to misleadingly claim that GM crops play a role in solving world hunger, and the world's largest producer of GM seeds, Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON), keeps an objectionable influence over agriculture and food policies in many countries and international bodies. [2]

Monsanto’s influence over governments is so substantial that many countries bought the corporation’s unfounded claims that GM crops are good for the environment and contribute to alleviate hunger.

The 100-page report "Who benefits from GM crops? Monsanto and its corporate driven genetically modified crop revolution" concludes that the increase in GM crops use in a limited number of countries has largely been the result of the aggressive strategies of the biotech industry.

“Monsanto has been in the driver’s seat when the US, Brazil and other countries developed GM policies. In Paraguay and Brazil Monsanto products were grown even though they were forbidden and in Indonesia the company bribed government officials. Governments should stop serving the interests of big companies such as Monsanto and put the interests of their citizens and the environment first,” said in Brussels Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth International.

The Friends of the Earth International report comes just a day before the release of the “Global Status of Commercialized Biotech” report of the industry-sponsored International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications -which promotes GM crops as a key solution to hunger and poverty- and a week before the January 17 annual shareholder meeting of biotech giant Monsanto.

The new Friends of the Earth International report states that:

* GM crops are not ‘green’. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans, the most extensively grown GM crop today, has led to an increase in herbicide use. Independent reports from the US show that since 1996, GM corn, soybean and cotton have led to an increase in pesticide use of 122 million pounds (55 million Kilos). The intensive cultivation of soybeans in South America is fostering deforestation, and has been associated with a decline in soil fertility and soil erosion.

* GM crops do not tackle hunger or poverty. Most GM crops commercialized so far are destined for animal feed, not for food, and none have been introduced to address hunger and poverty issues. GM crops in developing countries have been grown mainly as export cash crops. In Argentina, the second biggest producer of GM crops in the world, only 2% of the soya stays in the country. Other developing countries, such as Indonesia and India, have experienced substantial problems with Monsanto’s GM crops, often leaving farmers heavily indebted.

* The world's largest producer of GM seeds, Monsanto, has a formidable influence over governments and international bodies. The company is responsible for around 90% of all GM traits used around the world. Monsanto’s success in overcoming regulatory hurdles and preventing the adoption of strong biosafety laws is well documented.

* The biotech industry has failed to introduce the promised ‘new generation’ of GM crops with consumer benefits as well as “pharma’ crops modified to contain pharmaceutical drugs. After 30 years of research, only two modifications have made it to the marketplace on any scale: insect resistance and herbicide tolerance. The biotech industry is still mostly focusing on the traits, crops and applications that it did in the 1990s, and animal feed is the exclusive or primary intended use of most new-generation GM crops.

After ten years of GM crop cultivation more than 80% of the area cultivated with biotech crops is still concentrated in only three countries: the US, Argentina and Canada.

 
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

In Washington DC (US): Dick Bell, Friends of the Earth US
Tel: +1-202-222 0742 or email: dbell@foe.org

In Europe: Juan Lopez (Spanish, French, English)
Friends of the Earth International
Tel +39-333-1498049 (Italian mobile)

In Nigeria: Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth Nigeria
Tel: +234 8037274395 (mobile) or +234 52602680 (office)
or email nmimmo@eraction.org

In Brussels (Belgium): Paul De Clerck, Friends of the Earth International
Tel: +32-2-5426107 or email paul@milieudefensie.nl


NOTES TO EDITORS:

[1] The executive summary of the report is available at
http://www.foei.org/publications/pdfs/gmcrops2006execsummary.pdf
The full report is available for media upon request from the contacts
above or from media@foei.org

[2] A four-page ‘Key Facts - Who benefits from GM crops’ is available
at: http://www.foei.org/publications/pdfs/gmcrops2006factsheet.pdf

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