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BT Corn, a Good Thing

Genetically modified corn helps protect non-engineered cousins, study finds

Pest-resistant Bt corn has helped suppress the European corn borer because the plant provides non-Bt corn in the vicinity protection from the insect, researchers say.

And there you have it, another opportunity for the anti-GMO crowd to talk about sugar beets and other crops that are engineered to produce insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, they will most likely fail to tell you that BT is also used on organic farms in a form that is arguably worse than the engineered plant though in both cases there is little to worry about. And they will, of course, fashion a response that contains a noun, a verb, and Monsanto. They'll also ignore the fact that:

Since its introduction in 1996, Bt corn -- so called because it has been engineered to produce insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis -- has effectively suppressed the European corn borer, a widespread pest in the U.S., according to new research published in the journal Science.

This suppression has saved farmers in Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska $6.9 billion in reduced yield losses over 14 years, the authors said. And more than half of that economic benefit, they showed, was generated in non-Bt corn acres -- fields where farmers enjoyed the insect-fighting benefits from Bt corn because there were fewer borers around to feast on the fields.

Ah, but thats the world we live in where emotion trumps science. Let the whining begin.


 

Comments

Well, I'm sure Coca cola and Kraft and all the other multinational beneficiaries of government-subsidized corn production will be pleased with this news.

Well, I'm sure Coca cola and Kraft and all the other multinational beneficiaries of government-subsidized corn production will be pleased with this news.

Oh my some things never change, do you ever address a topic directly, no, you take anything with genetic engineering in the title and use it as a soapbox to continue your favorite rant.

Government subsidized corn production has nothing to do with BT corn it would exist with or without BT corn.

I am addressing the topic. The topic is about increased yield due to the use of Bt corn. The refrain we keep hearing from the pro-GMO crowd is that GMOs will help feed the hungry. But American corn subsidies, totaling $74 billion since 1995, actually hurt poor African corn growers by driving the price down, while simultaneously benefiting large corporations that rely on corn for HFCS and cattle feed...and now, ethanol.

These subsidies also have an adverse impact on the nation's health.

I know you think the science is neato, but that's not what this is about; it is about corporate hegemony. Take the critical thinking skills you apply to most other topics, Norm, and apply them to this one. If BT corn increases yield, as this article suggests, and if increased yield drives corn prices down, who does that benefit? Not Mom & Pop farmer; not starving African farmer; it benefits Kraft & Coca Cola & Conagra & Cargil & other large companies whose lobbyists have the ear (get it? ear?) of Congress.

Sorry to be the one to tell you, but 'tis you, Norm, who is allowing emotion to dominate your thinking on this topic.

Mom and Pops can't grow Bt corn? African farmers can't grow Bt corn? I know, I know, Bt seed costs more... Well, how much more? Seriously, does it cost more than the insecticide Mom and Pop would have to buy otherwise? Let's put some numbers on this before we say it only benefits large corporations (who also sell insecticide).

Those opposed to GMOs in agriculture are typically ignorant of the difference between crops engineered to to produce insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, Bt, and Roundup ready seeds and often conflate the two.

The issue isn't that Bt corn seed is more expensive. The issue is that after Mom & Pop harvest their corn, they can't get enough money for it because of the glut on the market, which, in turn, is caused by so many farmers trying to cash in on the subsidies. Increased yield exacerbates this problem, but in increases the profit margin for the large agribusiness firms who get the corn for next to nothing.

And, yes, African farmers can grow Bt corn. But they don't grow it just for sustenance; they grow it because they were convinced they could sell some of it on the common market and use the cash to improve their lives. The government-subsidized glut, increased, now, through the miracle of science, prevents them from doing so. This has been an ongoing issue with the WTO, and both the US and EU have promised to reduce their government subsidies, but they never do.

This is like the rBGH issue. We don't need more milk. The only people it benefits are the enormous factory farms who want to increase their yield.

Genetic Engineering is a technology, not a product, and yet you are opposed to using the technology based on the fact that corporations abuse their power vis a vis the technology. We're we to follow your argument to its logical conclusion. We should ban all technology that corporations use to further their goals. Technology used to improve transportation, communication, healthcare, etc would all be spurned because corporations benefit. The solution is regulation of corporations, not attacking the technology.

Farmer received subsidies to grow corn long before there was Bt corn, then as now one could blame the technology, but like you would they would be missing the point.

I think your long history of attacking technology because of how it is or might be used earns you the title of onegoodmove's Wendell Berry, who spurns all technology that he doesn't find useful in his world.

And yes to answer Karl's question Coca Cola serves perfectly as a filler for Monsanto.

Norm, in this case you are using "straw man" fallacy against Bigdaddymalcontent, "We're we to follow your argument to its logical conclusion. We should ban all technology that corporations use to further their goals."

In other words, you have moved the goal posts as far as his argument is concerned. Bigdaddy was talking about a specific instance and it doesn't necessarily apply generally.

But that does raise the legal question which hasn't been directly mentioned, unless I missed it. Technology may be good, but technological companies, in software for example, use patents and copyrights to maintain or try to gain monopoly positions.

Not all technologies are equal. If you remember, Thomas Edison opposed the use of AC current because he had a financial interest in DC current, and he was wrong.

I think your long history of attacking technology because of how it is or might be used earns you the title of onegoodmove's Wendell Berry

Thanks for the compliment!

You are correct (in a way). I am not opposed to rocketry, for example. I am opposed to blowing people to bits. If, say, the Navy announced that it had increased the effectiveness of their rockets by 40 percent, I'd say something like "hey great, the Navy just got 40 percent better at blowing people to bits." That doesn't necessarily mean I'm opposed to rocketry or whatever technological advance it was that increased the rockets' effectiveness. It means I'm disheartened by the most likely application of the new technology. If this advance in rocketry were used to, say, improve telecommunications in the developing world or reduce the price and improve the quality of internet service, I'd be happy. So it's not improvements in the science of rocketry that I'm opposed to, it's the most likely application of those improvements that troubles me.

It's the same thing here. Bt crops are consistently presented as something that benefits all of us, when in fact it benefits only a very few. Tell me about the increased yield of Bt corn after we have reduced the number of starving people because of its use, not after we have increased Kraft's profit margin at taxpayer expense.

And Bernarda is right. You're using a straw man. I never said anything remotely like "We should ban all technology that corporations use to further their goals," and there is no reasonable way to interpret anything I've said in a way that implies that.

I think you once agreed with me when I said that we should bring back the corporate charter. The corporate charter, you may recall, was rendered unlawful by Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. A key element of the corporate charter was that the product or service in question had to provide a benefit to the people, who had the power to revoke the charter if it didn't. I think in this case, the people would find that Bt corn does not benefit the people except for a very small minority thereof. Barring the emergence of typical human corruption, I think it's fairly likely that the charter to us Bt technology as it relates to corn (at least in this current application) would be revoked.

I never said anything remotely like "We should ban all technology that corporations use to further their goals," and there is no reasonable way to interpret anything I've said in a way that implies that.

And I didn't claim that you had. It follows that if the test of whether to use a technology or not is based on how it is used by some is the criteria then it follows than wherever a technology is used for ill it should not be allowed. Is your only opposition to Bt corn that corporations benefit. If the technology was created by government and in the public domain would you still be opposed. All of the problems you mention concerning corn and subsidies applies to non-gm corn. Can you acknowledge that it is not the Bt that bothers you but Industrial farming, corn subsidies and the problems that creates.

I think you once agreed with me when I said that we should bring back the corporate charter. The corporate charter, you may recall, was rendered unlawful by Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. A key element of the corporate charter was that the product or service in question had to provide a benefit to the people, who had the power to revoke the charter if it didn't.

In the sense we're talking about it genetic engineering is not a product or service it's a method. Genetic engineering has proven benefits for people. Like I said it's a matter of regulating the corporation not banning the technology because the corporation misuses it.

Is your only opposition to Bt corn that corporations benefit.

I am not opposed to any corporations benefiting from any technology, unless the net difference is a negative, meaning that the harm it produces is greater than the benefit.

If the technology was created by government and in the public domain would you still be opposed.

Again, my opposition has less to do with entity producing or using the technology than with the benefits and/or detriments of that technology. If a corporation could profit from feeding the indigent, I'd be fine with that, putting other considerations aside for the moment.

All of the problems you mention concerning corn and subsidies applies to non-gm corn. Can you acknowledge that it is not the Bt that bothers you but Industrial farming, corn subsidies and the problems that creates.

Yes. My beef, so to speak, with Bt corn is the same as my beef with rBGH. We don't need more corn or milk. The only people who "need" it are the bean counters at Cargil or wherever.

We don't need more corn or milk.

Whether true or not that is a different question from should we use the most efficient methods in producing our crops. Technologies that reduce use of energy, etc. Bt corn has reduced the use of other more dangerous methods of controlling pests. I consider that a good thing.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but was it you who a few days ago who was making the argument against fuel injection and modern technologies in cars by arguing that an old car of yours got better gas mileage. It's the same error in thinking you're making here.

I made that reference because it illustrated a point I was trying to make. To wit:

I knew how to fix carburetors. I do not know how to fix fuel injectors. Therefore, in order to drive a car, I am much more dependent on technicians and equipment and expertise that is beyond my grasp and therefore much more expensive. If along with that deficit, there was some added benefit like increased fuel efficiency, then the down side of limited technical know-how would be offset by an upside of better gas mileage. However, that is not the case, so what we have is all deficit and no benefit, at leas as far as mileage is concerned.

That particular thread was about GE trees slowing climate change. So if old fashioned trees (carburetor) can slow down global warming at least as well as GE trees (fuel injector), then why go with the GE trees?

Bt corn has reduced the use of other more dangerous methods of controlling pests. I consider that a good thing.

But the question of net gain remains. You are comparing government subsidized non-GMO corn with government subsidized Bt corn. I am comparing government subsidized corn, Bt or otherwise, with some other scenario in which, say, we subsidize hemp and eat less meat and so forth. So whereas Bt corn represents $6.9 billion in savings, assuming the article is accurate, hemp and less meat, etc. might result in $50 billion in savings or in benefits so great that it's impossible to estimate a dollar amount. After all, what price would you place on slowing climate change and fixing the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico and so forth?

The LA Times article addresses a tiny tweak to our existing paradigm & a tiny benefit to mankind, and what I'm suggesting is a massive overhaul to our paradigm and a major benefit to mankind.

And the chances of reaching your paradigm in our lifetime is nil. We need to take a more pragmatic approach in my opinion.

self-fulfilling prophecy

Like i've repeated a hundred's of times. It's not either or, as you seem to think. One can easily pursue long term goals and at the same time not eschew practical solutions. Never compromise never get anything done, unless you intend on forcing others to appoint you king.

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Why are you complaining?

I'm certain it won't change your red herring production.

please do sign up. I'm thinking we would like to see more comments from you in the future :D

Oh, yes, please do "sign up," David Peters. Valuable insights such as this one will do much to enrich and enliven the debate here.

You mean as opposed to what he replied to?

Come on now.

Noun, Verb, and Coca-Cola. Does that count?

How about a noun, a verb and "science"?

I am petty sure you used a pronoun and not a noun.

If by science you mean the method at arriving at the truth then yes that would be better.

Note the scare quotes. I think those are intentional.

And they will, of course, fashion a response that contains a noun, a verb, and Monsanto.

Hey, Norm. You should appreciate the quality of your gadflies. There are many blogs where most the sentences do not contain a subject and a predicate. At least some of the circumlocutions on 1gm are delivered with panache.

I do appreciate the gadflies, it is in large part them that has kept me going on this topic.

It may be the case that the BT corn reduces the impact of pests on the corn crop, but growing corn with insecticide embedded in the plant does not really sound appetizing or healthy.

Show me the study where insecticide-laced corn doesn't have an effect on long-term human health and then maybe you have an argument that will sway me. This study on its own is not a factor in whether I support BT corn or not. I would rather pay the corresponding increase in corn prices due to loss in yield of unmodified corn then risk my personal well-being eating slightly cheaper, modified corn.

How safe is Bt and Bt corn?

The EPA considered 20 years of human and animal safety data before registering Bt corn. Bt proteins are not toxic to people, domestic animals, fish, or wildlife; and they have no negative impacts on the environment. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) exempts Bt Cry proteins from residue analyses because of Bt's history of safety and because these proteins degrade rapidly.

http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/cropsystems/dc7055.html

Norm, the whole text of the link you give should be read. It also deals with resistance to Bt and the need for management plans in using it(see, I do read your links). You chose to quote the most definitive statement you found. The report also says,

"The potential threat of resistance by European corn borer to Bt corn necessitates a management plan to delay or avoid the risk of resistance. Resistance management is a key element of good IPM practices. Consequently, the EPA has issued conditional registrations that require companies selling Bt corn to develop and carry out resistance management plans by 2001."

Have they done so? Further on,

"Like other plant-resistance strategies, the decision to purchase Bt corn seed is made before pest population levels are known. Unfortunately, predicting when and where heavy European corn borer infestations will occur is not possible. Producers should consider using Bt corn only in areas where the economic risk from European or southwestern corn borer justifies the price premium for Bt corn. Watch Bt corn fields closely. Learn about the level of European or southwestern corn borer protection achieved with Bt corn."

There is far too much else for me to go on quoting.

Have they developed management plans, many have. Have they done as much as they should no. Is that an argument against Bt, no. The regulations need to be enforced, we can all agree on that.

It's the point I've been making Bt is not the problem it's government regulation of corporations. Why some are unable to make that distinction is the question. The attack should be where it belongs not the technology, but those abusing it. It's the conflating of the two that I object to.

Repeating from the report, "Producers should consider using Bt corn only in areas where the economic risk from European or southwestern corn borer justifies the price premium for Bt corn."

Is it only the "price premium" that is a concern or does it just not mention other concenrs? The report also says, "There are several strains of Bt, each with differing Cry proteins. Scientists have identified more than 60 Cry proteins. Proteins have been found with insecticidal activity against the Colorado potato beetle (for example, Cry3A, Cry3C), corn earworm (Cry1Ac, Cry1Ab), tobacco budworm (Cry1Ab) and European corn borer (Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, Cry9C). Most of the Bt corn hybrids, targeted against European corn borer, produce only the Cry1Ab protein; a few produce the Cry1Ac protein or the Cry9C protein."

Have all of the last three been tested, and what about the 57 others?

Furthermore, "Many studies have shown that Bt Cry proteins are highly selective in killing larvae of moths. Bt corn, however, does not affect beneficial insects including honey bees, lady beetles, green lacewing larvae, spiders, pirate bugs or parasitic wasps (Fig. 10). Indirect effects on natural enemies of European corn borer, however, could occur. Predators, parasites and pathogens of the corn borer might decline as corn borer populations decline. Refuge areas, discussed below, may moderate these indirect effects. Unfortunately, little data on the subject exists. Bt corn fits into and complements an integrated pest management approach to farming that includes conservation of biological control agents."

What are the direct effects of these "indirect effects" for which "little data" exists?

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Bernada,

you completely missed the point of that reply. Norm cited that study to respond to the "health claims" made by Anon, not the "threat of resistance."

It's little things like this that frustrate the whole debate. Your saying he's selectively quoting, ignoring the parts about the risk of resistance. BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT ANON WAS ASKING ABOUT!!!

Anon was asking about the "healthiness of Bt corn."

Your post is one giant red herring. I'm surprised Norm even responded as it completely misses the point.

You kind of set the tone for the discourse in the article by pre-demonising any dissent.

I did, didn't I and suspect that is the reason why there are so many comments.

I really don't understand why people freak out about human directed mutagenesis when it is done with molecular biology and genetics and not when it is done by domestic breeding.

And I really don't understand why those same people DON'T freak about non-human mutagenesis that can be as exotic as having a virus transport DNA from one clade to another. I mean, that kinda crap is rampant in the natural world.

I fully understand the desire to regulate genetic engineering. I think it is a pressing need. It is almost as pressing as it is to regulate introduced invasive species. But I don't see what sets GM (where GM only means "done in a lab by geeks in white coats") apart from other things which deserve caution.

I know I'm preaching to the choir director here, but every once in a while it has to burble forth. :-P

The ownership of the work product is the primary differnce.

The natural definition what a plant is is another.

Take that, everyone that was argueing that GMO's do nothing about European corn borer.

Oh wait, no one ever said that.

And the beat goes on.

I think the charge was that GM does nothing to increase yields. Clearly, if the European Corn Borer decreases yields, it stands to reason that in this case, GM would increase yield.

True, but have people here been making that claim?

The counter arguements I have see repeatedly

-This is just a way for "Monsanto" Like evil corps to produce cheaper filler and further dominate the food market

-Copywrite/patenting life is bad.

-The gains in efficiency are not greater than if we all just ate less meat and more vegetables

-There needs to be regulation of these artificially created lifeforms before we allow them dominate our market.

GE can effect radical change. Only those really denying reality are saying there is zero yield increase.

BT corn varieties are now stacked with multiple GE components,expressing the following insecticidal proteins: Cry3Bb1, cry34/35Ab1,Cry1F and Cry1A.105+cry2Ab2 AND roundup ready Glyphosate and glufosinate resistance. Expression is now not just in the silk, but now in silk, stalk and corn kernel.

Rejoice. They killed all the corn borers who dare come near them.

Is it whining to point out that some folk don't like serving pesticides and herbicides with their cornflakes?

This basic assumption that poison from any source is the ONLY way to address plant pests, is the fundamental fallacy upon which all support for such agricultural techniques resides.

Remember the requirement for BT farmers to maintain non BT corn refuges to slow the migration of BT resistance into the wild insect population? Turns out this is only if the farmer doesn't encounter the economic boundary condition set with the regulation - to wit, if they do their standard 1 year rotation between soy and corn, and borers survive over one year of no corn, then they can ferget about the refuge, due to 'economic hardship'.

In my experience, it takes two years of no corn to eradicate a population of corn borers. NO poison, no GE, just plant somethin' else for 2 years and your corn is free of borers AND all poisonous chemicals. hmmm.

Funny thing about that approach - it doesn't contaminate the water ways near farms either.

just plant somethin' else for 2 years and your corn is free of borers AND all poisonous chemicals.

But that isn't all future sciencey.

Poison is in the dose, you haven't provided any evidence that the amounts the government allows in crops is a problem, nor have you addressed the issue of the use of Bt and other pesticide substitutes used by organic farmers, I'll overlook the omission if you can demonstrate that you are able to feed the world :)

It really isn't an either or question. We should be taking the best practices and methods of organic farming along with the new technological solutions being developed. It's not as if the orgnic movement spurns all technology, but like Wendell Berry many of them are throwbacks to the eighteenth century, of course it is a very selective bit of business. It's the organic movement that draws the line in the sand. It is the organic movement that says it's our way or the highway.

Those who refer to Bt as "poison" or worry about their food being "pesticide laced" demonstrate a lack of understanding of how Bt works and why it doesn't deserve their hyperbolic attacks.

Concerns have also been raised about Bt crops, such as soybeans, which produce the bacterial toxin. "The plant is engineered to make an insect's gut explode when it eats it, which makes me a tad nervous," says Kelly.

Needlessly so, counters Roush. The toxin genes were chosen because receptors for them exist only in certain insects, including the caterpillars that eat the beans. They won't affect beetles or honeybees or anything else, including us, because human physiology is vastly different - we just don't have the receptors these toxins can bind to, he says. People have been eating Bt for a long time, he adds, because it has been widely used as an insecticide spray.

Rick Roush, a pest expert and dean of the Faculty of Land and Food Resources at the University of Melbourne.

link

And the chances of reaching your paradigm in our lifetime is nil. We need to take a more pragmatic approach in my opinion.

So GE crops are now the pragmatic and simple solution?

Because corporate beef producers won't let us promote a reduced meat diet we should let the corporate corn producers own DNA and do it without any labeling or regulation?

And then we trust them to feed the poor out of the kindness of their hearts?

Did you read my response to BD on the same topic. It's not a fucking either or question. Of course we can work on whatever the hell we think will solve the problems we have long term. I think GE crops are one of those long term solutions, but we shouldn't eschew good ideas simply because corporation might benefit.

Why do you make statements like "And then we trust them to feed the poor out of the kindness of their hearts?" do you think that reflects my view. Sure I think we need better corporate regulation and I've been making that argument long before you were even politically aware.

Sure I think we need better corporate regulation and I've been making that argument long before you were even politically aware.

You have to negotiate for those things. Giving them unregulated on labeled use of GMO's because they are a "good thing" is eliminating any chance of actually passing things corps will see as against their interest.

You have to negotiate for those things. Giving them unregulated on labeled use of GMO's because they are a "good thing" is eliminating any chance of actually passing things corps will see as against their interest.

You'll have to explain what you mean. I didn't say that we shouldn't regulate corporations, just that corn with Bt engineered into the plant was an effective way to increase production and reduce pesticide use.

I didn't say that we shouldn't regulate corporations,

No but you declare GMO a "good thing", but i would argue that GMO's will be good or bad based on how they are used and the Monsantos of the world have no history of using such things for good.

The arguments you have faced in this thread are all about the real world effects of GMO's.

I think most activists oppose them on political grounds, but you seem to support them on the scientific grounds and never describe what your political stance is.

If there was a bill before congress that allowed companies to create and own the rights to organisms without major restrictions, would you support it because of the potential benefits?

If there were a bill as you describe it before congress I'd oppose it.

But that has nothing to do with Bt Corn which I claim is a good thing. That can be decided on its merits

I'm not sure what it is you who are opposed to GMOs would like to see happen. No GMOs, no GMOs produced by corporations, what is it you plan to do about it. What Greenpeace does just blanket obstruction of all GMOs whether produced by industry or public research, and it doesn't even matter if there is any evidence to support their view, they'll make it up. Like those who say the way Bt works with caterpillars is that when they eat it their heart bursts now isn't that scary, but ignore the fact that human physiology is completely different and doesn't have the receptors necessary for the Bt to cause us harm.

The fact is that Bt Corn has been a successful product. It has saved farmers billions of dollars, it has reduced the use of dangerous pesticides, and there is no evidence that the Bt DNA in the plant is harmful to humans.

You can argue as some do that we should use organic only methods, but you're dreaming. Would you seriously consider passing a law requiring all farmers to use only approved organic methods. We live in a world where we can regulate the use of technologies that may be dangerous, and that is what we should do.

When a tool can be used both for good or for ill we regulate it we don't ban it. That's what we do with every other technology we have, but for some reason when it comes to genetically engineering plants some think there is a difference. I don't.

We need to make the decision on its merit using the best science we have.

"Better corporate regulation" is rather wishful thinking. I may have mentioned Michael Taylor's travels through the revolving door between Monsanto and the government which has now led him to be named food safety "czar" at the FDA.

In a previous stay, Taylor, " In 1994, Taylor ended up writing the rBGH labeling guidelines that prohibit the dairy industry from stating that their products either contain or are free from rBGH. Even worse, to keep rBGH-milk from being "stigmatized" in the marketplace, the FDA ruled that the labels of non-rBGH products must state that there is no difference between rBGH and the natural hormone.8

According to journalist Jennifer Ferraro, "while working for Monsanto,Taylor had prepared a memo for the company as to whether or not it would be constitutional for states to erect labeling laws concerning rBGH dairy products. In other words, Taylor helped Monsanto figure out whether or not the corporation could sue states or companies that wanted to tell the public that their products were free of Monsanto's drug." 9"

Then there is Margaret Miller, "Monsanto was required to submit a scientific report on rBGH to the FDA so the agency could determine the growth hormone's safety. Margaret Miller put the report together, and in 1989 shortly before she submitted the report, Miller left Monsanto to work for the FDA. Guess what her first job was? Strangely enough, to determine whether or not to approve the report she wrote for Monsanto! The bottom line is that Monsanto approved its own report. Miller was assisted by another former Monsanto researcher, Susan Sechen."

http://www.smart-publications.com/articles/view/lies-and-deception-how-the-fda-does-not-protect-your-best-interests/

Maybe the GM stuff is safe, but I think you can see why many people are skeptical. The independence of the deciders is questionable.

For eons chance guided evolution but now profit conducts.

That is the heart of the debate, and the reason Monsanto scares people.

re Norm 10/11/10: "The EPA considered 20 years of human and animal safety data before registering Bt corn."

I say: "And? And haven't they just done a stellar job over the last 15 years!" What's the phrase? "Good job Brownie!"

I say: "Question Authority."

re Norm 10/12/10: "...nor have you addressed the issue of the use of Bt and other pesticide substitutes used by organic farmers."

Sorry I wasn't clearer last time we talked of BT and Organic practice.

The NOP allows Restricted Use of BT insecticide. "Restricted use" requires documented (and audited) previous efforts at alternatives (such as rotation, enhanced bird refuge (hedgerows). As a general principle, "Restricted Use" designation means a last resort for the Organic Farmer.

Where pest management is concerned, whether it be weed, varmint, or bug, the most specific and directed remedy is considered the best remedy. By that I mean, pick a weed, fence out or trap the varmint. If a broccoli plant is infested with aphids, pull it up and toss it in the chicken house. NOTICE that that plant was at the end of an irrigation line, and not as perky as the others. Fix the line. Keep a shovel by the back door for rattlesnakes coming out from under the house, but just wear sturdy shoes and watch where you're going in the fields.

It's actually quite scientific.

The Objective of Organic Farming is better outputs with fewer inputs. "Something for nothing" unless you count the bounty of healthy soil, a rich habitat for diverse species, and health-promoting exercise in clean air and green surroundings.

This is a really DIFFERENT approach than one that is focused on broad spectrum chemical or biochemical solutions.

In the latter case,

For the manufacturer, the more kills AND the more different kills you can get with one pesticide product, the more 'benefit' might be gained through a higher price for the new 'improved' multi-spectrum version. You can sell everybody the solutions to many small and rarely problematic other troubles they do not actually have. The customer must pay more to get the one insecticide they have been led to believe is the only fix for the one problem they have. The same is true of animal vaccines. They stack one vaccine on top of another - from 3 in one, to 6 in one to 9,in one and on and on.

Manufacturers don't do this because it's scientific, but because it's good business for the manufacturer. This is not a conspiracy. It's just business. There is no other reason for it - not science, altruism, a more refined or modern understanding of food production or entomology. It's just business.

Here's another example. We've two ponds near the house. Occasionally mosquitoes start biting before the Dragon Flies and Swallows clock in. I keep a Citronella Geranium by the front door. If I happen to be out during that little interval, I pinch off a leaf and rub it on my elbows and ears. End of story about Organic Farmer's use of Pesticide.

Compare this to one who lathers on the DEET on many uncovered skin surfaces such that they might wear sleeveless tank and shorts even when the mosquitoes are out.

OR,

Compare this to a stack of broad spectrum BT based GE insecticides PLUS Roundup Ready herbicide resistance from GE Corn bred to express these in every part of the plant, all the time.

I think these are really different.

Hell. Maybe it IS a philosophical thing.

I don't believe that Earth was placed here for humans to have dominion over with no regard for all the other creatures on it. I think it quite cunning that what may be a pest to me, is dinner for some other bird or wild thing. Thus hedgerows are superior to poison for pest management.

Good grief. I see the headline now.

"Farmer admits a philosophical basis for Organic practice."

finally,

re Norm: "demonstrate that you are able to feed the world." Yields and Productivity are an extremely complicated subject that must, I fear, be entertained at a later time. Not, to be sure, because I have no opinion on it, but because I have no time just now. Place backs.

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