Saturday, 18th November 2017
BEAUTY Article
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This Month's Magazine

The impact of GM corn in Spain

This month I want to draw the readers' attention to a serious ecological problem that exists in Spain and that can only be attributed to short term greed by few to the detriment of many and possibly many generations to come.

This corn contains a genetic construct called Bt 176, consisting of a gene from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis that encodes an insecticidal toxin able to kill Corn Borers and other leptitoptera insects (moths & butterflies). It also has a gene that confers increased tolerance to the herbicide glufosinate-ammonium and a gene conferring resistance to the antibiotic ampicillinc.

Bt 176 varieties were amongst the first to be registered for commercial growing in the USA in 1995, the authorization was not re-granted in 2001. Bt 176 was approved in the EU in February 1997, before the de facto moratorium on GMOs was adopted by the EU council in 1999. It must be underlined that this moratorium is still in place, given that several countries consider that legislation concerning GMOs needs improvement. 

Over the last years many Member States became more cautious. Although France was the first EU country to allow the commercial growing of Bt 176 corn, no more Bt corn is grown there since 2000. France also banned the growing of GM oilseed rape. Germany banned the growing of Bt maize and other countries (like Luxembourg and Austria) refused to give the green light to any GM crops.
 
Contrary to the precautionary position prevailing in the EU, in February 2003 the Spanish Government took a step forward in its pro-GMO unilateral policy, approving 5 new insect resistant corn varieties (with Bt 176 and MON 810 genetic modifications) for cultivation in Spain.

Unfortunately the only studies on GM crops available in Spain since 1998 have been produced by industry, while the Government has failed to monitor commercial plantings in order to provide an objective assessment of the impact of GM corn on farming, health and the environment.


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Corn borer’s a lepdopteran insect that can cause damage to corn crops in certain regions, as it can drill the stems of some pants. However, the presence of this pest is not significant in Spain and in any case insects do become resistant to this as they do with any insecticide eventually.
 
These genetically modified (GM) organisms can reproduce and interbreed with natural organisms, thereby spreading to new environments and future generations in an unforeseeable and uncontrollable way.
Understanding of genetics is extremely limited and scientists do not know the long-term effects of releasing these unpredictable organisms into the environment and of introducing them in people's diets.
People should have the right to know about ingredients derived from GM plants in their food and should have the right to avoid it in all countries.

Despite some governments and industry attempts to 'educate' the public, opposition to genetic engineering continues to grow and the awareness has sparked a global wave of rejection; surveys show that 70% of EU consumers are opposed to GM food and, due to consumer pressure, supermarkets are clearing GM food from their shelves and global food companies are removing GM ingredients from their products. An increasing number of food manufacturers and retailers, as well as grain companies have committed themselves not to trade, use or sell GM crops or derived ingredients.

Despite the ban adopted by several Member States and its highly controversial approval in the EU and in the USA, in March 1998, Spain approved the inclusion of two Bt 176 corn varieties in the Compa CB and Jordi CB. Moreover, in February 2003, Spain approved for planting 5 new GM corn varieties (one Bt 176 and four MON 810), though Spain imports millions of tons of corn and soya form countries that grow large scale GM crops.

Spain fails to respect European legislation in many ways, but very especially concerning public information. Spain has become a big experimental field for GM crops since 1998, when the first transgenic variety (a Bt corn) was approved for planting. This situation is unique in the European Union where no other country is currently growing GMOs and where the moratorium de facto on new authorizations is still in place.

A 2001 official survey in Spain states that the majority of consumers would not eat GM food and, if it were clearly labelled, they wouldn't do it even if it were much cheaper. But the Spanish Government has adopted a very pro-GM attitude in the last years which does not take into account public opinion nor the growing evidence of environmental and health risks.

After feeding meat (offal) to cows and causing the mad cow's disease, after blaming olive oil for the scandalous epidemic in Spain, that really was due to liberal misuse of insecticide on tomatoes, they do not seem to learn do they?



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