Comments

  1. #1 Ewan R
    Monsanto R&D HQ.
    March 18, 2013

    Normal disclaimer up front, I’m a Monsanto employee, my musings here are entirely the product of the weird sack of meat contained within my skull and not the views of big M.
    Brad Gottshall : –

    There is no evidence GMO crops have increased yield as compared to crops produced by non-GMO seed.

    Even the UCS report “failure to yield” calls you a liar in this respect, even a biased surreality based group like the UCS had to concede a (if I remember the figure correctly) 4-5% increase in yield attributable to Bt in corn in the US.

    here is no evidence of GMO cropping systems reducing the amount of disease in a field

    I am sure the growers of GMO papaya (virus resistant) are puzzled by your assertion.

    most certainly no evidence of GMO crops being drought resistant

    Because last years on farm trials of Monsanto’s droughtguard product simply didn’t happen. And it isn’t being scaled up this year. And it didn’t beat out Pioneer’s offering (which is the product of breeding and not GM). Hang on wait a moment, all those things happened. It’s almost like you’re totally wrong on this front also. I sense, what certain disinterested parties might call, a pattern.

    There is no increase in “variety” of seed due to the insertion of a gene cartridge by MONSANTO.

    Lets think about this. Imagine we have Variety A. Then we insert a gene, and people get so terribly excited that they refuse to call it Variety A any more (which is kinda silly, but people on both sides do this for opposing reasons) – you now, as if by magic, have two varieties. Alas however I would have to agree with you on this point (although only so far as my blockquote above contains it – the GMO process doesn’t impact diversity at all (the insertion of a single gene is such a small change that I balk every time I see it described as a new variety (or even species!) whether this descriptor comes from anti or pro- GMO folk.

    The known biodiversity of all common commercial crop plants is being limited by these processes.

    How exactly? This makes no sense. Once a transgene is inserted into one variety it is not locked there forever, it is true that only a single instance of transformation (or event) is covered by deregulation, but the key to commercially successful GMOs is the introgression of this transgene into as many varieties as is possible, you don’t get rid of anything that works, you breed the transgene in. There is often this bizarre idea floating around the sidelines that somehow all Bt corn is the same, all RR Soy the same – this is absurd. If it were the case RR and Bt would have died a spectacular death in the first couple of years of commercialization, or would, at least, have been so geographically limited as to offer no real financial reward to the companies producing them. As things stand the RR trait is licensed broadly and introgressed into a wide range of varieties – Pioneer corn is still pioneer corn even with the RR trait, DeKalb corn is still DeKalb, Syngenta is still Syngenta – the breeding populations used to produced these brands are all closely guarded secrets of the respective companies (one does not discuss parentage of hybrids outside of closed doors) and are kept as diverse as is plausible by massive organizations of breeders who happily pass material from asia to Europe to the US to Latin America with not one thought of genetically modifying a damn thing (in the sense which is meaningful to most people, they are, of course, genetically modifying the plants, but by traditional and molecular breeding)

    Our ability to grow crops in the face of changing climatological conditions is being reduced, not enhanced by GMO

    As evidenced by what exactly? The above piece illustrates that reduction in varieties being caused by GMOs is false. The results from the Droughtguard hybrids certainly illustrate that there is a yield gain to be seen under limited water conditions (above and beyond what breeding can achieve). Pam’s own work illustrates that GM could impart flooding tolerance in rice (thankfully this was also achieved by breeding, but that needn’t have necessarily been the case)

  2. #2 rork
    February 24, 2013

    Buck, your translation is not very good, but more importantly what is your point? Are you saying we should not allow patents? Cause that’s what it sounds like.

  3. #3 rork
    February 24, 2013

    I was also skeptical of Brad’s claims so I checked on Bt cotton, and it was very easy to find papers concluding there were increased yields, both in India(Science, feb7 2003, 900-902) and China(The Plant Journal (2002) 31(4), 423-430), and most of the few lay articles I checked mostly agreed this was true, but that this alone doesn’t mean there are no problems.
    A brief review gave me the impression that Monsanto does have a corn with increased drought resistance, but the improvement is so little that it may not be worth the extra cost of the seeds.
    Brads other claims were kinda fuzzy. Except perhaps about variety. I probably would call Bt cotton a new variety – actually there are several. That it’s success decreases genetic variation of what’s being grown out there is probably true though, and could be a problem.

    I’m not saying GM plants are always great, but the arguments against them that might make sense are often not so simple as “there is no evidence” stuff like we see here.

    • #4 Buck Field
      Patagonia, Chile
      February 24, 2013

      Hi Rork

      >your translation is not very good…
      Whether it’s “good” probably depends on personal perspective of the reader. One’s satire is another’s sacred truth…and vice-versa.

      >but more importantly what is your point?
      The point of the translation was to illustrate some of the astonishing bias contained in the source piece.

      >Are you saying we should not allow patents?
      Of course not, but you seem to clearly sense my contempt for the perversion of legitimate intellectual property laws, including much of current U.S. patent law..

  4. #5 Buck Field
    Patagonia, Chile
    February 24, 2013

    As for crazy bias in the article, I actually laughed reading this.

    Allow me to translate the following from the article’s economic-fantasy-corporate-speak: “companies need to protect inventions so they can generate revenues to recover costs and return a profit for shareholders.”

    In reality-based English: “corporations demand governments artificially protect them from productive free-market competition, ensuring their research bets are covered by the taxpaying public and steering any profits to executives and investors who believe in profit for themselves without having to work for it.

  5. #6 Buck Field
    Patagonia, Chile
    February 24, 2013

    Brad,

    I would recommend linking your comments & criticism to specific claims in the article, and some of your claims are extremist…they could be accurate but skeptics (like me) must doubt statements like: “There is no evidence GMO crops have increased yield…”

    It seems unlikely that there is not a single, biased & unreliable study supporting increased GMO yield?

    If presented with evidence the beta-carotene yield of Golden Rice was superior to that of any known non-GMO rice, would that indicate “no evidence” claim were false, wouldn’t it?

  6. #7 Brad Gottshall
    Louisville, KY
    February 24, 2013

    “…Without the investments made to date, we wouldn’t have the high-yielding varieties we do or the promise of new ones.
    Without access to innovative crop varieties, we are hard-pressed to meet the challenges of a growing population, shrinking arable land base, environmental issues, disease, pests and drought…”

    There is no evidence GMO crops have increased yield as compared to crops produced by non-GMO seed. There is no evidence of GMO cropping systems reducing the amount of disease in a field or the potential for a disease to attack a crop and most certainly no evidence of GMO crops being drought resistant.
    The “investments” of others prior to MONSANTO’s included the actual domestication of the maize plant and the creation of thousands of different geographically adapted varieties allowing maize to become one of the most widely adapted C4 grasses on the planet. There is no increase in “variety” of seed due to the insertion of a gene cartridge by MONSANTO. The known biodiversity of all common commercial crop plants is being limited by these processes. Our ability to grow crops in the face of changing climatological conditions is being reduced, not enhanced by GMO.

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