Tag Archives: Bollworm

British MSM fails to report escalating GM problems: ‘superworms’ & ‘superweeds’

10 Dec

Earlier this year America’s St Louis Dispatch reported on a growing sense of unease “spreading across the Great Plains about the cornstalk-sized superweeds infesting more than 100 million acres”.

Nathan Donley recalls: “For years Monsanto officials had assured farmers that weeds would never develop resistance to the company’s flagship herbicide, glyphosate, so farmers were urged to apply it liberally year after year because “dead weeds don’t produce seeds.” And apply it they did, with annual U.S. glyphosate use soaring to over 300 million pounds — an escalation that quickly accelerated the evolution of glyphosate-resistant superweeds that can grow an inch a day to heights of 10 feet and break farm equipment”.

Now major herbicide producers are offering a familiar-sounding “solution”: ‘use more’.

Four years after its release in 2002 with much fanfare, Bt cotton became susceptible to the bollworm. Today Devinder Sharma reports that India’s failing genetically modified Bt cotton crop, designed to guard against the bollworm pest, has increasingly been unable to resist it. Farmers have been forced to use deadly cocktails of pesticides to curb the insect menace. 

A reader wonders how soon the bollworm will become a ‘superworm’ resistant to pesticide ‘cocktails’.

Sharma adds: “News has come in of 50 farm workers succumbing to suspected pesticides poisoning; at least 25 lost their eyesight and another 800 admitted to various hospitals in Maharashtra. Another 6 deaths and hospitalisation of a few hundred more have been reported from Tamil Nadu’s cotton belt – Perambalur, Ariyalur and Salem.

Pink bollworm resurgence has been so severe that there are reports of farmers unable to harvest even a kilo of cotton and being forced to uproot or burn the standing crop in several parts of the country. In Maharashtra alone:

  • more than 80,000 farmers, up to Nov 30, have applied for crop compensation.
  • The bollworm has destroyed nearly 50% of the standing crop in Maharashtra, the country’s biggest cotton grower
  • and another 20% in Madhya Pradesh.
  • It has caused extensive damage in Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat.
  • Only about 100 of the 150 cotton ginning mills in Maharashtra are in operation and they are working at 50% capacity.
  • Reuters reports that cotton exports this year will be one-fifth less, coming down to 6 million bales against the earlier estimate of 7.5 million bales. 

A senior agricultural scientist once told Sharma: “In the early 1960s, only six to seven major pests were worrying the cotton farmer. The farmer today is battling against some 70 major pests on cotton.” The greater the attack of insect pests, the more is the use and abuse of potent chemicals. His advice: 

  • instead of introducing a third generation of Bollgard-III varieties, and compounding the existing crisis, the focus of agricultural research should shift to alternative methods.
  • Agricultural universities should be directed to stop any further research on GM cotton
  • and the focus shifted to use of bio-control and integrated pest management techniques that use pesticides sparingly – and as a last resort.

Sharma adds persuasively that already Burkina Faso has shown a remarkable jump of 20% in cotton productivity after phasing out Bt cotton. Turkey also has shown excellent results with IPM techniques; rejecting GM cotton, and restricting the use of chemical pesticides, Turkey has doubled its cotton yields.  

More information:

Published here: बीटी कॉटन के चक्रव्यूह से बाहर आना होगा Dainik Bhaskar. Dec 9, 2017 https://www.bhaskar.com/news/ABH-LCL-bt-cotton-has-to-come-out-of-the-maze-5765023-PHO.html – and in English by the author at Ground Reality: http://devinder-sharma.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/when-dreaded-pink-boll-worm-strikes-back.html 

Integrated Pest Management for Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture in Asia and Africa

Integrated pest management of protected vegetable cultivation in Turkey

 

 

 

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“Playing with poison” – pesticides in India and Europe

11 Oct

The report on the sustainable use of pesticides adopted today by the Commission takes stock of progress made by the EU Member States in applying measures to reduce the risks and impacts of pesticides. It covers a wide range of topics such as aerial spraying, information to the public or training of professionals. The report indicates insufficient implementation of the Directive on the sustainable use of pesticides and Integrated Pest Management systems, in which various control methods are combined to limit the use of chemicals.

Commenting on the report, Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “I know first-hand that citizens are concerned about the impact of the use of pesticides on their health and the environment. We take these concerns into consideration and we are working with the Member States to achieve sustainable use of pesticides in the way we grow and produce our food. I will continue encouraging and supporting Member States in their task of implementing the measures to reduce risks derived from the use of pesticides”.

A few days earlier Devinder Sharma (New Delhi), writing in the Orissa Post, remembered a field trip in the 1980s, organised by the Pesticides Association of India:

“Taking me around the crop fields, they showed me the protective gear that the pesticides industry was providing to farm workers engaged in pesticides spraying. It was so reassuring to see farm workers spraying the crop dressed up in protective clothing – hand gloves, face mask, a cap and in gumboots”.

Nearly 40 years later, he has been shocked to read a news report of 50 farm workers dying of suspected pesticides poisoning and another 800 admitted to various hospitals in Maharashtra. About 25 have lost their eyesight, and an equal number are on life support system. After activists highlighted the tragedy, the Maharashtra government has belatedly launched an inquiry. It has also announced an ex-gratia grant of Rs 2 lakh to the nearest kin of the deceased.

 Sharma: the next time you see a farm worker spraying the crops, just stop your vehicle and watch. Chances are you will see him without any protective gear/clothing

The Maharashtra tragedy primarily occurred because the Bt cotton crop had failed to resist the dreaded bollworm pests for a couple of years now as a result of which farmers resorted to sprays of deadly cocktails to curb the insect menace.

“This poisoning adversely affects the poorest of the poor, often leading to fatalities or permanent disabilities, and society is not even remotely bothered”, Sharma comments.

Since the sprays are invariably done by daily wage workers, very few farmers ensure that the labourers take precaution. They push the labourers to complete the job as quickly as possible, and are least bothered about the safety and health of the workers. The pesticide residues that seep into the body take time to show the harmful impact, and by that time the labourer has finished the job, taken his money and gone. Most of the time, pesticides poisoning is not even considered as a possible cause when these labourers have to be taken to the hospital.

After describing the most favourable times and conditions for administering pesticides and advocating that companies which already provide hand gloves, should also place a cap and protective face mask in every package. Sharma adds that farmers should be directed to purchase gum boots for the labourers. And that pesticides companies and agricultural departments should be directed to jointly organise training camps every fortnight on the use and application of harmful pesticides.

International standards recommend three grades of full body protective clothing (left), to suit the danger levels of the pesticide being applied.

Most importantly he believes that agricultural scientists must now shift the focus to crops which require less or no application of chemical pesticides.

For example, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, considered to be a Mecca for rice research, has established that “pesticides on rice was a waste of time and effort in Asia“ and has gone on to suggest that farmers in the Central Luzon province of the Philippines, in Vietnam, in Bangladesh and in India have shown that a higher productivity can be achieved without using chemical pesticides.

He ends by asking, in view of these findings, why haven’t agricultural universities recommended a complete end to the use of chemical pesticides on rice, commenting that this failure to act defies any and every scientific logic.

 

 

 

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“Data clearly shows that GMOs do not increase yields and do not decrease the use of agrichemicals”

10 Oct

navdanya 

Vandana Shiva draws our attention to her article in the Deccan Chronicle. On one side of the debate over genetically modified organisms is scientific evidence that GMOs are not delivering on their promise, and on the other side is ideological propaganda by the genetically modified seed industry and scientists whose careers are locked into the GMO trajectory.

Extracts

After two decades of commercial applications, data clearly shows that GMOs do not increase yields and do not decrease the use of agrichemicals, but have instead created super-pests and super-weeds.

vandana shivaIt is because of these failures and the fact that GMOs are linked to patents, which translates into royalty extraction and high prices, that GMOs worsen the economic status of farmers. India has witnessed more than 2,84,694 far­mer suicides in a span of 17 years, between 1995 and 2012. The worst off is Maharashtra, which has the maximum area under cultivation of genetically modified Bt cotton . . .

Farmers chose Bt cotton not because it was the best alternative but because all other alternatives were destroyed. The seed varieties were replaced. India’s Central Ins­titute for Cotton Res­earch has not released any public varieties after Monsanto entered the market, and most Indian seed companies are locked into licensing arrangements with Monsanto.

Nor is it true that yields have incre­ased. Yields of cotton in the pre-GMO period reached 1,200 kg in good years. After Bt cotton was introduced the yield has stagnated at 500 kg.

As the University of Ca­n­terbury research team led by Prof. Jack He­i­nemann has shown, North American crop production has fallen behind that of Western Europe, despite farmers in the United States using genetically modified seeds and more pesticide. According to the team, the main point of difference between the regions is the adoption of GM seeds in North America and the use of non-GM seed in Europe. The failure to control pests has led to an increase in pesticide use.

A study published in India’s Review of Agrarian Studies also showed a higher expenditure on chemical pesticides for Bt cotton than for other varieties by small farmers. Non-target pest populations in Bt cotton fields have exploded; it is expected that this will likely counteract any decrease in pesticide use.

In China, where Bt cotton is widely planted, populations of mirid bugs — pests that previously posed only a minor problem — have increased 12-fold since 1997.

A 2008 study in the International Journal of Biotechnology (see abstract) found that any financial benefits of planting Bt cotton had been eroded by the increasing use of pesticides needed to combat non-target pests.

In the US, due mainly to the widespread use of Roundup Ready seeds, the use of 4 herbicide (a group of herbicides) increased 15% from 1994 to 2005 — an average increase of one-fourth pound per each acre planted with GM seed — according to a 2009 report published by the Organic Centre. Moreover, the rise of gly­phosate (the herbici­de in Roundup) resistant weeds has made it necessary to combat these weeds by employing other, often more toxic, herbicides . . . This trend is confirmed by 2010 USDA pesticide data, which shows skyrocketing gly­phosate use accompanied by constant or increasing rates of use for other, more toxic, herbicides . . .

. . . Bt cotton has not given higher yields. It is not disease resistant. Disea­ses that never affected cotton, like aphids and jassids, have exploded. In India the bollworm, which Bt cotton was supposed to control, has become resistant and Monsanto has had to introduce Bollgard II, a higher variety of insect-resistant genetically modified cotton. All this has created debt not profits for farmers. If seed costs jump 8,000 per cent and pesticide use increases 1,300 per cent, farmers’ incomes do not increase.

Good science looks at evidence and takes feedback from the real word. Bad science that shuts its mind to evidence and be­comes propaganda. Sa­­dly, in the GMO deb­a­te, those defending GMOs have only power and propaganda on their side.

The writer is the executive director of the Navdanya (nine seeds)Trust

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 A direct link to 2010 USDA pesticide data was not found but there was a similar passage in the 2010 Californian report below (AI, active ingredient?). pesticide use california 2010