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Montevideo, November 15th 2018 - 02:04 UTC

Aphids beat latest 'odor' efforts to repel them and protect GM crops

Thursday, July 16th 2015 - 08:15 UTC
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GM crops are being grown commercially since 1996. Land with GM crops has increased from 1.7m in 1996 to around 175.2m hectares worldwide in 2013. GM crops are being grown commercially since 1996. Land with GM crops has increased from 1.7m in 1996 to around 175.2m hectares worldwide in 2013.
Nearly 90% of GM crops are grown in five countries alone: US, Brazil, Argentina, India and Canada, with the US contributing 40% of the produce. Nearly 90% of GM crops are grown in five countries alone: US, Brazil, Argentina, India and Canada, with the US contributing 40% of the produce.
WHO has classified glyphosate, a herbicide sprayed on many GM crops, as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. WHO has classified glyphosate, a herbicide sprayed on many GM crops, as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

In what is described as a major blow to genetic modification of crops, a variety of wheat developed in the UK to repel pests has failed in field trials. The variety engineered to produce an odor that repels aphids, failed in the field test after it was successfully tested in the lab, proving a wide gap between lab and commercial application of the process.

 The results of the trial held by Rothamsted Research in 2012-2013 was published this week in the journal Scientific Reports. Among the many hypothesis for the failure one was that the aphids became used to the chemical deterrent.

The genes producing anti-insect pheromone (E)-beta-farnesene was introduced into the plant to develop aphid resilient crops in order to reduce the amount of pesticides required by plants. This smell is found naturally in plants like peppermint and it disperses aphids.

Aphids - such as greenfly and black-fly - damage plants by sucking nutrients from their sap and can also introduce plant viruses.

Dr Toby Bruce, first author of the study and senior chemical ecologist at Rothamsted Research told BBC: “In science we never expect to get confirmation of every hypothesis. Often it is the negative results and unexpected surprises that end up making big advances - penicillin was discovered by accident, for example.”

The trial was subject of protests by anti-GM campaigners like GM Freeze in 2012. They were quick to note the outcome was further evidence of the “folly” of investing in GM technology. The project cost £732,000 ($1.1m) with an additional £444,000 spent on fencing to protect the trial site.

Liz O'Neill, director of GM Freeze, said: “The waste of over £1m of public funding on a trial confirms the simple fact that when GM tries to outwit nature, nature adapts in response.”

The technology is believed to hold much potential in growing more crops under reduced pesticide input. However, safety concerns over allergies, gene contamination, etc have seen few nations adopt the technology.

Genetically modified crops are being grown commercially since 1996. The land coverage of GM crops has increased over 100 fold from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to around 175.2 million hectares worldwide in 2013.

But nearly 90% of GM crops are grown in five countries alone — the United States, Brazil, Argentina, India and Canada, with the US contributing 40% of the produce.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) GM crops have not been shown to pose a greater health risk to humans than conventionally bred crops. But WHO has classified glyphosate, a herbicide sprayed on many GM crops, as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

In the EU, each individual GMO must receive approval before it can be sold as seed or used in food and feed. Any food and animal feed containing more than 0.9% of GMOs has to be labeled.

UK has regulations to ensure the safety of environmental release of genetically modified organisms for research trials. It is pushing for controls on the commercial use of GM products to what the government says “encourage innovation and growth”.

The top three GM crops by coverage are soybeans (52% of total GM area in 2009), maize (31%), and cotton (12%). All commercial GM crops today are genetically altered mostly for herbicide tolerance and insect resistance.

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  • ChrisR

    “failed in the field test after it was successfully tested in the lab, proving a wide gap between lab and commercial application of the process.”

    This is why field trials are the only ones that matter.

    No doubt the aphids have mutated to ignore this chemical.

    I love the analogy between this poisonous trend (using the worst pesticides imaginable) and penicillin; if only it were true.

    Jul 16th, 2015 - 07:24 pm 0
  • MarkDnrs

    GMO and its associated lethal pesticides and herbicides are dangerous poisons. Eating genetically modified corn (GM corn) and consuming trace levels of Monsanto's Roundup chemical fertilizer caused rats to develop horrifying tumors, widespread organ damage, and premature death. rats exposed to even the smallest amounts, “developed mammary tumors and severe liver and kidney damage as early as four months in males, and seven months for females.” The animals on the GM diet suffered mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage. Everywhere GMO is being grown, food allergies, disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others have been skyrocketing in the human populations.

    There has been a drastic decline of crop-pollinating insects all over the world, and what this means for the future of the world's food supply. Wild pollinators like bumblebees, butterflies, and beetles are basically disappearing. GMO industrial agricultural practices are causing this insect genocide. Pollinating insects in general, which include a wide range of insects and other animals, are simply vanishing from their normal habitats and foraging areas. That lower diversity and lower abundance of wild insects means less fruits and destruction of the diversity of plants and their fruits worldwide.

    GMOs cross pollinate and their seeds can travel. It is impossible to fully clean up our contaminated gene pool. Self-propagating GMO pollution will outlast the effects of global warming and nuclear waste. The potential impact is huge, threatening the health of future generations. GMO contamination has also caused economic losses for organic and non-GMO farmers who often struggle to keep their crops pure.

    Jul 19th, 2015 - 04:45 am 0
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