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Genetically modified crops - February issue

Nick Maclaren nmm1 at cus.cam.ac.uk
Sun Feb 7 05:13:09 EST 1999

In article <36BCEB14.57FF0275 at mr.net>, David Kendra  <dkendra at mr.net> wrote:
>Nick Maclaren wrote:
>> In article <36BC6C79.64E40693 at uga.cc.uga.edu>,
>> Wayne Parrott  <wparrott at uga.cc.uga.edu> wrote:
>> >Now come transgenic crops, tailored for a new generation of herbicides.
>> >Compared to original herbicides, today's lack, carbon-chlorine bonds, are
>> >effective in far far smaller doses, are much more target-specific, and have
>> >short residuals.
>> You are missing the point.  The intention is to use much higher levels
>> of herbicides, as well as more lethal ones, which can't be done at
>> present because they harm the crop.  And there is little evidence to
>> show that (a) such use does not persist in the crop and (b) does not
>> cause other harm or persist elsewhere.
>Sorry Nick, but you are miss informed.  The intention and the actual utility of
>herbicide resistance technology is to use less herbicides.  Additionally Wayne is
>correct that newer herbicide chemistries are much safer than older ones.  Roundup is
>one of the safest herbicide that has ever been commercialized.  Also, can you please
>provide evidence to support your claim that Roundup (a) persists in in the crop and
>(b) harms other organisms or persists elsewhere.   Your post sounds like there is
>data available that I am unaware of.  Thanks.

Are you quite sure?  I know that your statement corresponds to the
political sales pitch, but I saw one quote from an advertising leaflet
that said precisely what I said (in different words.)  Remember that
the WHOLE point of this particular technique is to enable plants to
be sprayed with herbicide while they are growing, which is not a
practical option at present (in general.)  I think that my source of
the quote was Nature.

I did not claim that glyphosate persists in the crop - I said that there
is little evidence to show that it DOESN'T.  Until these new practices
were introduced, glyphosate was effectively not used on any food crop.
It is heavily used for keeping the ground clear around shrubs and
trees, for clearing ground preparatory to planting, and so on - but
NOT on the leaves of growing crops.  The new techniques are being
foisted on us without even the most elementary checking for expected
problems (let alone unexpected ones.)

On the matter of 'elsewhere', there was a flame war on some UK group
a year or so back, with some people claiming that it did not persist
and others claiming that it did.  One of the latter provided an actual
reference, which I looked up, and it does seem that glyphosate persists
in aquatic sediments for a period of at least years.  Hence run-off is
a very serious problem.

Nick Maclaren,
University of Cambridge Computing Service,
New Museums Site, Pembroke Street, Cambridge CB2 3QG, England.
Email:  nmm1 at cam.ac.uk
Tel.:  +44 1223 334761    Fax:  +44 1223 334679

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