Tag Archives: maize

Terry Davis and the Red Corn

Terry Davis selected the red kernels last year, planted them this spring, and now he’s picking them.

Movie: Corn picking (4.5M) Movie: Coming up the corn row (74M) Movie: Second corn (8.1M) Movie: Finishing the second row (30M)

Here’s a video playlist.

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Callicarpa, corn

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) growing next to corn (Zea mays): two very tasty plants!

Callicarpa

This corn was planted by Terry Davis from seed kept in his family for 100 years.

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Both Roundup-Ready corn and Roundup are toxic to humans: scientific evidence

Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini put out a press release yesterday, NEW STUDY: Genetically Modified Corn Toxic to Humans,
“We were very much surprised by our findings. Until now, it has been thought almost impossible for Bt proteins to be toxic to human cells. Now further investigations have to be conducted to find out how these toxins impact the cells and if combinatorial effects with other compounds in the food and feed chain have to be taken into account,” says Gilles-Eric Séralini from the University of Caen, who supervised the experiments. “In conclusion, these experiments show that the risks of Bt toxins and of Roundup have been underestimated.”
The toxicity of the corn itself may have been a surprise, but not that of Roundup:
These findings are in accordance with several other investigations highlighting unexpected health risks associated with glyphosate preparations.
Previous studies, including ones by Dr. Séralini, already showed exposure to glysophate (the active ingredient in Roundup) to be “a risk factor for developing Non-Hodgkin lymphoma”, and to be toxic to human umbilical, placental, and placental cells with a that “is far below agricultural recommendations and corresponds to low levels of residues in food or feed.” In Argentina, Prof. Andrés Carrasco has demonstrated birth defects in amphibians and there is increasing evidence of human birth defects.

Regarding Monsanto’s GM corn itself, we already knew it causes liver and kidney damage in rats (later reverified using Monsanto’s own data), and chickens fed feed including Monsanto corn show abnormal gene expression.

Now we have even more hard evidence of the toxicity of Monsanto’s GM corn and of Monsanto’s Roundup. The journal article is available through Wiley online.

-jsq

Toxic corn and cotton pollute our streams

Steve Connor writes in The Independent 28 Sep 2010 that GM maize ‘has polluted rivers across the United States’:
An insecticide used in genetically modified (GM) crops grown extensively in the United States and other parts of the world has leached into the water of the surrounding environment.

The insecticide is the product of a bacterial gene inserted into GM maize and other cereal crops to protect them against insects such as the European corn borer beetle. Scientists have detected the insecticide in a significant number of streams draining the great corn belt of the American mid-West.

The researchers detected the bacterial protein in the plant detritus that was washed off the corn fields into streams up to 500 metres away. They are not yet able to determine how significant this is in terms of the risk to either human health or the wider environment.

This is the same “gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuriengensis (Bt)” used in Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready cotton and peanuts and soybeans. Since Continue reading

Monsanto Downturn

Andrew Pollack writes in the New York Times that After Growth, Fortunes Turn for Monsanto:
As recently as late December, Monsanto was named “company of the year” by Forbes magazine. Last week, the company earned a different accolade from Jim Cramer, the television stock market commentator. “This may be the worst stock of 2010,” he proclaimed.
I remember that! The month after Forbes did that, Covalence did a survey that ranked Monsanto the least ethical company in the world. Worse than Philip Morris, Chevron, or Halliburton!

About that time we discovered Monsanto Corn Causes Liver and Kidney Damage in Rats, and that Monsanto’s GM soy causes sterility and five times higher infant mortality in hamsters.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating Monsanto’s seed business. At least seven U.S. states started their own investigations, and later the U.S. EPA fined Monsanto $2.5 million for selling seeds illegally in Texas counties where they were banned.

Since then we’ve learned that Pesticides Linked to ADHD. Specifically organophosphate pesticides. Like Glysophate (RoundUp). And that indicators of pesticides, including organophosphates, are found in the urine of 95% of school children. We already knew that Glysophoate causes birth defects in humans.

Anyway, could all this bad news have some effect on Monsanto’s share price? Continue reading

Corn most profitable: not GM

Steve Connor writes in the Independent that It pays not to cultivate GM crops, survey finds,
The first economic analysis of growing genetically modified crops on a wide scale has found that the biggest winners were the farmers who decided not to grow them.

The study, which looked at maize yields in the corn belt of the United States, found that farmers who continued to grow conventional crops actually earned more money over a 14-year period than those who cultivated GM varieties.

The article then tries to say they nonetheless benefited from genetic modification:
All farmers benefited from the significantly lower level of pests that came about after the introduction of GM maize to the US in 1996, but the conventional farmers who continued to cultivate non-GM varieties also benefited financially from not having to pay the extra costs of purchasing GM seeds.
Um, what about not having to pay for the pesticides that go with the GM seeds? The study’s author admits they didn’t study that sort of thing:
“Additionally, environmental benefits from corn borer suppression are likely occurring, such as less insecticide use, but these benefits have yet to be documented,” Dr Hutchinson said.
The Telegraph spelled his name wrong. This appears to be the actual report:
Areawide Suppression of European Corn Borer with Bt Maize Reaps Savings to Non-Bt Maize Growers
W. D. Hutchison, E. C. Burkness, P. D. Mitchell, R. D. Moon, T. W. Leslie, S. J. Fleischer, M. Abrahamson, K. L. Hamilton, K. L. Steffey, M. E. Gray, R. L. Hellmich, L. V. Kaster, T. E. Hunt, R. J. Wright, K. Pecinovsky, T. L. Rabaey, B. R. Flood, and E. S. Raun (8 October 2010)
Science 330 (6001), 222. [DOI: 10.1126/science.1190242]
The full text is behind a paywall, but the abstract concludes with:
…and highlight economic incentives for growers to maintain non-Bt maize refugia for sustainable insect resistance management.
So growing 98% of crops from GM seeds, as is the case in Georgia, is a bad idea.

Clear-cutting led to flood disaster

Alex J. Chepstow-Lusty talks about a tree from Peru, “huarango, a tree that lives in highly arid zones and stabilizes the soil with some of the deepest roots of any tree known-and can live up to 1000 years”:
“At the bottom of the profile, I found lots of huarango pollen. This indicates that large forests were originally growing in that area.

Subsequently, I saw cotton pollen and other weeds, but still a lot of huarango pollen. It seems at this stage farming was in balance with the environment,” Chepstow-Lusty said.

Then, about 400 A.D., the Nazca apparently stopped growing cotton, switching to large crops of maize.

The researchers found a major reduction of huarango pollen, indicating that people started clearing the forests to plant more crops.

But the agricultural gain from clearing forests was short-lived. When a mega El Nino event hit the south coast of Peru in about 500 A.D., there were no huarango roots to anchor the landscape.

The fields and canal systems were washed away, leaving a desert environment. Today, only pollen from plants adapted to salty and arid conditions can be found, Chepstow-Lusty said.

“The bottom line is that the Nazca could have survived the devastating El Nino floods had they kept their forests alive. Basically, the huarango trees would have cushioned that major event,” Beresford-Jones said.

Hm, around here we’ve only seen a 700-year flood last year. When it happens again in a year or so, what will we call it?