European Parliament 31 March 2011

Marco Contiero
Greenpeace European Unit marco.contiero@greenpeace.org
Greenpeace European Unit

Reasons to oppose GMOs
1. Facts vs myths 2. Risks 3. Environmental impacts 4. Expensive 5. Boost corporate control 6. Hinder available solutions 7. Consumers rejection 8. Legal requirements

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Greenpeace European Unit

Greenpeace European Unit

Greenpeace European Unit

2. Risks
Prone to unintended and unpredictable effects
1. Complex regulation mechanisms of genes 2. Complex interaction with plants metabolism 3. Complex interactions plant‘s genes and its environment 4. Inserted genes may - disrupt the plant's own genes - be unstable in their new environment - function differently than expected (producing diff. protein) 5. Fragments and Rearrangements

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GE Product
Monsanto Roundup Ready Soya Resistant to glyphosate herbicide

Fragments and Rearrangements
• • • 2 additional unintended fragments 534 bp1 segment of “unidentified” DNA One of the fragments and the unidentified DNA are transcribed to RNA, one step away from creating an unintentional protein

Monsanto (2000) Windels et al. (2001) Monsanto (2002)

Syngenta Bt11 Resistant to European Corn borer (Bt – Cry1Ab) and glufosinate herbicide

• • • •

Rearrangements of insert, truncations and unexpected insertions Unexpected “stop” signal T35 Possible contamination by Bt176 Possibly extra copies of genetic insert

Moens & de Schrijver (2003a)

Syngenta Bt176 Resistant to European Corn borer (Bt – Cry1Ab) and glufosinate herbicide

1. Glufosinate resistant insert: At least 4 Moens & de Schrijver fragments of the insert are present (Dossier (2003b) describes 2 copies). • Possible rearranged fragment of bacterial vector • “Stop” signal (T35S) missing 1. Bt insert: At least 5 copies (dossier states 2-5 copies) •

Monsanto Mon810 Resistant to European Corn borer (Bt – Cry1Ab)

Probable rearrangement at 3’ end - explaining the partial loss of the inserted gene.

Hernández et al. (2003)

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3. Environmental impacts
Insect-resistant crops: 1. Toxicity to ‘non-target’ organisms and beneficial insects. 2. Threats to soil and river ecosystems 3. Development of insect resistance Herbicide tolerant (HT) crops: 1. Toxic effects of herbicides on ecosystems. 2. Increased weed tolerance to herbicide 3. Loss of native flora and other biodiversity. 4. Effects on soil-plant system (e.g. microbial community, manganese uptake).
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Soya and herbicides (Glyphosate)
Use of Glyphosate in Argentina from 1991 to 2007

Million of Liters

Source: Pengue, "Transgenic Soybean in Latin America", and Nature Protection Center (CeProNat)

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4. Expensive - for the industry

Slide 79

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Expensive - for farmers
IAASTD - World Bank, FAO, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, WHO (400 scientists – 4 year process – 11 million Euro) “In developing countries especially, instruments such as patents may drive up costs, restrict experimentation by the individual farmer or public researcher while also potentially undermining local practices that enhance food security and economic sustainability”

• 230 contamination accidents (www.GMcontaminationregister.org) • Unauthorised Bayer LL601 rice • Unauthorised BASF Amadea potato
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5. Corporate control
GM Crops market Bayer BASF
Monsant o DuPo nt Synge nta Dow

Source: ETC Group
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5. Corporate control
GM Crops market Global Agrochemical Bayer BASF Monsant Synge Market Bayer o nta
DuPo nt Dow



Synge nta BASF
Po Dow u D t onsan nM to


Source: ETC Group

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Owners of the Seed Market

Source: ETC Group
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6. Hinder sustainable solutions
• UN Report Human Rights Council [United Nations ,Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, 2011] - Agroforestry - Water harvesting - Integration of livestock into farming systems - Integrated nutrient management Can double food production in 10 years

• J. Pretty analysis 286 sustainable agriculture projects (57 poor countries) - Average crop increase 79 % - Supply critical environmental services • UNCTAD UNEP analysis [UNEP-UNCTAD, 2008] UK Foresight Report (40 projects, 20 African countries) - Average crop increase in Africa 116% and - Average crop increase in East Africa 128%
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Climate-smart farming? Agroforestry
Fertilizer trees (Faidherbia albida)
-Transfer nitrogen to the soil - Enhance crop production - Increase resilience of the system - Store carbon - “Reverse leaf phenology” (leaves fell rainy season and grow dry season)

Malawi: increased maize yields by 280%
World Agroforestry Centre
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Crop enhancement

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Crop enhancement Marker Assisted Selection
1. 2. 3. 4. Increases stress tolerance (Drought tolerance regulated up to 60 genes) Respects species barriers (All genes incorporated present within natural gene pool) Fewer safety concerns (backcrossing and introgression long history of safe use) Much cheaper

i. Bacterial blight rice (28 genes confer resistance) [Xieyou 218 China; Tubigan 7 Phillippines; Pusa 1460 and RP BIO 226 India] ii. Low Amylose rice cooking and processing quality [Cadet and Jacinto in the U.S.] iii. Drought tolerant rice [MAS 946-1 India – saves 60% water] iv. Salt resistant rice [BR11 and BR28 Bangladesh] v. Flood resistant rice [Swarna-Sub 1 India/Bangladesh; Samba Mahsuri and CR1009 India; IR64 Philippines; TDK1 Laos; BR11 Bangladesh] vi. Drought tolerant ZM521 maize [conventionally-bred by CIMMYT] vii. Drought tolerant Drysdale and Rees wheat [Graingene JV] viii. Wheat stem rust (Ug99) [fungus spreading across Africa]
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7. Consumers rejection

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8. Legal requirements
Risk assessment
Evaluate and consider long-term effects of GMOs
Directive 2001/18 Annex II

Assess GMOs effects on the ‘receiving environment’
Directive 2001/18 Annex II

Consider diverging scientific opinions
Reg. 178/2002 Art. 30(4)

Identify scientific uncertainty
Comm. Decision 2002/623

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2008 Council Conclusions
1. Improve the implementation of the legal framework


Assess long-term impacts of GM plants and effects on non-target organisms


Take full account of specific regional and local characteristics of Member States


Assess the environmental consequences of changes in the use of herbicides


Ensure systematic and independent research on the potential risks of GMOs & give independent researchers access to all relevant material

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Concerns on MON810 maize
- Proven adverse effects on NTO (including indirect and long-term effects[i] - Proven adverse effects on soil health[iv]
[v [v ] i] [ii] [iii]


- Proven adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems[vii]

[v iii]

- Causes insect resistance to the toxin it produces (Bt).[ix]

[x ]

- Laboratory tests submitted use the pure version of Bt toxin produced by bacteria not the one produced by the plant.[xi] (invalidating MON810 environmental ‘safety’ tests) - Strong variations in Bt toxin levels produced by MON810 (locations, time, even between plants on the same field).[xii]
[i] Prasifka, P.L., Hellmich, R.L., Prasifka, J.R. & Lewis, L.C. 2007. Environmental Entomology 36:228-233. [ii] Andow, D.A. and A. Hilbeck. 2004. Bioscience 54: 637-649. [iii] Obrist, L.B., Dutton, A., Romeis, J. & Bigler, F. 2006. BioControl 51: 31-48. [iv] Baumgarte, S. & Tebbe, C.C. 2005. Molecular Ecology 14: 2539–2551. [v] Stotzky, G. 2004. Plant and Soil 266: 77-89. [vi] Zwahlen, C. Hilbeck, A. Gugerli, P. & Nentwig, W. 2003. Molecular Ecology 12: 765-775. [vii] Rosi-Marshall, E.J., Tank, J.L., Royer, T.V., Whiles, M.R., Evans-White, M., Chambers, C., Griffiths, N.A., Pokelsek, J. & Stephen, M.L. 2007. PNAS 41: 16204–16208. [viii] Bøhn, T., Primicerio, R., Hessen, D.O. & Traavik, T. 2008. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology DOI 10.1007/s00244-008-9150-5. [ix] Chilcutt, C.H. and B.E.Tabashnik. 2004. PNAS 101:7526-7529. [x] Andow, D.A. 2001. GE organisms: assessing environmental and human health effects. Letourneau, D.K. and B.E. Burrows (eds.) Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. [xi] Rosati, A., Bogani, P., Santarlasci, A. Buiatti, M. 2008. Plant Molecular Biology DOI 10.1007/s11103-008-9315-7. [xii] Nguyen, H. T. & J. A. Jehle 2007. Journal of Plant Diseases and Protection 114: 820-87.

39 scientists + 36 peer reviers

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8. Legal requirements
Risk management
"Union policy on the environment shall aim at a high level of protection… It shall be based on the precautionary principle and on the principles that preventive action should be taken,…"
Article 191 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

“Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing costeffective measures to prevent environmental degradation.“
1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development

“Decision-makers faced with an unacceptable risk, scientific uncertainty and public concerns have a duty to find answers. Therefore, all these factors have to be taken into consideration."
Commission Communication on the precautionary principle COM(2000)1
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Thank You

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