Grillo Parlante by Ivan Ingrilli

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Dicembre 15, 2003

Monsanto Round-Up, OGM, multinazionali, scienza e ricerca libera




Monsanto Round-Up, OGM, multinazionali e libera ricerca

Ancora due articoli, in inglese.

Il primo (Wired, trovato sul sito del mio contadino preferito) ci mostra, ancora una volta, come la scienza sia tenuta sotto scacco dalle multinazionali che devono coprire i propri interessi corporativi. La ricerca e' quasi totalmente nelle loro mani e guai a scoprire qualcosa che vada contro gli interessi della compagnia, del mercato, di quanto dichiarato a media e consumatori.

"Esperti e espertoni" continuano a dirci, che gli OGM sono buoni e belli, che non esistono studi che provino la loro dannosita', il recente studio inglese che parlava di "danno ambientale" sembra gia' essere dimenticato tutti.

Ci dicono che con gli OGM risolveranno la fame nel mondo (ma se produciamo piu' del 100% del fabbisogno mondiale di cibo?!) e che risolveranno i problemi dell'effetto serra e delle foreste che stanno sparendo... (non sarebbe meglio cambiare politiche ambientali?)
Possibile che devono brevettare anche l'aria che respiriamo?!

La ISIS (Institute of Science in Society) pubblica un altro studio che asserisce che il Round Up della Monsanto favorisce lo sviluppo dei funghi sui cereali. Un altro studio che "esperti ed espertoni" dimenticheranno di mensionare nelle loro "uscite mediatiche".

Comunque, tranquilli, non serve la pubblica accettazione degli OGM per la loro produzione e vendita perche' sono GIA' nei nostri piatti.

Professor, Biotech Butt Heads

By Kristen Philipkoski
02:00 AM Dec. 13, 2003 PT

Ignacio Chapela, an ecologist known for his controversial research on genetically modified corn, is turning a career setback into a call for action among scientists opposed to the influence of corporate interests on academic research.

Chapela, who was denied tenure last month at the University of California at Berkeley, is now accusing the institution of trying to please the biotech industry by shutting him out.

He gathered a group of similarly beleaguered scientists on the Berkeley campus this week in an attempt to gain public support in their fight against corporate influence over science.

"It's part of what I believe is a very tragic historical development and it's not about me," Chapela said. "It is a historical development that's happening right in front of our eyes. (Biology is) being narrowed and channeled down to one way of looking at the world that I think is not going to give us too many answers."

Chapela and others protested a contract between UC Berkeley and the agricultural biotech firm Novartis (now called Syngenta) in 1998 that gave the company rights to the university's plant research, calling it a conflict of interest. Chapela went on to publish a study showing that genetically modified corn had made its way into maize crops in Mexico, which are considered pristine.

Berkeley officials say Chapela's tenure review was not treated differently than any other. They say the rigor of the nine-step process precludes special treatment of any tenure candidate.

"The tenure process at UC Berkeley is recognized as being one of the most strenuous and thorough and fair tenure processes of all the major research universities in the world," said George Strait, assistant vice chancellor for public affairs at the school. "We feel it must be that way in order for us to retain our pre-eminence."

Critics of the university say Chapela's tenure-approval process, which is confidential, was taken over by faculty members who want to limit criticism of corporate biotechnology. But Strait said Chapela had not published the volume of publications typical for a tenured professor at Berkeley.

"If one takes a look at all of the evidence and the process itself, it is crystal clear that this process cannot be unduly influenced by any one person or group," Strait said. "So both in process and in practice it is impossible for this case to be hijacked."

Much of the controversy surrounding Chapela stems from a study he and one of his students performed, which the prestigious scientific journal Nature published Nov. 29, 2001. The study said that Mexico's diverse corn crop -- previously thought to be pristine -- was contaminated by a genetically modified variety.

The research was greeted with a maelstrom of press reports and criticism from the biotech industry. In April 2002, Nature editor Philip Campbell wrote on the journal's website that the paper never should have been published in the first place, citing concerns over the accuracy of certain data.

Chapela acknowledged some problems with the paper, but stands by the main conclusion of the research. He said he believes the retraction was a result of industry pressure.

For Chapela and other scientists gathered at Berkeley on Wednesday, the dispute was viewed as one of several recent incidents that demonstrate how biology research is headed in the wrong direction.

Tyrone Hayes, an associate professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley, was hired in 1999 by Novartis to do some contract work. He unexpectedly found that minute levels of an herbicide called Atrazine, the most widely used chemical in U.S. agriculture, damaged frogs' reproductive systems.

"I found this compound Atrazine caused male frogs to develop female characteristics," he said. "Male frogs would develop ovaries and some developed eggs in their testes. Also it would chemically castrate them. Their testosterone would go away and they would start to make estrogen."

When he reported the findings to Novartis, they encouraged him to "repeat the work and continue to repeat the work at a slower pace," he said.

A series of communications between Hayes, the Environmental Protection Agency and Novartis ensued, but Hayes never heard of a specific action taken in response to his research.

Arpad Pusztai encountered a similar situation with a study he performed on genetically modified potatoes.

"We found that when we are feeding these (young) rats with genetically modified potatoes, their immune system ... was not developing so well," Pusztai said. "Their organs, their guts, their pancreas (and) their liver were not developing as well as the ones which had been fed on the parent line non-genetically modified potatoes. Quite truly I tell you I was very perplexed."

He "naively" published his work, he said. He was unprepared for the vortex into which the paper threw him.

"I never thought that as a conventional scientist I would have reporters parking and living on my driveway to try to get my views on anything," he said. "I'm a very polite and humble person and I couldn't really understand how this happened until somebody explained to me that what I put my foot in was a multibillion-dollar business."

John Losey joined the Berkeley gathering via webcam from Cornell University to talk about his controversial research that implicated genetically modified corn sold by Novartis in the death of Monarch butterfly larvae.

"People from Novartis came out and said we'd really rather you didn't publish this," Losey said. "We'd rather you go out and get more data. My thought at the time was that this corn was already out on over 20 million acres and the time for getting more data was 5 years ago before it was released."

Later research found that the GMO corn likely will not be disastrous for Monarch butterflies. But Losey said the effect on 200 other types of butterflies and moths is still unknown.

Syngenta did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives of Monsanto, the largest distributor of seed for genetically modified crops, also did not respond to requests for comment regarding statements made by scientists at the meeting regarding GMO risks.

Losey said he was lucky in that his university supported his work throughout the onslaught of industry attacks, manipulation of the results by environmental groups, and media attention.

Chapela, meanwhile, is unsure whether he will remain at UC Berkeley. His current contract with the university expires in May.

(source: Wired)

ISIS Press Release 30/11/03
Round-up Ready Sudden Death Syndrome
Prof. Joe Cummins finds evidence that Roundup Ready causes sudden death and
other diseases by boosting fusarium in the soil.

Sources for this report are available in the ISIS members site
( Full details here

For several years, scientists have investigated the impact of herbicides,
particularly glyphosate (Round-up) on soil microbial communities. These
investigations revealed increased colonization of the roots of Round-up Ready (RR) soya
with the fungus Fusarium in midwestern fields during 1997 to 2000. At the
same time, large scale cropping with herbicide-tolerant cultivars was found to
increase soil-borne plant pathogens; Brazilian soils showed increased microbial
activity for several seasons. There is clear evidence that repeated glyphosate
applications over several seasons increases soil-borne pathogens.

During the first year of glyphosate application on RR soya, a severe sudden
death syndrome epidemic occurred in several RR cultivars. The RR cultivars were
susceptible to sudden death from infection by the fungus Fusarium solani.
Sudden death syndrome of soya is a disease of economic importance in North
America. Follow-up studies showed that different cultivars of soya showed different
levels of resistance to the sudden death fungus and suggest that glyphosate
tolerant and non-tolerant cultivars responded similarly to infection by Fusarium

According to Jeremy Bigwood (, a scientist from
Agriculture Canada, Myriam Fernadez, had reported as yet unpublished studies showing
that wheat fields that had been treated with glyphosate had elevated levels
fusarium head blight, a serious disease of wheat.

Andy Coghlan of the New Scientist further reported:

"The potential problem was spotted a few years ago by Myriam Fernandez of the
Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre run by Agriculture and
Agri-Food Canada in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. She noticed that in some fields where
glyphosate had been applied the previous year, wheat appeared to be worse
affected by fusarium head blight - a devastating fungal disease that damages
grain and turns it pink. In Europe alone, fusarium head blight destroys a fifth of
wheat harvests. The fungi that cause the disease also produce toxins that can
kill humans and animals. In a follow-up study, Fernandez measured levels of
the blight in wheat fields. "We found higher levels of blight within each
tillage category when glyphosate had been used in the previous year," says her
colleague Keith Hanson. And his lab study showed that Fusarium graminearum and F.
avenaceum, the fungi that cause head blight, grow faster when glyphosate-based
weedkillers are added to the nutrient medium."

Unfortunately, Agriculture Canada has not fast tracked publication of such
important results when they are advocating registration of RR wheat.

In conclusion, there seems to be a clear link between the use of herbicide
and accumulation of pathogenic fungi in the soil. The RR soya cultivars fared
poorly under the impact of the sudden death fungus. Wheat fields treated with
Round-up appear to be sensitive to the head blight disease. Such findings should
have triggered prompt and extensive reviews on the use of Roundup and Roundup
tolerant GM crops by our North American regulators. Instead of which, the two
governments of North America appear to be advocating registration of RR wheat.

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mandato da Ivan Ingrilli il Lunedì Dicembre 15 2003
aggiornato il Sabato Settembre 24 2005

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