February 27, 2011

New pathogen connected to Glyphosate: "an emergency"


Questions about the safety of a popular herbicide made by Monsanto Co have resurfaced in a warning from a U.S. scientist that claims top-selling Roundup may contribute to plant disease and health problems for farm animals.

Plant pathologist and retired Purdue University professor Don Huber has written a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warning that a newly discovered and widespread "electron microscopic pathogen appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings." He said the pathogen appears to be connected to use of glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup.

Huber coordinates a committee of the American Phytopathological Society as part of the USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System. He is a long-standing critic of biotech crops, such as Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" soybean and corn, which have been genetically altered to withstand treatments of Roundup herbicide.

In his letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Huber said the organism has been found in high concentrations of Roundup Ready soybean meal and corn, which are used in livestock feed. He said laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of the organism in pigs, cattle and other livestock that have experienced spontaneous abortions and infertility.

The organism is also prolific in corn and soybean crops stricken by disease, according to Huber.

"I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status," Huber wrote. "In layman's terms, it should be treated as an emergency."

Read the whole Reuter's story

The extensive use of glyphosate, and the rapid adoption of genetically modified glyphosate-tolerant crops such as soybean, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets, and alfalfa; with their greatly increased application of glyphosate for simplified weed control, have intensified deficiencies of numerous essential micronutrients and some macronutrients......Lost yield, reduced quality, and increased disease are the unfortunate consequences of untreated micronutrient deficiency.

Plant pathogens stimulated by glyphosate:

Botryospheara dothidea Gaeumannomyces graminis
Corynespora cassicola Magnaporthe grisea
Fusarium species Marasmius spp.
F. avenaceum Monosporascus cannonbalus
F. graminearum Myrothecium verucaria
F. oxysporum f.sp. cubense Phaeomoniella chlamydospora
F. oxysporum f.sp. (canola) Phytophthora spp.
F. oxysporum f.sp. glycines Pythium spp.
F. oxysporum f.sp. vasinfectum Rhizoctonia solani
F. solani f.sp. glycines Septoria nodorum
F. solani f.sp. phaseoli Thielaviopsis bassicola
F. solani f.sp. pisi Xylella fastidiosa

Don M. Huber, Emeritus Professor, Purdue University

Dr. Huber's letter

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

A team of senior plant and animal scientists have recently brought to my attention the discovery of an electron microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings. Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn—suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup. This organism appears NEW to science!

This is highly sensitive information that could result in a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies. On the other hand, this new organism may already be responsible for significant harm (see below). My colleagues and I are therefore moving our investigation forward with speed and discretion, and seek assistance from the USDA and other entities to identify the pathogen’s source, prevalence, implications, and remedies.

We are informing the USDA of our findings at this early stage, specifically due to your pending decision regarding approval of RR alfalfa. Naturally, if either the RR gene or Roundup itself is a promoter or co-factor of this pathogen, then such approval could be a calamity. Based on the current evidence, the only reasonable action at this time would be to delay deregulation at least until sufficient data has exonerated the RR system, if it does.

For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks. Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In layman’s terms, it should be treated as an emergency.



COL (Ret.) Don M. Huber
Emeritus Professor, Purdue University

Monsanto's press release, Statement About Alleged Plant Pathogen Potentially Associated with Roundup Ready Crops asserts:

"Monsanto is not aware of any reliable studies that demonstrate Roundup Ready® crops are more susceptible to certain diseases or that the application of glyphosate to Roundup Ready crops increases a plant’s susceptibility to diseases".

Yet this statement can be shown as evidently false by following the research listed here:
Glyphosate effects on diseases of plants (G.S. Johal, D.M. Huber)

February 16, 2011

ethanol this: enzymes can't be pestulent right?

The USDA has hurried to approve yet another GM crop — a variety of GM corn called Enogen. That makes three GM crops the USDA has hastily rushed to approve in the last two weeks.

But there is a stunning difference in this particular GM crop: Enogen GM corn is one of the first crops genetically engineered to contain a trait that influences the use of the plant after harvest. Until now, virtually all GM crops possessed insect and herbicide-resistant traits only.

According to the NYTimes, Enogen corn contains a microbial gene that causes it to produce an enzyme that breaks down corn starch into sugar, the first step toward making ethanol.

Read more here includes link to N.Y. times story.

Enogen Corn Amylase Event 3272
from Novel Food Information; Health Canada:

The alpha-amylase enzyme expressed in event 3272 is a chimeric enzyme derived from three wild-type alpha-amylases isolated from the archaeal order Thermococcales. Gene reassembly was performed using the three wild-type genes as a parental sequence to produce chimeric alpha-amylase genes. A screening strategy was designed to identify a chimeric alpha-amylase with increased thermostability and activity during the high temperatures required for starch hydrolysis in dry-grind ethanol production from corn grain. The introduction of the thermostable alpha-amylase gene into corn will replace the need to add supplemental microbially-produced amylase in the production of ethanol derived from corn.

Mary Waters, President of North America Miller's Association says:

Syngenta's 3272 Amylase Corn Trait contains a powerful enzyme that breaks down the starch in corn rapidly, a cost saving function for ethanol production. If it should enter the food processing stream, the same function that benefits ethanol production will damage the quality of food products like breakfast cereals, snack foods, and battered products.

Link to NAMA's petition to the USDA on Enogen 3272 Amylase Corn

Union of Concerned Scientists writes:

Deregulating Genetically Engineered Industrial Corn Will Contaminate Food Supply Corn and Harm U.S. Food Industry

WASHINGTON (February 11, 2011) – Over the objections of scientists, food millers and food processors, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it will deregulate the first genetically engineered industrial corn crop, commonly called ethanol corn. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), allowing farmers to plant engineered ethanol corn will contaminate corn intended for food, which could have serious consequences for the U.S. food industry.