Saturday, February 13, 2016

GMO-presentation highlights

GMOs, “genetically modified organisms”, are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering (GE).

Cathy Konyn presented a review of GMOs on February 11, 2016, at Sierra group monthly meeting.  

Cathy Konyn, is an active member of the Riverside Master Gardener Program, answering questions for the public at information booths and working the Master Gardener hot-line.  Cathy is a retired clinical laboratory microbiologist and so has an interest in some of the more scientific aspects of plants and gardening.

This summary of the presentation was prepared by Pam Nelson, the Chair of Santa Margarita Sierra Group.  She prepared this summary from her recollection of the presentation.
  • Humans are consuming products made from crops that are engineered to produce their own insecticide.  Farm animals have been the “test” subjects for 50 years.  Less pesticide is sprayed, though, since the plant produces its own.
  • GMOs promotes the preference for mono-culture agriculture, which is the  historic method in the Midwest. 
  • Pesticides are used at high levels since the target weeds are becoming resistant.  Soils can become pesticide-laden.  Native vegetation is whipped out.
  • Increasing human population drives many of the GMO creations, such as high-nutrient, drought resistant, insect resistant varieties.
  • Saving species that are being whipped out by viruses is another use of GMOs.  Papayas, American Chestnut tree, bananas, citrus, could we save the white pine?
  • GMO insects are useful when whipping our human-vector insects.  Oil-based pesticides, aerial spraying can be avoided.
  • Pharmaceuticals, vitamins and supplements are produced by GMO microbes more affordably and without the contaminants and dosage issues that were problems when killing animals for extractions.
  • No-till farming can be used instead of tilling more readily if the crop is GMO.  This cuts down on erosion, soil disturbance and poor air quality from burning.  But residual pesticides can be a problem.
The term GMO is defined differently because of the different techniques.  How will labeling work?  Genetic engineering can mean many things.  Transgenic GMOs can occur naturally.
Solutions?  Organic farming, requiring multi species agriculture,  requiring native plant buffers.

Pam Nelson, the Chair of Santa Margarita Sierra Group

The Center recently sued the EPA for not releasing public records about its approval of Enlist Duo, a pesticide blend that's highly toxic to a wide spectrum of both terrestrial and aquatic species and has significant effects on human health.
Enlist Duo is a toxic combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D created by Dow AgroSciences for use on the next generation of genetically engineered crops, designed to withstand being drenched with the potent herbicide cocktail. But the EPA registered Enlist Duo for use in 15 states, claiming it would have "no effect" on at-risk species.
The Center first sent the EPA a Freedom of Information Act request two years ago seeking information on the agency's decision to approve this dangerous pesticide for use. We still haven't gotten a response -- so we filed suit last Wednesday.
"The EPA needs to be fully transparent about how and why it approves these toxic herbicides," said the Center's Lori Ann Burd. "They pose a serious threat to people and wildlife."

Regulations and definitions need to be tightened.  See the Center for Biological Diversity’s recent suit.

Suit Challenges EPA's Failure to Release Public Records on Toxic Herbicide

We are interested in  your feedback. Please leave your comment on this page. Would you encounter any problem posting your comment, please contact Michael Momeni at