Stop GM Foods: Monsanto admits 'superweed' danger
Sunday 25 April 1999
A senior Monsanto director has also conceded that insects are capable of developing a resistance to plants genetically engineered to kill them, and that "resistance" in plants and insects from GM crops is "a very real thing".
Gary Barton, director of biotechnology communications for Monsanto in the United States, told the Independent on Sunday that "resistance can develop" but that "superweeds" - hybrid plants resistant to insecticide - were not a problem since they could always be sprayed with other weedkillers to which they were not resistant.
UK environmentalists and the Government's own wildlife advisers have seized on the admission as "groundbreaking" because they claim it proves Monsanto has known all along about the dangers of genetically engineering plants.
The admission will be raised this week by members of the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, which is to question Jack Cunningham, chairman of the Cabinet committee on biotechnology. Dr Cunningham told the Commons last week that experience showed cross-pollination was "not really a very significant problem".
Pete Riley, of Friends of the Earth, said: "It appears that Monsanto is happy for Europe to come under threat from GM crops, while taking a completely different attitude on their own doorstep."
Monsanto's contracts for US farmers contain detailed "Resistance Management" plans, including planting blocks of non-GM crops around fields. InBritain, the company has applied to market genetically-modified sugar beet, which, according to scientists, would be capable of breeding with non-GM cousins. "If Monsanto is concerned about cross-pollination in the States, they haven't shown much sign of concern here," said Brian Johnson, senior adviser to English Nature.
Last week, the Independent on Sunday revealed that scientists claimed to have found the first GM "superweeds" in Cambridge, after GM oilseed rape plants bred with wild turnips.
Mr Barton said that the spread of pollen "is an issue that has to be addressed". But he added that a hybrid plant that was resistant to "roundup ready" herbicide was not a superweed because it could be killed by another weed killer. "All that stuff about superweeds doesn't mean anything. It means it is resistant to Roundup Ready [a herbicide]. It's not a superweed if it becomes resistant to Roundup - you can use another weedkiller," he said.
- 1 Double chins could be 'cured' without surgery or dieting using new injection
- 2 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 4 Thank heavens for Louise Mensch and her foul-mouthed tweets to world leaders
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Greece elections: Greek PM Alexis Tsipras takes aim at 'neo-liberal' Europe as country gears up for prolonged austerity battle
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...
£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...