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Smartstax is a genetically modified (GM) corn that has eight GM traits combined or ‘stacked’ together, six for insect resistance (Bt) and two for herbicide tolerance. Current stacked GM trait crops on the market only have up to three traits each. SmartStax was created through a collaboration between Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences, allowing the two corporations to share GM traits... Monsanto and Dow are predicting that SmartStax will be the largest commercial launch of a single GM corn because it will replace a lot of the existing GM corn varieties on the market. The main benefit of Smartstax maize is that it provides above and below ground insect protection along with tolerance to two herbicides (glyphosate and glufosinate). Herbicide tolerance and insect resistance genes are engineered in redundant combinations in the belief that it will prevent establishment of resistances to herbicides and the Bt proteins among weeds and insect pests respectively. The USDA provided a premium reduction in the cost of crop insurance for farmers growing Smartstax maize while the US EPA granted a reduction in the size of the refuge area set aside from 20 percent to 5 percent, which constitutes substantial government financial incentives for growing Smartstax maize. It is supposed to protect growers of Smartstax maize from the uncertainties of climatic instabilities associated with global warming. The USDA crop insurance program covers organic farmers too, but fails to protect the organic premium on price and will not consider the crop loss from pollen contamination from GM crops. Organic and conventional growers are placed at a clear disadvantage in comparison to growers of Smartstax corn.

The problem with bees:

Smarstax corn contains a potpourri of transgenes claimed to control pests both above and below ground. Monsanto’s subsidiary Genuity, which markets Smartstax corn along with stacked versions of GM soybeans and cotton, uses Acceleron seed treatment products. These contain a combination of fungicides including ipconazole, metalaxyl and trifloxystrobin for protection against primary seed-borne and soil-borne diseases, along with clothianidin, an insecticide, to reduce damage caused by secondary pests. Clothianidin is a systemic insecticide that may be carried to all parts of the corn plant including the pollen-producing tassel and pollen visited by bees. The selection of clothianidin for seed treatment is rather cavalier because the insecticide has been implicated in bee die-offs.
The problem with corn monoculture:
Corn is the keystone species of the industrial food system, along with its sidekick, soybeans, with which it shares a rotation on most of the farms in the Midwest. I'm really talking about cheap corn — overproduced, subsidized, industrial corn — the biggest legal cash crop in America. Eighty million acres — an area twice the size of New York State — is blanketed by a vast corn monoculture like a second great American lawn.

I believe very strongly that our overproduction of cheap grain in general, and corn in particular, has a lot to do with the fact that three-fifths of Americans are now overweight. The obesity crisis is complicated in some ways, but it's very simple in another way. Basically, Americans are on average eating 200 more calories a day than they were in the 1970s. If you do that and don't get correspondingly more exercise, you're going to get a lot fatter. Many demographers are predicting that this is the first generation of Americans whose life span may be shorter than their parents'. The reason for that is obesity, essentially, and diabetes specifically.

Corn monoculture violates the trust of the Corn Maidens. They taught the First People to grow corn in relationship with pompions and beans. Monoculture kills biodiversity, a basic tenet of the Corn Maidens.

Secondly, bees are vital to our existence because they pollinate the many plant varieties we depend upon for basic survival. Bees need a constant supply of flowers and pollen, a factor of biodiversity. As one flowering species matures and ceases to be a bee food, another species enters the flowering stage and provides sustenance to bees. This cannot be when there are thousands of acres of a genetically narrow breed of corn shutting out other plant species.

Furthermore, monoculture of this sort encourages an increase in blights and predators which prey on a single species, further threatening our food supply.

A threat on many levels. Acreage which should be dedicated to basic food production is dedicated to corporate corn so that monster companies like Corn Products International can thrive:

Corn Products International, Inc. is an Illinois-based refiner and processor of corn-based food additives and sweeteners. It operates factories in 15 countries.
Company

Headquartered in the Chicago suburb of Westchester, Illinois, Corn Products International is a leading supplier of starches, sweeteners and other ingredients. Corn Products is the world’s largest producer of dextrose and a leading regional manufacturer of starches, syrups and glucose. The company provides a wide variety of ingredients to customers in more than 60 industries, including the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, animal feed, corrugating, paper and textile sectors.

The Company’s North America region includes businesses in Canada, Mexico and the United States. South American operations span Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay. In Asia and Africa, the Company operates in China, Kenya, Pakistan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and South Africa.

Corporate corn, courtesy of Archer Daniels Midland, Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Corn Products Intl, et al, NO!
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Comment Preferences

  •  By stacking so many foreign gene mods into ... (7+ / 0-)

    ... a single genome, Big Ag will eventually, inevitably create a huge "Oops!"

    I suspect it'll take the form of severe susceptibility to a pathogen that here-to-fore never infected corn, and then we'll see a replay of the Irish Potato Famine.

    The money changers Jesus threw out of the Temple are back as the GOP, using his corpse as a ventriloquist's dummy. (Hat tip to Kossack "Stuart Heady")

    by WereBear Walker on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 11:37:08 AM PDT

  •  Monoculture is always a bad idea. (5+ / 0-)

    And you've hit a number of other important points as well here.

    I'm not an 'all GM is evil' person, but I think GM, along with chemical pesticides in general need seriously long longitudinal studies, since cell biology in general is not a fully developed field, and life is such a complex system that we're constantly learning about new mechanisms and pathways that result in unexpected consequences that occur in places we might never think to look.

    And while I'm a huge fan of science in general, the compartmentalization of science helps us create some of our own problems, because we don't tend to study systems as a whole, but simply look for very specific small facets of how the introduction of a new element into the system will affect what we assume are the 'important' relationships.

    I hope you generate some discussion in the comments, and don't merely attract the 'you all just hate on Monsanto and don't understand science' commentary.

  •  GM crops have had real life consequences (4+ / 0-)

    not anticipated by their makers. Super-bugs and super-weeds have resulted. BT used in organic farming has been effective, but when incorporated in GM seed has resulted in insects developing rapid resistance to BT. Round-up ready corn led to super-weeds with Round-up resistance.

    The profit motive leads to a rush to market without fear of consequences. What will be the result of this latest multi GM trait seed be? We will find out, but likely too late.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 11:50:45 AM PDT

    •  Yes, and this is bad, but---Regular people (4+ / 0-)

      are starting to push back from several directions.

      Home Gardens, or Food Forests, Micro-Eco Farms for locavores, organic customers, and pesticide free growers.

      Beekeepers are pressing too against the NeoNics on at least 2 continents,

      Many people who may not buy organic, do shop for items that are without HFCS [high fructose corn syrup], and manufacturers are starting to respond by putting products out there that do not contain that ingredient. It has hurt big corn enough that the corn council has tried to convince us with stupid ad campaigns and even changing the name of the ingredient to fool us into eating that junk.

      Many Beeks have also stopped using Corn Syrup as feed for their bees, because it has been linked to CCD cases.

      So it sucks, it's not fair, and things look bad, but the forces of good and common sense are rallying and we may yet win the day.

    •  the solution is simple (0+ / 0-)

      remove the vector delivering the genes to the weeds to allow for resistance, i.e., the bees...
      Problem solved!

      /snark

  •  GM for the greater good has promise; but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radical simplicity

    instead it's being exploited solely for corporate profit, no matter the cost to the environment or the human race. And the potential for unintended consequences is quite frightening. Industrial toxins, and even radiation from a nuclear power plant melt down, disperse and dilute over time. Only biologic creations have the potential to expand exponentially across the planet if something goes awry.

    The optimal GMO as far as Monsanto is concerned would be a super-efficient monoculture crop that dovetails perfectly with existing taxpayer subsidies; that conveniently is resistant to (better yet, effectively dependent upon) herbicides produced by the same conglomerate; that has a 'suicide switch' to make sure it can't re-seed itself; and requires massive ongoing investment in various fertilizers/herbicides and other bulk products, coincidentally available from the same company.

    Too bad about the bee die-off. And all the genes 'leaking' into the surrounding species. And the exploding resistance to pesticides related to the substances coded for by those clever genes. Oh, and farmers bankrupted by lawsuits brought by Monsanto et al because some of their GMO's end up spreading beyond the planting site. Etc. etc. etc...

  •  All the usual suspects, for sure! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe wobblie, radical simplicity

    Great diary, thanks for sharing!

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