[GRRN] Letter to WTO to place an immediate global moratorium on trade of all Bt crops

Mary Appelhof (mappelho@madison.tdsnet.com)
Sun, 14 Nov 1999 11:41:47 -0500

We need to know about this, and take action if possible! Most concise
summary I've seen on danger of genetically-engineered seeds:

Mary Appelhof

Forwarding from:

>>From: "Kathleen Hiltsley" <khiltsley@iatp.org>
>>Subject: Letter to WTO to place an immediate global moratorium on trade
>> of all Bt crops
>>Send the name of your organization
>>The authorizing person
>>Your contact information (address and phone) to:
>>GREEN (GrassRoots Environmental Effectiveness Network
>>Scotty Johnson at: sjohnson@albq.defenders.org
>>For more info contact: (520) 623-9653 Ext. 3
>>DISTRIBUTE FAR AND WIDE - Post this on your lists and ask
>>others to as well!
>>The letter below can be viewed in it's entirety at our web address:
>>To member nations of the World Trade Organization,
>>We, the undersigned groups, representing citizens internationally,
>>call on member nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to
>>place an immediate global moratorium on the trade of all bio-
>>engineered Bt crops. Genetically modified Bt (1) crops (like Bt
>>Corn) pose immediate threats to biodiversity (e.g. Monarch
>>Butterfly) and organic agriculture. The effects of this dual threat
>>remain shrouded in scientific uncertainty and precautionary
>>measures must be taken. Trade in Bt crops is a global
>>experiment, the consequences of which no one fully comprehends.
>>Genetically modified Bt crops powerfully underscore the urgency
>>for ratification of a strong biosafety protocol. We are not calling on
>>member nations of the WTO to negotiate the expansion of GMO
>>trade, but to protect existing agriculture and biodiversity by
>>imposing an immediate moratorium on the trade of this potentially
>>dangerous production method. This moratorium should be phased
>>in quickly in a manner that does not cause economic damage to
>>family and independent producers currently growing Bt crops.
>>Sincerely, _______________________________ (Your
>>Organization Here)
>>I. Bt Crops KILL Monarch Butterflies -- Bt seeds are an untested
>>bio- technology proven by scientists to kill Monarch butterflies
>>(Lepidoptera: Danaidae) in their larval stage. (2) Scientists agree
>>Bt seed pollen may be equally fatal to other moths and butterflies -
>>including endangered butterfly species internationally. (3)
>>II. Bt Crops THREATEN organic farming! Bt crops will hamper the
>>ability of organic farmers and gardeners to grow pesticide-free food.
>>(4) For decades, organic farmers have occasionally used Bt
>>powders to control pests like the tomato horn worm. Genetically
>>modified Bt crops broadcast lethal toxins indiscriminately
>>throughout the year onto millions of acres of Earth's farmland.
>>Scientists, government, and industry, agree this will cause rapid
>>immunity in pest insects, thereby eliminating an important tool for
>>organic production and necessitate intensified use of pesticides.
>>III. Bt Crops could DAMAGE other vital links in the food chain!
>>Last year, Swiss scientists reported laboratory results showing
>>detrimental effects of Bt corn on green lacewings, beneficial
>>insects that feed on pests, including the European corn borer.
>>Research from New York University indicates that active Bt toxins
>>genetically engineered into Bt crops, including corn, may
>>accumulate in soil, kill sensitive soil-inhabiting insects, and place
>>soil ecosystems at risk. (5)
>>IV. The Problem is SPREADING! While these Bt seeds remain
>>untested, sales are growing rapidly and new varieties of Bt crops
>>are being engineered continuously.
>>V. The World Trade Organization must not threaten the
>>environment! By invoking the precautionary principle, (6)
>>members of the WTO can protect sustainability and diversity. This
>>principle, imbedded in numerous international treaties, dictates that
>>immediate precautionary measures may be taken to stop practices
>>that raise threats of serious harm to the environment. (7)
>>1. Bt is an abbreviation for Bacillus thuringiensus, a naturally
>>occurring soil bacterium that creates a natural toxin fatal to many
>>butterflies and moths in their larval stage. Bt, in powder form, has
>>been used successfully for decades by organic farmers in pesticide-
>>free environments to control European corn borers, tomato
>>hornworm, and other pests. With biotech Bt, agribusiness
>>scientists have take DNA from the bacteria and genetically spliced
>>it into seeds for commercial sale internationally. The engineered
>>crops produce the insect toxin throughout the plant. The difference
>>with Bio-engineered Bt is that instead of area-specific, seasonal
>>use, the toxin is produced all season and broadcast
>>2. Cornell entomologists have shown that pollen from Bt corn kills
>>monarch caterpillars. They found that nearly one-half of the
>>monarch caterpillars that ate milkweed leaves dusted with Bt corn
>>pollen died after 4 days -- compared with no deaths among
>>caterpillars that ate leaves with normal corn pollen or no pollen at
>>all. Bt-corn pollen also altered the eating behavior of the
>>caterpillars that survived -- they consumed far less -- after 4 days
>>they had eaten about one-half as much as caterpillars on leaves
>>with normal pollen; as a result, they grew much slower. (Union of
>>Concerned Scientists publication: Fact Sheet: Monarch Butterflies
>>and Toxic Pollen)
>>3. If the laboratory results reported in the May 20 Nature article
>>extend to the field, then monarch caterpillars, and perhaps many
>>other moth and butterfly caterpillars, including endangered ones,
>>eating in the vicinity of Bt-corn fields, are at risk. (Union of
>>Concerned Scientists publication: Fact Sheet: Monarch Butterflies
>>and Toxic Pollen)
>>4. Agribusiness industry, scientists and the federal government
>>agree that widespread use of Bt crops will result in field resistance
>>of pest insects. Even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
>>is now rethinking the use of engineered Bt. EPA is requiring
>>refuges in all Bt crops to try to slow the development of resistance.
>>There is tremendous scientific uncertainty whether this approach is
>>sufficient to prevent resistance. For the first time, EPA is
>>conditioning Bt-corn approvals on the establishment of large
>>refuges. Earlier Agency approvals of several Bt-corn varieties did
>>not require refuges of specific sizes. These refuges require that a
>>percentage of the crop be non-Bt varieties.
>>5. Union of Concerned Scientists publication: Fact Sheet:
>>Monarch Butterflies and Toxic Pollen.
>>6. The Precautionary Principle is thus defined. "When an activity
>>raises threats of serious or irreversible harm to human health or the
>>environment, precautionary measures that prevent the possibility of
>>harm (for example, moratorium, prohibition) shall be taken even if
>>the causal link between the activity and the possible harm has not
>>been proven or the causal link is weak and the harm is unlikely to
>>7. The Precautionary Principle has been approved and imbedded
>>in numerous international treaties including the 1992 United
>>Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the Second
>>North Sea Declaration, the Bergen Declaration on Sustainable
>>Development; the Ministerial Declaration of the Second World
>>Climate Conference; the Maastricht Treaty on the European Union;
>>the Helsinki Convention on the Protection and Use of
>>Transboundary Watercourses and international lakes; and others.
>>Scotty Johnson
>>Rural Outreach Coordinator
>>GREEN (GrassRoots Environmental Effectiveness Network)
>>"A project of Defenders of Wildlife"
>>P.O Box 1901
>>Tucson, AZ 85702-1901
>>(520) 623 9653 Ext. 3
>>Kristin Dawkins
>>Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
>>2105 First Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55404 USA
>>Central tel: (612) 870-0453 Direct tel: (612) 870-3410
>>Fax: (612) 870-4846 kdawkins@iatp.org
>>URL: http://www.iatp.org

Mary Appelhof
Author of Worms Eat My Garbage
Co-author:Worms Eat Our Garbage: Classroom Activities for a Better Environment
Publisher: The Worm Cafe: Vermicomposting of Lunchroom Wastes by Binet Payne.
Coordinator and compiler: Workshop on the Role of Earthworms in the
Stabilization of Organic Residues, 1980
Co-coordinator with Dr. Clive Edwards of the Vermillennium

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