China Finds GE Cotton is
Damaging the Environment

The 'success' of Bt cotton is the most precious claim of the ag-biotech

However, as the acreage grows it looks as if the GM flagship may well sink
sooner rather than later, if the latest study carried out by an institute
operated by China's State Environmental Protection Administration (below) is
anything to go by. This indicates declining levels of beneficial insects to
control bollworms (the target pest of Bt cotton) and rising levels of other

Let's hope the government in India, which recently authorised the growing of
GM Bt cotton, will now begin to sit up and take notice. Integrated pest
management, as is being increasingly adopted in Australia (see: is much more
likely to provide a long term sustainable crop management solution.

According to Innovate Australia farmers have found that "Economic benefits
for growers from the new [GM] technology have been variable but generally
only small when compared to conventional cotton".

By contrast "When you compare IPM fields with conventional management, IPM
is coming out in front by up to a few hundred dollars per hectare",
according to Australia's Cotton Research and Development Corporation.

Xinhau News Agency

BEIJING, June 3 (Xinhuanet) -- A genetically modified cotton plant which
makes up 35 percent of China's crop, is damaging the environment despite
its success in controlling the bollworm pest, according to a report
released here Monday.

The plant, Bt transgenic cotton, was harming natural parasitic enemies of
the bollworm and seemed to be encouraging other pests, according to the
study by the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences (NIES) under
the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) at a seminar here.

Researchers have seen a significant decrease in populations of the
bollworm's parasitic natural enemies.

Bt transgenic cotton, containing anti-bollworm genes from certain
bacillus, is in large-scale commercial production in Chinaand the
planting area was estimated to top 1.5 million hectares last year,
accounting for about 35 percent of the total cotton area, according to
the Cotton Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural

The report says that the diversity index of the insect community in the
Bt cotton fields is lower than conventional cotton fields while the pest
dominant concentration index is higher.

The balance of the insect community is weaker in Bt cotton fields than
the conventional crops as some kinds of insects thriveand this is more
likely to cause outbreaks of certain pests, said Xue Dayuan, the NIES
expert in charge of the report. >

Populations of pests other than cotton bollworm has increased in Bt
cotton fields and some have even replaced it as primary pests because
the GM plant is slow at controlling those pests, thereport says.

Scientists also verified with lab tests and field monitoring that cotton
bollworm will develop resistance to the GM cotton and concluded that Bt
cotton will not resist bollworm after being planted for eight to ten
years continuously.

New GM organisms and products would benefit agriculture and many other
industries, but people should always beware of the long-term and
underlying impacts on the environment, said Zhu Xinquan, chairman of the
Chinese Society of Agro-Biotechnology that jointly hosted the seminar
with the NIES and Greenpeace China.

GM organisms will pass new genes borrowed from different species to local
plants and creatures through reproduction when itis put into the natural
environment, changing the natural gene structures, said Isabelle
Meister, an expert from Greenpeace International, the international
campaign group.

"The changes are irreversible and the loss is likely to be damaging as
the genes in nature, mostly existing in wildlife and some small regional
species, are useful for people to develop new species of plants and
animals with high quality or against certaindisease," she said.

China is a center for diversity of several plants like soy bean and faces
the problem of how to protect its original genes from imported GM
products, Meister said.

Home | News | Organics | GE Food | Health | Environment | Food Safety | Fair Trade | Peace | Farm Issues | Politics
Español | Campaigns | Buying Guide | Press | Search | Donate | About Us | Contact Us

Organic Consumers Association - 6771 South Silver Hill Drive, Finland MN 55603
E-mail: Staff · Activist or Media Inquiries: 218-226-4164 · Fax: 218-353-7652
Please support our work. Send a tax-deductible donation to the OCA

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.