Monday, March 26, 2012

[253] Monsanto, GMO and the War on Drugs - An Update

Una vez mas, un articulo inspirado en un comentario relacionado a las semillas de Monsanto y la guerra de las drogas, auspiciado por Monsanto.  Antigonum solo me menciono el Glyphosate y su rociado en Sur America.  Asi que decidi indagar en el tema, sobre todo cuando Monsanto y sus asesores buscan convencer a EPA y al congreso de relajar las restriccciones al uso del Glifosato (Round Up) en las leyes de pesticidas (FIFRA, para el que le interese). 

Hace bastante tiempo atrás habia hablado de este problema de escala mundial.  Pero desde el punto de vista de las semillas.  En este round (no pun intended) Monsanto tiene otro lio, relacionado al uso de su popular pesticida Round Up y Glyphosate, su ingrediente activo.  Mi articulo original aquí:

Antigonum, usted es la changa.  Hablando de lo de Monsanto se habla de reducir el riesgo de pesticida del Glyphosate (Roundup).  El instinto de sobrevivencia establece que siempre existe la posibilidad de haber una cepa resistente a cualquier cosa.  Pasa con las bacterias, pasa con los humanos y animales.  Era cuestión de tiempo y algo de justicia poética que Monsanto y su grupo de geniales científicos descubriesen que ya hay sobre 20 especies de yerbajos que tienen resistencia al Roundup.  Es la evolución.  La especie mas apta sobrevive, la cepa que no tiene capacidad desaparece.  Aquí les dejo esta información que viene de Maggie Koerth Baker, una de las consejeras científicas de Boing Boing.

Whatever its faults, the seed company Monsanto does employ some very smart people, who have a keen understanding of plant genetics. Given that, I've long wondered why the company has been so blindsided by the fairly basic idea that weeds evolve. Did anyone really expect that, when faced with a pressure that threatened their existence, the weeds wouldn't adapt and become resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide?

Why didn't people there think resistance would happen? They all told a similar story.
First, the company had been selling Roundup for years without any problems. Second, and perhaps most important, the company's scientists had just spent more than a decade, and many millions of dollars, trying to create the Roundup-resistant plants that they desperately wanted — soybeans and cotton and corn. It had been incredibly difficult. When I interviewed former Monsanto scientists for my book on biotech crops, one of them called it the company's "Manhattan Project."
Considering how hard it had been to create those crops, "the thinking was, it would be really difficult for weeds to become tolerant" to Roundup, says Rick Cole, who is now responsible for Monsanto's efforts to deal with the problem of resistant weeds. Cole went to work at Monsanto in 1996, the same year that the first Roundup Ready crops went on the market.
So how did the company's experts react when weeds began to prove them wrong? "The reaction was, 'What is really going on here?' " says Cole. Monsanto began a "massive effort" to figure out how the weeds withstand glyphosate. Some weeds, Cole says, appear to keep glyphosate from entering the plant at all; others sequester the herbicide in a spot where it can't do much damage. Monsanto's genetically engineered crops use a different technique entirely.
Relacionados a articulos exponiendo toxicidad y especies resistentes al Glyphosate.

Interesante perspectiva.  Uso de Herbicidas para exterminar la coca hace que crezcan cepas resistentes al quimico.  La guerra de Monsanto viaja al sur…
Over the past three years, rumors of a new strain of coca have circulated in the Colombian military. The new plant, samples of which are spread out on this table, goes by different names: supercoca, la millonaria. Here in the southern region it's known as Boliviana negra. The most impressive characteristic is not that it produces more leaves - though it does - but that it is resistant to glyphosate. The herbicide, known by its brand name, Roundup, is the key ingredient in the US-financed, billion-dollar aerial coca fumigation campaign that is a cornerstone of America's war on drugs.
One possible explanation: The farmers of the region may have used selective breeding to develop a hardier strain of coca. If a plant happened to demonstrate herbicide resistance, it would be more widely cultivated, and clippings would be either sold or, in many cases, given away or even stolen by other farmers. Such a peer-to-peer network could, over time, result in a coca crop that can withstand large-scale aerial spraying campaigns.
But experts in herbicide resistance suspect that there is another, more intriguing possibility: The coca plant may have been genetically modified in a lab. The technology is fairly trivial. In 1996, Monsanto commercialized its patented Roundup Ready soybean - a genetically modified plant impervious to glyphosate. The innovation ushered in an era of hyperefficient soybean production: Farmers were able to spray entire fields, killing all the weeds and leaving behind a thriving soybean crop. The arrival of Roundup Ready coca would have a similar effect - except that in this case, it would be the US doing the weed killing for the drug lords.
Whether its resistance came from selective breeding or genetic modification, the new strain poses a significant foreign-policy challenge to the US. How Washington responds depends on how the plant became glyphosate resistant. That's why I'm here in the jungle - to test for the new coca. I've brought along a mobile kit used to detect the presence of the Roundup ready gene in soybean samples. If the tests are inconclusive, my backup plan is to smuggle the leaves to Colombia's capital, Bogotá, and have their DNA sequenced in a lab.
Mas detalles de la guerra de las drogas fallida de los US…
For a number of years the U.S. has sponsored herbicide spraying in Colombia, intending to curb illegal drugs at their source. Starting in January 2001 under U.S. oversight, the Colombian government will escalate its "crop eradication" activities, in which aircraft spray herbicides containing glyphosate to kill opium poppy and coca plants. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the well-known herbicide called Roundup. Opium poppy and coca are the raw materials for making heroin and cocaine.
Representatives of Colombian indigenous communities recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to explain how they have been affected by spraying that has already occurred. Glyphosate, they said, kills more than drug crops -- it also kills food crops that many rural Colombians depend on for survival. In some places, the spraying has killed fish and livestock and has contaminated water supplies. One photograph from a sprayed area shows a group of banana trees killed by herbicides; nearby a plot of coca plants remains untouched.[3] Sometimes the spray also lands on schoolyards or people's homes. Many Colombians say they have become ill as a result.[4]
According to the NEW YORK TIMES, in one case several spray victims traveled 55 miles by bus to visit a hospital. The doctor who treated them said their symptoms included dizziness, nausea, muscle and joint pain, and skin rashes. "We do not have the scientific means here to prove they suffered pesticide poisoning, but the symptoms they displayed were certainly consistent with that condition," he said. A nurse's aide in the local clinic said she had been instructed "not to talk to anyone about what happened here."[4]
The U.S. State Department denies that there are human health effects from spraying glyphosate on the Colombian countryside. A U.S. embassy official in Colombia told the NEW YORK TIMES that glyphosate is "less toxic than table salt or aspirin" and said the spray victims' accounts of adverse effects were "scientifically impossible."[4] A question-and-answer fact sheet published by the State Department says that glyphosate does not "harm cattle, chickens, or other farm animals," is not "harmful to human beings," and will not contaminate water. The fact sheet asks the question, "If glyphosate is so benign, why are there complaints of damage from its use in Colombia?" and answers: "These reports have been largely based on unverified accounts provided by farmers whose illicit crops have been sprayed. Since their illegal livelihoods have been affected by the spraying, these persons do not offer objective information about the program.... "[5]

But the resulting article is perhaps most interesting for the taciturn response on all sides of the issue. Davis suggests that South American authorities don't want to talk about the situation because the revelation might cost countries that receive a large amount of U.S. aid to combat drug traffickers. The U.S. government doesn't want coca farmers who don't already know to find out about the new strain, because it can still eradicate old strains with glyphosate. And drug growers who do have the new strain certainly don't want the status quo to end, because currently the U.S. government is doing their weeding for free.

But on the larger cost-benefit analysis, the biggest winner is Monsanto. The more Roundup Ready crops there are out there, the more Roundup farmers need to get rid of the weeds, as is evidenced by the GRAIN research in Argentina. The real foe of Monsanto is not drug cartels or government entities. It's scientists.

When you put together the studies referenced above, which show that spraying glyphosate is harmful to humans and the environment and that it does not hamper the production of coca or weeds, the answer to almost everyone's problems is eliminating Monsanto.

So while there's no solid proof that the men threatening Andrés Carrasco belong to the same corporation that falsified lab results on the harm caused by glyphosate or the group that told lies about Roundup, there's no doubt in my mind that they belong in the same sick club.


1 comment:

antigonum cajan said...

Magnifico post. Que recuerda las historias del DDT, el malathion i otros. Siempre es el mismo resultado.

La ciencia i el capitalismo, junto a la avaricia, el deseo a dominar tanto a hombres como a la naturaleza trae como resultado la destruccion de ambos a corto i largo plazo. Hasta la proxima.

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