Environmental Effects of Biotechnology

codinstrumentBiotechnology

Oct 23, 2013 (3 years and 1 month ago)

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Research Topic Outline

FACT

CLAIM

Environmental Effects of Biotechnology

1.

“Scientists have been genetically modifying plants for 25 years, since the early 1980s;
developers have commercialized genetically modified crops for 15 years, since the mid
-
1990s” (Kershen).

2.

“If science plays a vital role in promoting sustainable inte
nsive global agriculture, then
the Royal Society is guardedly optimistic that the urgent challenge will be met and that
the world society will reap the benefits


adequate amounts of nutritious, safe food raised
by economically, socially, politically and e
nvironmentally acceptable agricultural
techniques, among which genetically modified crops will have an important place”
(Kershen).

3.

“Hundreds of millions of hectares planted and harvested with transgenic crops provide
the agronomic evidence that genetica
lly modified crops are simply new crop varieties that
present no unique or different risks than crops raised through conventional or organic
means” (Kershen).

4.

“Building upon this substantial scientific and agronomic experience, reliable studies
have sho
wn that these genetically modified crops have created positive farm income
effects, nonpecuniary benefits for farmers in terms of their labor, safety and resources,
important yield increases, improved environmental agricultural footprints and marked
reduct
ions in green
-
house gas emissions” (Kershen).

5.

“Clearly, not all antibiotech sentiments are based on the ignorance of agriculture or of
the rDNA technical mechanisms; the motivation in at least some cases seems based
primarily on commercial and/or socioe
conomic factors, not on health or environmental
risk. Such players will cite, for example, concerns such as increased domination of the
food supply by private corporations, or the likelihood of benefits of GE crops accruing
disproportionately to large rich

farmers at the expense of smaller, poorer farmers, or of
disrupting the international trade dynamic. Although these issues may be legitimate
points for discussion and debate, they are not borne of technical ignorance and they are
not scientific risk based

threats to health or environment” (McHughen).



Economic Effects of Biotechnolog
y

1.

“In the USA, and in other developed nations where numerous biotech crops are legal,
the producers of biotech seeds are also producers of chemical crop protection products
.
This allows the corporations to offset a decrease in chemical sales with an increase in
seed sales. In developing nations, there is no such offset. Their chemical companies have
no biotech seed technology, and therefore face financial ruin with the adopt
ion of biotech
crops” (Apel).

2.

“A wide variety of tests [are] available, with costs ranging from US$6 to US$600 per
test” (Apel).

3.

“In the US, which is comparatively friendly to GM crops and foods, the value of the
GMO testing market was estimated at

US$106 million in 2007 and forecast to reach
US$193 million by 2012” (Apel).

4.

“In India, for instance, the introduction of insect
-
resistant cotton has been catastrophic
for makers of chemical sprays, reducing sales by up to 70% in some regions” (Apel).

5.

“India’s chemical companies support opposition to GM cotton, and chemical
companies there and elsewhere lobby government to restrict biotech crops” (Apel).

6.

“Food companies have substantial financial interests in opposing agricultural
biotechnology,
and support its opposition both in cash, and in kind. In 2006, the world’s
seven largest food advertisers spent nearly US$8 billion on advertising [7]. This
represents a tremendous outreach effort, by the wealthiest food retailers, to the wealthiest
consum
ers. In some countries, this outreach regularly includes advertising claims that
certain food items are ‘GM
-
free’” (Apel).

7
.

“After a decade of slow (and in some years, no) growth, in just the past two years, for
example, sales of apples, oranges and bananas in the United States have started to
recover, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Likewise, leading producers
Brazil and the United States, and even niche producers such as New Zealand, have all
reported robust growth in exports of both fruits and vegetables to the seemingly insatiable
market that is China” (Herrera).

8.

“Building upon this substantial scientific
and agronomic experience, reliable studies
have shown that these genetically modified crops have created positive farm income
effects, nonpecuniary benefits for farmers in terms of their labor, safety and resources,
important yield increases, improved envi
ronmental agricultural footprints and marked
reductions in green
-
house gas emissions” (Kershen).

9.


If

the

acquisitions

are

approved,

Syngenta

with

its

NK

Brand

and

Garst

and

Golden

Harvest

brands

will

arguably

become

the

second

largest

branded

seed

corn

company

in

the

U.S.

Syngenta

reports

its

corn

market

share

is

15%.

Holding

first

place

is

Pioneer

Hi
-
Bred

International;

it

says

it

has

about

40%

of

the

corn

hybrid

seed

market.

Monsanto

reports

it

has

14%

of

the

U.S.

corn

market

through

its

Dekalb

and

Asg
row

brands”

(McMahon).


Ethics of Biotechnology

1
. “In many of the diversification initiatives under
-

taken by Monsanto, the company
presented re
-

current behaviors in its attempts to overcome its lack of internal capacities
in those areas in which it desi
red to act or to strengthen its participation. These behaviors
consisted of: the acquisition of, or formation of joint ventures with, companies al
-

ready
active in target markets; the absorption of technology by means of licensing of
technology packages; a
nd the incorporation of tacit knowledge by hiring of human
resources specializing in areas of interest” (Di Sabato).

2.

““I think that Monsanto would be very foolish to bring forward [GM] whole fruits or
vegetables,” says Lindsay Keenan, a GM campaigner f
or Greenpeace International in
Amsterdam. “But, Monsanto can clearly benefit by having their patented genes in as
many seeds as possible. The company is also quite capable of attempting to intro
-

duce
[GM] fruit and vegetables in markets where it believes
it can get away with it like the
United States and Canada. Since GM papaya, for example, is only grown in Hawaii, but
sold widely in the United States, they might assume that the [fruit] market is wide open””
(Herrera).

3.

“If science plays a vital role in promoting sustainable intensive global agriculture, then
the Royal Society is guardedly optimistic that the urgent challenge will be met and that
the world society will reap the benefits


adequate amounts of nutritious,
safe food raised
by economically, socially, politically and environmentally acceptable agricultural
techniques, among which genetically modified crops will have an important place”
(Kershen).

4.

“This dichotomy between medical and agricultural applications

of the same technology
likely contributed to a common belief in scientific circles that public skepticism of
agricultural biotechnology (but not medical biotech) is largely driven by ignorance and
that ‘if only we can teach them the science, the public wo
uld accept agbiotech as readily
as they do medical biotech’. But this is facile, and often incorrect, thinking. As eloquently
articulated by Mohr and Topping [1] in a recent review of consumer behavior, the
scientific community should not assume consumer s
kepticism of agbiotech is owing to
sheer and simple ignorance” (McHughen).

5.

“Clearly, not all antibiotech sentiments are based on the ignorance of agriculture or of
the rDNA technical mechanisms; the motivation in at least some cases seems based
primaril
y on commercial and/or socioeconomic factors, not on health or environmental
risk. Such players will cite, for example, concerns such as increased domination of the
food supply by private corporations, or the likelihood of benefits of GE crops accruing
dis
proportionately to large rich farmers at the expense of smaller, poorer farmers, or of
disrupting the international trade dynamic. Although these issues may be legitimate
points for discussion and debate, they are not borne of technical ignorance and they
are
not scientific risk based threats to health or environment” (McHughen).



Corporate Expansion

1.

“In concordance with the ideas of Chandler [1], Penrose [4] and Fleck [9], according to
which one of the forms of company growth is its diversification int
o related areas,
Monsanto has always sought to diversify into these, taking advantage of its dominance in
certain product distribution channels and of the expertise of its personnel, the latter an
achievement attained over time, as Penrose asserts, or by m
eans of the contracting of
market specialists, an idea which is opposed by her” (Di Sabato).

2.

“The entry of the company into the food additive market, beginning to produce in 1904
and 1905, respectively, caffeine and vanillin” (Di Sabato).

3.

“The divers
ification into the pharmaceutical sector and its precursors, marked by the
beginning of the production of phenacetin, an analgesic compound, of phenolphthalein,
used in laxatives, of glycerol phosphates


present in nervous system tonics
-
, in 1912; in
191
5, of nitrochlorobenzene, a raw material utilized in the synthesis of drugs, and in
1917, by the expiration of the patent held by Bayer in the US for acetylsalicylic acid,
which al
-

lowed Monsanto to add another product to its already very diverse portfoli
o”
(Di Sabato).

4.

“Diversification in 1967, into the following sectors: semiconductor materials, surfaces
for sports and recreation, engineered composites, protein foods and graphics systems” (Di
Sabato).

5.

“Migration to non
-
related areas, such as childr
en’s toys for schools and playgrounds,
soy
-

based beverages, and valves and control systems for industrial processes, following
acquisition of the US Fisher Governor Company” (Di Sabato).

6
. “In many of the diversification initiatives under
-

taken by Monsa
nto, the company
presented re
-

current behaviors in its attempts to overcome its lack of internal capacities
in those areas in which it desired to act or to strengthen its participation. These behaviors
consisted of: the acquisition of, or formation of joi
nt ventures with, companies al
ready
active in target markets; the absorption of technology by means of licensing of
technology packages; and the incorporation of tacit knowledge by hiring of human
resources specializing in areas of interest” (Di Sabato).

7.

“The purchase, in 1920, of 50% of R. Graesser, a chemical company, leader in the
production of phenol in the UK market. At this time, Monsanto perceived the excess of
phenol in the post
-
WW1 US market, the need to find an alternate market for it, and the

convenience of integrating it into the production of phenolphthalein. This was
Monsanto’s first step into international markets” (Di Sabato).

8.

“The acquisition, in 1929, of two US industrial plants belonging to Rubber Service
Laboratories, specializing
in the production of chemical additives used in rubber
processing, which allowed Monsanto to commence production of polymerization
accelerators and antioxidants, amongst other additives” (Di Sabato).

9.

“The acquisition in 1955, of the US Lion Oil Company,

with the aim of integrating its
assets, strengthening its activity in the petroleum sector, since Lion’s nitrogenated
products
-

anhydrous
ammonia,
nitric acid and ammonium
nitrate
-

could be used as a
raw material in the production of Monsanto’s fertiliz
er. This integration forced the
company to turn its attention to the agricultural sector, with the creation of an action plan
for the company in this market” (Di Sabato).

10.

“The acquisition, 1969, of the US Farmers Hybrid Companies, a small group
special
izing in the production of corn hybrids, this being the first sign of Monsanto’s
interest in entering the market for genetically
-

modified (GM) seeds. Many other
acquisitions of seed companies
-

Jacob Hartz, Agracetus, Agroceres, Anglo
-

Dutch
Unilever, As
grow Seed, Braskalb, Calgene, Dekalb, Grupo, Maeda, Holden’s Foundation
Seed, Limagrain Canada Seeds, Plant Breeding International Cam
-

bridge (PBIC),
Selected International Seeds Operations of Cargill, Sementes Hatã, Seminis, Western
Seed and Poloni Semen
ces
-

would follow this, leading to the company’s consolidation in
this area” (Di Sabato).

11.

“The purchase of G. D. Searle, in 1985, an American pharmaceutical company,
holder of the patent for aspartame, which was to expire in 1992. This acquisition
pro
vided Monsanto with the capabilities which it needed to establish itself in the
pharmaceutical market” (Di Sabato).

12.

“Swiss agribusiness Syngenta has assumed full ownership of GreenLeaf Genetics,
which offers licenses for corn and soya bean genetic mate
rial to foundation seed
companies and facilitates the licensing of biotech traits. The deal dissolves a joint venture
partnership between Syngenta Seeds and Pioneer
Hi
-

Bred, part of US major DuPont. No
financial details were disclosed” (Eisberg).

13.

“Las
t January, Monsanto announced its $1.4 billion acquisition of Seminis, a fruit and
vegetable seed company from Oxnard, California. Investors and environmentalists rarely
agree on anything when it comes to Monsanto, but it seems that the Seminis deal

and
on

a smaller scale, the $300 million purchase of the Emergent Genetics cotton seed
company of Boulder, Colorado in February and the $40 million acquisition of Lincoln,
Nebraska

based grain seed firm NC+ Hybrids in March

has brought back bad
memories of Monsa
nto’s exuberant expansion in the late 1990s into the soy and seed corn
business” (Herrera).

14.


If

the

acquisitions

are

approved,

Syngenta

with

its

NK

Brand

and

Garst

and

Golden

Harvest

brands

will

arguably

become

the

second

largest

branded

seed

corn

company

in

the

U.S.

Syngenta

reports

its

corn

market

share

is

15%.

Holding

first

place

is

Pioneer

Hi
-
Bred

International;

it

says

it

has

about

40%

of

the

corn

hybrid

seed

market.

Monsanto

reports

it

has

14%

of

the

U.S.

corn

market

through

its

Dekalb

and

Asg
row

brands”

(McMahon).

15.

“Monsanto

faces

other

competition,

including

that

from

the

market

leader.

Pioneer

just

purchased

the

gene

research

company

Verdia

and

now

has

its

own

glyphosate
-
resistant

trait

to

use

in

both

corn

and

soybeans.

This

trait

may

not

be

available

for

five

to

six

years.

In

the

meantime,

Pioneer

plans

to

offer

its

own

corn

rootworm

trait,

developed

with

Dow

AgroSciences,

in

the

next

couple

of

years.

It

already

offers

corn

borer

and

other

insect

control

that

is

tolerant

to

over
-
the
-
top

a
pplications

of

Liberty

herbicide

through

Herculex

I,

another

trait

developed

with

Dow”

(McMahon).


Health Effects of Biotechnology and Associated Pesticides

1.

“Clearly, not all antibiotech sentiments are based on the ignorance of agriculture or of
the rDN
A technical mechanisms; the motivation in at least some cases seems based
primarily on commercial and/or socioeconomic factors, not on health or environmental
risk. Such players will cite, for example, concerns such as increased domination of the
food supp
ly by private corporations, or the likelihood of benefits of GE crops accruing
disproportionately to large rich farmers at the expense of smaller, poorer farmers, or of
disrupting the international trade dynamic. Although these issues may be legitimate
poi
nts for discussion and debate, they are not borne of technical ignorance and they are
not scientific risk based threats to health or environment” (McHughen).


2.



Children living in agricultural areas may be exposed to higher pesticide levels than
other c
hildren because of pesticides tracked into their homes by household members, by
pesticide drift, by breast milk from their farmworker mother, or by playing in nearby
fields. Nevertheless, few studies have assessed the extent of children's pesticide exposur
e,
and no studies have examined whether there are adverse health effects of chronic
exposure. There is substantial toxicologic evidence that repeated low
-
level exposure to
organophosphate (OP) pesticides may affect neurodevelopment a
nd growth in developing

animals


(
Eskenazi
).


3.

Investigations of environmental and occupational health hazards normally proceed

through the steps of recognition, evaluation, and control. This study has identified

a
potential
hazard for young children residing in homes on or ne
ar sites of agricultural

pesticide use by documenting environmental concentrations of four OP pesticides. In

particular, it appears that children are likely

to be exposed simultaneously to several

pesticides that are not registered for residential use and
that have the same mechanism of
toxicity. Additional work is needed

to evaluate children's exposure to agricultural
pesticides in these settings, and, if

necessary, to develop appropriate interv
entions to
mitigate exposures” (Simcox).