> What is dubious is that the reduced fumonisin levels underlie the
> corportate strategy regarding why Bt corn was developed and marketed,
No, the industry thought they could please their farmer/customers and add
value to the seed product by controlling insect pests. I never heard
mycotoxins mentioned in connection with Bt corn until the last couple
> and that Bt toxins introduced in the corn genome represent the best
> (and to the thinking of many, a valid) approach toward reducing
> fumonisin levels
Reduction in fumonisin and aflatoxin is a side benefit. The main purpose of
Bt corn is control of ECB. But reduction in mycotoxin is politically
important because it demonstrates a clear health benefit to the consumer
from Bt corn.
> While GMO´s can be patented, approaches of a more biological
> (rather then biotechnological) nature, though potentially more
> compatible with evolutionary organisms and the environment,
> are less prone to loan themselves to the kind of one sided
> benefits that some corporations seem to require, in order to
> lend a hand in the development of technologies and products
> more favorable for agriculture and the public good.
People have been trying to develop genetic and management strategies for ECB
control for a long time. Stalk strenth has been a principal breeding
objective in corn for 100 years, and part of the reason is to reduce
breakage caused by ECB. Besides this, (non-transgenic) efforts to breed
corn for insect resistance have been disappointing. Cultural practices have
been somewhat more successful, and ECB can be controlled by insecticide
application (but it is often too expensive).
"One-sided" you say? Ironically, the estimates of how much value the seed
industry could capture from the Bt corn market turned out to be very
over-optimistic. The industry managed to produce a huge amount of Bt corn
seed in a short time, driving down the premium we receive for Bt corn.
Farmers get a good deal on Bt corn. I guess this is an example of
capitalism working ;) Of course, the farmers got squeezed too, since they
are so good at producing grain. All this contributes to lots of cheap
grain. Is that in the public's best interest? I don't know.
>> It turns out that it is easier to directly destroy the
>> mycotoxin using genetic approaches than to completely
>> prevent invasion of the ears by Fusarium moniliforme.
> Easier for who?
Easier for the breeder. Varieties resistant to Fusarium moniliforme are
hard to find, although resistance to Aspergillus flavus seems a little
easier to obtain. Corn that breaks down mycotoxin is a good tool, and this
has value, especially for the grower (and eaters) of food-grade corn. Just
wait till you have to meet mycotoxin standards in your grain.
You think you can control these things by cultural practices?
>> The new corns exhibit much lower mycotoxin levels,
>> and should reduce throat cancer.
> How nice. What else do the "new corns" do? Is that a secret too?
> Or is it just another no-brainer, the fact that NOBODY knows that
> yet. Does the fact that these "new corns" are never-the-less
> already on the market indicate a lack of responsibility on the
> part of the public authorities who oversee environmental and health
I don't think these new varieties are on the market yet.
> The wrong criteria and priorities are being given decisive weight
> and it's clear that Europeans have marked the path to follow on
> this issue, while the U.S. govt. looks for pretexts for imposing
> dubious products on the world market that whole, congruent people
> don't want.
If I subsisted on corn, I would be pretty glad to have low mycotoxin
varieties. No one is imposing products on anyone. Transgenic crop seed
grew in popularity because farmers wanted it. If farmers are scared off by
the prospect of EC restrictions, the industry will serve up non-GMO seed.
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