GM Free Cymru

Glyphosate and glufosinate drift causes yield reductions and crop damage in non-GM rice crops


Below we paste three items relating to this growing problem in the US -- collateral damage associated with the crop spraying of Roundup (glyphosate) and Liberty (glufosinate) onto GM crops which cover many thousands of hectares. The measured damage in this study by University of Arkansas researchers relates to non-GM rice grown in warm, humid conditions and surrounded by crops of GM soya in particular. In one of the articles posted below, Mike Wagner creates a striking image of rice fields surrounded by a sea of GMHT soya -- we could just as well refer to these rice crops wallowing in a sea of glyphosate and glufosinate. Is that image a bit extreme? Let's think about it......

The researchers make it clear that there is clear biological damage to the rice crops, directly attributable to glyphosate and glufosinate spray drift. The damage to the plants is measurable and observable to the naked eye. There is also a clear yield loss -- another indication of stressed or damaged plants. The biological harm is indisputable. Is that harm a direct or indirect consequence of the growing of GM crops? I would argue that it is direct, since in the case of GM soya the Roundup and Liberty are ALWAYS used in the growing of the crops -- there is no option in the matter, and growers are tied in by contract to the use of these chemicals. If the management of a GM crop like HT soya requires that Roundup or Liberty are used, the damage associated with spraying is inevitable and predictable. You could argue that ancillary or collateral damage to neighbouring fields is unfortunate, and down to bad management practices, but islands in a sea of herbicides do not have a hope in Hell of being unaffected. The GM growers know that, and Monsanto and Bayer know it. So does the US administration.

We already know what happens to weeds in areas where these chemicals are sprayed -- they develop resistance, and super-weeds evolve very rapidly. In other words, the regional ecology is affected in a variety of different ways. If anybody claims that there is no demonstrable environmental damage associated with GM crop plantings, just show him or her the evidence piling up in paper after paper....... and not just in papers by Prof Don Huber!

And this is not just about biological or environmental damage. The rice farmers here are complaining about economic losses, and there are social consequences as well, with resentment and anger spreading across the countryside, with farmer set against farmer, and with insurance claims and litigation inevitable. Who is liable for the damage done to non-GM crops by spray drift? The farmers, or the spraying contractors, or Monsanto and Bayer? You can be sure that the latter two will put as much distance as possible between themselves and any trouble, claiming that if pilots fail to follow the strict guidelines in their codes of conduct, that is nothing to do with them.

The implications for Europe? They are enormous, even though we currently have no large-scale GM crop plantings here which are sprayed with Roundup from the air. But if the planting of GMHT crops is even to be contemplated, the EC must be aware that there will be environmental, economic and social damage on a substantial scale -- and that any consents issued will involve culpable negligence and an utter disregard for the Precautionary Principle.

I would also argue that the import of GM soya from countries like the US, Brazil and Argentina is in contravention of the relevant EU Directives, since it is ethically and legally indefensible for the EC to pretend that if damage is happening somewhere else (ie at the points of production rather than the points of consumption) it is none of our business. This point is coming increasingly to the fore in the GM debate in Europe, with Norway taking the lead.

See this: GMO appraisal should include social utility, sustainability requirements - biosafety experts

Dr David Quist, a senior scientist heading the Scientific Advisory Unit at the Centre for Biosafety, GenOk, Norway, at a recent meeting in India:


"The Norwegian Gene Technology Act has been created to ensure that production and use of genetically modified organisms and production of cloned animals takes place in an ethical and socially justifiable way, in accordance with the principle of sustainable development and without detrimental effects on health and environment.

"The [Norwegian Gene Technology] Act recognizes that the risk appraisal of GMOs is a multi-dimensional issue, and not just a scientific one. Norway hence opts for a "Impact Assessment", which integrates a scientifically-based environmental risk assessment with an analysis of the social utility and contribution to sustainable development of the GMO on a case by case basis.

"Combining these aspects in one assessment allows Norway to consider not only whether the GM product is safe, but whether it is necessary, and contributing to a sustainable future. This applies not only to GM production in Norway, but also to its production in countries from which GM may be imported from. Safety for Norway and safety for other countries is regarded as no different.

"Transparency, accountability and public participation are essential features in the Norwegian legislation. There are strict legal requirements for public access to information, producer liability, and termination of GMO product use that may be approved but later found to pose adverse effects."

Effects of Low Rates of Glyphosate and Glufosinate on Rice

B.M. Davis, R.C. Scott, J.K. Norsworthy, and K.L. Smith

AAES Research Series 581 B.R. Wells Rice Research Studies 2009, p 114 - 1212 (Tables are omitted below)

Off-target movement of herbicides have been detrimental to crop yields. When new technology is released, it is necessary to understand the potential impact it may have on off-target crops. Field studies were conducted in 2007 and 2008 to evaluate and compare the effects of low rates of glufosinate and glyphosate on rice. Glyphosate (1°— rate = 0.77 lb/acre) and glufosinate (1°— rate = 0.55 lb/acre) were applied to rice at 0.5°—, 0.25°—, and 0.125°— of the recommended usage rate at the 3- to 4-leaf, panicle initiation (PI), and boot growth stages. At comparable rates, glufosinate caused substantially greater visual injury than glyphosate to rice. Rice grain yield was reduced up to 80% with either herbicide. Because glyphosate is more readily translocated, overall sensitivity of off-target crops may be higher to lower rates or “drift rates” of glyphosate than glufosinate. However, because of a perception that glufosinate damage is “cosmetic” and will not harm off-target crops as much as glyphosate, educational efforts are needed to demonstrate potential negative impacts of glufosinate to off-target crops.

Glyphosate is the most popular non-selective herbicide on the market. With the wide adoption of glyphosate-tolerant soybean technology throughout the state, there is inevitably an increased risk of off-target movement of glyphosate onto rice. However with this heavy reliance on glyphosate, resistant weeds have evolved. With this increase in glyphosate-resistant weeds, a new technology is needed. The 2009 growing season marked the release of glufosinate-tolerant soybean, which allows the use of glufosinate in over-the-top applications throughout the soybean growing season. The potential for off-target movement from soybean to rice is possibly due to the production practices in Arkansas of growing both crops in close proximity to each other.

Field experiments were conducted at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff research farm near Lonoke, Ark., in 2007 and 2008 to evaluate the effects of low rates of glyphosate and glufosinate on rice and to evaluate potential yield loss. Rice was planted on 15 May 2007, and 21 May 2008, at a seeding rate of 18.5 lb/ acre for ‘Wells’ and 6 lb/acre for ‘XP723’. The experimental area was field cultivated twice prior to planting. The soil type was a Calhoun silt loam with a pH of 4.8. Plots were maintained weed free with a preemergence application of clomazone at 0.06 lb/acre plus quinclorac at 0.05 lb/acre and a postemergence application of halosulfuron at 0.01 lb/acre plus quinclorac at 0.04 lb/acre. Plot size was 5 ft wide and 20 ft long with 5 ft alleys between replications. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with a three- factor factorial treatment arrangement with four replications. Treatment factors were rice cultivar, herbicide, and application timing. The first factor was cultivar where Wells and XP723 were seeded. The second factor was herbicide. Herbicides were glufosinate applied at 0.071, 0.13, and 0.27 lb/acre and glyphosate applied at 0.10 , 0.19, and 0.39 lb/acre. In earlier research, significant injury to rice occurred at these glyphosate rates (Meier et al., 2006). The rates for each herbicide represent 0.5°—, 0.25°—, and 0.125°— the usage rate. The third factor was application timing. An early postemergence treatment was applied to 3- to 4-leaf rice on 6 June 2007 and 18 June 2008; a mid- postemergence application at 0.25-in. internode (PI) on 3 July 2007 and 25 July 2008; and a late postemergence application at boot stage on 31 July 2007 and 23 August 2008. Treatments were applied with a CO2-backpack sprayer calibrated to deliver 10 gal/acre using a four-nozzle, 5-ft spray boom, with DG110015 tips. An untreated check was included for each cultivar for comparison. Injury was visually rated on a scale of 0% to 100% compared to the untreated check, with 0% being no injury and 100% being plant death. Injury was rated for chlorosis and stunting. Ratings were taken at 1 and 3 weeks after treatment (WAT). Heading dates were recorded when 50% of the rice heads had emerged. Flag leaf length was measured at 100% emergence of the flag leaf in the nontreated plots. Canopy height was determined at heading (50%) and at harvest. Plots were harvested for yield and test weight on 20 September 2007 and 27 October 2008, with a small- plot combine. Percentage germination was determined post harvest using steps similar to those previously described (Lovelace, 2000; Stoller and Wax, 1974; Taylorson, 1970). Grain weight per 100 seed per plot treatment was recorded post harvest. Data were subjected to analysis of variance using PROC GLM in SAS. Means were separated by Fisher’s Least Significance Difference test at P = 0.05.


Visual Injury Injury mainly consisted of necrosis of leaf tissue from glufosinate and chlorosis of leaf tissue to no symptoms for glyphosate, depending on application timing. Similar symptoms have been reported for wheat (Deeds et al., 2006). Injury 1 WAT was minimal for glyphosate and peaked at only 14% (Table 1). Later application of glyphosate during the reproductive stages resulted in no visual injury. Injury at the later timings manifested in other parameters. Injury from glufosinate was significantly higher and peaked at 60% at the boot stages. Glufosinate visual injury was much more apparent than that of glyphosate consisting of necrotic leaves. Similar trends were observed in other research in rice with later timings of glyphosate having minimal injury compared to earlier (Ellis et al., 2003). Visual injury from glyphosate at the later application timings was not apparent until the rice began to head. Applications at the PI stage injured the young seed head which, when emerged, was malformed with smaller heads and curled seeds. Glufosinate symptoms were apparent and consisted of necrosis of the tissue that had come into contact with the herbicide. Applications at the boot stage did not malform seed heads as with glyphosate at the PI stage, but both herbicides ceased rice growth and did not allow the seed head to fully emerge from the sheath. This in turn caused many panicles to “rot” in the leaf sheath. This data suggest that rice is more susceptible to visual injury from glufosinate than glyphosate. This could be due to the nature of the two herbicides behaviors in the plant. Glyphosate is readily translocated within the plant compared to glufosinate and what little symptoms show up are on newly emerging vegetation. In contrast, glufosinate is not as readily translocated within the plant and generally causes foliar burn as documented. This data also suggests that rice may show a slightly higher sensitivity to an early application with glyphosate and later application from glufosinate. Ellis and others also documented the greatest injury occurring from 0.05 lb/acre of glufosinate when applied to 2- to 3-leaf rice (Ellis et al., 2003). In general, glyphosate injury was minimal compared to glufosinate at this time.

Canopy Height The only treatments that reduced canopy height at heading applied at the 3- to 4- leaf stage were glyphosate at the 0.25°— and 0.5°— rates where canopy height was reduced by 10% to 15% and glufosinate applied at the 0.5°— rate by 10% (Table 2). All other 3- to 4-leaf applications did not reduce canopy height. Ellis et al. (2003) documented 50% and 5% height reductions from glyphosate and glufosinate applied at 2- to 3-leaf stage on rice. Both herbicides applied at the 0.5°— rate at the PI stage reduced canopy height; however, glyphosate reduced canopy height 5% less than glufosinate, which reduced canopy height 23% at the 0.5°— rate applied at the boot stage. Reduction in height from glufosinate at the boot stage was 23% and glyphosate was 18%. At panicle differentiation, Ellis et al. (2003) documented similar reduction in canopy height from glufosinate and glyphosate at higher rates with reduction ranging from 10% to 25%. Glyphosate reduced canopy height by ceasing growth and stunting plants, in contrast glufosinate reduced canopy height by complete desiccation of the upper portion of the canopy. Glyphosate and glufosinate applied at the 3- to 4-leaf stage at the 0.125°— and 0.25°— rate did not reduce canopy height at harvest (Table 3). However, all other treatments significantly reduced canopy height at harvest. The greatest reduction from glufosinate (25%) occurred when applied at the 0.5°— rate at the boot stage. Glyphosate reduced canopy height the greatest (29%) when applied at PI. There is a slight trend of greater canopy height reduction from both herbicides at later application timings at all rates. Rice at the PI application timing appeared to be slightly more sensitive to glyphosate than glufosinate. This could be partly explained by the fact that glyphosate is readily translocated and ceased growth and stunts plants at this application timing. In contrast, glufosinate desiccates crop canopy to reduce height, however, does not cease rice growth. At the boot application stage, the rice plant is close to ceasing growth and focusing all resources on seed fill, in turn little canopy height reduction is noted. Both herbicides responded similarly at the boot stage. Similarly Meier et al. (2006) noted similar rice canopy reductions from glyphosate applied at 0.08 lb/acre at the boot application stage. Conversely, Ellis documented 50% canopy height reduction when glyphosate was applied at the 2- to- 3 leaf stage, with only 5% reduction from glufosinate. He also noted canopy height reduction from 10% to 25% from glyphosate and glufosinate, respectively, applied at panicle initiation (Ellis et al., 2003). These contradictory results are indicative of the random nature of low rates of herbicides and may be explained by differences in environmental conditions or specific application timings.

Flag Leaf Length Even though both herbicides reduced flag leaf length, the forms of reduction were much different (Table 4). Glyphosate is translocated readily within the plant and at the PI stage is translocated to the actively developing flag leaf (Vencill, 2002). In turn, the flag leaf slows growth and is stunted, emerging as a shortened leaf. Glufosinate, however, is not as readily translocated and is fairly immobile (Vencill, 2002). Therefore at PI, glufosinate does not affect the formation of the flag leaf as great as glyphosate. Glufosinate does cause necrosis of the flag leaf once emerged resulting in a reduction in photosynthetically active leaf area.

Days to Heading Glufosinate delayed heading the greatest when applied at the boot stage (25 to 47 days) (Table 5). The greatest delay in heading occurred when glufosinate was applied at the 0.5°— rate at the boot stage (47 days). The early (PI) and later (boot) reproductive stage applications appear to be more detrimental to delaying maturity than application at the vegetative stage with either herbicide. Meier et al. (2006) reported similar results with glyphosate applied at the boot stage, with heading delayed for ‘Bengal’ rice from 21 to 42 days depending on rate. This delay may be caused by the interruption of the growth of the young seed head. Glyphosate applied at the boot stage and PI stage at the 0.25°— and 0.5°— rates prevented the panicle from emerging from the sheath, in turn causing the seed head to rot before harvest. Glufosinate affected the seed head by completely desiccating the upper portion of the plant and not allowing the seed head to fully emerge. When glufosinate was applied at the 0.25°— and 0.5°— rates at the boot stage, seed heads never emerged and rotted within the leaf sheath. In contrast, others have observed a greater reduction in yields at the earlier rather than at the later reproductive timings, with yield losses as great as 95% from applications at jointing or PI (Deeds et al., 2006).

Seed Weight The greatest reduction in seed weight on Wells occurred from the 0.25° — rate applied at the PI and boot stages and the 0.5°— rate applied at the boot stage with reductions ranging from 7% to 11% (Table 6). Seed weight reduction ranged from 12% to 14% with XP723 when either herbicide was applied at the 0.25°— or 0.5°— rate. These trends are similar to flag leaf length reductions and reduced seed weights observed from either herbicide applied at the higher rates and applied at the reproductive stages. Similar results have been documented with leaf removal significantly reducing rice yield (Counce et al., 1994). This is a possible explanation for the reduced seed weight observed and corresponding injury from application made during reproductive development.

Germination of Harvested Grain There were no significant interactions among cultivar, rate, herbicide, or application timing for rice germination. Regardless of treatment, rice germination ranged from 97% to 99% (data not shown). Germination could possibly be lower if all seed were tested. Plots were harvested with a commercial combine, which provides a very clean, trash-free sample as small malformed seeds are discharged from the rear of the combine. Deeds et al. (2006) also documented no significant difference in germination of wheat when glyphosate was applied. Similarly, Ellis et al. (2003) documented no reduction in rice germination following sublethal glyphosate rates.

Yield All treatments regardless of cultivar, herbicide, or application timing reduced rice yield when averaged across rate. Glufosinate had the greatest reduction in yield for both cultivars when applied at the boot stage (81%) (Table 7). Glufosinate applied at PI reduced yield of Wells and XP723 by 30%. Glyphosate reduced yields for both cultivars when applied at the boot stage by 80%. Similarly, others have noted rice yield reductions from glyphosate applied at boot, ranging from 87% to 97% (Kurtz and Street, 2003). When glyphosate was applied at PI, yield reductions ranged from 31% on Wells to 51% on XP723 (Table 7). Kurtz and Street (2003) documented similar results with rice response to glyphosate applied at PI resulting in yield reductions of 66%. The response was similar for glufosinate applied at PI and boot stages on both cultivars. Both cultivars also responded similarly to glyphosate applied at the boot stage; however, glyphosate applied at PI appeared to have a greater affect on XP723 than on Wells. Yield was reduced 20% more on XP723 than Wells. Based on the data, a varietal response to glyphosate may exist when applied at both the 3- to- 4 leaf and PI growth stages for XP723. Results also suggest that rice is more sensitive to later applications of either herbicide. Ellis et al. (2003) concluded that rice and corn were able to recover from glufosinate injury; however, they were unable to recover from glyphosate, suggesting a higher sensitivity to glyphosate. Koger et al. (2005) reported a possible varietal difference in rice yield between ‘Priscilla’ and ‘Cocodrie’ rice cultivars. Though very minimal injury was noted for glyphosate, yield reductions were similar to those from glufosinate. Rice yield losses reflect similar trends seen in several other parameters documented, such as flag leaf length, days to maturity, and seed weight. Later applications, after the vegetative stages, with higher rates are very detrimental to rice yields, regardless of herbicide.

Glufosinate injured rice rapidly and to a greater degree than did glyphosate. Glyphosate caused very minimal injury, however yield reduction caused by the two herbicides was comparable. Flag leaf length was reduced by both herbicides. However, where glufosinate caused rapid necrosis of the flag leaf and upper portion of the plant when applied at the boot stage, glyphosate (which is more readily translocated to points of active cell division) caused flag leaf reductions when applied at PI, before the flag leaf had emerged. In general, visual glyphosate injury was minimal when compared to glufosinate. However, yield reductions from both herbicides were comparable at the rates evaluated. Glufosinate drift to rice does have the potential to be detrimental to yield.

The authors would like to thank the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board for their support and funding of this research and the Arkansas rice growers for their check-off dollars that make the promotion board possible. The authors would also like to thank the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, and Bayer CropScience for their support of this work.

Counce, P.A., B.R. Wells, R.J. Norman, and J. Leong. 1994. Simulated hail damage to rice: II. Effects during four reproductive growth stages. Agron. J. 86:1113-1118. Deeds, Z.A., K. Al-Khatib, D.E. Peterson, and P.W. Stahlman. 2006. Wheat response to simulated drift of glyphosate and imazamox applied at two growth stages. Weed Technol. 20:23-31. Ellis, J.M., J.L. Griffin, S.D. Linscombe, and E.P. Webster. 2003. Rice (Oryza sativa) and corn (Zea mays) response to simulated drift of glyphosate and glufosinate. Weed Technol. 17:452-460. Koger, C.H., D.L. Shaner, L.J. Kurtz, T.W. Walker, N. Buehring, W.B. Henery, W.E. Thomas, and J.W. Wilcut. 2005. Rice (Oryza sativa) response to drift rates of glyphosate. Pest Manag. Sci. 61:1161-1167. Kurtz, M.E and J.E. Street. 2003. Response of rice (Oryza sativa) to glyphosate applied to simulated drift. Weed Technol. 17:234-238. Lovelace, M.L. 2000. Effects of interference, tillage, and environment on hemp sesbania (Sesbania exaltata) and pitted morningglory (Lpomoea lacunosa) ecology. Masters Thesis, University of Arkansas. Pg 66-67 Meier, J.R., K.L. Smith, and R.C. Doherty. 2006. Rice cultivar response to low glyphosate rates at 0.25-in. internode elongation. Proc. Arkansas Crop Protection Association. University of Arkansas. Pg: 10. Stoller, E.W. and L.M. Wax. 1974. Dormancy changes and fate of some annual weed seeds in the soil. Weed Sci. 22:151-155. Taylorson, R. B. 1970. Changes in dormancy and viability of weed seeds in soils. Weed Sci. 18:265-269. Vencill, W.K., ed. 2002. Herbicide Handbook. 8th edition. Weed Sci. Soc. Am. Lawrence, Kansas, pp.147-152.

More Problems with Glyphosate: US Rice Growers Sound the Alarm

by Rady Ananda

Global Research, May 15, 2011

Adding to the natural rice industry’s woes after Bayer CropScience contaminated a third of the US rice supply with transgenic rice in 2006, the widespread application of Bayer’s glufosinate and Monsanto’s glyphosate is reducing crop yields, and burning and deforming rice plants that survive. The Mississippi Rice Council (MRC) has sounded a national alarm over damage caused by aerial drift of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, calling for severely restricted aerial application.

MRC president Mike Wagner recently told crop dusters at this year’s Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association annual meeting that glyphosate is wreaking havoc on the natural rice industry where “non- transgenic rice is planted in a sea of genetically modified crops that are tolerant to glyphosate.”

Wagner reported that, “Rice specialists noticed that rice that had no obvious damage through the growing season would yield and mill poorly and would exhibit the classic trait associated with late glyphosate drift — the kernel would be shaped like a parrot beak instead of its normally elongated, symmetrical shape.”

Field studies run in 2007 and 2008 by the University of Arkansas showed reduced rice yield by up to 80% from glyphosate, as well as glufosinate, an herbicide produced by Bayer. On top of reduced yield, both herbicides burned the leaves and stunted the growth of rice plants.

In December, the MRC unanimously recommend an annual cutoff date of June 1 for its aerial application, when yield potential for rice is determined.

“Damage occurring at this time does not allow for an alternate crop to be replanted. Consequently, the farmer has two nooses around his neck: (1) he is stuck with a crop that will generate lower revenues, and (2) he has already incurred nearly all expenses that are associated with that crop,” said Wagner.

Because those expenses range from $650 to $900 per acre, “One can see that any losses can be staggering. This is a losing proposition for our rice industry, and one that continues to occur. Our alarm is warranted.”

In 2010, Louisiana Rice Man noted that the pressure from bacterial panicle blight, leaf scald and leaf smut “was about the worst I have ever seen.” Though he attributes it to abnormally high temperatures, most likely the cause is glyphosate and/or glufosinate, which destroy soil microflora that assist in plant defense.

The 2006 genetic contamination of natural rice resulted in the collapse of the export market to Europe and other nations. Further reductions in the yield of natural rice now threaten the industry with collapse.

Scientific Suppression

Publicizing this information can be difficult at best and career- ending at worst. In the U of Arkansas study cited above, researchers noted that most rice farmers wrongly believe the damage from glufosinate is only cosmetic. Worse, in 2008, the US Dept. of Agriculture announced it would stop publishing information about the amounts and types of agrochemicals sprayed on crops, leaving the public blind to the corporate poisoning of our environment. Since then, we’ve had to rely on sporadic reports, whistle blowers, or independent scientists to warn us of emerging dangers. Bertram Verhaag’s scenically beautiful film, Science Under Attack, is one of several he produced on biotechnology. (Also see David vs Monsanto, Seeds and Seed Multinationals, and Life Running out of Control.) In Science Under Attack, he interviews scientists whose careers were ruined because they published studies warning of health dangers from genetically modified crops. From smaller brain size in rats fed biotech food, to lowered immunity, organ damage, and infertility, the information is suppressed by the biotech industry and governments beholden to it.

When world-renowned biochemist Arpad Pusztai studied the effect of a GM potato on rats, he found “36 significant differences” between those fed the GM versus non-GM potatoes. The film includes the clip from his career-ending interview on a UK television show in 1999, exposing some of these problems. Those 150 seconds changed his life forever. He and his wife (also a researcher) were both fired, and his reputation smeared.

In a 1998 lawsuit, the Center for Food Safety produced thousands of documents showing that the Food and Drug Administration suppressed its own science reporting that GM crops are not “substantially equivalent” to normal food, refusing to perform the recommended studies.

Ignacio Chapela is another scientist who made world news when he exposed widespread genetic contamination of natural corn in Mexico, which at the time banned GM crops. UC Berkeley tried to fire Chapela three times before he finally took a job in Norway at the Institute of Gene Ecology. This multidisciplinary research institute studies biosafety. Its existence reveals a global scientific rebellion resisting and confronting the technocracy serving only profits.

Earlier this year, in response to scientific suppression concerning GM foods and their associated agrochemicals, the European Union Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli, promisedto overhaul the risk assessment process, providing funding for independent investigation into “toxicological, environmental, allergenic or nutritional aspects.”

Glyphosate, Spontaneous Abortions and Birth Defects

Another scientist warning about glyphosate and featured in the film is Andres Carrasco. In 2010, he released a summary of scientific evidence on genetically modified soy and the herbicide glyphosate, and its impact on humans. In Science Under Attack, Carrasco reports that glyphosate causes brain, intestinal and heart defects in fetuses.

The summary includes a “study on human cells [which] found that all four Roundup formulations tested caused total cell death within 24 hours. These effects were found at dilution levels far below those recommended for agricultural use and corresponding to low levels of residues found in food or feed.”

Of note, “The adjuvants in Roundup increase the toxicity of glyphosate because they enable the herbicide to penetrate human cells more readily.”

In The Poison of the Pampas, a 22-minute news report by journalist Rolando Grana, broadcast in Argentina in April of last year, severe birth defects have been documented in babies whose mothers were exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy. (English subtitles can be activated by clicking on the closed captioning icon: cc. Also see Part 2.)

Industrial scale agrochemicals and GM crops are also linked to the collapse of honeybee populations, which the film Queen of the Sun details. Indeed, with growing evidence from independent scientists showing harm to animals ingesting GM crops, it’s no wonder many of the speakers in this film are convinced that GM crops contribute to colony collapse disorder (My review here.)

Superweeds resistant to herbicide have long been a growing problem for farmers in the U.S., Britain and Australia.

Earlier this year, plant pathologist Don Huber revealed a link between glyphosate and a dangerous new pathogen which is found in nearby soil and in the feed of animals suffering with infertility and spontaneous abortions. The pathogen is present in sudden death syndrome in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soy and Goss’s wilt in RR corn.

In addition to warning the USDA in January, Huber also notified the European Union president and several key ministers in April of the dangers to plants and animals associated with glyphosate. “In layman’s terms, it should be treated as an emergency,” he told the USDA.

The newly discovered submicroscopic organism is “infectious to cattle, pigs, horses, poultry,” Huber told Food Democracy Now! earlier this month in a 20-minute video interview. “It will kill a fertilized egg in 24-48 hours.”

An important aside: Huber has serious concern with genetic contamination of natural alfalfa, which is guaranteed with this open- pollinated perennial crop. Huber predicts, “In five years, you won’t have anything except Roundup Ready alfalfa. Coexistence is not possible,” he says. “When you take a number one forage crop and you place it any kind of jeopardy, we have a tremendous impact on the sustainability of our animal production.”

Ignoring Huber’s dire warnings, the USDA approved the deployment of GM alfalfa this year. This can be seen as nothing other than a deliberate move to destroy the organic beef and dairy industry in the U.S. and Canada. You can send a letter to President Obama asking for an immediate moratorium on GM alfalfa at this Food Democracy Now! action page.

The National Agricultural Aviation Assn. will hold this year’s annual convention in Las Vegas Dec. 5-8 at the Las Vegas Hilton. Crop dusters might appreciate well crafted literature showing the destruction wrought by agrochemicals on human and animal health, as well as the environment.

Rady Ananda specializes in Natural Resources and administers the sites, Food Freedom and COTO Report.

Glyphosate drift to rice a problem for all of us

Delta Farm Press -- 12.05.2011

Mike Wagner, President, Mississippi Rice Council

Airplanes and ground applicators have been used to apply amendments to rice crops in Mississippi since the mid-1950s, and the interests and success of rice producers and aerial aviators have become intricately intertwined.

In the late 1990s, technology inserted into cotton, soybeans, and corn allowed over-the-top application of glyphosate onto those crops. The technology immediately revolutionized the production systems for those crops.

The U.S. rice industry never adapted the glyphosate-resistant technology for fear that its product — consumed with virtually no processing — would be forsaken by consumers worldwide. And so, non- transgenic rice is planted in a sea of genetically modified crops that are tolerant to glyphosate.

For years, this seemed to pose no real problem or threat. In the early to mid part of the last decade, however, reports of rice damaged by glyphosate drift began to surface with increasing frequency. Rice specialists noticed that rice that had no obvious damage through the growing season would yield and mill poorly and would exhibit the classic trait associated with late glyphosate drift — the kernel would be shaped like a parrot beak instead of its normally elongated, symmetrical shape.

In 2006, immediately after most crops were planted in the Delta, a wet and windy period set in. Airplanes set out to spray cotton, corn, and soybean fields plagued with weeds. Not many thought much of it at first.

By mid-May, however, reports of dead rice and rice burned off to the ground began to surface. Soon the reports were widespread. It was estimated that 30,000 to 50,000 acres of rice were damaged or destroyed that year by glyphosate.

So much glyphosate seemed to go out in such a short time over such a large area that it was often difficult to identify the offenders. Many farmers were never compensated for damages.

The extensive damage to what was already an economically challenging crop did not set well with Mississippi’s rice industry. Frustrations were on two levels: (1) penalties often seemed insignificant and violators (especially repeat violators) were given what our industry perceived to be a wrist-slapping, and (2) the level of liability insurance coverage was in many cases not enough to cover one claim, much less multiple claims.

Mississippi’s rice farmers petitioned the state capitol and the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce for change and got it. The responsibility for the dispensing of penalties for aerial applicators found in violation of rules was given to the Bureau of Plant Industry. Aerial applicators and ground applicators now work with the same penalty structure, commonly called the Penalty Matrix. This provides a uniform system of penalty assessment among all applicators, aerial and ground, and penalties are now meted out in uniform fashion.

In addition, after careful consideration the MAAA acted to increase their minimal liability insurance requirements from $100,000 to $300,000, with a $500,000 aggregate.

One can divide the window of timing and the types of damage that glyphosate drift onto rice can have into two periods.

The first is from emergence to flooding. Rice hit at this time could be thinned, burned off to the ground only to re-emerge in various maturity and health stages, or killed. In some cases, with increased expense, it can be managed so that the crop grows out of the damage and goes on to make a normal or somewhat reduced yield.

If the young crop is killed, it can be replanted with rice (which research indicates will generally suffer a yield loss), or if pre- emerge herbicides applied to the rice allow, the land can be planted to an alternate crop.

Either effort will increase production costs and generally produce a crop with decreased yield potential.

The second distinct period that glyphosate damage occurs — and by far the most detrimental — is from a short time before internode elongation to the time when the crop begins to dry down. Mississippi’s rice crop generally begins its internode elongation period around June 1, and it is at this time that much yield potential is set.

Invisible damage Damage inflicted by derelict glyphosate during this period is often invisible and not noticed until harvest. Damage is characterized by significantly decreased yields and milling and the rice often exhibits the first signal that it has been hit with drift — kernels shaped like a parrot’s beak.

Damage occurring at this time does not allow for an alternate crop to be replanted. Consequently, the farmer has two nooses around his neck: (1) he is stuck with a crop that will generate lower revenues, and (2) he has already incurred nearly all expenses that are associated with that crop. With anticipated 2011 direct expenses between $450 and $600 per acre and indirect expenses ranging from $200 to $300 per acre — total expenses range from $650 to $900 per acre — one can see that any losses can be staggering. This is a losing proposition for our rice industry, and one that continues to occur. Our alarm is warranted.

This is the main reason the Mississippi Rice Council unanimously passed a resolution in 2010 recommending an annual cutoff date of June 1 for the aerial application of glyphosate to alleviate the possibility that we will be severely impacted by drift without recourse when it is too late. Rice farmers do not like regulation any better than anyone else, but we will take all necessary measures to protect our crops.

Some areas in the Delta suffer more than others, and farmers have reduced or eliminated rice acreage in those areas. Because rice is a high expenditure crop, cutting acreage impacts the local economy, and it significantly impacts aerial applicators.

On my own farm, if wind conditions allow, I normally make two aerial applications of rice herbicides that would cost about $15, and make four flights for fertilizer that would cost near $25 — a total of $40 (this excludes fungicide and insecticide applications). Planted in soybeans or corn, that same land might get at most two aerial trips that will generate $10 to $15. The financial benefit to applicators of increasing rice acreage is obvious.

Yet another reason to curtail applications after June 1 is the mounting evidence that corn, even if it is glyphosate-tolerate, is subject to yield damage if it is hit after it passes the V-8 to V-12 stage — corn from 24 to 48 inches tall.

It isn’t the intention of the Mississippi rice industry to single out aerial applicators as the sole cause for our losses and focus only on remedies regarding that industry. We are well aware that ground applications have and are causing a lot of our woes and we are well aware of the need to educate all applicators.

My own most recent loss was caused by a neighbor who wouldn’t heed my warning about the wind carrying the glyphosate drift from his floppy red boom to my rice field.

The Mississippi rice industry appreciates the meaningful dialogue that has taken place with aerial applicators this past year. 2010 saw a significant drop in the level of glyphosate drift on rice. I think our industries working together helped reduce the incidence of glyphosate drift on rice. Our interests are intricately intertwined, and each of our industry’s survival depends on the other industry’s welfare.

When we plant a crop, we do so only with God’s blessing. It is only through his grace that it grows and multiplies. However, he entrusts each of us to tend its daily cultivation.

The recent rains, flooded conditions, and cool weather have added an unwelcome dimension to our 2011 Delta crop — they will be late and in extreme cases won’t be planted. This means we all must “get it right” the first time as replanting with a “used up” calendar may not be an option. With this in mind, please use added caution when applying herbicides that could harm your or your neighbor’s adjacent crops. Read the label, know the habits of the chemistry you are considering, and always apply common sense before anything else.

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