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An interesting article in Alternative Medicine Magazine "Genetically Modified Corn Yields Loss." It says that farmers who planted Bt corn from 1996 to 2001 lost money ($92 million or $1.32 per acre).
Although GM corn produces higher crop yields, farmers have to pay a premium for the right to use GM seed. The yield, though higher, does not cover the additional cost.
American farmers also lost out in export salesto the tune of about 350 million bushels of corn export sales because the EU does not want GE food. "Lost corn exports, lower corn prices and less profit from GM corn."
A fourth negative - "farmers now face complex legal risks the courts only beginning to address...farmers and seed companies may be held liable for genetically contaminating neighboring fields..."
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Just curious: what does "Alternative Medicine" have to do with "GE corn?"

Wait, oh never mind, I get it: "Politics."

Fushi
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catherine,

just a couple of comments. First, any idea if non Bt corn also had losses over the same time period owing to a downturn in general economic issues impacting corn?

Interesting data from a 1998 Iowa crop study on this debate:

http://www.ag.iastate.edu/centers/leopold/newsletter/99-3leoletter/99-3gmoduffy.html

Interesting discussion from a Merill Lynch analyst:

Despite weak corn prices, we expect corn acreage to
increase sharply in 2002, owing largely to the 50%
collapse in Cornbelt ammonia prices since spring 2001.
Fertilizer, particularly nitrogen, is a key cost component
for corn, accounting for 25% of grower costs versus only
8% for soybeans. USDA's preliminary estimate for crop
plantings this spring includes a nearly three million acre
increase for corn. The USDA will release its official
estimates for 2002 crop plantings in its Prospective
Plantings Report on March 28. Assuming trend yields, we
estimate U.S. corn ending stocks for the 2002/03 crop year
to fall to a 5-year low.

So factors other than seed costs have strong impact.

Cheers!

Steve
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" First, any idea if non Bt corn also had losses over the same time period owing to a downturn in general economic issues impacting corn?"

No, of course they (Alt Med Mag) wouldn't get into that - afterall, they presumably have an anti-GE anything bias. :-) Afterall, we all know that there is bias on all sides of an issue and what is reported is going to be based on that bias. But I think the part about the EU exports probably has a pretty good impact on corn sales. If they won't buy the corn, well, thats a fair chunck of the market that's lost, isn't it?
Of course, this doesn't answer your question regarding non BT corn.
:-)
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Here's some interesting reading regarding the corn market:

http://nelsonfarm.net/farmandranchapril20.htm
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catharine,

very interesting debate. In regards to:

"But I think the part about the EU exports probably has a pretty good impact on corn sales. If they won't buy the corn, well, thats a fair chunck of the market that's lost, isn't it?"

I have no idea and below I describe my hunt for more info.

I searched under the premise that the single most important factors on US corn sales will be corn demand globally and corn supply globally and that the impact of regional food biases has to be taken in that context. Hypothetically, let's assume corn demand is 1000 (arbitrary units). Assume world production is 900. Then likely in the greater scheme, supplies will distribute globally so that all US Supply is sold, even if Europe will purchase elsewhere first. US will sell into other markets more and Europeans will suffer higher prices because of 1) short overall supply and 2) prefrences for non-US supply.

If world demand is 1000 and world supply is 1500 - then everyone has a problem and the US is doubly hurt by regional supply issues.

Here is what I found:

http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Corn/

Some excerpts:

-Corn is the most widely produced feed grain in the United States, accounting for more than 90 percent of total value and production of feed grains.

-20 percent of the [US] corn crop exported to other countries. ERS analyzes events in the domestic and global corn markets that influence supply, demand, trade, and prices.

-Lower corn acreage and yields have pulled down [US] corn production in 2001. With 2001/02 ending stocks forecast at the lowest level since 1997/98, corn prices are expected to strengthen. Ethanol capacity is expected to increase in 2002, and several Federal programs continue to promote its production.

-The WTO Agreement on Agriculture has expanded global market access for U.S. coarse grain exports. New multilateral negotiations will likely address further tariff reduction and market access, elimination of export subsidies, and further limitations on domestic government support to agriculture.

-Competition between Argentina and the United States in the world corn trade market has heightened in recent years due to Argentina's productivity-boosting macroeconomic and agricultural policies.


There is slight mention in the text of corn 'preferences' which clearly relates to GMOs but does not sound as a major impactor in the greater scheme owing to lower supplies.

In another site:

http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/so/view.asp?f=field/fds-bb/

In the 2/12/02 field outlook one learns:

-While world corn trade is forecast down 3 million tons, U.S. corn exports are expected to increase nearly 2 million tons because of reduced competition. The U.S. share of global corn trade is expected to
increase because of reduced exports from the largest traditional competitors, Argentina and China. Argentina's 2001/02 October/September corn exports are expected to drop 4 million tons because excessive
rains and flooding prevented some intended area from being planted. China's corn exports are forecast down by about the same amount because of the elimination of export subsidies due to the WTO
accession. The boost in U.S. market share will be limited by increased competition from Eastern Europe and Brazil, each expanding corn exports by almost 2 million tons in 2001/02. Brazil is forecast to increase corn exports from 3.7 million tons in 2000/01 to 5.3 million in 2001/02


Again market preferences in relation to GMOs don't appear to be a major factor given the current environment. You can see in the various pdf files all the supply estimates.

I feel like I am in the movie Trading Places,

Steve
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I have a serious problem deciding where I stand in regard to GE crops - corn or anything. There are so many unanswered questions in regard to the long term, but then I read things like this:

A study at Stanford School of Medicine: reasearchers compared 496 newly diagnosed Parkinson's patients with 541 people who do not have the disease. They found that people exposed to garden insecticides had a 50%
icreased risk of developing the disease. People exposed to household insecticides were at a 70% increased risk than those not exposed. Article ends with "Suddenly the low tech fly swatter is looking pretty good."

Then, on the other hand, I read something earlier on a web page saying that farmers growing Bt corn still use pesticides - I think it was in one of the links you (Steve) posted earlier today.
As far as the market for corn goes, interesting info, but really out of my realm. I am learning (today) that it can really become complex. :-)
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Not having read the article you cited, Catherine, this puts me totally in the realm of speculation (as I suppose, was the author of the article).

Is it possible that those exposed to garden insecticides were predominantly female? And those exposed to household insecticides?

Is it possible that those exposed to garden/household insecticides were predominantly in an older age cohort?

Is it possible that the "low tech fly swatter" could get control of malaria (as DDT seemed to be making significant progress upon when we chose to put it on the shelf)?

Is it possible that....you know where I am going.

There is an awful lot of "literary linkage" that poses for a purported cause-and affect relationship. And the benefit side of the question doesn't always get to the table in an understandable manner. That doesn't happen very much in the drug end of things because of the stringent "proof of safety and efficacy" required of the FDA by Congress in 1962. But in Ag crops and food supplements and naturopathy, that step of rigorous proof is absent. And here we are.....

Regards.....Cliff
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" Not having read the article you cited, Catherine, this puts me totally in the realm of speculation (as I suppose, was the author of the article).

Is it possible that those exposed to garden insecticides were predominantly female? And those exposed to household insecticides?"

Hi Cliff,

The article I cited didn't have much more detail than I typed out. You know how that goes. :-) As for the predominantly female question, they did not get into that one, but another article I read on cancer said that housewives have a higher risk of cancer than women who work outside the house. (It was an article on cleaning products). :-)
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Ok Cliff, I found a link that discusses the study cited earlier:

http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/may10/pesticide-510.html
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This was posted on H&N. One of the pesticids cited is an "organic pesticide." Link contains link to gov studies.

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=16978015
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Is it possible that those exposed to garden insecticides were predominantly female? And those exposed to household insecticides?

Is it possible that those exposed to garden/household insecticides were predominantly in an older age cohort?....

Not having read the article you cited, Catherine, this puts me totally in the realm of speculation....


Well, actually reading the link provides the answer : "They then asked the same questions of 541 people without Parkinson's disease who served as age- and gender-matched control subjects. "

Now scepticism is always a good thing cliff, but I'm prepared to give a Stanford epidemiologist the benefit of the doubt ;-) And to be honest, it makes a lot of sense to me, especially the link between a neurological disease and specifically insecticides as opposed to herbicides or fungicides. Given that most household insecticides in the past were either organophosphates (eg malathion and any active ingredient ending in -thion, -fos or -phos) or carbamates (carbaryl, any active ingredient ending in -carb, and a bunch of others), both of which are acetyl cholinesterase inhibitors, I would suggest the the burden of proof lies with manufacturers to prove that such actives are not involved in disturbing neurological processes.

Frankly I won't have any chemical from these classes in my house, and I go out of my way to avoid them - for instance, I can be quite critical of the "organic" industry, but having seen the data on OP residues in carrots, I buy organic carrots. With the advent of synthetic pyrethroids (active ingredients all end in -methrin) there's no excuse for using derivatives of nerve gas around the home. The pyrethroids aren't without their problems - in particular when they get into watercourses - but used in moderation they are a much better solution. Fortunately, the EU are taking a similar line and have banned OP's, most carbaamtes, and the odd organochlorine that was left (lindane) - I don't know what the situation is in North America.

in Ag crops and food supplements and naturopathy, that step of rigorous proof is absent.

Come off it cliff, putting pesticide toxicology and naturopathy in the same basket is a joke.

As an aside, I find it interesting that many people on this board can get so touchy over suggestions that technology can have a downside. It's not Luddism, it's just looking at the evidence and making decisions based on your interpretation of that evidence - which in theory is what science is all about. Maybe it's just a US/European thing, over here we don't have the same faith in technology solving all our problems. Anyway, enough of this, I'm waffling.

H
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Hal, I've missed you lately...where've you been???

Come off it cliff, putting pesticide toxicology and naturopathy in the same basket is a joke.

No joke at all, in my book....it's simply saying we musn't believe anec-dotes or case-controlled evidence with the same degree of certainty that we believe rigorously-controlled prospectively-determined evidence.

Sure, we know that rotenones and certain organophosphate insecticides are toxic in animals, and more toxic than pyrethroids. But high dose oral or IV exposure to animals in the lab doesn't make a case for believing that casual exposure in the environment by a less meaningful route of exposure automatically implies a link between use and disease in man. Epidemiologists, whether from Stanford or elsewhere, are usually much more careful about implying or inferring such a link than the article that we both read after the fact of my questions. And the comment about the "fly-swatter" was obviously not a part of the science....

Maybe there is a link between insecticides and Parkinson's disease....or maybe maybe there is a bias that results from more people who are depressed, and taking antidepressants, also being gardeners to uplift their spirits. Or maybe there is a propensity for non-gardeners to medicate with a dopaminergic drug that eases their arthritis or their lower-limb-disabling peripheral circulation difficulties and also defers their Parkinsonism. Who knows? Neither you, nor I, based on what we have seen so far.

My hope is that we don't get too drawn in by weak links...but maybe that's the wrong hope, I can't say for sure. After all, there's acupuncture and hypnosis,and centuries after those came digitalis and vincristene and where were the rigorous studies for those??? It has taken centuries and millenia, in some cases, for those treatments to establih themselves as "generally recognized as safe". But in this day and age, hopefully, at least, we have better tools and a better mindset.....and those tools and mindset may keep a lot of us from dying early owing to the wrong kind of naturopathic experimentation.....like kava, BTW?

Always a challenge to chew the fat with you....Cliff
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Hal, I've missed you lately...where've you been???

W??k has been getting in the way of late, that and my father failing to complete a course of gemcitabine. Hence my posts of late have tended to the short and flippant, for which apologies.

Come off it cliff, putting pesticide toxicology and naturopathy in the same basket is a joke.

No joke at all, in my book....it's simply saying we musn't believe anec-dotes or case-controlled evidence with the same degree of certainty that we believe rigorously-controlled prospectively-determined evidence.


Hold on - you were putting the whole of "Ag crops" in the same basket as naturopathy. There's probably more work done on acute toxicity of pesticides in a week than has been done on naturopathy ever. And sure, this stuff on Parkinsons and 'domestic insecticides' (whatever that means) is epidemiology. They're not proving a mechanism via some sexy molecular biology. But for these kind of chronic diseases and low levels of exposure that you'll tend to pick up first by epidemiology. It's not 100% proof, nor does it fulfil all the Bradford Hill criteria, but this kind of fairly rigourous survey (as opposed to those 10-people 'experiments' used to sell mouthwash or cat food), and a plausible reason to suspect that these particular chemicals (as opposed to fungicides etc) could cause damage to this particular tissue is the sort of thing that at least makes you suspicious - say '25% proof'?

Actually, talking of Bradford Hill (and my father), it took a good 20 years between getting epidemiological evidence of the link between smoking and lung cancer and the first " prospectively-determined" evidence from Auerbach's beagles, and even into the 90's some tobacco companies were still pushing the line that "Smoking has not been proven to be a cause of disease.... Smoking is really a `risk marker' for diseases like lung cancer, in the same way that driving licences are `risk markers' for car accidents". By that stage most independent judges would agree that the link was sufficiently well proven that action should be taken to reduce smoking on health grounds.

And that's what really matters with all these studies - are they sufficient for reasonable people to take action? This study on 'insecticides' and Parkinsons is

a)clearly not sufficient on its own to threaten a multi-million dollar industry

b) irrelevant, as IMHO the acute toxicity of OP's and carbabamtes mean that they shouldn't be allowed anywhere near untrained users, Parkinsons or no Parkinsons. Hence the EU banning them before this study came along.

It's all about the balance of probabilities, not about 100% proof (which could take a generation or more to establish). I share your disdain for a lot of what is marketed in the name of science, but it's seems a little unfair to take too many pops at this study which seems a reasonable first step in work that could take a generation, and you were certainly being unfair to an entire industry of pesticide toxicologists, never mind all those working on 'Ag crops'. Of course you were obviously making a distinction between these people and those working on stupid little weeds ;-)

H

PS Talking of weeds, anyone hear about a guy called Adam Zaretsky, who spent some time stuck with various model organisms - eating stir-fried zebrafish with a side-salad of Arabidopsis and so on - in the name of art? Website is http://www.salinaartcenter.org/uv/workhorse_site/wwww.html Don't think he had any fugu though ;-), but do check out the mouse page there.
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Hal;
It's all about the balance of probabilities, not about 100% proof (which could take a generation or more to establish). I share your disdain for a lot of what is marketed in the name of science, but it's seems a little unfair to take too many pops at this study which seems a reasonable first step in work that could take a generation, and you were certainly being unfair to an entire industry of pesticide toxicologists, never mind all those working on 'Ag crops'. Of course you were obviously making a distinction between these people and those working on stupid little weeds ;-)

I think that we're on the same wavelength now that we've talked it through. And my apologies to Aggies and toxicologists, wherever they might be. I've worked side-by-side with both almost forever (actually for 35 years) and I meant no putdown of either. My use of the term "Ag Crops" in connection with lack of rigorous proof was meant to be an acknowledgment of the fact that in the early cloning days, allergens (like the Brazil Nut vectors) were cloned into "Ag Crops" without rigorous proof of safety. I need to be more specific with my comments, I guess, since it was really the "marketing in the name of science" angle that stuck in my craw, triggered by the "fly swatter" tag line. This epidemiology is just a beginning, and as a "reasonable first step", I'm in complete agreement.

It is distressing to learn of your father's situation. Our hopes and prayers are with you.....

Cliff
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