Syngenta Seeks Approval for New Insecticidal GMO Bt Corn; Deadline to Comment Looms

Many countries have banned genetically modified (GMO) “Bt” crops, which are engineered to produce their own insecticides by expressing toxins from the soil-dwelling bacteria bacillus thuringiensis or Bt, because of documented harm to people, animals and beneficial insects. However, in the US, there are 16 different GMO Bt varieties of corn already approved for food and feed. Now, Syngenta, a large, global, Switzerland-based chemicals company which notably markets seeds and pesticides, is asking the US Department of Agriculture to approve another.


Syngenta is hostile to consumer concerns about the safety of GMO foods. In fact, the company holds that consumers should not have a right to know if they are eating GMOs. Syngenta is the 11th-largest funder of the campaign against the California‚Äôs Proposition 37 “Right to Know” November 2012 ballot initiative to label genetically engineered foods. To date, Syngenta has provided $821,300 to fight the enactment of Prop 37.


According to the Organic Consumers Associaiton, significant information is missing from the USDA’s Environmental Assessment of Syngenta’s new GMO Bt corn, and independent safety studies have not been done. Bottom line: no one really knows what to expect from the new Bt corn for which Syngenta seeks approval into introduce into our food supply.


But, what about the documented harm that led the EU and countries around the world to ban GMO Bt crops? These incidents are only some of the information that is missing USDA’s Environmental Assessment of Syngenta’s new GMO Bt corn:

  • In 2003, five people living near Bt corn fields in the Philippines died and dozens more became ill with fever and respiratory, intestinal, and skin problems. Subsequently, 38 individuals had their blood analyzed and all were positive for antibodies that suggested an immune reaction to genetically engineered Bt toxins.
  • In 1996, Syngenta abruptly terminated a Bt corn feeding study in the US after four cows died in two days. Syngenta kept the results of their US study secret and went on to conduct field tests in the EU. A German farmer’s dairy cattle suffered illnesses and deaths after being fed exclusively Syngenta’s Bt 176 corn that was grown on his farm as part of authorized field tests from 1997 to 2002. Syngenta paid the farmer 40,000 euros in partial compensation for five dead cows, decreased milk yields, and vet costs.
  • Since 2005, shepherds and farmers in India have reported that animals that grazed on Bt cotton, or were fed Bt cotton seeds, have fallen sick and in some instances have died.


It is blatantly apparent that Syngenta has a history of hiding the dangers associated with its Bt crops. The current deregulation process, which relies on companies that manufacture genetically engineered crops to voluntarily submit data from studies they conduct themselves, is never going to reveal the truth about GMOs.


Please contact the USDA before the comment deadline of Sept, 11, 2012 and urge regulators not to approve Syngenta’s new GMO Bt corn until independent research proves that it is not a threat to the health of people, livestock or beneficial insects. The Organic Consumers Union has made it easy to submit your comments by providing an online submission form that includes suggested wording for your comments to the USDA: Link to submit your comments to the USDA


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