Reuters poll shows farmers not waiting for decision but moving away from Bt
WASHINGTON, January 19, 2000 -- A top court has agreed to hold the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency accountable for its decision to legalize the
planting of genetically modified crops. In the opening session of Tuesday�Äôs
oral hearings against the EPA, Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer of the Federal
District Court of Washington, D.C., stated he would "hold [EPA] feet to
fire" and ordered the agency to respond to Greenpeace�Äôs charges within 60
Last February, Greenpeace and a coalition of over 70 plaintiffs, including
the Center for Food Safety and the International Federation of Organic
Agricultural Movements, sued the EPA, charging the agency with the wanton
destruction of the world's most important biological pesticide -- Bt. This
natural pesticide has been used sparingly by organic farmers for years but is
now under threat from genetically engineered crops.
Scientists warn that corn genetically engineered with the Bt pesticide in
each of its cells could lead to insect resistance within 3 to 4 years,
thereby wiping out the effectiveness of Bt for organic farmers. By aiding in
this process, the EPA may force the use of more and newer pesticides in the
near future. Studies also have shown pollen from Bt corn to be toxic to
monarch and other butterfly larvae.
"This is a great, first legal victory for the environment and for farmers who
do not plant genetically modified seed," said Beverley Thorpe of the
Greenpeace GMO campaign. "It is essential we get these gene-altered crops off
our fields and out of our environment."
Market rejection of Bt corn has cost U.S. farmers more than $200 million in
export revenue last year. A recent Reuters poll of 400 farmers (taken at the
annual meeting of the nation�Äôs largest farm organization, the American Farm
Bureau Federation) predicted a 24 percent decline in the planting of Bt corn
and a 26 percent decline in the planting of Bt cotton this year. Currently,
Bt corn is grown on approximately 20 million acres in the U.S., and Bt cotton
on about 7 million acres.
Greenpeace is calling on the EPA to halt all new and current licenses for
genetically engineered crops in the U.S., and to urgently reevaluate the
promotion of genetically engineered agriculture with an eye toward focusing
funding on sustainable agriculture.
Beverley Thorpe, (202) 319-2412
Charles Margulis, Greenpeace, (202) 258-3029 (mobile)
Andrew Kimbrell, counsel and director of Center for Food Safety, (202)