The Devastating Effects of GMOs on the Future of Soil
Written by Dr. Gregory Damato, Wellness Uncovered
Saturday, 07 March 2009 20:02
A recent study was conducted in Vidharbha, India to determine the effect of Bt (Bacillius thuringiensis) cotton on the microbial population of various soil micro-organisms. The results indicated a significant decline in total microbial biomass in the Bt soil. If current trends continue, the researcher estimated that 6.7 million hectares of planted Bt transgenic crops in India were in danger of becoming sterile and unable to grown anything within the next 10 years.
Monsanto's transgenic or genetically modified (GM) cotton is pervasive in India and is created using an insertion of three genes with only the soil bacteria, Bt, being used as a pesticide. Bt is a bacterium used for the biological control of alfalfa and redhumped caterpillars, cabbage looper and omnivorous and fruit tree leaf roller and is toxic to many types of moths and butterfly larvae. After two to three days of feeding on the Bt, the insects die.
Only recently, however, have researchers begun to study the deleterious effects of this unnaturally inserted bacteria on the viability of soil micro-organisms. A study conducted in December of 2008 examined soil micro-organisms from GM Bt-cotton on 25 different plots that had been planted for three years as well as non-GM cotton in Vidharbha. Vidharbha has been in the media recently due to the large increases in farmer suicides attributed to the devastating losses and economic turmoil linked to GMOs.
Bt-Cotton Effects on Micro-Organisms and Soil Enzymes
The researchers found significant microflora disturbances; specifically, a 17 percent decrease in actinomycetes and a 14 percent reduction in beneficial bacteria in the Bt-cotton soil as compare to the control (non Bt-cotton soil). Actinomycetes are necessary for breaking down cellulose and humus and mineralizing and immobilizing nutrients. Without this vital breakdown, the soil begins to die which increases the probability of disease in the plant and decreases the overall vital nutrients of the soil.
Soil enzymes (i.e., dehydrogenase, nitrogenase and acid phosphatase) were found to be significantly reduced in the Bt-cotton soil as compared to the non Bt-cotton soil. Specifically, the researcher found a significant reduction of 10.3 percent in dehydrogenase, a 22.6 percent decrease in nitrogenase and a 26.6 percent decrease in acid phosphatase. Soil enzymes, which make nutrients available to plants, are an integral and necessary component of soil metabolism. For example, nitrogenase balances and regulates nitrogen within the soil.
According to the researcher, "At this rate, in a decade of planting with GM cotton, or any GM crop with Bt genes in it, could lead to total destruction of soil organisms, leaving dead soil unable to produce food".
Clearly, when mankind begins to destroy nature by means of transgenic modification, the ripple effect disrupts the thousands of millennia old delicate symbiotic balance among micro-organisms, plants and humans. If this mindless and greed-driven control of the food chain does not stop, we have no one to blame but ourselves. It is our fellow man eroding the ecological fabric of nature right before our eyes, and therefore it is only man that has the capability to stop it.
Navdanya, 2009. Effect on Soil Biological Activities Due to Cultivation of Bt. Cotton. Unpublished Report. Online at: www.navdanya.org/report1.pdf