From: Andrew Paul GUTIERREZ
Date: Fri, Sep 12, 2014 at 8:40 AM
Subject: Your assault on Vandana Shiva
Dear Mr. Remnick,
It was with dismay that I read your assault on Vandana Shiva. Standing ranks with Mr. Specter’s shameful article is political and not scientifically based. In the US, more than 20 prominent mid-western entomologists and other scientists questioned the production of GMO corn and charged that because of corporate intellectual property rights (IPR) they could not do scientifically honest experiments, I have 35 year of experience working on cotton, and IPRs have hindered my work (and that of colleagues) on GMO cotton. Most of the studies on the benefits of GMO cotton in India were done by agricultural economist who know little about the underlying ecology of the problem — their data set tell them only about what was included in their studies and say nothing about the root problem or alternatives. One of these ag economist is my colleague David Zilberman who refuses to discuss why his Science paper based on industry data reporting 70-80% increases in yield is wrong. The reduction in insecticide use has occurred because most of it was not needed in the first place (a worldwide problem), but insecticide use continues because the technology does not control other potential pests in cotton and may induce outbreaks. You cite Gordon Conway as an expert, but his experience is that of an administrator and not of a field ecologist — he has little record in this area.
Attached is a submitted article that explains the Indian cotton problem — it was sent to Specter but he failed to reply. Bt cotton in India was introduced to solve a bollworm problem induced by heavy pesticide use — it had not been recorded as a pest of cotton prior to the introduction of insecticides. Furthermore, organic cotton is grown in India, so how is this possible if pests are such a problem. And yes, the increase in suicides in rain fed cotton in India is related to the costs of insecticides before Bt cotton and the cost of both after the introduction of Bt cotton. Most of the yield gains have accrued because of improved varieties, fertilizer, irrigation with increased planting density being a major component. GMOs are not about saving humanity — the technology is about profits and control. I would be happy to hear from you – you are well protected by office staff.
Andrew Paul Gutierrez
Professor of the Graduate School & CEO Casas Global Ngo