Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



More Cracks Appear in GMO Wall

The invincibility of genetically modified crops may be starting to crumble under its own weight, with Syngenta  (NYSE: SYT  ) being the latest biotech to stress-test their resilience.

Last week, I noted how an Australian farmer was suing a neighboring farmer for contaminating his organic fields with Monsanto's (NYSE: MON  ) GM seed, potentially changing the dynamic in how fields can be protected. Rather than go after the seed giant itself, which has never lost a case, suing the individual farmers who've caused the cross-contamination may cause Monsanto to become a pariah among seed buyers.


Now both Bunge (NYSE: BG  ) and Cargill, the biggest U.S. grain exporter, have said they will refuse to accept Syngenta's latest crop of GM corn for export because it will be rejected by China. Although the seeds containing the Agrisure Duracade trait were approved for planting by the FDA last year, making this year's crop the first containing them, it hasn't been approved by Europe or China. In December, China refused acceptance of 665,000 metric tons of corn and byproducts because it tested positive for the presence of MIR162, or Agrisure Viptera, a genetically modified insecticide not approved for import.

The exporters have said they don't want either of them until China approves the genetic modifications, and last month the National Grain and Feed Association and North American Export Grain Association sent Syngenta a letter asking the company to immediately shut down commercialization of both Agrisure Viptera and the new Agrisure Duracade corn unless and until it gets an international seal of approval. While the trade associations support the creation of GM crops, they don't do so if the economic harm they'll create will crush their farmers.

Interestingly, Syngenta acknowledges that many U.S. grain elevators have long posted signs saying they didn't want to accept Viptera corn, so the biotech says the letters aren't really any new stance by the industry, just a long-held position that it's otherwise chosen to ignore. Yet the backlash against genetic modification of food continues to mount. There's a certain illogic to the notion that we can spray seed with poison that kills everything around it but still allows it to germinate and grow. The resulting crops are also sprayed, only to be harvested, sold, and consumed later on.

Although farmers understand that even if Syngenta's corn crop is refused by the European Union or China, there are still other countries that will accept them. The risk is that some GM corn will end up in good shipments thus spoiling the whole batch  if they're tested and found -- and that's too big of a risk to assume.

Consider France is poised to reimpose a ban on Monsanto's MON 810 maize, and that includes insect-resistant maize developed jointly by DuPont (NYSE: DD  ) and Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW  )  that the rest of Europe will be forced to accept. Although 19 of the 28 EU members voted against the GM corn, the confederation's weighted voting system meant it still passed. Russia is also considering a complete ban on GMO products.

Syngenta maintains demand for its new Agrisure Duracade seed is strong, particularly in North America, but it's clear resistance is building. Despite the pro-GMO crowd's mantra of "it's all safe, move along, nothing to see here," several seed companies have declined to license the trait from the biotech because of export concerns and scientists see the likelihood of superbugs developing from their proliferation just as they've witnessed the development of superweeds due to the over application of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide.

The problem for Syngenta is one for the industry as a whole, and though they've got their finger in the dike at the moment, leaks are springing up around them everywhere and the whole structure may soon collapse.

A better bet for biotechs
The best way to play the biotech space is to find companies that shun the status quo and instead discover revolutionary, groundbreaking technologies. In the Motley Fool's brand-new FREE report "2 Game-Changing Biotechs Revolutionizing the Way We Treat Cancer," find out about a new technology that big pharma is endorsing through partnerships, and the two companies that are set to profit from this emerging drug class. Click here to get your copy today.

Read/Post Comments (17) | Recommend This Article (12)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 6:13 PM, getthefacts4 wrote:

    There you go again.

    People complain about Monsanto but they have followed good industry practices so that they don't release a GM product until it is approved in the major importing countries. When they have released the product like they did with the Drought tolerant corn they limited release and at great expense made sure the corn grain was used in the US and not exported.

    Syngenta is the bad cousin with this. They knew the issue and still did it. They even release pesticides without import approval. They have had to dump a lot of their seed becuase of this.

    This is just bad business practices and isn't just GM seed specific.

    Monsanto leads the way on this - they take the crap thrown at them but rarely get complemented when they do the right thing.

    On the Australian lawsuit literally millions of farmers deal with the intercation of Gm and non-GM every year without a problem. These farmers didn't communicate well. They have been well educated on the issues and guess what people are human beings and don't get everything right.

    Put things into perspective noone died and even the Australian issue is a monetary issue. Not a health issue.

    Meanwhile organic food is killing people (due to bacterial contamination) all over the world but you focus on the "sexy" story of GM crops. Everyone hates Monsanto even when it isn't Monsanto lets blame Monsanto for autism, all the allergies problems, bee die off, flooding in the UK.

    Eventually the story will be how to public was deceived by all the crazy stories on the web. Peopel need to get a grip on reality and focus on things that already harm versus ones that are not likely to.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 6:22 PM, tarchon wrote:

    A dubious point that you're making which is popular in some circles is this "superweed" thing. When an organism, be it an insect or a weed, develops resistance to one pesticide, that doesn't make it a "superweed" that resists everything. The worst that will happen with glyphosate resistance, for example, is that the weeds will become resistant to glyphosate. They won't jump tall buildings in a single bound or start fighting back when you plow them under. Sure, resistance is bad for companies that make glyphosate, but that's just a really bizarre argument that a product shouldn't be used because it might become less effective someday. This is weed killer, not antibiotics. If it stops working, you just have to kill weeds some other way. Glyphosate didn't exist 50 years ago, and now you're saying that the world is going to end if weeds become glyphosate resistant? Think about this a little bit.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 6:32 PM, erk1977 wrote:


    You have a lot of inconsistencies or inaccuracies in your in article.

    -The USDA approves the planting of GM traits like Duracade and not the FDA. The FDA approves that they are safe for human consumption.

    -Viptera/MIR162 has been sold in the US for 4 years. When it was first sold China was not a key importer of US corn and it’s approval was not required by before commercialization.. China has since become a major importer, so this is now an issue.

    - There is no such thing as an international seal of approval related to GM traits. I hope you are kidding....

    -China had been accepting grain with Viptera/MIR162, but has recently starting rejecting it now that they have plenty of locally produced corn.

    -Seed companies are lining up to sell Duracade and farmers want it. The only thing slowing them down is the Chinese approval. Duracade is a step forward over existing rootworm traits.

    -Almost all GM traits are approved for grain importation in the EU. So, while they don’t want to have them grown there, they are okay with using the grain.

    -There is nothing illogical about Roundup Ready technology. Farmers love having a very effective chemical and that is much less toxic than the ones it replaces. This is a huge step forward from chemicals historically used for weed control. It substantially saves fossil fuels vs traditional farming, and even more against organic.

    Please don’t assume that because politics are more important than science in the EU or China that that is a good thing.



  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 6:38 PM, tarchon wrote:

    As for Syngenta, I'm starting to think they want to kill GM. Monsanto is beating the pants off of them, and they know it. If Monsanto's technology were to be accepted in Europe, Syngenta would get stomped in the marketplace there as bad as they have been here. Syngenta is betting big on advanced hybrid technology as the GMO alternative. The US owns genetic modification technology - why do you think the Russians and Chinese hate it so much? I mean, you have to be smoking crack to think that the Chinese government is really worried about food safety. They don't care if a 1000 coal miners die every year, but suddenly they're concerned about something for which there's never been any scientific evidence of human toxicity of any kind? Zem ben. This is about global strategic economics. Even in the EU (Syngenta is Swiss), I think there's a deeper "made in America" problem to this whole thing. As vocal as the anti-GMO movement is, you know there has to be highly determined money behind it somewhere.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 7:35 PM, DrKND wrote:

    Thank you for a great article, and for hope that the unethical and immoral experiment conducted by Monsanto and their ilk on humanity's food supply, without proper controls and without our consent, may eventually be contained until safety is assured or consequences revealed. I suspect they know they can't stand the scrutiny, which is why they've spent a fortune circumventing the will of the people defeating labeling efforts, buying up legislators and getting their lobbyists appointments to high places (Supreme Court, Congress, FDA, etc.)

    I didn't think the Fool would publish anything that wasn't part of the deceitful mantra of biotech ("no harm has ever been associated with GMOs" which is pure B.S.) So kudos!

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2014, at 8:32 PM, ardoucette wrote:

    Hey Rich, your ignorance is showing.

    There's a certain illogic to the notion that we can spray seed with poison that kills everything around it but still allows it to germinate and grow. The resulting crops are also sprayed, only to be harvested, sold, and consumed later on.

    NO NO NO

    The farmers have switched to GMO crops because they save money on use of pesticides and can use less toxic ones.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2014, at 7:59 AM, CrazyDocAl wrote:

    Maybe people don't realize this but GMO is our future. Without modifying cops we will not be able to feed the worlds population. The other approach would be to let the rich countries get the crops and everyone else will slowly die of malnutrition.

    Our planet is heating up and despite what people like Gore (who just want your money) tell you we will not be able to alter it. We either adapt to survive or we die. Our planet's history is full of changes and creatures that could not adapt, it's nature's way.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2014, at 9:20 AM, wildnette wrote:

    I can tell many of you who've commented have invested in this c r a p. GMO IS NOT our future. My guess is, even if you invest in gmo, you don't eat it. And excuse me, but we already grow more than enough food to feed every hungry person in the world, just most of it goes to waste.

    Exactly where are you pro gmo people getting your info? My guess is directly from the companies that you invest in and push this c r a p. Studies from REAL scientists show gmos cause cancer and many other diseases in rats.

    This is all about money, plain and simple. You'll be rethinking gmo's when your kids begin coming down with cancer and other weird diseases.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2014, at 9:41 AM, BobinTexas wrote:

    Everything including this article assumes that the farmer is the customer and that the problems are between the companies and the farmer. Hey folks, people are the ultimate consumer of all of these products either through the vegetables they eat or the animals products they consume. There is no doubt that yields improve using these products but there is doubt that the results are beneficial to the ultimate consumer. It is time to evaluate the entire market spectrum not a narrow slice that only involves only a couple of middlemen.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2014, at 11:32 AM, LindaMC47 wrote:

    willdnette, you are absolutely. The lies they are spewing here makes me sick. No one wants these poisoned GMO foods, I have stopped eating most of the foods that contain them, fruits and vegetables, unless I know they organic and even then you can't be sure. It seems they have poisoned everything we eat and drink. Fluoride in our water, which is poison to our system, hormones and feeding chicken poop to our beef some of you eat. I don't eat meat anymore because of it. We have to fight this and stop the poisoning of America and other parts of the world.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2014, at 3:20 PM, Muskysmell wrote:

    Just because the FDA approves something does not make it okay, case in point Pharmaceuticals, drugs get the FDA seal of approval to later get discovered as a life threatening drug.

    Don't trust the FDA.

    There are millions of acres that set dormant because the big companies want to control the prices and quality of our foods.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2014, at 11:45 PM, 18RC wrote:

    This story is as rediculous as the story a few months back about Tesla stock getting ready to nosedive! Instead, Tesla skyrocketed and the future for Monsanto is also bright.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 4:08 PM, 3xmommo wrote:

    FACT: GM farming is this: seeds are coated in pretty little neonicotinoids that are dangerous to touch, then they grow and the plants are patented pesticides THEMSELVES, because they produce Bt toxin in every cell, then they are sprayed with glyphposate (patented antibiotic- Roundup) or gluphosinate, or both, and then they are made into our food. The word is out. Moms have learned this. WE ARE NOT BUYING IT. And we are telling all of our friends. No wonder our kids are sick. This is not rocket science. The secret is out- and we ARE NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT. As my husband would say, SELL THESE STOCKS ALL DAY LONG.

    Greater Yield? False. and

    Require less water? False.

    Lower pesticide use? False.

    Glyphosate (Roundup) is safe? False.

    Bt is harmless? False.

    FDA has never actually approved GMOs. Just accepted Monsanto's short 90 day studies. Every study they claim shows safety no longer than 90 days, max. INDEPENDENT lifetime studies show damage.

    FACT: The accelerated development of super weeds and super pests is a direct result of GM farming. It is Darwinism. Constant exposure to harsh (not at all safe) pesticides has lead mother nature to go around. FDA scientists who said this at the beginning were ignored. Guess what? They were right.

    FACT: Industry's answer: more and harsher pesticides. Application for 2,4-D is on the desk of the FDA today. Farmers who are in the know have already found that it does not work. The new formulation adds at least three really dangerous chemicals- and this stuff likes to be airborne and kill everything in its wake, like the plants our few remaining pollinators need. Maybe this is what they are doing with polluting (and secret) studies over in Hawaii and down in Puerto Rico, where birth defects, miscarriages, and illnesses among children are reaching record levels. Ask Hawaiian doctors and nurses. Call them.

    Oh, and don't believe their tripe about Florida oranges. Biologists are using traditional chemicals and soil nutrition to beat the blight. No GMOs required. It's a lie that we will have no more OJ.

    FACT: As a result, glyphosate (Roundup) and Bt toxin in our fields are up in the highest quantities ever. Industry buddies at the EPA increased acceptable levels of glyphosate to 400 ppm last May. Endocrine disruption shown to occur in studies at FAR lower levels- so you figure out whether this is a good idea.

    And the industry buddies at the EPA just completely exempted the levels of BT toxin in our fields from any limit- guess that is because we are "using" less pesticide than ever, eh? But the good news is it DOES stay in our systems creating little bacteria factories in our guts. Study of pregnant women and fetuses:

    What about scientists who do not agree on their safety?

    What do they do to scientists brave enough to disagree that their products are "safe"?

    A biotech expert scientist speaks out:

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2014, at 7:49 AM, johnnyyy1 wrote:

    Wow, you know when it's a good article when out come all the biotech shills. The truth of the matter is that Round Up Herbicide is a B I O C I D E - IT KILLS LIFE! I was just in an Orange grove one side oganic lift up a fallen branch and you find life teeming with insects, worms, microscopic life biodegrading nutrients to the soil. Next door Round UP Ready Orange Grove - everything dead, no life. Howard Vlieger the famous farmer from IOWA has shone us this time and time again. We need this to feed the world is an industry sales slogan for biotech. WE need this to feed the world - NOT!

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 9:14 PM, HiLevelSEM wrote:

    Thanks 3xmommo, johnnyyy1 and others speaking up and out on GM technology. We in Hawaii intend to drive the GM companies out completely, and teach our children about real food safety and beyond that the principles that prevent this kind of insidious takeover of our life systems ever again.

    We moms and more will not stop until this evil is driven away from our islands. We do not want them here. People that are still listening to the pro GMO drivel... I don't know what kool-aid you be drinking but independent scientist from all corners of the earth are learning and publishing the truth. Please open your mind and do your due diligence.

    The sad part is the brainwashing is so complete sometimes that even when you're having to have your uterus removed and other health warning signs, people keep hitting the "snooze" button...

    I urge those of you asleep to wake up.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 4:47 PM, MischaPopoff wrote:

    Just so everyone knows, there’s no such thing as “contamination” of an organic field by GMOs. Never was, never will be. Spray drift is a valid concern for organic farmers. But GMOs are not, according to their own rules which the leadership of the organic movement wrote for itself.

    This holds true for the United States, Canada, and Australia where an organic farmer is trying in vain to sue his GMO neighbor.

    While it’s true that organic farmers are most certainly not allowed to USE GMO seed, their crops and fields will not be decertified should they come into contact with GMOs. As such, the whole battle being waged by anti-GMO organic activists against the science of genetic engineering is a red herring from start to finish.

  • Report this Comment On March 25, 2014, at 2:27 AM, JCLincoln wrote:

    Disembowel Monsanto!

Add your comment.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2849078, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 8/30/2015 6:37:26 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Rich Duprey

Rich has been a Fool since 1998 and writing for the site since 2004. After 20 years of patrolling the mean streets of suburbia, he hung up his badge and gun to take up a pen full time.

Having made the streets safe for Truth, Justice and Krispy Kreme donuts, he now patrols the markets looking for companies he can lock up as long-term holdings in a portfolio. So follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the most important industry news in retail and consumer products and other great stories.


Today's Market

updated 1 day ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,643.01 -11.76 -0.07%
S&P 500 1,988.87 1.21 0.06%
NASD 4,828.33 15.62 0.32%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

8/28/2015 4:01 PM
BG $72.57 Up +0.84 +1.17%
Bunge Limited CAPS Rating: ***
DD $51.84 Down -0.18 -0.35%
E.I. du Pont de Ne… CAPS Rating: *****
DOW $44.00 Up +0.40 +0.92%
The Dow Chemical C… CAPS Rating: ****
MON $98.38 Down -0.02 -0.02%
Monsanto CAPS Rating: ***
SYT $67.93 Down -0.48 -0.70%
Syngenta CAPS Rating: *****