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Syngenta mapping of plant fungus genome could lead to new pesticides

By Robert Schubert
CropChoice.com editor

(April 8, 2002 – CropChoice tidbit) – While the biotechnology industry was busy last week attacking a study that found transgenic contamination of indigenous corn in Mexico and gloating over the decoding of the rice genome, a bit of interesting news popped up on the news wires.

Syngenta announced that its researchers, with help from the University of Basel, had decoded the genome of the plant fungus Ashbya gossypli. This, according to the reports, would help them to create new fungicides.

Hmmm. Haven’t Syngenta, Monsanto and the other mavens of biotech been bragging that their technology – their patented genes and seeds – will reduce pesticide use? Creating new pesticides doesn’t square with reducing – and eventually eliminating – pesticide use.

Perhaps the real story is that these transnational gene giants need to create new insecticides, herbicides and fungicides for farmers with fields full of pests grown resistant to the first round of genetically modified crops. The companies will rake in the cash from the new pesticides and then, a few years later, they’ll genetically modify them into plants so that they can take even more of the farmers’ money and rights. Pest resistance will follow and so will more pesticides and transgenic seeds. What do the farmers get? They’ll harvest perpetual servitude to the transnational corporations.