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Chinese authorities find phytophthora in U.S. soybean shipments

(Aug. 5, 2001 – CropChoice news) – Chinese authorities complained last week that 11 shipments of U.S. soybeans contained high levels of phytophthora, a fungus that attacks the root system, pods and bean seeds of the plant, according to a story on Agriclipping.com.

This comes at a time when U.S. agriculture officials are complaining that Chinese rules mandating the registration and labeling of transgenic foods will restrain trade.

Back to the phytophthora. The beans in question originated in Kansas, where growers also faced the problem last year.

Scientists have discovered increased levels of phytophthora and fusarium on the roots of soybeans sprayed with Roundup. Both pathogens contribute to soybean Sudden Death Syndrome.

Fusarium is a problem that Dr. Charles Benbrook addressed in his report about the pitfalls of Roundup Ready soybeans:

"In 1999 field work, University of Missouri scientists explored the impact of glyphosate and RR soybeans on Fusarium species, common rhizosphere fungi, as well as soybean cyst nematodes, a common pest in much of the Midwest (Kremer et al., 2000). Fusarium solani is a particular concern, since it can trigger what is called soybean Sudden Death Syndrome, a growing problem in several parts of the Midwest in recent years.

Four RR soybean varieties were tested at eight sites across the state. The frequency of Fusarium on roots was studied under three herbicide programs: Roundup alone, Roundup plus a common mixture of conventional herbicides (pendimethalin and imazaquin), and the conventional herbicides alone.

In the plots treated with Roundup alone or with the conventional herbicides, the frequency of Fusarium colonization on roots increased 50 percent to five-fold at two to four weeks after herbicide application. The scientists concluded in an abstract presented at the 2000 Annual Meeting of the Amerrican Society of Agronomy with the cution –

‘Increased Fusarium colonization of RR soybean roots with glyphosate application may influence disease level.’

They continued working on RR soybean-Fusarium dynamics in 2000 field work and in a Decemberr 21, 2000 update, the team leader, Dr. Robert Kremer, explained that –

‘There is a natural ebb and flow (in Fusarium populations in the soil), but with Roundup Ready beans treated with Roundup, there was always a spike in the levels of fungi studied.’

Moreover, the Missouri researchers note that their work shows that Fusarium levels tend to build up in fields treated year to year with Roundup, an increasingly common occurrence as both RR soybeans and RR corn gain popularity. This suggests that something related to the root exudates or crop residues in RR fields may be having a sustained effect on soil microbial community dynamics, perhaps through the mix of compounds in leaf and root tissues that remain after the crop is harvested and break down in the soil over many months post-harvest."

To see the full report, go to www.biotech-info.net/troubledtimes.html.

In related news, this story also reported that the Chinese will release rules in a few weeks that "would prohibit the importation of soy from destinations that can’t guarantee shipments totally free of transgenics."