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China GMO cotton bad for environment - Greenpeace

SHANGHAI, June 3 (Reuters) - Transgenic Chinese cotton, developed by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto (NYSE:MON - News), is bad for the environment because it encourages the continued use of pesticides, environmental group Greenpeace said on Monday.

The crop, Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton, genetically engineered to be more resistant to pests, is building up resistance toward cotton bollworm after just five years of commercial cultivation, Greenpeace said in a statement.

Monsanto director of scientific director Eric Sachs said the Greenpeace report was misleading and flawed.

"There is no evidence of resistance to BT crops," Sachs said.

Sachs said the testing cited by Greenpeace was done within a laboratory and "bears no reality in the field."

Greenpeace cited laboratory tests and field monitoring done by four Chinese state-owned science institutes as also showing an increase in secondary pests such as cotton aphids, spider mites and thrips.

Farmers are forced to continue using chemical pesticides and the chance of pest outbreaks has risen because the insect community has been destabilized, Greenpeace said.

"After five years of growing, Chinese and farmers and scientists are now faced with serious problems and confronted with the fact that too little is known about the interaction of GE (genetically engineered) crops with the environment," said Xue Dayuan, a Greenpeace adviser, in the statement.

"High hopes have been brought crashing down."

Sachs said Monsanto worked closely with Chinese authorities in introducing the bitech cotton, and had evidence the crop was a significant benefit to Chinese farmers.

"While this purporots to be a review of the relevant information, it doesn't present all the information available, even that which contradicts it," Sachs said of the Greenpeace report.

Bt cotton, whose planted area in China was 1.5 million hectares in 2001, or 35 percent of total cotton area, is developed by inserting a gene from soil bacteria to produce a toxin that kills certain types of pests, Greenpeace said.

China, a major cotton grower and consumer, is expected to have an output of 4.7 million tonnes this year, Chinese officials have said.