Despite their tireless lobbying efforts in Brussels, the “Big Six” (Monsanto, Du Pont Pioneer, Syngenta, Vilmorin, Winfield and KWS) continue to hit a brick wall of resistance in many of Europe’s biggest markets, including Germany and France. As I reported in April this year, popular resistance is on the rise across Latin America, as indigenous and peasant communities rise up against government legislation that would apply brutally rigid intellectual copyright laws to the crop seeds they are able to grow.
The latest country to put a spanner in the works is Mexico. This past week the country’s Federal Court voted to uphold Judge Marroquín Zaleta’s 2013 ruling to suspend the granting of licenses for GMO field trials sought by Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, Pionner-Dupont and Mexico’s SEMARNAT (Environment and Natural Resources Ministry). Zaleta’s ruling was in response to a suit brought by a collective of 53 scientists and 22 civil rights organizations and NGOs.
In defending his ruling, Zaleta cited the potential risks to the environment posed by GMO corn. If the biotech industry got its way, he argued, more than 7000 years of indigenous maize cultivation in Mexico would be endangered, with the country’s 60 varieties of corn directly threatened by cross-pollination from transgenic strands. Monsanto’s response was as swift as it was brutal: not only did it – and its lackeys in the Mexican government – appeal Zaleta’s ruling, it also demanded his removal from the bench on the grounds that he had already stated his opinion on the case before sentencing.
However, Monsanto’s bullying tactics failed to impress the Mexican judges. On August 15, the court convened to review Zaleta’s alleged bias ruled against the U.S. corporation’s legal suit. Also spurned by the Mexican courts was the world’s third largest GMO seed manufacturer, Syngenta, whose reapplication for a license to run test trials of its maize crops was rejected this week by the Federal Court.
The researchers measured how many insects were attracted to a range of paint colours, including pure white, light and dark grey, sky blue, red and purple.
They did so by laying out coloured cards in a random sequence next to a 13m-high three-blade wind turbine situated in a meadow near Leicestershire, UK.
The scientists were surprised by what they discovered.
"Our major conclusion from this work is that turbine paint colour could be having a significant impact on the attraction of insect species to the structure, both during the day and at night," Miss Long told the BBC.
What is more, turbines painted pure white and light grey drew the most insects bar just one other colour; yellow.
The insects attracted included small flies (body size less than 5mm); large flies (body size equal to or greater than 5mm); greenfly; moths and butterflies; thrips; beetles and crane flies.
"We found it extremely interesting that the common turbine paint colours were so attractive to insects," said Miss Long.
"Our findings support the hypothesis that turbines may be attractive to insects."
The least attractive paint colour to insects was purple.
That does not necessarily mean that all wind turbines should be painted that colour, say the researchers.
But it does imply that changing a turbine’s colour could have a profound impact on the number of insects it lures in and therefore the number of birds and bats that follow.
The researchers also found that the ultraviolet and infrared components of paint colour, which humans cannot see but insects can, also had a significant impact, with higher levels of both attracting more insects.