They call it “mad soy disease” in Brazil, where it has been spreading from the north, causing yield losses of up to 40 percent, most notably in the states of Mato Grosso, Tocantins and Goias.
Like its namesake, mad cow disease, it is incurable [1, 2, 3].
This is the latest GMO fiasco to surface since our report on the meltdown in the USA  (GM Crops Facing Meltdown in the USA, SiS 46), China  (GM-Spin Meltdown in China, SiS 47), and Argentina  (Argentina’s Roundup Human Tragedy, SiS 48).
Mad soy disease has afflicted soybeans sporadically in the hot northern regions of Brazil in the past years, but is now spreading to more temperate regions in the south “with increased prevalence overall”, according to a US Department of Agriculture scientist.
The disease delays the maturation of infected plants indefinitely; the plants remain green until they eventually rot in the field. The top leaves thin out, and the stems thicken and become deformed. The leaves also darken compared to healthy plants; the pods, when formed, are abnormal with fewer beans.
Researchers have yet to find a cure for the disease, as they are still not sure what causes it. The prime suspect for spreading disease is the black mite found in stubble when soybean is grown in no-till production systems.
According to the USDA Global Agricultural Information Network, Brazil has 24 million ha planted to soybean, 78 percent of which are GM . Apart from mad soy disease, Brazil’s soybean is simultaneously afflicted by soybean Asian rust that first appeared in 2001-2002. Producer groups are requesting the Brazilian Government Agency to speed up approval of more effective fungicide to combat the disease, which would have significant cost implications. But for mad soy disease, no cure is forthcoming. Mato Grosso, which alone produces nearly 30 percent of Brazil’s soybean crop, is among the states that have brought the issue of mad soy disease “to the forefront”.
Disease of GM soybean is no longer a surprise. Senior scientists in the United States, who have studied glyphosate and glyphosate-tolerant GM crops for decades, identified more than 40 diseases linked to glyphosate, and the list is growing  (Scientists Reveal Glyphosate Poisons Crops and Soil, SiS 47). Glyphosate tolerant crops play a pivotal role in causing and spreading diseases, not only to the crops themselves, but also to other crops grown nearby or planted subsequently  (Glyphosate Tolerant Crops Bring Diseases and Death, SiS 47).
US scientists identified more than 40 diseases associated with glyphosate and glyphosate-tolerant crops
The scientists warned of “dire consequences for agriculture.” Don Huber, recently retired from Purdue University, stated that the widespread use of glyphosate in the US can  “significantly increase the severity of various plant diseases, impair plant defense to pathogens and diseases and immobilize soils plant nutrients rendering them unavailable for plant use.”
1. Brazil battles spread of ‘mad soy disease”, Agrimoney.com, 5 October 2010
2. “Mad soy disease hits Brazil farmers”, Kieran Gartlan, DTN Progressive Farmer
3. Brazil, oilseeds and products update, record soybean planted area forecast for 2010-11 crop. GAIN /report, 9/29/2010, USDA foreign Agricultural Service, Global Agriculture Information Network
4. Ho MW. GM crops facing meltdown in the USA.
5. Saunders PT and Ho MW. From the Editors: GM spin meltdown in China. – Science in Society 47, 2-3, 2010.
6. Robinson C. Argentina’s Roundup human tragedy. Science in Society 48 (to appear).
7. Science in Society 47, Ho MW. Scientists reveal glyphosate poisons crops and soil. GM meltdown continues – 10-11, 2010.
8. Science in Society 47 Ho MW. Glyphosate tolerant crops bring diseases and death. 12-15, 2010.