GMO news related to the United States

28.07.2020 |

Groups sue USDA over “Bioengineered” GMO food labeling

The Center for Food Safety has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of nonprofits and retailers against the USDA on its labeling rules for GMO foods.

The groups argue the use of “bioengineered” on labels in place of GE or GMO is misleading to consumers. They say the QR code which is allowed on labels, that can only be read through a smart phone, discriminates against at least 20% of adults who are primarily poor, elderly, rural and minority populations. And they say the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced in-store shopping.

Their lawsuit says the rules excludes 70% of GMO foods used as ingredients in other foods.

21.07.2020 |

Chemical company Bayer loses appeal against weedkiller cancer ruling

The court said Dewayne Johnson offered "abundant" evidence that glyphosate and other Roundup ingredients caused his cancer.

A California appeals court has refused to overturn a verdict in favour of a school caretaker who claimed the weedkiller Roundup caused his cancer.

Dewayne Johnson had been awarded $289.2m (£228.4m) in August 2018 after a San Francisco jury was told that the chemical was responsible for his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The award was cut by the trial judge to $78.5m (£62m) and in the decision by the California appeals court this week, it was reduced further to $20.5m (£16.2m).

20.07.2020 |

Conflicts of interest plague GM mosquito experiments

Journal refuses to publish scientist’s defence of his paper warning of unexpected outcomes from GM mosquitoes release. Report: Claire Robinson

As the citizens of Florida and Texas prepare to act as subjects in an experiment in which millions of Oxitec's genetically modified mosquitoes would be released in their states, a scandal has emerged around a journal's treatment of a scientific article that drew attention to unanticipated outcomes and risks of the project.

20.07.2020 |

Appeals court upholds groundskeeper's Roundup cancer trial win over Monsanto

In yet another court loss for Monsanto owner Bayer AG, an appeals court rejected the company’s effort to overturn the trial victory notched by a California school groundskeeper who alleged exposure to Monsanto’s glyphosate herbicides caused him to develop cancer, though the court did say damages should be cut to $20.5 million.

The Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District of California said Monday that Monsanto’s arguments were unpersuasive and Dewayne “Lee” Johnson was entitled to collect $10.25 million in compensatory damages and another $10.25 million in punitive damages. That is down from a total of $78 million the trial judge allowed.

“In our view, Johnson presented abundant—and certainly substantial— evidence that glyphosate, together with the other ingredients in Roundup products, caused his cancer,” the court stated. “Expert after expert provided evidence both that Roundup products are capable of causing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma… and caused Johnson’s cancer in particular.”

02.05.2020 |

EPA Grants First Permit to Test Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

Testing could start this summer in Florida Keys

Second test would be in heavily populated Houston

The EPA on Friday granted permission for genetically engineered mosquitoes to be released into the Florida Keys and around Houston to see if they can help limit the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses.

British biotech company Oxitec Ltd was granted an experimental use permit to release a genetically engineered type of the mosquito species Aedes aegypti, which is a known vector of Zika virus and viruses that cause yellow fever and dengue fever, the Environmental Protection Agency office of Chemical Safety and Pollution announced.

Oxitec must get state and local approval before it can start field testing. But if granted, testing will take place over a two-year period in Monroe County, Fla., starting this summer, and in Harris County, Texas, beginning in 2021.

02.04.2020 |

Scientists “surprised” to find that CRISPR editing tool is not as precise as previously claimed

Editing tool is found to be prone to making off-target "nicks" in DNA

The gene-editing tool known as CRISPR-Cas12a or Cpf1 has been viewed as a better choice than other Cas editing tools because it was believed to be more precise and less prone to making off-target cuts in DNA.

But a new paper shows that Cpf1 is not as clean or specific as touted. The researchers employed in vitro assays using a vast collection of synthesized DNA molecules containing variations on the editing site sequence. They found that Cpf1 was highly prone to making off-target single-strand cuts, or "nicks", in the double-stranded DNA molecules. Off-target double-strand DNA cuts were also found, albeit at a lower frequency than the single-strand nicks.

31.03.2020 |

Monsanto Agrees to $39M Settlement for Roundup False Ad Lawsuit

Monsanto will pay a $39.5 million class action settlement for falsely claiming that Roundup weed-killer targets an enzyme that is only found in plants.

The issue was that Monsanto promoted Roundup’s safety for people and pets by claiming that glyphosate, the active weed-killing chemical, targets an enzyme that is only found in plants.

The lawsuit claimed that the enzyme is actually found in people and pets, where it is essential for maintaining the immune system, digestion, and brain function.

26.03.2020 |

Could a rogue scientist use CRISPR to conjure another pandemic?

By Neal Baer, a television writer and producer and lecturer on global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School.

(.....)

As a television writer and producer of “ER,” “SVU,” and most recently “Designated Survivor,” I draw on audiences’ love-hate relationship with uncertainty to play on their emotions. I know that audiences love plots riven with unexpected twists and turns.

When we’ve emerged on the other side of the pandemic, Covid-19 will someday make a good story. But I worry that CRISPR could make Covid-19 look like child’s play.

CRISPR is a new genetic tool that lets scientists cut out a DNA sequence in an organism’s genome and replace it with another. The hope is that this ingenious scissors-and-glue system will be used to treat devastating genetic diseases like sickle cell anemia and beta thalassemia.

But there’s a dark side to CRISPR. A scientist or biohacker with basic lab know-how could conceivably buy DNA sequences and, using CRISPR, edit them to make an even more panic-inducing bacteria or virus. What’s to stop a rogue scientist from using CRISPR to conjure up an even deadlier version of Ebola or a more transmissible SARS?

19.03.2020 |

Approval of genetically engineered soy protein for ‘Impossible Burger’ challenged

The Center for Food Safety has asked the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to review a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision to approve soy leghemoglobin as a color additive for use in ground beef analog products. The advocacy group claims that the FDA’s decision was not based on “convincing evidence” that is required by regulation.

The FDA approval of a genetically engineered (GE) soy protein used in the” Impossible Burger” over objections by CFS. The ingredient is also referred to as genetically engineered “heme,” soy leghemoglobin. It is the color additive Impossible Foods uses to make its plant-based burger appear to “bleed” as if it were real beef.

The March 17 civil action by CFS asserts that FDA used the wrong legal standard when it reviewed and approved GE heme to be used in raw Impossible Burgers sold in grocery stores. Instead of using the color additive safety standard that specifies “convincing evidence that establishes with reasonable certainty that no harm will result from the intended use of the color additive,” FDA conflated that standard with the food additive safety standard, which does not specify that there must be “convincing evidence.”

12.03.2020 |

Revealed: Monsanto’s secret funding for weedkiller studies | Environment

The research, used to help avoid a ban, claimed ‘severe impacts’ on farming if glyphosate was outlawed

Monsanto secretly funded academic studies indicating “very severe impacts” on farming and the environment if its controversial glyphosate weedkiller were banned, an investigation has found.

The research was used by the National Farmers’ Union and others to successfully lobby against a European ban in 2017. As a result of the revelations, the NFU has now amended its glyphosate information to declare the source of the research.

Monsanto was bought by the agri-chemical multinational Bayer in 2018 and Bayer said the studies’ failure to disclose their funding broke its principles. However, the authors of the studies said the funding did not influence their work and the editor of the journal in which they were published said the papers would not be retracted or amended.

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