News

18.11.2019 |

Battle over glyphosate shifts to the environmental front

Forget cancer. The next EU debate on the safety of glyphosate will be about the environment and the harm the ubiquitous herbicide can do to life in meadows and rivers.

15.11.2019 |

Farmers, civil society groups urge Bangladesh ministers to stop golden rice commercialization

Ministers should support safer, sustainable alternatives for curbing vitamin A deficiency

A final decision on the release of GM golden rice will be made today by Bangladesh agriculture and environment ministers, following a recently reported impromptu meeting of the ministries with Nobel Peace Laureate Richard Roberts, who enquired about developments regarding the release of golden rice during his recent visit to the country.

Roberts is chief scientific officer for New England Biolabs, which develops products for the biotech industry. He consistently fails to declare this interest in his promotional activities for golden rice.

14.11.2019 |

European Parliament Objects to Four Genetically Modified Crops

Nonbinding vote concerns EU approvals for two genetically modified corns, soybean, cotton

Approvals process characterized by country stalemate

The parliament’s votes against market approvals for two genetically modified corns, a soybean, and a cotton are nonbinding. But they put pressure on EU countries and the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to take a more restrictive approach to genetically modified crops, Beat Spath, agricultural biotech director of industry group EuropaBio, told Bloomberg Environment.

14.11.2019 |

MEPs oppose import authorisation of herbicide-resistant GMOs

The European Parliament has voted against plans to authorise the import of four varieties of genetically-modified crops.

Passed with a significant majority, the non-binding resolutions call on the European Commission to withdraw draft decisions that authorise the import of four varieties of cotton, soy and maize.

These GMOs have been made tolerant to glyphosate and glufosinate ammonium, both herbicides, meaning they can be exposed to repeated doses without suffering damage. Citing a number of scientific studies, MEPs warned that as a result they could lead to higher quantity of pesticide residues in the harvest.

The Parliament also criticised the Commission for the continuing to authorise imported genetically-modified products despite objections from member states and MEPs.

In October MEPs had passed similar non-binding motions opposing three other herbicide-resistant GMOs.

13.11.2019 |

Australia: Government and ‘opposition’ sign off on uncontrolled GM experiment

The Federal Government and Labor Party have submitted Australians to a nationwide genetic experiment, by failing to support a Greens’ motion disallowing amendments to the Gene Technology Regulations. The amendments allow most animals, plants and microbes modified using CRISPR and similar techniques to be released into the environment and food chain without any risk assessment.

The changes effectively turn Australia – our ecosystems and our health – into a giant genetic engineering experiment.

Last week the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) wrote to all Australian Senators urging them to disallow recent amendments to the Gene Technology Regulations. A number of Australian Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBCs) have also called for regulation on safety grounds. These include the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research IBC, Victoria University IBC, Children’s Medical Research Institute and Children’s Hospital Westmead IBC, and the University of Wollongong IBC.

13.11.2019 |

New campaign highlights threats of gene editing

Protect Nature Now explains the issues in simple terms and suggests ways to spread the word

At GMWatch, we're concerned that vast numbers of people are still unaware of the threats posed by new gene-editing techniques. Now a new campaign and set of learning and sharing tools have made it easy to understand the issues and spread the word to friends and contacts.

The campaign, called Protect Nature Now, is a project of The Institute for Responsible Technology. Protect Nature Now has released a short video, The New Global Threat from GMOs, which explains the issues in simple terms. The dangers go way beyond food, encompassing human and animal health, animal welfare, the integrity of our soils, and entire ecosystems.

11.11.2019 |

ETC Podcast Episode #1: Gene drives in Africa

ETC will be occasionally chatting with collaborators, activists and experts about emerging technologies. Check for the ETC podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or other podcast services. A full list of episodes can be found at etcgroup.libsyn.com In Episode #1 ETC's Tom Wakeford speaks with Ugandan lawyer and advocate Barbara Ntambirweki about gene drives, a powerful new genetic technology that can change species in the wild and make species go extinct.

08.11.2019 |

ENSSER Statement: New genetic modification techniques and their products pose risks that need to be assessed

Gene editing and RNA interference are powerful new genetic engineering techniques with no history of safe use. We believe that when these techniques are applied to living organisms, they should be regulated in the same way as other genetic modification (GM) techniques – including any null segregant products. There is no guarantee that the use of these techniques will result in predictable outcomes – or that any resulting products will be safe. Furthermore, we are deeply concerned that deregulation of some processes will result in the use of these techniques on living organisms in the open environment – a practice without precedent or a history of safe use.

On 13th November, the Australian Senate will vote on whether to disallow amendments to the Gene Technology Regulations that deregulate a number of gene editing and RNA interference techniques. We strongly encourage Senators to support the disallowance motion, on the basis that it accurately reflects the current state of the science behind gene editing and gene silencing.

07.11.2019 |

Environment MEPs oppose plans to authorise four herbicide-resistant GMOs

The Environment Committee today opposed the Commission’s plans to authorise the import of products containing four glyphosate and glufosinate ammonium resistant GMOs, in a vote on Wednesday.

The Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee of the European Parliament today opposed the European Commission’s plans to authorise the import of products containing four herbicide-resistant GMOs and calls on the Commission to withdraw its draft implementing decisions on these products. This follows the decision of Plenary 10 October 2019 to oppose three other herbicide-resistant GMOs.

The authorisations cover the import of products containing or consisting of GMOs cotton LLCotton25[1], soybean MON 89788[2], maize MON 89034 including sub-combinations[3] and maize Bt11 × MIR162 × MIR604 × 1507 × 5307 × GA21 including sub-combinations[4].

These GMOs have been made tolerant to glyphosate-based and glufosinate ammonium-based herbicides. MEPs say that a number of studies show that such GM crops result in a higher use of weed killers. The crop may be exposed to repeated doses, which potentially lead to higher quantity of residues in the harvest, they say.

05.11.2019 |

Regulatory detection of new GMOs: Finally under way

European experts on GMO detection are getting to work on establishing detection methods for new GMOs, reports Eric Meunier of Inf'OGM

Since February 2019, European experts on GMO detection and traceability have been updating their work. Whether it is GMOs obtained by new techniques of genetic modification, genetically modified animals or micro-organisms, all are on the agenda for the coming months. This is essential work that has nevertheless been slow in coming, in particular due to opposition from the European Commission in 2017.

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