Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Written by  //  July 24, 2015  //  Agriculture & Food, Science & Technology, Sustainable Development  //  Comments Off on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)


Unhealthy Fixation
(Slate) The war against genetically modified organisms is full of fearmongering, errors, and fraud. Labeling them will not make you safer.
Is genetically engineered food dangerous? Many people seem to think it is. In the past five years, companies have submitted more than 27,000 products to the Non-GMO Project, which certifies goods that are free of genetically modified organisms. Last year, sales of such products nearly tripled. Whole Foods will soon require labels on all GMOs in its stores. Abbott, the company that makes Similac baby formula, has created a non-GMO version to give parents “peace of mind.” Trader Joe’s has sworn off GMOs. So has Chipotle.
Some environmentalists and public interest groups want to go further. Hundreds of organizations, including Consumers Union, Friends of the Earth, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Center for Food Safety, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, are demanding “mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.” Since 2013, Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut have passed laws to require GMO labels. Massachusetts could be next.
The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have all declared that there’s no good evidence GMOs are unsafe. Hundreds of studies back up that conclusion. But many of us don’t trust these assurances. We’re drawn to skeptics who say that there’s more to the story, that some studies have found risks associated with GMOs, and that Monsanto is covering it up. …
There are valid concerns about some aspects of GE agriculture, such as herbicides, monocultures, and patents. But none of these concerns is fundamentally about genetic engineering. Genetic engineering isn’t a thing. It’s a process that can be used in different ways to create different things. To think clearly about GMOs, you have to distinguish among the applications and focus on the substance of each case. If you’re concerned about pesticides and transparency, you need to know about the toxins to which your food has been exposed. A GMO label won’t tell you that. And it can lull you into buying a non-GMO product even when the GE alternative is safer.

24 July
No One Is Denying a ‘Right to Know What’s in My Food’
The misleading argument for mandatory GMO labeling, in full force this week
(The Atlantic) On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban states from requiring special labels for all “genetically modified” foods. Known as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, it advanced by a vote of 275 to 150.
A deeply concerned contingent of detractors, meanwhile, calls it the Denying Americans the Right to Know Act. Which sounds much worse. And it accurately recapitulates the case for mandatory labeling, which consistently returns to the argument that people have a “right to know what’s in their food.” …
Except that the act doesn’t deny people that right. Nothing will stop food manufacturers who avoid “genetically modified” ingredients from labeling and marketing their products accordingly. People who object to genetic modification—either because of concerns about the prudence of introducing certain crops into certain ecosystems, or because of patent laws and corporate business practices, or because these people are among the majority of Americans who now believe any and all “genetically modified” foods to be inherently unhealthful to consume (despite assurances to the contrary from The World Health Organization, Food and Drug Administration, American Medical Association, National Academy of Sciences, and American Association for the Advancement of Science, among others)—can continue to pay premiums for products that are marketed as “GMO free,” which implies health and safety, even while the implication is without merit. Some go so far as to call it fraud
DTE02055NICHumans have been practicing bioengineering for centuries with selective breeding and cultivation. The Non-GMO Project defines “genetically modified organisms” as those “artificially manipulated in a laboratory” as opposed to “traditional cross-breeding methods,” wherein a laboratory is the nidus of transgression.
Long-term effects of introducing certain crops into certain ecosystems, and the business practices with which they are grown and sold, are enormously important and remain to be seen and carefully considered. Some effects of agriculture will be desirable, some untoward, and effects of both kinds will come from crops that run the gamut of what has been “modified” by human intervention, and to what degree. But “GMO-free” does not mean fair trade, and it does not mean sustainable, and it does not mean monoculture-averting, and it does not mean rainforest-enabling, and it does not mean labor-friendly, and it does not mean healthy.
13 July
Here’s the critical reason Bill Nye the Science Guy changed his mind on GMOs
(Business Insider) Nye stepped in for his friend and radio host Neil deGrasse Tyson on this week’s edition of StarTalk Radio to discuss his changed views on GMOs. He explained that what changed his mind was a fateful visit to the lab where scientists do the actual gene modification. There, he watched them scan the entire genetic sequence of the crops they wanted to modify.
The process, he saw, was startingly precise — far more so than it had been 20 years ago:
“This is what changed my mind, is being able to do [sequence genes] 10 million times faster than they used to be able to do it … and being able to eliminate the ones not suitable for farming and susceptible to diseases and so on. We’re farmers, and we want them to come out the way we want them.
Nye also saw firsthand how scientists select the genes they are going to alter in a plant. Typically, he said, it takes 10 years from the time a gene is selected to the time it makes its way into commercial planting:
“Then they plant the promising ones in super-controlled sterile greenhouses, and the ones that have suitable qualities they propagate and it takes about five years of that and then the FDA or the Department of Agriculture does another three years, sometimes five years, then they agree it’s worth planting.”
10 July
Why are GMOs bad? They aren’t. They just aren’t, not intrinsically, and certainly not for your health. We’ve been eating them for decades with no ill effects, which makes sense, because a genetically modified organism is simply an organism, like every other organism, produces hundreds of thousands of proteins, but one or two of them are proteins that were chosen specifically by humans. (Sci Video
2 July
The White House wants to make GMO foods easier to regulate
(Business Insider) On Thursday the White House said “the complexity of the array of regulations and guidance documents developed by the three Federal agencies … can make it difficult for the public to understand how the safety of biotechnology products is evaluated, and navigating the regulatory process for these products can be unduly challenging, especially for small companies.”
The administration said it will clarify the roles and responsibilities of the EPA, USDA, and FDA, and try to develop a long-term strategy to ensure regulators are well equipped to assess risks with future biotech products.


21 July
One of the authors of the Chatham House Report, On Trial: Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa writes in Genetic modification scaremongering in Africa is disarming the fight against poverty that “opponents have waged effective campaigns against GM technology based on misinformation and scaremongering.
“Unsurprisingly, public support for GM is low and politicians see only downsides in promoting the technology. Consequently, a proposed biosafety law to regulate and control the release of GM varieties has been suspended. … But what typically determines whether a GM crop is approved for release in Africa is not a balanced, independent assessment of risks and benefits, but a political judgment shaped by distrust and suspicion of the technology. Politicians are reluctant to progress biosafety legislation or take decisions towards the release of GM varieties. Even when a functioning biosafety regime exists, regulatory decisions may be unpredictable and subject to political interference.”
17 July
GM is still contentious two decades on, and our live debate shows a need to dig deeper into people’s responses.
— Two decades on, GM remains contentious in many contexts and across the globe
— Belittling deep-held concerns won’t alleviate fears or convince doubters
— Opposition won’t just fade — we need to understand and respond to it better
When, earlier this year, SciDev.Net decided to host a live online debate around genetically modified (GM) plants and animals, it was because we knew the topic elicits strong views.
That’s hardly surprising — the GM debate has been steadily bubbling since the early 1990s, and will no doubt continue for years. It is an emotive topic, ripe with the tantalising promise of science and technology coming to the aid of a global food production system facing climate change and an ever increasing human population. It is, however, also a topic dogged by confusion, suspicion, polarised opinion and recrimination.
29 January
GMO critics protest at Monsanto meeting; resolutions fail
(Planet Ark) Critics of genetically modified crops protested at Monsanto Co’s annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday, calling for the world’s largest seed company to provide a report on contamination in non-GMO crops and to stop fighting mandatory labels on foods containing GMO ingredients.
The requests came in the form of two shareholder resolutions that were backed by environmental, food safety and consumer activist groups. They said that more than 2.6 million members support their efforts.
The resolutions come at a time of heightened debate over the spread of genetically modified crops. Outside the meeting at Monsanto’s headquarters in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, about two dozen protesters waved signs criticizing the $15 billion agrichemical and seed company, and 10 people were arrested as they attempted to disrupt traffic.
Both shareholder resolutions failed to pass after Monsanto officials recommended rejection of the proposals.
Company officials said the global debate over GMO crops prompted them to rethink how they communicate about their products.
Chairman Hugh Grant acknowledged that the company has not done a good job winning public trust, and told shareholders at the meeting that the company was changing its approach.


at Centaur Theatre October 29 to November 24, 2013
Part courtroom drama and part social satire, Seeds presents an intelligent portrait of farming and scientific communities in conflict and at the same time penetrates the complex science of genetically modified crops. The play documents the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada showdown between Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser and biotech multinational Monsanto Inc.

Genetically modified oilseed rape, one of the four main commercial GM crops. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty

Background: The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; SciDevnet GM crops and Agriculture & Environment;
The Food revolution Network
Understanding GMO – David Suzuki Foundation
Monsanto vs Percy Schmeiser
Related posts
and Food on

13 November
Past and future collide as Mexico fights over GMO corn
(Planet Ark) After pioneering the cultivation of corn thousands of years ago, Mexico must overcome the weight of history to give the go-ahead to allow genetically modified strains into its fields.
Religion, culture and science are competing for primacy in the debate on how acceptable corn produced by genetically modified organisms (GMO) is in a country where farmers first domesticated maize about 8,000 years ago.
Last month a federal judge in Mexico City created a stir by ordering a temporary halt to any new GMO corn permits, accepting a lawsuit brought by opponents of the crop.
It was widely interpreted as a definitive ban on the commercial use of GMO corn in Mexico, but experts say it will likely just delay any resolution into 2014 or beyond.
11 November
The Myth of Organic Agriculture
(Project Syndicate) Organic products – from food to skin-care nostrums to cigarettes – are very much in vogue, with the global market for organic food alone now reportedly exceeding $60 billion annually. The views of organic devotees seem to be shared by the European Commission, whose official view of organic farming and foods is, “Good for nature, good for you.” But there is no persuasive evidence of either.
24 September
‘Monsanto Protection Act’ To Expire, Won’t Be Part Of Continuing Resolution
The so-called Monsanto Protection Act is set to expire, and will not be included in a bill designed to avert a government shutdown, according to a statement Tuesday from the press office of Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).
House Republicans earlier this month released legislation that would include an extension of the Monsanto measure in their continuing resolution. The measure shields sellers of genetically modified seeds from lawsuits, even if the resulting crops cause harm.
Merkley has opposed the measure since it quietly passed in March, when it was attached to another spending resolution. Merkley led an online petition to oppose the extension, and unsuccessfully offered an amendment to the farm bill intended to kill what opponents have dubbed the Monsanto Protection Act. Monsanto is the world’s largest seed company.
2 August
GM crops don’t kill kids. Opposing them does
(The Times of London via Ottawa Citizen) The greens are frantic to stop golden rice because it undermines all their criticisms of GM crops. It is non-profit, free, nutrition-enhancing, and of more value to the poor than the rich: only farmers earning less than dollars 10,000 a year will be allowed to sell the seed on. The truth is, GM crops have already proved a friend of the poor: they have enabled people in India and Burkina Faso to grow cotton almost without insecticides, for example. The crop has boosted yields, cut pesticide use and brought back farmland wildlife.
Imagine instead an agricultural system that often exhausts the soil, uses extra land, occasionally kills people through contaminated food, uses scrambled and unseen genetic changes caused by gamma rays and licences old-fashioned and toxic sprays. We’d ban it, wouldn’t we?
Well, that’s organic farming. Because it refuses inorganic fertilizer, it exhausts soil fertility unless a farmer is wealthy enough to have the luxury of dung from elsewhere. Because its yields are lower, it uses about twice as much land as inorganic farming to produce the same quantity of food. Because it uses manure, it risks outbreaks of fatal food poisoning such as the one in which organic German bean sprouts killed 53 people in 2011. Because it happily uses varieties of crops like “golden promise” barley whose genes were deliberately scrambled by gamma rays in a nuclear facility, it has no scruples about random genetic changes, only precise ones. And because it allows prewar pesticides, it is happy to licence copper-based fungicide chemicals.
The opposing view
Rachel Parent Debates Kevin O’Leary About GMOs (VIDEO)
Anti-GMO activist Rachel Parent got in a spirited debate with Kevin O’Leary on CBC’s “The Lang And O’Leary Exchange” Wednesday night.
Parent, who scored the debate after a speech she gave critical of O’Leary’s comments about GMOs was featured on HuffPost Canada, argued genetically-modified foods should be labelled in Canada and the United States. Europe, Japan, Australia and other nations require GMO labels, but Canada and the U.S. do not.
O’Leary was quick to suggest Parent is essentially operating as a lobbyist for anti-GMO groups and said changes to the DNA of crops will save lives.
… “Golden rice was scrapped because it didn’t work. And in order for the average 11-year-old boy to get enough Vitamin A from rice he would have to eat 27 bowls of rice per day,” [Parent] said. “The reason there is blindness isn’t because there is a lack of Vitamin A in the rice, it’s because their diets are simply rice.”
Can GMOs help feed the hungry?
(The Food Revolution) Critics refer to these genetically engineered seeds as suicide seeds, and they are none too happy with them. “By peddling suicide seeds, the biotechnology multinationals will lock the world’s poorest farmers into a new form of genetic serfdom,” says Emma Must of the World Development Movement. “Currently 80 percent of crops in developing countries are grown using farm-saved seed. Being unable to save seeds from sterile crops could mean the difference between surviving and going under.”
To these companies, the terminator and other seed sterilizing technologies are simply business ventures that have been designed to produce profit. In this case, there is not even the implication of benefit to consumers. “Monsanto’s goal,” says Rachel’s Environment and Health Weekly, “is effective control of many of the staple crops that presently feed the world.
8 July

Nathanael Johnson: The genetically modified food debate: Where do we begin?

(Grist) I’ve lingered at the fringes of the debate over genetically modified foods since the ’90s, hoping that some solid fact would filter out and show me clearly who was in the right. … My goal here is to get past the rhetoric, fully understand the science, and take the high ground in this debate — in the same way that greens have taken the high ground in talking about climate. It’s hard to make the case that we should trust science and act to stem global warming, while at the same time we are scoffing at the statements [PDF] of *snort* scientists on genetic modification. …
Of course people who are concerned about genetic engineering don’t have a monopoly on error and overstatement. As the journal Nature put it in a special issue in on transgenic crops:
“People are positively swimming in information about GM technologies. Much of it is wrong — on both sides of the debate. But a lot of this incorrect information is sophisticated, backed by legitimate-sounding research and written with certitude.” (With GM crops, a good gauge of a statement’s fallacy is the conviction with which it is delivered.)
The World Health Organization [PDF], for example, reached the fairly common conclusion that the problems in genetically engineered foods are fundamentally the same as the dangers that arise naturally in plant breeding. Each relies on mutations randomly mixing up the genome. Each sometimes provides unexpected outcomes — try to make corn disease-resistant, end up with too many toxins in the kernels. In both GM and conventional breeding, scientists rely on screening to weed out the bad cobs.
However, researchers generally acknowledge that there’s something a little different about genetic engineering. The United Kingdom’s 2003 Genetic Modification Science Review [PDF], led by David King, puts it this way: “By virtue of the different processes involved, there will be some sources of uncertainty and potential gaps in knowledge that are more salient with respect to GM food production techniques.”
26 June
Rachel Parent, 14, Lands GMO Debate With Kevin O’Leary
(HuffPost) Parent is scheduled to appear on “The Lang And O’Leary Exchange” on July 31. She will debate O’Leary for 3 to 5 minutes on genetically modified foods (GMOs).
The appearance on the show is the result of a challenge Parent issued in a speech responding to O’Leary’s statements that food giant Monsanto is a “hero” and that those opposed to GMOs are “stupid.”
Parent promised O’Leary she would not to call him a “fascist” if he would pledge not to call her “stupid.”
3 June
“Harvard Development Expert: Agricultural Innovation Offers Path to Overcome Hunger”
Calestous Juma says future food needs can be met only through innovation
The world can only meet its future food needs through innovation, including the use of agricultural biotechnology, a Harvard development specialist said today.
Since their commercial debut in the mid-1990s, genetically designed crops have added about $100 billion to world crop output, avoided massive pesticide use and greenhouse gas emissions, spared vast tracts of land and fed millions of additional people worldwide, said Professor Calestous Juma of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
Speaking today to graduates of McGill University, Montreal, where he received an honorary doctorate, Juma asked youth to embrace innovative sciences that alone will make it possible to feed the billions who will swell world population in decades ahead, especially in developing countries.
And he described the importance of developing more productive or nutritious and insect-resistant crops.
25 May
Protesters march against GMO giant Monsanto in 430 cities
American agricultural giant a prime target in fight against modified foods
(CBC) The [US] Senate this week overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would allow states to require labeling of genetically modified foods.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization, a lobbying group that represents Monsanto, DuPont & Co. and other makers of genetically modified seeds, has said that it supports voluntary labeling for people who seek out such products.
But it says that mandatory labeling would only mislead or confuse consumers into thinking the products aren’t safe, even though the FDA has said there’s no difference between GMO and organic, non-GMO foods.
11 May
Former Pro-GMO Scientist Speaks Out On The Real Dangers of Genetically Engineered Food
(Food The Bt corn and soya plants that are now everywhere in our environment are registered as insecticides. But are these insecticidal plants regulated and have their proteins been tested for safety? Not by the federal departments in charge of food safety, not in Canada and not in the U.S.
There are no long-term feeding studies performed in these countries to demonstrate the claims that engineered corn and soya are safe. All we have are scientific studies out of Europe and Russia, showing that rats fed engineered food die prematurely.
These studies show that proteins produced by engineered plants are different than what they should be. Inserting a gene in a genome using this technology can and does result in damaged proteins. The scientific literature is full of studies showing that engineered corn and soya contain toxic or allergenic proteins.
Genetic engineering is 40 years old. It is based on the naive understanding of the genome based on the One Gene – one protein hypothesis of 70 years ago, that each gene codes for a single protein. The Human Genome project completed in 2002 showed that this hypothesis is wrong.
The whole paradigm of the genetic engineering technology is based on a misunderstanding. Every scientist now learns that any gene can give more than one protein and that inserting a gene anywhere in a plant eventually creates rogue proteins. Some of these proteins are obviously allergenic or toxic


Can science help improve food security?
(BBC) The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) latest figures showed that global food prices had risen by 1.4% in September as a result of fears of food shortages following poor harvests.
Projections of future changes to the planet’s climate and its impact on the agriculture sector’s ability to feed a rising global population has made the issue a priority for scientists.
The challenge of using crop varieties available to farmers to feed the world’s growing population in a rapidly changing climate was “humanity’s greatest challenge in the 21st Century”, according to Colin Osborne, a reader in plant biology at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences.
“We need to increase crop yields using less land, irrigation and fertiliser,” he explained.
Plant scientists involved in the university’s Project Sunshine are looking for “innovative new solutions to these problems”, Dr Osborne added. (11 October)

Genetically Modified Organisms (Environment Canada 2011)

GMO crops can lead to ecological risks such as superweeds and pest resistance | Photo: Environment CanadaCanada is the third largest producer of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the world. As the cultivation of GMO crops intensifies and expands, ecological risks are emerging, such as superweeds, pest resistance, and adverse effects on non-target organisms. GMO animals such as fish are also being developed, raising additional concerns about potential environmental risks. As yet, there is little information available on the potential adverse effects of GMOs on aquatic ecosystems.
Environmental scientists do not yet know what long-term impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem function could result from dispersing GMOs and related products such as herbicides and Bt toxins (Bacillus thuringiensis toxins) in the environment, what effects they could have on indigenous microorganisms and invertebrates in streams and soils, and what threats they might pose to water quality.


food-inc-movie-poster1 Synopsis
( In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that’s been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli — the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.

Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (“Fast Food Nation”), Michael Pollan (“The Omnivore’s Dilemma”) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield Farms’ Gary Hirschberg and Polyface Farms’ Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising — and often shocking truths — about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here. (See Trailer)

Some highlights from the Food, Inc. Documentary

26 April
GM Crops Go to US High Court, Environmental Laws on the Line
(IPS) “The issue here then becomes how amenable is the Supreme Court going to be in terms of allowing citizens to bring suit against an agency that is not doing its job”.
But the legal implications are only half the story. Also implicated, at least potentially, is the future of GM crops in the U.S. and elsewhere.
In the original court case, organic farmers argued that the genes of the GM alfalfa would be carried to neighbouring – potentially miles away – non-GM alfalfa by the bees that pollinate the crop and that genetic contamination would hurt their ability to market their alfalfa under the label “organic”. This would also preclude them from exporting to countries that prohibit GM crops.
“Consumers may not accept products cross-contaminated with genetically-engineered components and you can test for those and testing is done pretty routinely and therefore the market could reject the contaminated organic crops”. In addition to this economic impact, they have argued that the planting of the Roundup Ready alfalfa that is at issue here, used in conjunction with the Monsanto-made herbicide Roundup, may also lead to increased herbicide-resistance in weeds.


24 May
Sowing seeds of discontent
Since the dawn of civilization, farmers have saved seeds from the harvest and replanted them the following year.
(The Gazette) But makers of genetically modified (GM) seeds – introduced in 1996 and now grown by some 70,000 Canadian farmers, according to Monsanto – have been putting a stop to that practice.
Genetically modified seeds – also known as genetically engineered – are altered to make them resistant to pests, diseases or herbicides.
The 12 million farmers worldwide who will plant GM seeds this year sign contracts agreeing not to save or replant seeds. That means they must buy new seeds every year.
Critics charge such contracts confer almost unlimited power over farmers’ lives to multinational companies whose priority is profit. From India, where thousands of debt-ridden farmers have committed suicide, to Latin America, where monoculture crops have destroyed forest and evicted small growers, they say GM seeds are sowing a humanitarian and ecological disaster.
The debate over GM seeds has come into sharp focus as the world faces a food-price crisis that threatens to push millions into starvation.
22 May
BRAZIL: Agribusiness Undermines Environmental Leadership Role
RIO DE JANEIRO, May 22 (IPS) – Brazil is a world leader in agriculture and on several environmental issues, but it will find it hard to reconcile both fronts, judging by the many battles lost by former environment minister Marina Silva, in spite of the political clout she wielded for over five years.
The advantages enjoyed by agriculture in this country are not limited to the availability of vast amounts of land and water, and a favourable climate. Brazil has developed technology and practices that have greatly increased crop yields, and made it an unbeatable exporter of a large number of products.
Brazil is a top producer of sugar, coffee, meats, ethanol, orange juice and soybeans. Output of grains has doubled in a decade, and it has surpluses of rice and maize, which it used to import a few years ago. Now it is dependent on imports of only one commodity for mass consumption: wheat.
Today, the boom of the biofuels industry and the soaring international prices of foods are encouraging Brazil to accelerate the expansion of its agricultural frontier, to the despair of environmentalists, because of encroachment on the Amazon rainforests and other ecosystems like the Cerrado, a vast, highly biodiverse savannah in the centre of the country.
20 May
Biodiversity key to tacking global food crisis: UN agency
FAO says that less genetic diversity means that there are fewer opportunities for the growth and innovation needed to boost agriculture at a time of soaring food prices.
TEHRAN (UNIC) — Just 12 crops and 14 animal species provide most of the world’s food, and this lack of diversity means that the food supply has become more vulnerable and less sustainable — according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“The erosion of biodiversity for food and agriculture severely compromises global food security,” FAO Assistant Director-General Alexander Müller said Monday. “We need to strengthen our efforts to protect and wisely manage biodiversity for food security,” he added.
Speaking at the beginning of a global conference on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Bonn, Germany, Mr. Müller called on the international community to intensify its commitment to integrating food security and biodiversity concerns.
2 April
GM seeds can ‘last for 10 years’
(BBC) Researchers in Sweden examined a field planted with experimental oilseed rape a decade ago, and found transgenic specimens were still growing there.
This was despite intensive efforts in the intervening years to remove seeds.

28 February
A vast underground vault storing millions of seeds from around the world took delivery of its first shipment Tuesday.
Dubbed the “Doomsday Vault” ,the seed bank on a remote island near the Arctic Ocean is considered the ultimate safety net for the world’s seed collections, protecting them from a wide range of threats including war, natural disasters, lack of funding or simply poor agricultural management.
26 February
”Doomsday” Seed Vault Opens Near North Pole (see photo above)
(National Geographic) The “doomsday” vault is designed to keep millions of seed samples safe from natural and unnatural disasters: global warming, asteroid strikes, plant diseases, nuclear warfare, and even earthquakes—in fact, the structure absorbed a magnitude 6.2 quake here last week without a crack.
Though Norway owns the global seed bank—the first of its kind—other countries can store seeds in it and remove them as needed. The genes in the seeds may someday be needed to adapt crops to endure climate change, droughts, blights, and other potential catastrophes.
13 February 2008
Worldwide increase in GM crops, report shows
The global use of GM crops increased by 12% last year to reach 114m hectares across 23 countries, a report showed today.
(The Guardian) Around 11 million out of the 12 million farmers now growing biotech crops are “resource-poor”, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).
The report claimed that growing GM plants such as maize and cotton, which ISAAA said produced higher yields and incomes and involved lower pesticide use, helps small farmers gain financially and provides social benefits such as higher school enrolment as a result of growing.
But while the report’s author, Clive James, said GM crops would be increasingly important for cutting poverty and hunger by 2015, Friends of the Earth claimed biotech farming was not delivering on the promised benefits.
4 December 2007
A negative – if not paranoid – view of the Seed Vault from Global Research
“Doomsday Seed Vault” in the Arctic
Bill Gates, Rockefeller and the GMO giants know something we don’t
Can the development of patented seeds for most of the world’s major sustenance crops such as rice, corn, wheat, and feed grains such as soybeans ultimately be used in a horrible form of biological warfare?
November 28, 2007
Science adviser urges GM rethink
[Sir David King] believes there is a moral case for the UK and the rest of Europe to grow GM crops, and thinks Europe’s backing would kick-start a technology that could help the world’s poorest in Africa.
He says GM crops will be essential to deal with an ever-growing population and diminishing water supplies.
Sir David’s comments have generated a large reaction from environmental campaigners, agricultural institutes and biotechnology scientists.
Friends of the Earth’s GM campaigner, Clare Oxborrow, responded by saying GM crops are not the solution to feeding an expanding population: “[GM has] failed to deliver the sustainable solutions that are urgently needed.”
She added: “The main benefits they have brought are to the handful of multinational companies who have gained an increased control of the food system and have disempowered small farmers all over the world, especially in developing countries.”
Others, however, welcomed Sir David’s intervention.
The National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) hopes Sir David’s endorsement will be heeded by the nation.
Professor Wayne Powell, NIAB’s chief executive, said: “GM technology is crucial as the way forward to help feed the world.”
He also echoed Sir David’s thoughts that the UK could be at the forefront of exploiting this technology.
“We have the scientific skills and I have every confidence that our scientists could lead the way in this.”
August 22, 2007
Governments duped over GM food crops
Most Australian states have started reviews of their 2004 GM Acts which carry a de facto moratorium on growing genetically modified (GM) crops. The pro-GM lobby has responded with an orchestrated campaign.
February 9
(BBC) The final design for a “doomsday” vault that will house seeds from all known varieties of food crops has been unveiled by the Norwegian government.
The vault aims to safeguard the world’s agriculture from future catastrophes, such as nuclear war, asteroid strikes and climate change.

IN RECENT YEARS Canadians have become more and more concerned about the origins of their food and the environmental impacts of pesticides in agriculture. What is less well known is that pesticide corporations such as Monsanto and Du Pont have bought their way into the seed industry and are taking control of what was once the exclusive domain of farmers. Good Crop/Bad Crop Seed Politics and the Future of Food in Canada

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