Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

News

17.10.2018 |

CRISPR causes greater genetic damage than previously thought

Caution required for using CRISPR in potential gene therapies – and food plants

Scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute have discovered that CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing can cause greater genetic damage in cells than was previously thought. These results create safety implications for gene therapies using CRISPR/Cas9 in the future as the unexpected damage could lead to dangerous changes in some cells. Potential consequences could include triggering cancer.

Reported on 16 July 2018 in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the study also revealed that standard tests for detecting DNA changes miss finding this genetic damage, and that caution and specific testing will be required for any potential gene therapies.

As usual we see far more honesty about the off-target effects of CRISPR from genetic engineers in the field of medical research than we see from the plant genetic engineers. However, the technique as used in plants is the same, as are the mechanisms of DNA repair. These off-target effects in food plants could have possible knock-on effects on food safety, including unexpected toxicity and allergenicity.

16.10.2018 |

New GM ‘eradication’ techniques pose grave threat to ecosystems

Why we need an international moratorium on so-called “gene drive”

(.....)

Gene drive allows for modification of entire wild populations

Concerns around the contamination of natural populations seem to have been completely ignored in the development of this new technique, known as gene drive, which if unimpeded will enable humans to modify entire populations of living organisms in just a few generations. Gene drive allows for the bypassing of hereditary laws and the passing of a gene from one parent to almost all its descendants, whatever the genes of the other parent. In this way, it is, for example, possible to pass a female sterility gene through genetically modified males and - in theory - eradicate a whole population.

Proponents of this technique usually present extremely exciting possible uses like a reduction of the number of mosquitoes responsible for the malaria epidemic, or the eradication of an imported rat population that is endangering the ecosystem of New Zealand. These indeed sound great if we forget that the consequences could be dire.

16.10.2018 |

Big Agriculture eyeing genetic tool for pest control

A controversial and unproven gene-editing technology touted as a silver bullet against malaria-bearing mosquitos could wind up being deployed first in commercial agriculture, according to experts and an NGO report published Tuesday.

So-called "gene drives" force evolution's hand, ensuring that an engineered trait is passed down to all or most offspring, and from one generation to the next.

If that trait is being male or female, for example, genetically altered specimens released into the wild could lead to the local extinction of a targeted species within a dozen generations.

(.....)

"Gene drive is headed toward agriculture," said Jim Thomas, research director at ETC Group, a Canadian-based NGO that tracks potentially dangerous bio-technologies, and lead author of a report on the technology's inroads into Big Agriculture.

In the United States, at least, it already has a foothold.

16.10.2018 |

Just Say No to Agricultural Gene Drives

By forcing laboratory-made genes on an entire population or species, cutting-edge gene-drive technologies have the power to transform entire ecosystems in one fell swoop. But where leading industrial agriculture firms see dollar signs, farmers in the regions where gene drives could be unleashed see a mortal threat to their livelihoods.

LAGOS – First, the agribusiness giants came to take our land and disrupt our food systems with synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, proprietary seeds, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Now, these firms’ hired hands are upping the ante with “gene drives,” a deliberately invasive technology designed to propagate genetic material across an entire population or species. As a result, Africans are now confronting a new and serious threat to our land, biodiversity, rights, and food supply.

16.10.2018 |

A picture from the FAO in Rome
A picture of some of the signers, who presented the call today at the FAO in Rome, not least also to the chairman of the CFS, Mario Arvelo, who participated in the event.-+--+-From left to right: Aisha Ali (IPACC, AFSA), Neth Dano (ETC), Pat Mooney (ETC), Benny Haerlin (SOS), Elisabeth Mpofu (Via Campesina), Mariann Bassey Orovwuje (AFSA, FoE), Sophia Monsalvo (FIAN), Tom Wakeford (ETC), Azra Talat Sayeed (IWA), Jan Urhahn (Inkota), Antonio Onorati (Via Campesina Europe)

Over 200 Global Food Movement Leaders and Organizations Reject "Gene Drives"

New Report exposes how a controversial genetic forcing technology is targeting the farm

Rome, 16 October 2018 (World Food Day) – Global food movement leaders and organizations representing hundreds of millions of farmers and food workers today set out their clear opposition to "gene drives" – a controversial new genetic forcing technology. Their call for a stop to this technology accompanies a new report, Forcing the Farm, that lifts the lid on how gene drives may harm food and farming systems.

Gene drives are a genetic engineering tool that aim to force artificial genetic changes through entire populations of animals, insects and plants. Unlike previous genetically modified organisms (GMOs) these gene drive organisms (GDOs) are deliberately designed to spread genetic pollution as an agricultural strategy – for example, spreading 'auto-extinction' genes to wipe out agricultural pests. Agri-research bodies now developing these extinction-organisms include the California Cherry Board, the US Citrus Research Board and the private California company Agragene Inc. Next month, the United Nations Biodiversity Convention will meet to discuss measures to control this technology, including a possible moratorium.

"There is no place in a good food system for these deliberately spreading organisms," says Mariann Bassey, chair of the African Food Sovereignty Alliance, whose 34 member organisations are among the 200+ groups and individuals who have signed the call against gene drives. "Gene drives may drive species to extinction and undermine sustainable and equitable food and agriculture," Bassey continued.

Those launching the call for a moratorium on gene drives in food and agriculture include all past and present UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food; the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements; IUF (the International Union representing Food and Farmworkers); and La Via Campesina, the largest network of peasant movements representing 200 million peasants in 81 countries. Signatories also include well-known commentators on food matters including seed activist Vandana Shiva, World Food Prize winner Dr Hans Herren, International President of Friends of the Earth International Karin Nansen, Activist and Food entrepreneur Nell Newman, and environmentalist and geneticist David Suzuki.

"Applying gene drives to food systems threatens to harm farmers' rights and the rights of peasants as enshrined in international treaties," explains Dr Olivier De Schutter, who served as the UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food from 2008-2014. "Gene drives would undermine the realization of human rights including the right to healthy, ecologically-produced and culturally appropriate food and nutrition."

"La Via Campesina is firmly positioned against the gene drive technology. It is a threat to peasant economies, to people, countries and even the world's food sovereignty – a technique which threatens life, biodiversity and social systems, " said Genevieve LaLumiere, a Canadian young farmer of La Via Campesina. "This uncontrolled technology is dangerous and can contaminate our seeds, our animals and our soil; destabilize our ecosystems; and destroy our fundamental resources." Marciano Da Silva from Brasil Peasant Organisation (also of La Via Campesina) continued, "gene drive technology is, fundamentally, a tool for patentability of native traits of our peasant seeds."

09.10.2018 |

What is Non-GMO? What are genetically modified foods?

Non-GMO means non-genetically modified organisms. GMOs (genetically modified organisms), are novel organisms created in a laboratory using genetic modification/engineering techniques. Scientists and consumer and environmental groups have cited many health and environmental risks with foods containing GMOs.

As a result of the risks, many people in the United States and around the world are demanding “non-GMO” foods. We have created an ebook offering our top 13 tips for buying organic food to help keep your family safe and healthy.

08.10.2018 |

The world is against them: new era of cancer lawsuits threaten Monsanto

A landmark verdict found Roundup caused a man’s cancer, paving the way for thousands of other families to seek justice

Dean Brooks grasped on to the shopping cart, suddenly unable to stand or breathe. Later, at a California emergency room, a nurse with teary eyes delivered the news, telling his wife, Deborah, to hold out hope for a miracle. It was December 2015 when they learned that a blood cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) was rapidly attacking the man’s body and immune system.

By July 2016, Dean was dead. Deborah gets emotional recounting the gruesome final chapter of the love of her life. But in recent months, she has had reason to be hopeful again.

In an historic verdict in August, a jury ruled that Monsanto had caused a man’s terminal cancer and ordered the agrochemical corporation to pay $289m in damages. The extraordinary decision, exposing the potential hazards of the world’s most widely used herbicide, has paved the way for thousands of other cancer patients and families to seek justice and compensation in court.

08.10.2018 |

UK: Soil Association responds to George Eustice on genome editing

Soil Association rejects suggestion by farm minister George Eustice that the recent ECJ ruling on genome editing should be ignored

EXCERPT: “The Soil Association will continue to encourage the cultivation of open pollination seeds, which can help farmers adapt to a changing climate by breeding drought and pest tolerant plants. Breeding crops in this way has proven to be lower-cost, faster and more effective than GM, particularly when informed by new technologies like Marker Assisted Selection, based on our new knowledge of the genome.”

07.10.2018 |

Stakeholders warn against introducing GM maize seed

LAHORE: Stakeholders have warned the new government against experimenting with the healthy maize crop, saying farmers, dairy and livestock sector, seed producers and industrialists are satisfied with the increase in harvest.

The federal government is in consultation with the stakeholders for introducing imported genetically modified (GM) maize seeds in the near future. These seeds will be protected from some pests and will have tolerance against lethal pesticides.

The new technology, however, will be detrimental to the local maize varieties as it will contaminate them due to cross-pollination.

The stakeholders have fiercely opposed the large-scale import of costly and potentially hazardous GM maize seeds. They argue that the maize crop has been showing tremendous results and there is no major challenge to its cultivation that needs any intervention.

05.10.2018 |

How should we control the power to genetically eliminate a species?

The power to re-engineer or eliminate wild species using a “gene drive” needs to be brought under international governance, say Simon Terry and Stephanie Howard

(Stephanie Howard and Simon Terry, researchers for the Sustainability Council of New Zealand)

Thanks to a form of genetic engineering technology known as a gene drive, it is now possible to modify or even eliminate a wild species in its natural habitat, bypassing the laws of inheritance that have governed nature for millennia. The power to deliver “extinction to order” is potentially immense – as is the political challenge.

The technology works by driving a gene throughout a population, meaning the plants or animals containing the drives could impact ecosystems that cross not just country borders, but entire continents.

NewsActualitéNachrichtenActualidad

Comité Organizador Local