Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

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16.07.2018 |

Potential CRISPR damage has been 'seriously underestimated,' study finds

From the earliest days of the CRISPR-Cas9 era, scientists have known that the first step in how it edits genomes — snipping DNA — creates an unholy mess: Cellular repairmen frantically try to fix the cuts by throwing random chunks of DNA into the breach and deleting other random bits. Research published on Monday suggests that’s only the tip of a Titanic-sized iceberg: CRISPR-Cas9 can cause significantly greater genetic havoc than experts thought, the study concludes, perhaps enough to threaten the health of patients who would one day receive CRISPR-based therapy.

The results come hard on the heels of two studies that identified a related issue: Some CRISPR’d cells might be missing a key anti-cancer mechanism and therefore be able to initiate tumors.

The DNA damage found in the new study included deletions of thousands of DNA bases, including at spots far from the edit. Some of the deletions can silence genes that should be active and activate genes that should be silent, including cancer-causing genes.

10.07.2018 |

Genetically modified organisms: Restriction proposal for Cabinet

Denis Naughten recommends opting out of directive on GMOs

A proposal “to restrict or prohibit” cultivation of crops containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is to be put to the Cabinet on Tuesday by Minister for the Environment Denis Naughten.

Mr Naughten has recommended opting out of an EU directive on GMOs on the basis that it is critically important Ireland takes “whatever steps are necessary” to maintain our GMO cultivation-free status. He said that status is “a key element of our international reputation as a green, sustainable food producer”.

The transposition of Directive 2015/412 enables Ireland to opt out of cultivation of GMO crops, approved for cultivation elsewhere in the EU on a much wider range of policy grounds than had previously been the case.

10.07.2018 |

Government approves wider restrictions on the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Ireland

The Cabinet has agreed to enable Ireland to prohibit or restrict the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Ireland.

The Government approved the transposition of an EU Directive, which will enable Ireland to opt out of cultivation of GMO crops approved for cultivation elsewhere in the EU.

This will happen on a much wider range of policy grounds than had previously been the case.

These grounds include where such cultivation would be contrary to environmental policy objectives, town and country planning, land use, socio-economic impacts, avoidance of GMO presence in other products, agricultural policy objectives and public policy.

09.07.2018 |

Rats fed GM stacked-trait maize developed leaky stomachs

Rats fed a triple-stacked trait GM maize engineered for insect resistance and herbicide tolerance developed leaky stomachs, according to a new peer-reviewed paper by Australian researchers.

In the experiment conducted by Irena M. Zdziarski of the University of Adelaide, Judy A. Carman of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research (IHER), and John W. Edwards of Flinders University, the rats were split into two groups of 10 males each.

One group was fed on the GM stacked-trait maize, containing Monsanto Bt insecticidal toxin traits MON863 and MON810, and glyphosate-tolerant trait NK603, for six months. That's twice as long as the typical rat feeding study performed by industry for regulatory authorisations. The GM maize was grown in the US.

The other group of rats was fed for the same amount of time on the control diet, which contained a commercially-grown non-GM maize grown in Australia. The control maize was not sourced from the US due to the difficulty of finding a non-GM corn variety from that country that would be uncontaminated with GM genes.

07.07.2018 |

Tell Deutsche Bahn it's the end of the line for glyphosate!

It might come as a surprise that a train company is Germany's biggest glyphosate user. Every year, the national railway Deutsche Bahn sprays over 65 thousand kilograms of toxic pesticide on its tracks -- endangering ecosystems throughout the whole country.

Austria’s national railway company has pledged to completely end its use of glyphosate within five years -- there's no reason why Deutsche Bahn can't do the same.

The German government is currently looking for ways to reduce glyphosate use. This is the perfect time to put public pressure on the 100 percent state-owned railway corporation to phase out the dangerous pesticide.

Deutsche Bahn's railway network spans 33,500 kilometers -- that's 33,500 kilometers soaked with glyphosate, spreading its poisonous traces through all of Germany.

06.07.2018 |

Bayer CropScience LP; Availability of Petition for Determination of Nonregulated Status of Cotton Genetically Engineered For Resistance to HPPD-Inhibitor Herbicides (e.g., Isoxaflutole) and Glyphosate

Docket ID: APHIS-2017-0073Agency: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)Parent Agency: Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Summary:

We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has received a petition from Bayer CropScience LP seeking a determination of nonregulated status of cotton designated as event GHB811, which has been genetically engineered for dual resistance to HPPD-Inhibitor herbicides (e.g., Isoxaflutole) and glyphosate. The petition has been submitted in accordance with our regulations concerning the introduction of certain genetically engineered organisms and products. We are making the Bayer CropScience LP petition available for review and comment to help us identify potential environmental and interrelated economic issues and impacts that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service may determine should be considered in our evaluation of the petition.

06.07.2018 |

Slovakia turns back on ag biotechnology

WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Farmers in Slovakia have changed direction on their approach to planting genetically engineered (GE) crops over the past decade, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In 2006, Slovak farmers planted 30 hectares of GE crops, a figure that grew to a record high 1,930 hectares in 2008. Now, there are no GE crops under development in the country.

“Demand for GE products, specifically including meat and dairy produced from animals fed GE-feed, has dwindled under the influence of antibiotech non-governmental organizations (NGOs), retailers, and neighboring countries (Austria, Hungary, and Germany),” the USDA said. “Where the Slovak government was previously supportive of biotechnology, they have since changed their stance, again likely in response to local messages originating from antibiotech NGOs and activist groups.”

05.07.2018 |

The Natural Connection to Cotton-Seed Selection

The apparel and textile industries are under a lot of pressure these days.

Consumers are becoming more vocal about sustainability, where products are sourced and how they are made. Shoppers are more sensitive about the use of genetically modified organisms used in cotton production and often bristle at any mention of GMOs.

On top of this, insects and dry weather in California and Texas have inhibited cotton-crop production in these regions.

But a solution to some of these problems is being developed by Indigo Ag, a Boston-based company that has identified a natural, non-GMO approach to using microbes to ease the burden of problems associated with dependence on cotton-crop yields.

04.07.2018 |

China to launch inspection of GMO labels on cooking oils

China will launch a month-long inspection of labelling on cooking oils on Dec. 21, said a notice posted on Wednesday on the website of the State Administration for Market Regulation.

Inspectors will check production records against labels, punishing producers if the labelling is not accurate or fraudulent, it added.

The notice comes after local media reports about companies in southeastern Fujian province falsely labelling GMO soy oil as a non-GMO product.

04.07.2018 |

Gene Drive: Leading African Biodiversity Advocate Denied Canadian Visa Days Before UN Forum

As international debate on gene drive technology heats up, Canadian immigration officials deny a key voice

MONTREAL, July 4, 2018 - United Nations biodiversity negotiations are underway in Montreal, but a key African expert is missing from the fray. Ali Tapsoba, President of the organization Terre à Vie in Burkina Faso, was planning to speak at two events on behalf of Burkinabé civil society who oppose the release of gene drive mosquitoes, a controversial new biotechnology, in their communities.

His visa application was denied without explanation by the Canadian embassy in Dakar on Friday.

“Tapsoba is probably the preeminent voice in Burkina Faso against the Target Malaria Consortium, which is leading the project towards release of Gene Drive mosquitoes in the wild,” said Mariann Bassey of Friends of the Earth Nigeria and Chair of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA).

“I am very disappointed that I have been prevented from attending these important negotiations addressing issues of biotechnology at a time when Africa is plagued by multinationals that want to impose GMOs and destroy the beautiful biodiversity of the continent,” said Tapsoba in a written statement. “Don’t Africans have the right to meet other nationalities from around the world in Canada to discuss the future of humanity?”

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