Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

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09.06.2017 |

Harmonize conflicting regulations for genetically engineered plants and animals

In January this year, two US agencies proposed the first substantial overhaul in 30 years of how they regulate genetically altered crops and livestock. Some plant scientists expressed relief. Some animal researchers used more colourful language.

The proposals — one to govern plants, the other to govern animals — came to wildly different conclusions. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests that many plants whose genomes have been altered by a single DNA letter change should not need approval before being released in the field. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) contends that animals whose genomes have been similarly changed might have to go through a rigorous evaluation before being released onto the market.

01.06.2017 |

GM-Free Shopping List
GM-Free Shopping List

New GM-Free Shopping List out now

The 2017 edition of the GM-Free Shopping List, published today, includes many brands not listed in earlier editions.

The GM-Free Australia Alliance (GMFAA) has further reported increasing interest from food producers this year to the demand for groceries free of genetically manipulated organisms (GMOs).

GMFAA spokesperson Jessica Harrison stated that the Shopping List acknowledges and promotes a growing list of brands whose GM-free status caters to consumers' right to choose non-GM foods. “Australians passionate about the right to choose have been voting with their wallets. Growing consumer awareness about genetic manipulation is increasing demand for both conventional and organic foods, supporting their producers and adding to market pressure on food producers to choose non-GMO suppliers".

30.05.2017 |

CRISPR gene editing can cause hundreds of unintended mutations

Although CRISPR can precisely target specific stretches of DNA, it sometimes hits other parts of the genome, causing DNA mutations that are not predicted by the computer algorithms that are widely used by researchers to look for off-target effects.

In the article below we see the typical honesty with which off-target effects of the CRISPR gene editing technique are discussed in the medical research field.

In the area of plant biotechnology, it’s a completely different story. GMO proponents dishonestly claim a precision, a predictability, and a controllability for the technology that remains theoretical and unproven.

27.05.2017 |

Centre told to act against genetically modified sorghum

As to the issue of sorghum itself, there is absolutely no reason to believe that it needs GM protection.

Hyderabad: Expressing its shock at the Indian Institute of Millet Research in Hyderabad, developing transgenic sorghum (jowar), the Southern Action on Genetic Engineering has called on the Union Government to take a firm and unequivocal stand against GM (genetically modified) sorghum and to declare that it will not approve GM sorghum.

Southern Action on Genetic Engineering (SAGE) is a coalition of farmers, scientists, environmental activists and civil society groups from South India. “This would have been funny if it was not so tragic,” SAGE said in a letter to the Union Minister for Environment and Forests. Sorghum (jowar) is a crop that offers complete food and nutritional security to the populations of dry land India and rich fodder for its cattle, the letter said.

26.05.2017 |

GMOs 2.0: New technologies, new risks, and no regulations

Many products made using new genetic engineering technologies such as synthetic biology and gene editing are entering the market with little or no regulation and even with “natural” or “non-GMO” claims.

Twenty years ago, proponents of genetic engineering promised that GMO foods would increase yields, reduce pesticides, produce nutritious foods, and help feed the world. Today, those promises have fallen far short as the majority of GMO crops are engineered to withstand sprays of Roundup herbicide, which is increasingly documented as a risk to human health.

Now, new genetic engineering technologies such as synthetic biology and gene editing are being hailed with the same promises of revolutionizing food production, medicine, fuels, textiles, and other areas.

But a closer look at this next generation or “GMOs 2.0” technologies reveals possibly even greater risks than existing GMO technology with possible human health risks and negative impacts on farming communities worldwide, among other unintended consequences. And while products developed using current genetic engineering methods are regulated by the U.S. government, GMOs 2.0 products are entering the market with few or no regulations.

24.05.2017 |

Critics claim liability bill would banish GMOs from Oregon

Critics of a bill imposing liability on GMO patent holders say it would effectively banish biotech crops from Oregon.

SALEM — A proposed bill imposing new financial liability on biotech patent holders in Oregon would effectively banish genetically engineered crops from the state, opponents claim.

Under House Bill 2739, biotech patent holders would be liable for triple the economic damages caused by the unwanted presence of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

The bill is now before the House Rules Committee, which is considering an amendment clarifying when landowners can file lawsuits over GMOs on their property and the defenses available to patent holders, among other provisions.

The amendment would also ensure that patent holders cannot transfer liability to farmers who cultivate GMOs, though they could transfer liability to seed companies.

“It’s putting the onus on the producers and people who sell these crops rather than grow them,” said Amy van Saun, an attorney with the Center for Food Safety, a non-profit that supports HB 2739.

23.05.2017 |

GMO potatoes will not be grown commercially on P.E.I. this season - Prince Edward Island

There will be no commercially grown GMO potatoes on Prince Edward Island this year, according to Simplot Plant Sciences, the company that developed the Innate potato.

Innate potatoes bruise less and have less black spots than conventional potatoes.

New genetically engineered potato approved for Canada

Doug Cole, director of marketing and communications, said the company is holding off allowing commercial growth of Innate potatoes in Canada until there's a proven market for them.

"There is strong interest from the grower community and retailers are also interested. But it's a very involved purchase decision," said Cole.

19.05.2017 |

EC glyphosate renewal discussion to restart

The European Commission has decided to restart member state discussions over a 10-year renewal of glyphosate.

The Commission said: "We have taken into account the latest state of scientific research" and will"work with the member states to find a solution that enjoys the largest possible support."

No date has yet been set for when discussions with representatives of EU member states will start.

The EU granted an 18-month extension last July of its approval of glyphosate, less than the expected 10 years.

18.05.2017 |

Decisions on glyphosate should be based on independent data - MEP

Decisions on the renewal of the controversial weedkiller glypho-ate should be based on publicly available and independent data, Labour MEP and Socialists and Democrats spokeswoman Miriam Dalli insists.

Her comments followed news that the College of Commissioners was set to propose a 10-year renewal of glyphosate’s licence.

S&D MEPs yesterday reiterated their rejection of the European Commission’s intention to reauthorise glyphosate, in light of the lack of transparency in the classification process of the European agencies. The group is insisting that the classification process of glypho-sate has been largely based on unpublished scientific evidence provided by industry, or scientific reviews sponsored by the same industry “under the pretence” of independence.

18.05.2017 |

Decisions on glyphosate should be based on independent data - MEP

Decisions on the renewal of the controversial weedkiller glypho-ate should be based on publicly available and independent data, Labour MEP and Socialists and Democrats spokeswoman Miriam Dalli insists.

Her comments followed news that the College of Commissioners was set to propose a 10-year renewal of glyphosate’s licence.

S&D MEPs yesterday reiterated their rejection of the European Commission’s intention to reauthorise glyphosate, in light of the lack of transparency in the classification process of the European agencies. The group is insisting that the classification process of glypho-sate has been largely based on unpublished scientific evidence provided by industry, or scientific reviews sponsored by the same industry “under the pretence” of independence.

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