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16.06.2017 |

Dicamba herbicide complaints up sharply in 2017

More than 50 complaints of crops damaged by dicamba herbicide drifting from neighboring farm fields have been reported to the Arkansas State Plant Board so far in 2017.

That number is up sharply from 2016, in which 32 dicamba drift complaints were filed in the entire year, said Tom Barber, extension weed scientist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Among the damaged crops are some 100 acres of soybeans in Division of Agriculture research plots at the Northeast Research and Extension Center at Keiser in Mississippi County.

Ironically, those soybean plots were part of research by Division of Agriculture weed scientist Jason Norsworthy on dicamba drift and volatility.

The dicamba drift and volatility trials, for herbicide products from Monsanto and Syngenta, are needed before the products can be certified for use in Arkansas, Norsworthy said. The damage from unexpected dicamba drift interrupted the trials, making Norsworthy’s data useless in most of the plots unless he replants and starts over.

16.06.2017 |

Crispr inventor worries about the unintended consequences of gene editing

In 2012, Jennifer Doudna, along with a small group of scientists, invented a ground-breaking technology to edit DNA known as Crispr. Scientists are still experimenting with it.

Crispr has been in the news recently because a group of scientists released a much-debated study arguing that editing genes can lead to many unintended, unpredictable consequences. In the controversial case, the scientists edited genetic blindness out of a group of mice and said they found two thousand unintended consequences. The scientific community is split on the results, and Doudna said it's hard to conclude anything from the study. But she knows the possible dangers of gene editing, and she warned about them in a Wired article in May.

Marketplace's senior tech correspondent Molly Wood spoke with Doudna at the Wired Business Conference in New York earlier this month and asked Doudna what concerns her the most about her revolutionary new technology?

15.06.2017 |

One million sign petition for EU weedkiller ban

Strasbourg (France) (AFP) - More than one million people have signed a petition demanding the EU ban the Monsanto weedkiller glyphosate over fears it causes cancer, campaigners said Thursday.

The petition comes as the European Union is deciding whether to renew the licence of the controversial herbicide produced by the US agro-chemicals giant.

13.06.2017 |

Glyphosate: Working with Nature or Against it?

The reputation of glyphosate, a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide, i.e. the world’s most widely used weedkiller, also used as a crop desiccant, took a hit in 2015, with the publication of a World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report, raising questions about its safety and the research practices of its manufacturer, the chemical giant Monsanto.

Will today’s debate on glyphosate authorisation, prompted by the IARC classification of the substance as “probably carcinogenic in humans“, trigger a transition to a better way of doing agriculture? A method that doesn’t rely on death, uniformity, and sterility via the constant application of pesticides like glyphosate, but relies instead on life, biodiversity, and the emergent natural processes it supports to ensure long term, rather than short term, fertility, and productivity?

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.

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