GMO news related to Mexico

21.12.2016

Mexican Beekeepers Win Case Against Monsanto

Judge ruled that co-existence between GM soybeans and honey production is not possible.

Countries all around the world are banning GM foods and products, the pesticides used to grow them, or placing severe restrictions on their use. In fact, people all over the world are organizing mass demonstrations, and resisting the biotech companies who develop these GMOs and pesticides, in particular Monsanto. More and more studies are making international headlines showing the health and environmental dangers associated with pesticides and GMOs.

Mexiko bans genetically modified soybeans

Now Mexico is making headlines by banning Monsanto products. A group of beekeepers was successful in banning Monsanto from planting genetically modified soybeans. Originally Monsanto had received permission to plant their GM seeds in a large area of land, despite the protests organized by thousands of beekeepers, citizens, major environmental groups, the National Institute of Ecology, and Mayan farmers. But a district judge overturned the Monsanto permit as he was convinced by the scientific evidence showing the threats GM crops had on honey production in the Yucatan peninsula. He went even further, and ruled that co-existence between GM soybeans and honey production is not possible.

19.12.2016

Four Steps Forward, One Leap Back on Global Governance of Synthetic Biology

UN Biodiversity Convention grapples with threats posed by extreme biotech industry

CANCUN, MEXICO — This week, 196 countries meeting at the 2016 UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) Conference of the Parties made progress on the global governance and oversight of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology (syn bio) has become one of the most fiercely debated topics at the Biodiversity Convention, almost 7 years after civil society first brought the need for precaution and regulation of the new set of biotechnologies to this UN body.

During the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the CBD, countries agreed to investigate how digital genetic sequences may be used to commit biopiracy and warned against a risky new genetic extinction technology called gene drives. They also agreed on a working definition of synthetic biology (2) and to support an ongoing expert group to move forward international discussions on the topic. However, this progress was undermined by a significant ‘move backwards’ in safety oversight and risk assessment when a key standing expert group expected to issue risk assessment guidelines for synthetic biology was dissolved.

“Syn bio was among the hottest topics on the negotiating table,” explains Jim Thomas of ETC Group, who sits on the CBD’s expert group on Synthetic Biology. “Governments now get it: they need to urgently grapple with how synthetic biology and other fast moving, risky technologies are threatening biodiversity, local economies and the rights of farmers and Indigenous Peoples.”

19.12.2016

Biodiversity Convention Adopts Plan for Benefit Sharing for Genetic Sequences

Austin, Texas, 19 December (Edward Hammond) – Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have adopted a decision on sequence information of genetic resources that sets in motion a plan intended to lead to an important decision at their next meeting in two years’ time.

The decision was adopted by the 22nd meeting of the CBD Conference of the Parties Cancun (COP), Mexico, which ended on Saturday, 17 December.

The plan is a compromise that emerged after developing countries, concerned that the proliferation of sequences and other genetic information in the internet “cloud” is promoting biopiracy, proposed that the Cancun meeting adopt a decision clarifying that sequence information should be treated equivalently to physical biodiversity samples for the purposes of benefit sharing.

Under pressure, developed countries’ negotiators acknowledged that gene sequences “are an issue to be dealt with.” The European Union, Australia, and others insisted, however, that they were unprepared to negotiate in Cancun because they had not anticipated that the issue would arise. This reason was offered despite a preliminary exchange on the subject at a meeting of the CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Science, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) in May of this year, and gene sequences appearing in bracketed text in the Convention’s draft decision on synthetic biology.

16.12.2016

UN Convention still says “No” to manipulating the climate

UN Convention on Biological Diversity reaffirms its moratorium on climate-related geoengineering

CANCUN, MEXICO – The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which gathered at its 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) in Mexico from December 4-17, decided to reaffirm its landmark moratorium on climate-related geoengineering that it first agreed to in 2010.

Geoengineering refers to a set of proposed techniques that would intervene in and alter earth systems on a large scale – recently, these proposals have been gaining traction as a “technofix” solution to climate change. Examples include solar radiation management techniques such as blasting sulphate particles into the atmosphere as well as other earth systems interventions grouped under a second broad umbrella of ‘carbon dioxide removal.’

The reaffirmation of the CBD moratorium is even more relevant in the light of the Paris Agreement on climate change, in which governments agreed to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. Geoengineers quickly interpreted the Paris Agreement as allowing or encouraging geoengineering to meet that ambitious goal.

13.12.2016

Greater regulation needed on synthetic biology at the COP 13

Friends of the Earth International and allies call for greater regulation on synthetic biology at the COP 13

Mariann Bassey Orovwuje (Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria) and member of the Friends of the Earth International delegation at the thirteenth Convention of the Parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 13) in Cancun, Mexico, presented a statement on behalf of the Civil Society Working Group on Synthetic Biology during a plenary session, asking for more regulation on synthetic biology, 6 December 2016

Mariann warned the COP13,

"Gene drives have quickly emerged as an extremely high risk synthetic biology application since the last COP and should therefore be placed under a moratorium”.

This was part of a request from 168 organizations worldwide, including Friends of the Earth International, who signed a “Common call for a global moratorium on gene drives”. The signatories want the moratorium to be effective on any further technical development and experimental application of gene drives and on their environmental release.

13.12.2016

Future Work on Risk Assessment Under the Biosafety Protocol Threatened

Cancún, 12 Dec (Lim Li Ching*) – As the meetings of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Cancún reached their halfway mark, the issue of the continued work on risk assessment under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety remained threatened.

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which is a Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), is the only international treaty that specifically regulates genetic engineering and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or living modified organisms (LMOs), as they are known in the Protocol. Meetings of Parties to the CBD and the Cartagena Protocol are taking place in Cancun from 4 to 17 December.

Risk assessment is the central pillar of the Protocol, necessary to assess the effects of LMOs on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health.

06.12.2016

Biodiversity Convention call to block new 'genetic extinction' GMOs

GMWatch & The Ecologist

160 global groups have called for a moratorium on new 'genetic extinction' technology at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Cancun, Mexico. Gene drive technology, they say, poses serious and irreversible threats to biodiversity, national sovereignty, peace and food security.

International conservation and environmental leaders from over 160 organisation are calling on governments at the 2016 COP13 of the Biodiversity Convention to establish a moratorium on the controversial genetic extinction technology called 'gene drives'.

Gene drives, developed through new gene-editing techniques, are designed to force a particular genetically engineered trait to spread through an entire wild population - potentially changing entire species or even causing deliberate extinctions.

The statement urges governments to put in place an urgent, global moratorium on the development and release of the new technology which, they say, poses "serious and potentially irreversible threats to biodiversity, as well as national sovereignty, peace, and food security."

Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher, representing the Federation of German Scientists, said: "It is essential that we pause, to allow the scientific community, local communities and society at large to debate and reflect. We can't allow ourselves to be led by a novel technique.

"We lack the knowledge and understanding to release gene drives into the environment - we don't even know what questions to ask. To deliberately drive a species to extinction has major ethical, social and environmental implications."

"Gene drives will be one of the fiercest debates at CBD this year", added Jim Thomas of ETC Group. "Gene drives are advancing far too quickly in the real world, and so far are unregulated. There are already hundreds of millions of dollars pouring into gene drive development, and even reckless proposals to release gene drives within next four years."

05.12.2016

Genetic extinction technology and digital DNA challenged at UN Convention

Civil society defends rights of indigenous peoples and small-scale farmers against big-pharma and biotech

CANCUN, MEXICO —This week, international conservation and environmental leaders will meet to call on governments to protect biodiversity, indigenous people and local communities’ rights from controversial new biotechnologies. Regulatory advocates will weigh in on the controversial uses of a genetic extinction technology called gene drives and the handling of digital gene sequences.

What: Thousands of government and civil society representatives convene for the 2016 UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) Conference of the Parties.

Where: Cancun, Mexico

When: December 5-17, 2016. Civil society groups will be hosting side events to caution for stronger regulations of synthetic biology starting December 5.

Quotes from regulatory advocates and stakeholders:

“At the top of the agenda for this year’s biodiversity convention is how to govern the outpouring of new biotechnologies in a way that protects nature and people’s livelihoods,” said Jim Thomas, program director at ETC Group. “A coalition of civil society groups is calling especially for a moratorium on the use of gene drives and for rules that protect against the digital theft of genetic resources from communities.”

“To alter wild populations or bring whole species to extinction has major ethical, social and environmental implications. Not only do we lack the knowledge and understanding to carry out such complex risk assessments, we don’t even know what questions to ask,” said Dr. Steinbrecher, biologist and molecular geneticist representing the Federation of German Scientists. “We need to pause and allow the scientific community, local communities and society at large to debate and reflect, rather than simply allowing technology to lead us down this path. In the meantime, a moratorium is essential.”

“Unprincipled distribution and unapproved use of digital DNA threatens 25 years of international work on access and benefit sharing rules,” said Ed Hammond, research associate, Third World Network. “The Cancun COP must step in and address the breach that is opening between digital and physical access to biodiversity.”

Dana Perls, senior campaigner, Friends of the Earth U.S. said: “Speculative companies are threatening biodiversity with dangerous technologies and stealing genetic resources that indigenous peoples and small-scale farmers have historically stewarded for the good of humankind. We must not let companies take over nature for the sake of profit and market control.”

05.12.2016

Synthetic Biology - Digital DNA is Biopiracy’s Latest Frontier

Third World Network

Yesterday’s biopirate hid seeds in her boots, but

tomorrow’s may steal genetic sequence data. Faster and

cheaper gene sequencing is creating massive new digital

databases of biodiversity. Some of them contain the DNA

sequences of thousands, even tens of thousands, of

varieties of crops, crop wild relatives, medicinal plants, and

microbes. Almost none of these databases currently apply

access and benefit sharing (ABS) rules of the CBD and

Nagoya Procotol.

The technology for this “digital DNA” to be downloaded

and then introduced into new organisms is becoming a

reality, meaning that biodiversity can be moved across the

planet electronically and possibly without the material

transfer agreement (MTA) that many countries use to

implement ABS rules.

For example, European scientists might use an internet

database to obtain gene sequences from South American

tomatoes and tomato wild relatives. If they identify

valuable diversity, instead of going to South America to

negotiate an ABS agreement, they might instead use

CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to reproduce that diversity in

European tomatoes - without an agreement with the

country of origin.

05.12.2016

Gene Drives, Gene editing: 160 Global Groups Call for Moratorium on New Genetic Extinction Technology at UN Convention

CANCUN, MEXICO – This week, international conservation and environmental leaders are calling on governments at the 2016 UN Convention on Biodiversity to establish a moratorium on the controversial genetic extinction technology called gene drives.

More resources on gene drives and campaigns at CBD COP13

Gene drives, developed through new gene-editing techniques- are designed to force a particular genetically engineered trait to spread through an entire wild population – potentially changing entire species or even causing deliberate extinctions. The statement urges governments to put in place an urgent, global moratorium on the development and release of the new technology, which poses serious and potentially irreversible threats to biodiversity, as well as national sovereignty, peace and food security.

Over 160 civil society organisations from six continents have joined the call. Among them were environmental organizations including Friends of the Earth International; International Union of Food Workers representing over 10 million workers in 127 countries ; organizations representing millions of small-scale famers around the world, such as the La Via Campesina International and the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements; the international indigenous peoples’ organization Tebtebba; scientist coalitions including European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility and Unión de Científicos Comprometidos con la Sociedad (Mexico); as well as ETC Group and Third World Network.

“We lack the knowledge and understanding to release gene drives into the environment – we don’t even know what questions to ask. To deliberately drive a species to extinction has major ethical, social and environmental implications,” says Dr. Steinbrecher, representing the Federation of German Scientists. “It is essential that we pause, to allow the scientific community, local communities and society at large to debate and reflect. We can’t allow ourselves to be led by a novel technique. In the meantime, a moratorium is essential.”

“These genetic extinction technologies are false solutions to our conservation challenges,” said Dana Perls of Friends of the Earth. “We want to support truly sustainable and community driven conservation efforts. Gene drives could be co-opted by agribusiness and military interests. We need a moratorium on irreversible and irresponsible technologies such as gene drives.”

“Gene drives will be one of the fiercest debates at CBD this year,” says Jim Thomas of ETC Group. “Gene drives are advancing far too quickly in the real world, and so far are unregulated. There are already hundreds of millions of dollars pouring into gene drive development, and even reckless proposals to release gene drives within next four years.”

“The CBD is the premier international treaty for protecting biodiversity and life on earth from new threats,” said Lim Li Ching of Third World Network. “It is within the mandate of the CBD to adopt this moratorium, and countries that are party to this agreement must act now to avoid serious or irreversible harm.”