GMO news related to Malaysia

05.09.2022 |

Bt Crops Past Their Sell-By Date: A Failing Technology Searching for New Markets?

By Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji

Publisher: TWN

Year: 2022 No. of pages: 40

CROPS genetically modified to contain toxins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis have been touted as having inbuilt capacity to ward off pests. These so-called Bt crops are now increasingly being promoted in developing countries despite growing concerns surrounding their efficacy and suitability.

20.09.2021 |

TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Sept21/20)

The Third World Network is pleased to announce the publication of a new title, Product Patent Protection, the TRIPS LDC Exemption and the Bangladesh Pharmaceutical Industry by Sudip Chaudhuri, in its Intellectual Property Rights Series.

As a least developed country (LDC), Bangladesh is currently exempted from the requirements under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to grant patent protection for pharmaceutical products. Consequently, there is scope for the country’s pharmaceutical industry to manufacture and sell medicines whose production would otherwise be controlled by a patent-holding firm.

09.09.2021 |

Supporting Peasants’ and Indigenous People’s Realization of Their Right to Seed

Peasants and Indigenous Peoples feed more than 70 percent of the world and are key agents in the preservation of biocultural diversity in food systems. The importance of seeds, traditional knowledge and innovations have been increasingly recognized as crucial factors in efforts to stop the rapid loss of biodiversity.

Currently, peasants and Indigenous Peoples’ food systems and seed management practices are threatened by industrially-produced food, restrictive seed laws, intellectual property claims and gene modification. The expansion of industrial agriculture has come with a dramatic decrease of agricultural biodiversity.

30.08.2021 |

Nature-based Solutions and the Biodiversity and Climate Crises

Doreen Stabinsky

Third World Network Penang, Malaysia

“NATURE-BASED solutions” (NbS)1 is a contested term. Academics write long peer-reviewed articles laying out criteria by which so-called NbS might be evaluated,2 whilst oil majors create new “nature-based solutions” business units unaligned with the basic elements of the definitional crite- ria being set out by the academics.3 At the end of the day, NbS means what the powerful actors using it to green their images want it to mean.

The phrase “nature-based solutions” says everything and nothing at the same time. Its proponents argue that such a broadly encompassing term provides opportunities to highlight a whole range of beneficial, biodiversity-protecting practices at the same time, and that packaging all these together in this term might help mobilize protection from a range of drivers of biodiversity and ecosystem loss by calling attention to the myriad ways in which societies benefit from “nature”.

26.01.2021 |

Genetic breakdown of molecular mechanism underpinning GM "sterile" insect techniques

"Sterile" insects revert back to being fertile, resulting in resistant GM populations persisting in the environment. Report by Third World Network

Genetic engineering techniques designed to make insects "sterile" for disease vector or pest control, have been tested in field releases by the company Oxitec, including in Malaysia, the Cayman Islands and Brazil. A GM mosquito trial was also recently approved in the US for release in 2021-2022. These strategies involve developing so-called "genetic switches" where essential genes can be either turned on or off in the presence or absence of antibiotics, controlling whether the insect survives or not.

20.12.2017 |

Synthetic Biology and Relevant International Law By Lim Li Ching

About the Book

SYNTHETIC biology has been operationally defined as “a further development and new dimension of modern biotechnology that combines science, technology and engineering to facilitate and accelerate the understanding, design, redesign, manufacture and/or modification of genetic materials, living organisms and biological systems”. The complexity and novelty of the technology present significant challenges in terms of its governance and regulation.

This booklet looks at the multilateral treaties that apply to various aspects of synthetic biology, including, most notably, the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Nevertheless, gaps still exist in the international legal framework when it comes to addressing all the potential negative impacts resulting from the application of synthetic biology techniques. In view of this, the author sets out several elements and principles that could underpin a more holistic regulatory approach towards this emerging new technology.

Lim Li Ching has a B.Sc. in Ecology and an M.Phil. in Development Studies. She is a Researcher with the Third World Network and coordinates its biosafety programme. She is currently a member of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Socio-economic Considerations, established by Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

18.12.2017 |

Cases of Pest Resistance to Bt Crops Increased Five-fold From 2005-2016

Transgenic or genetically modified Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) crops (mainly corn, cotton and soybean) cover more than 830 million hectares worldwide. In addition to the crystalline (Cry) proteins from Bt produced by transgenic crops for the past two decades, some recently introduced types of Bt corn and cotton produce a vegetative insecticidal protein (Vip) from Bt.

The efficacy of Bt crops has been threatened by the evolu­tion of pest resistance. A recent study analyzes relevant literature on this topic from the past two dec­ades to elucidate the current status of pest resistance to transgenic crops. Compared with previous reviews on this topic, the field-moni­toring data analyzed in this study represent a more diverse set of Bt toxins (one Vip and nine Cry toxins), crops (corn, cotton, and soy), pests (15 species from two insect orders), and countries (ten countries on six continents).

The study found that the number of cases of pest resistance to Cry proteins produced by transgenic crops increased from 3 in 2005 to 16 in 2016. For the 16 cases of practical resistance, the average time for evolution of resistance was only 5.2 years. In four situ­ations, practical resistance has reduced the number of Bt toxins that are available in commercialized transgenic crops and are still effective against some pest populations to two, one, or none.

10.10.2017 |

Civil society rejects GMOs at FAO meeting

Civil society representatives firmly rejected genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as a means of addressing world food security at a recent Food and Agriculture Organization meeting in Malaysia. The event was funded by the pro-GM US, Canadian and Australian Governments.

Civil society representatives from the Global South rejected the premise of the event that improved access to agricultural biotechnologies are needed to help defeat hunger, malnutrition and poverty in the Asia-Pacific region.

The focus of the discussion was supposed to be on

sustainable food systems for small farmers – not on increasing yields to generate more money from small pieces of land. However, the majority of the supposed ‘solutions’ presented at the meeting were GMOs including many new GM techniques still at proof of concept stage that have not been subject to any kind of safety assessment.

As civil society delegates pointed out, the current supply of food already exceeds demand, but there are serious issues around good governance and equitable distribution of food. Even if these new GM techniques could produce a higher yield in a few select crops – which is not

demonstrated – this would not solve the problem of hunger nor secure livelihoods for smallholders. Instead, it could lead to greater levels of corporate influence and an increasing reliance of small farmers on cash crops – and fluctuating global commodity markets – rather than food crops.

28.03.2017 |

Adverse Effects of Glyphosate on the Soil and Environment After 20 Years

Glyphosate is the active ingredient of formulated herbicides including Roundup (manufactured by Monsanto) and is the most widely used herbicide compound in the world. Worldwide use is estimated at 1.35 million metric tons as of 2017. Major crops including soybean, maize, cotton, canola, sugar beet and alfalfa are genetically engineered (GE) to resist the herbicidal action of glyphosate.

Although glyphosate use has increased nearly 15-fold since 1996 when glyphosate-resistant GE crops were first introduced, it is only within the last 5-10 years that assessment of its detrimental effects on soil and environmental health have become the focus of intensive research efforts. A journal article entitled "Soil and Environmental Health after Twenty Years of Intensive Use of Glyphosate"reports that glyphosate and its primary metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) are now frequently detected in ground and surface waters and in some marine environments.

25.11.2016 |

Biosafety Aspects of Genome-Editing Techniques

The safety of such genome-editing techniques relies on two premises: 1) Changes only in the intended places and 2) Only the changes intended. However, off-target effects may occur, and the more off-target activity there is, the more likely unintended and potentially adverse effects might arise. In addition, the DNA modification that results may show large variation, with many knowledge gaps remaining.

The author calls for proper regulation and mandatory risk assessment for genome-edited products. It is crucial that regulators ask for experimental evidence to address potential adverse effects of genome-editing techniques in order to avoid a vacuum in the risk assessment of such organisms.

Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety will meet in Cancún, Mexico from 4th to 17th December, where the issue of synthetic biology, of which genome-editing is a supporting technology, will be discussed. It is critical that the biosafety and risk assessment aspects of genome-editing techniques are considered, so as to ensure that robust and comprehensive regulatory oversight is provided for synthetic biology.