GMO-free news from Canada

20.08.2020 |

Podcast #4: What is Technology?

And why do we need technology assessment? An interview with Jim Thomas

In this episode, ETC Co-Executive Director Jim Thomas explains how ETC understands technology, "Mooney's Law," and the utility of technology assessments for social movements. The episode is hosted by Zahra Moloo.

07.07.2020 |

Genome Editing in Food and Farming: Risks and Unexpected Consequences

The report provides an overview of the new genetic engineering techniques of genome editing being explored in agriculture, and the range of risks and potential unexpected consequences that can arise from them.

The purpose of our report is to support public discussions about the possible implications of using genetic engineering in food and farming. How should new genetic engineering technologies be used, and how should decisions about them be made?

12.02.2020 |

Three Big Battles for Global Food Policy Looming

World Food Systems Summit is part of a three-pronged corporate food policy power grab

February 12, 2020—A corporate alliance (consisting of Big Ag, the World Economic Forum, philanthro-capitalists and others) have spearheaded three separate initiatives (the Food Systems Summit, restructuring research institutions, acceleration of data collection) which threaten to converge and utterly transform the multilateral food and agriculture system.

If successful, these initiatives would further force-feed the failed industrial food system to the public sector and world agriculture, binding governments to a corporate agenda that marginalizes farmers, civil society, social movements and agroecology.

In a new Communiqué, The Next Agribusiness Takeover, ETC Group describes in detail the history and implications of the three initiatives – for which the World Food Systems Summit is setting the framework.

21.11.2019 |

CBAN Factsheet: “Golden Rice” GM Vitamin A Rice

Golden Rice is the name of a rice that has been genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) to produce beta-carotene,

which the body can convert into vitamin A. This beta-carotene gives the rice grains the yellowish colour that inspired its name.

Golden Rice is being developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), a research and educational organization

based in the Philippines, along with various national partners in other countries.

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GOLDEN RICE IN CANADA

The 2018 decision by Canadian government regulators (Health Canada) to assess and approve the safety of Golden Rice was not a “humanitarian gesture.” Health Canada was clear that “the efficacy of the GR2E rice in helping vitamin A deficiency in affected populations was not evaluated” and that “IRRI has indicated that this product is not intended to be sold in Canada.”

11.11.2019 |

Plate Tech-Tonics: Mapping Corporate Power in Big Food

Intersecting oligopolies, big data, unprecedented control of seeds byagrochemical companies. Corporations and giant asset managementfirms are creating an earthquake in the food system, in order to establish control of machinery, livestock breeding, pharmaceuticals and other inputs to the global food system, while consolidation continues in processing and distribution as well.

ETC’s new report, Plate Tech-tonics, tracks players and trends to shed light on the state of corporate control in industrial food production.

04.10.2019 |

Highlight negative results to improve science

Publishers, reviewers and other members of the scientific community must fight science’s preference for positive results — for the benefit of all, says Devang Mehta.

Near the end of April, my colleagues and I published an unusual scientific paper — one reporting a failed experiment — in Genome Biology. Publishing my work in a well-regarded peer-reviewed journal should’ve been a joyous, celebratory event for a newly minted PhD holder like me. Instead, trying to navigate through three other journals and countless revisions before finding it a home at Genome Biology has revealed to me one of the worst aspects of science today: its toxic definitions of ‘success’.

Our work started as an attempt to use the much-hyped CRISPR gene-editing tool to make cassava (Manihot esculenta) resistant to an incredibly damaging viral disease, cassava mosaic disease. (Cassava is a tropical root crop that is a staple food for almost one billion people.) However, despite previous reports that CRISPR could provide viral immunity to plants by disrupting viral DNA, our experiments consistently showed the opposite result.

In fact, our paper also showed that using CRISPR as an ‘immune system’ in plants probably led to the evolution of viruses that were more resistant to CRISPR. And although this result was scientifically interesting, it wasn’t the ‘positive’ result that applied scientists like me are taught to value. I had set off on my PhD trying to engineer plants to be resistant to viral diseases, and instead, four years later, I had good news for only the virus.

11.06.2019 |

First Canadian case of insect resistance to GM Bt corn discovered

Farmers in Nova Scotia have found that the European corn borer has developed resistance to the GM trait designed to kill it

In Nova Scotia, corn farmers are observing that the European corn borer, an insect pest, has developed resistance to the genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) trait designed to kill it.

This is the first report in the world of the European corn borer (ECB) developing resistance to a genetically engineered trait used to confer insect resistance. It is also the first report in Canada of any insect pest developing resistance to a genetically engineered trait. The development of resistance in other insect pests targeted by Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) traits in corn has been observed in the US, South Africa and Brazil. Additionally, in the US and other countries, some cotton pests have also developed resistance to Bt cotton traits.

“This is an important reminder that nature can adapt to and overcome genetically engineered traits,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

The Canadian Corn Pest Coalition reported that some ECB populations have developed resistance to the Cry1F protein, which is one of at least eight genetically engineered Bt proteins used in Canada in genetically engineered insect-resistant corn.

31.05.2019 |

Are New Genetically Modified Techniques the Future of Food and Farming?

I first met Jim Thomas, Co-Director of the ETC Group, at a Sustainable Ag and Food Systems Funders conference. Jim had been tracking emerging technologies and their intersection with food and agriculture for some time. When I first heard him speak, in his lilting almost playful cadence, about something called “synthetic biology,” my ears perked up.

He was talking about a new form of genetic engineering that can alter genetics on a worldwide scale – one with little or no government oversight.

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Gene Drives is a controversial technology that changes an organism so that it will ALWAYS pass on those genetically engineered traits to all future generations. Future generations, in turn, will pass it on until it changes the entire population forever.

Imagine the power to change the genetics of entire populations – we now have that power.

With gene drives, we can change or even eradicate entire species from the planet.

29.03.2019 |

Canada doesn’t label GMO foods even though 88% of us say we should

GMOs are on the market, but not labelled in Canada

In the late 1990s, the first genetically modified organisms (GMOs) came on the market. They were genetically engineered for two main reasons: to create insecticidal crops (i.e. plants that produce their own insecticide) and to make plants that can survive herbicide spraying.

My mom was skeptical about the industry’s promise of higher yields and reduced need for pesticides. She wanted to learn more, and her insatiable curiosity was contagious. I soon found myself exchanging books with her, attending conferences and learning as much as I could about these new foods. But it was only after living in Europe for two years, where the law mandates that GMOs be clearly labelled on food products, that I began to ask why, if they are labelled in 64 countries around the world, we don’t do the same here in Canada.

26.03.2019 |

Media Release: New Report Documents Impacts of GM Contamination in Canada

New Report Documents Impacts of GM Contamination in Canada

Groups call for deregistration of genetically modified alfalfa

March 26, 2019 – Regina.

Since genetically modified (GM) crops were introduced into Canadian agriculture almost 25 years ago, GM contamination has had significant economic consequences, according to a report published today by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) and the SaskOrganics’ Organic Agriculture Protection Fund (OAPF) Committee. The report calls for action to prevent future contamination incidents.

“GM Contamination in Canada: The failure to contain living modified organisms – incidents and impacts” documents the details and impacts of all the known contamination incidents in Canada involving GM crops and animals. The costs of GM contamination and escape incidents include the temporary or permanent loss of export markets, lower crop prices, the loss of access to grow a particular crop, and the loss of some farm-saved seed.

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