GMO news related to United Kingdom

07.05.2021 |

Gene editing ban reviews spark Unite union concern

Trade union Unite is urging caution over moves by both the UK and the EU to relax rules governing the commercial use of gene editing in agriculture.

28.04.2021 |

Gene editing and the Seed Goliaths

Early in 2021, DEFRA ran a consultation on gene editing, focusing in large part on whether gene-edited organisms (GEOs) ought to be distinguished from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in law, allowing gene-edited technologies to be liberated from GMO regulations. DEFRA stated in its press release that these new gene-editing technologies will ‘help the UK reach its vital climate and biodiversity goals in a safe and sustainable way.’ But what guarantees can we have that this will be the primary goal of the sector?

This blog considers whether deregulation of genetic editing could be yet another example of policy bias in favour of large business and technological quick-fixes over more sustainable, more democratic alternatives.

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If DEFRA’s ambition is to reach the UK’s biodiversity and climate goals, ceding more power to agribusiness is neither the only, nor the most obvious solution. A transition, instead, to more agroecological farming relies on giving power back to the farmers to be stewards of agrobiodiversity and of nature’s vital genetic resources.

Bella Driessen is Research Officer at the Food Research Collaboration, based at the Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London.

27.04.2021 |

Proven: Glyphosate herbicides change gene function and cause DNA damage

Bombshell finding could end EU authorization of glyphosate. Report: Claire Robinson

Glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup activate mechanisms involved in cancer development, including DNA damage – and these effects occur at doses assumed by regulators to have no adverse effects, a new study shows. The DNA damage was caused by oxidative stress, a destructive imbalance in the body that can cause a long list of diseases.

The study also found that the isolated active ingredient of Roundup – glyphosate alone – damaged DNA. This finding, according to the EU’s pesticide law, should result in a ban on glyphosate and all its formulations. In addition, the results obtained in the study could strengthen the legal cases of the cancer sufferers in the US who are suing Bayer/Monsanto because they believe that exposure to Roundup caused their disease. Three such cases have already been decided in favour of the plaintiffs.

13.03.2021 |

Post-Brexit Britain: A new GM food fight

What you need to do by 17 March

The following UK call to action has come in from a correspondent of ours, who has given us permission to publish it anonymously.

01.03.2021 |

Food and farming policy amidst new diplomatic relationships between the UK, USA and EU

A guest blog from Dr. Charles Benbrook, ED, Heartland Health Research Alliance

We live in tumultuous times. Long-held alliances have been tested and some severed, but a renewal of diplomacy and partnership between the US and EU is as inevitable as the coming spring after this darkest of winters.

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Hopefully, EU commissioners and farm leaders paid little attention to the former US Secretary of Agriculture when he predicted doom and deprivation for EU citizens and farmers if the continent rejects ‘modern agriculture’ technology.

I laughed out loud when I read about Secretary Purdue’s assertion that European farmers will fall behind in the race to feed the world if they do not adopt US-style GMO seeds and the associated pesticide-intensive cropping systems. These are the very farming systems that are eroding the economic and environmental sustainability of US commodity farms. The list of damage done includes driving up farmer costs, eroding soil health, and degrading food nutritional quality and food safety.

19.02.2021 |

Co-op becomes first British supermarket to reject GM crops and animals without strict assessments

- The company has thrown its weight behind the #NotInMySupermarket campaign

- The food campaign is coordinated by the groups Beyond GM and SlowFood UK

- According to surveys, majority of UK shoppers oppose genetically modified food

The Co-op has become the first UK supermarket to reject genetically edited food crops and animals without strict assessment and labels.

The move comes amid a Government review on the controversial items, dubbed ‘Frankenstein foods’.

Ministers are consulting on removing some controls, which might include dropping mandatory labelling on foods which contain genetically edited ingredients.

15.02.2021 |

Gene Editing Consultation

The UK Government has launched a Consultation on the Regulation of Genetic Technologies. They are proposing that plants and animals created using new experimental genetic engineering technologies (commonly referred to as gene-edited or genome edited) should be deregulated. This would remove essential protections for people, animals and the environment as well as our right to choose what we are buying and eating.

Please respond to this important consultation by Wednesday 17 March 2021.

27.01.2021 |

Gene-editing advocates ignore history at their peril

Talk with—not at—the public, or risk losing the argument again, says Jack Stilgoe

British scientists are, it’s safe to say, pro-EU. However, during the Brexit spasms, one corner of the scientific community could see a possible upside.

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Gene-editing also raises new possibilities for modified animals in agriculture, which raises additional concerns about animal welfare. Liz O’Neill, director of GM Freeze, has argued that the process of consultation and public debate looks careless.

A new public debate is welcome, but if the government isn’t careful, it risks having—and losing—the same arguments it lost last time around.

21.12.2020 |

Clearing land to feed 2050’s human population threatens biodiversity

The world’s farmland is projected to grow by 3.4 million square kilometers by 2050

Humankind’s growing need for food is running up against thousands of other species’ need for space.

By 2050, humans may need to clear an additional 3.35 million square kilometers of land for agriculture. Converting these largely natural habitats, collectively about the size of India, would squeeze more than 17,000 vertebrate species from some of their lands, researchers report December 21 in Nature Sustainability.

But changing how, where and what food is grown can minimize the impacts, says conservation scientist David Williams of the University of Leeds in England. “We can feed the planet without screwing it up too badly.”

14.09.2020 |

Why the UK could end up deploying risky gene drives while ignoring natural biological control

First they cloned Dolly the sheep. Now they’re targeting grey squirrels. Report: Jonathan Matthews

This summer 78 environmental, agricultural, animal welfare and development organisations from all over Europe called on the European Union to outlaw the release of Gene Drive Organisms in the EU and internationally, warning that reprogramming or eradicating entire animal populations posed grave risks. They’re hoping that the European Union will respect the precautionary principle and reject the release into the wild of this application of ecosystem-level genetic engineering, given its many unexplored risks.

But what about deployment of gene drives in the UK? After all, the UK government deliberately avoided transferring the precautionary principle into post-Brexit law. And given that it has made “liberating” biotechnology a flagship goal and has already begun a push to deregulate gene-editing, it seems highly unlikely that it would support a moratorium.

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