News

13.01.2021 |

Generation unknown: exposing the truth behind the new generation of GMOs

As Europe's farming sector faces up to the combined challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and an increasingly globalised market, a new generation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is being portrayed as a magical solution.

Some have suggested that these new genetically modified crops, animals and microbes should be exempt from GMO safety legislation, introduced to protect consumers and the environment from the risks posed by GMOs.

This paper argues that these new forms of genetic modification (including techniques such as gene editing) would not make the farming system more resilient to extreme weather, reduce biodiversity loss, or result in healthier food and fairer incomes for farmers, and because of the risks they pose, must be controlled by the existing laws.

It asks key questions as to who will benefit from this new generation of GMOs, who does the technology empower, who does it disempower and who owns it? It also argues for support for genuine solutions that will benefit farmers, consumers and nature in our crisis-engulfed world.

11.01.2021 |

Big data: a friend or foe for small farmers?

When we think of agricultural technology, what often comes to mind is tractors and harvesters. But, in today’s world, we now have drones that hover over crops to detect pests, sensors that monitor soil temperature or moisture, algorithms that advise on the amount of fertilizer or pesticide to use and blockchain systems that allow a product to be traced from origin to consumer.

Technology is rapidly expanding in the agricultural sector, with the digital farming market expected to reach the US$15 billion mark (around €12.5 billion) in 2021, according to PA Consulting, three times more than the US$5 billion generated in 2015. Included in this growth is the value of the software, algorithms, platforms and links between farming and technology hardware, the consulting firm explains. And one of the keys is big data, the gathering of vast amounts of information, in this case about crop characteristics, growing conditions and processes.

02.01.2021 |

Mexico farm lobby blasts ban on GMO corn; organic growers welcome it

MONTERREY, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexico’s main agricultural lobby on Saturday criticized the government’s decision to ban genetically modified corn, while organic growers hailed the move that should protect smaller farmers.

Mexico will “revoke and refrain from granting permits for the release of genetically modified corn seeds into the environment,” stated a decree issued Thursday evening, which also mandated the phase out of GMO corn imports by 2024.

Proponents of GMO corn say the ban on domestic cultivation would limit the options of Mexican farmers, while phasing out its importation could imperil the food chain.

23.12.2020 |

Protest Against Genome Edited “GABA” Tomato in Tokyo, Japan

In what may have been the world’s first protest against a genome edited GMO food product, the GABA tomato, activists from Consumers Union of Japan and the No! GMO Campaign gathered outside Sanatech’s offices in central Tokyo, Japan on 23 December 2020.

* GABA = Gamma-AminoButyric Acid

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.”

21.12.2020 |

ITALY: OPENING UP TO GMOs? NO THANKS!

A broad front of environmentalist associations, organic and peasant farming organisations reiterate that introducing new and old GMOs and cancelling farmers' rights over seeds would be suicide for Made in Italy.

Rome, 21.12.2020: At its meeting tomorrow, 22 December, the Agriculture Committee of the Chamber of Deputies will have to give its opinion on 4 decrees proposed by the Minister of Agriculture, Teresa Bellanova, which, under the pretext of updating phytosanitary measures, reorganises the national seed system, paves the way for the spread of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and the so- called "new" GMOs (New Breeding Techniques - NBT), which the European Court of Justice, in an enforceable ruling in 2018, has equated with traditional GMOs.

Without any public discussion with farmers' organisations, nor with organic farming or environmentalist associations, but perhaps only with professional agricultural organisations that are also owners of seed companies, the MIPAAF is asking the Parliamentary Commission for a positive opinion on the 4 legislative decrees relating to the National Plant Protection Service, the reorganisation of the seed sector, fruit and vegetable propagation material and vines. It is well known that, as regards the reorganisation of the national seed system, there is no need to adapt to European standards since these have not yet been amended, as our Ministry of Agriculture claims.

18.12.2020 |

New GE unintentionally leaves traces in cells

CRISPR/Cas gene scissor applications cause changes in gene regulation

18 December 2020 / A new scientific publication shows that CRISPR/Cas gene scissor applications in animals unintentionally leave traces. The findings are not related to unintended changes in the DNA, which have often been described, but to gene regulation, i.e. epigenetics. The effects are heritable and may, for example, result in disruption of embryonic development.

The new scientific publication describes CRISPR/Cas experiments with mice in which their DNA is cut and additional genetic information inserted. Besides intended changes in DNA in the target region, the findings also showed unintended changes in so-called epigenetic markers that control gene regulation. The effects were heritable and could still be identified after ten generations. According to the authors, the effects can also be used to identify CRISPR/Cas gene scissor applications.

17.12.2020 |

Four of Canada’s Five Major Grocery Chains Fail Transparency Test on GMOs

Sutton and Halifax, December 17, 2020: A new report released today ranks Canada’s major grocery retailers for their transparency on sales of genetically modified (GM) whole foods: fruits and vegetables, and the GM salmon. Out of Canada’s five major grocery chains, only Quebec/Ontario chain Metro provided clear answers for consumers.

“Without mandatory GM food labelling, grocery stores need to step up to provide information to customers.” said Thibault Rehn of Quebec network Vigilance OGM.

Vigilance OGM and the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) have co-published retailer responses to their questionnaire, in a report that provides other basic information for consumers about GM foods. The questionnaire focused on whole foods, asking if the major grocery chains were selling, or going to sell, the GM salmon and GM produce: GM apples, GM potatoes and GM sweetcorn. The report is “GMOs in your grocery store: Ranking company transparency”.

17.12.2020 |

EU Parliament votes against further approvals of GE plants

Testbiotech urges the EU Commission to get active

17 December 2020 / Today the EU Parliament adopted by a large majority several resolutions proposed by the Greens/EFA Group against further EU market approvals of genetically engineered plants. Five applications were filed by Bayer (Monsanto) and Syngenta for maize and soybeans that are resistant to herbicides and/or produce insecticides.

The EU Parliament has adopted more than 50 resolutions since December 2015 against new import approvals for GE plants. However, these votes are not binding for the EU Commission, which approved all of these GE plants for import. According to Testbiotech, the renewed strong evidence for huge gaps in EFSA risk assessment cannot be ignored in the upcoming decision-making.

15.12.2020 |

Seed industry in new push to deregulate GMOs

Italy and France are in the lobbyists' crosshairs

A small but powerful minority of seed and agriculture industry lobby groups continue to push for the deregulation of old and new GMOs (New Breeding Techniques or NBTs), both at European level and in the Member States, reports the peasant farmer network European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC).

ECVC member organisations in Italy and France have denounced the attempts to introduce GMOs by trying to change the Italian legislation on seed marketing without any public debate – and by refusing to apply European regulations on GMOs in France.

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