GENET-news

 Below you find the postings of the last seven days.

 

2008-09-23 |

Gene Campaign (India) calls for ban on field trials of GM rice

Gene Campaign has sought a ban on the field trials of Bt rice that are taking place in parts of the country ”in violation of regulations and conditions laid down for field trials of genetically modified crops.” Saying that no country -- that is the centre of origin of any crop -- allows genetically modified(GM) version of that crop so as to protect the genetic wealth and diversity, Suman Sahai of the Campaign said that it was for that reason that Mexico banned GM corn, Peru disallowed GM potato, and China banned GM soyabean.

2008-09-23 |

Effects of genetically modified cotton on bollworms in China revealed in Science

A study in northern China indicates that genetically modified cotton, altered to express the insecticide, Bt, not only reduces pest populations among those crops, but also reduces pests among other nearby crops that have not been modified with Bt. These findings, reported in the latest issue of Science, could offer promising new ideas for controlling pests and maximizing crop yields in the future.

2008-09-22 |

Analysis of U.S. GE corn seed prices

Research shows a 67-fold increase in genetically modified crops planted in the US and around the world in the past 12 years, bolstering the economic power of a few large biotech firms that have been formed with both vertical and horizontal mergers. The WI ag economists analyzed the trends in seed corn pricing from 2000 to 2007 with the industry dynamics in full swing, particularly comparing the pricing of genetically modified (GM) bundled seed with conventional seed corn, while gauging the market power of the biotech firms.

2008-09-22 |

BASF Plant Science and Monsanto announce cooperation on new GE crops

While the worldwide demand for food, feed and fuel is booming, farmers around the world face losses due to extreme environmental conditions, such as drought. Given this dilemma, increasing and securing yield is the most important challenge in agriculture and also its primary value driver. BASF Plant Science and Monsanto started to jointly address this challenge 18 months ago as the companies announced a research and development collaboration in biotechnology aimed at delivering higher-yielding seed products to farmers.

2008-09-22 |

UK science minister attempts to reopen the debate on GM cropstry Commission states position on requests for GM tree trials

Ministers have given their strongest backing yet to GM crops being planted in the UK. The science minister, Ian Pearson, predicted the public would accept GM crops if they could be convinced that the technology would benefit consumers. [...] Environment minister, Phil Woolas, said opponents of GM had a year to prove it was not safe. ”If you are opposed to GM it is now up to you to provide the evidence that there is harm. Ten years ago it was the other way around,” he said.

2008-09-22 |

Non-GE approach successful to combat banana bacterial wilt in Uganda

A joint FAO-government project in Uganda has helped over 3000 farmers combat a pestilent disease that threatened to wipe out production of cooking banana, a staple crop upon which 14 million Ugandans depend for food and income. Not only has the spread of banana bacterial wilt (BBW) been contained in the districts where the project was implemented, but several participating farmers have doubled or tripled their production of the fruit. [...] No banana varieties are known to be resistant to the disease and there is no chemical control effective against it, so once it appears it can spread like wildfire. [...] “Today you do not find banana wilt disease in any of the districts where the field schools have been established, which were at one time the front line hot spots in this effort,” says Wafa Khoury of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division.

2008-09-22 |

New Western Australian Government urged for safety-first approach for GM trials

Incoming agriculture minister Terry Redman says a cautious approach must be taken towards the introduction of genetically modified food crops in WA, acknowledging that consumer concerns remain over the controversial technology. The Nationals MP also cautioned key broadacre farmer groups who are pushing for commercial GM canola trials by next year that the time frame was ambitious. [...] Mr Redman, who will be sworn in as agriculture minister next week, said adequate segregation systems for GM and non-GM grains needed to be in place before commercial trials took place.

2008-09-22 |

Nine out of 10 Australians want all GM food labelled: poll

Ninety per cent of Australians want all genetically modified (GM) products labelled, according to a recent Newspoll poll. Further, the majority of Australians are less likely to buy food they know contains GM ingredients. According to the poll, when asked if food products from GM crops and animals fed with GM feed should or should not be labelled, 90% of the respondents said they should be labelled. Only 2% of the respondents said they would be more likely to buy a product if they knew it contained GM ingredients, as opposed to 54% who said they would be less likely to buy it.

2008-09-19 |

U.S. FDA announces guidelines on GE food animals: Reactions

Jaydee Hanson, Policy Analyst on cloning and genetics for the Center for Food Safety, reacted to the FDA draft of the GE animal approval process, issued by the agency today:
”The FDA draft guidance released this morning would treat genetically engineered animals under its new animal drug provisions. While the new guidance would require a long-overdue mandatory review process, the proposed FDA rules are seriously flawed. ”At a time when the FDA has inadequate resources to protect the food system and is reeling under allegations of conflicts of interest, this new proposal uses a secret approval process wherein no one other than FDA reviewers can see the data submitted before final approval. And, unlike drugs which can be recalled because they are labeled, FDA maintains that genetically engineered animals should not be labeled.

2008-09-19 |

U.S. FDA assigns priority review to GTC Biotherapeutic’s ATryn

The US Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, has assigned Priority Review to GTC Biotherapeutics, Inc.’s Biologic License Application, or BLA, for ATryn. Priority Review is granted to applications for products that, if approved, would provide a significant improvement in the safety or effectiveness of the treatment, diagnosis or prevention of a serious or life-threatening disease. Under Priority Review, the FDA’s target date for action on the BLA is February 7, 2009.

2008-09-19 |

New GE animals from New Zeland could cope with climate change

New transgenic pasture varieties developed in New Zealand to help farmers cope with climate change could end up being sold to overseas farmers. AgResearch chief executive Andy West told the Meat Industry Association annual conference his scientists were breeding some exciting new pasture varieties that would cope with a different climate. He could not reveal more details about the varieties’ traits until patents had been secured, but said the chances of the new species being used commercially in New Zealand were remote because of a reluctance to use genetically modified products.

2008-09-19 |

Obama announces former Monsanto and Amgen directors as science advisors

Obama announced his science platform earlier this month in response to questions posed by ScienceDebate2008, a nonpartisan political education group. [...] Obama’s team is a mix of contrasting approaches: Lamb and Agre are both academics, while Omenn is a director of the biotechnology company Amgen and Long was a director at agricultural giant Monsanto. In other ways, their expertise is narrow: four of the five advisors come from the life sciences.

2008-09-19 |

U.S. lawmaker questions FDA independency from pharma industry

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration appears to be giving priority to projects that benefit the pharmaceutical industry rather than helping consumers, a top Democratic lawmaker said on Wednesday. The head of the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee questioned how the FDA set its priorities given recent controversies over its handling of safety issues, including tracking tainted foods and inspecting drug manufacturers.

2008-09-19 |

U.S. FDA plans rules for GE food animals

The Food and Drug Administration released proposed guidelines on how to regulate genetically engineered animals, in a move that is expected to pave the way for them to enter the food supply. The biotech industry has long sought to use such technology on fish, pigs, cattle and other animals to produce ones that grow faster or possess desirable traits, such as high fiber content or resistance to illnesses such as mad-cow disease. According to BIO, a biotechnology trade group, there could be as many as two dozen applications to sell genetically engineered animals already pending before the FDA. One submitted by a Massachusetts developer is for an Atlantic salmon.

2008-09-18 |

New law will enforce labelling of contents of GMO foods in South Africa

Labelling of the genetically modified contents of food will become mandatory once the Consumer Protection Bill is implemented, and producers, importers, distributors and retailers will be held liable for any damage these products might cause. Parliament’s trade and industry committee decided to include these controversial provisions in the bill yesterday despite strong opposition by the health and agriculture departments and despite the technical complexity entailed.

2008-09-18 |

South African potato farmer group opposes GM potatoes

The proposed commercial release of a genetically modified (GM) spud in South Africa has become something of a hot potato as farmers and some major food giants say they will not use them. Potato SA, which represents potato farmers, has written to the department of agriculture saying the potential costs, particularly of consumer backlash and possible loss of exports, outweigh the potential benefits. This is the first time organised agriculture has opposed the introduction of a GM crop in South Africa.

2008-09-18 |

Transgenic crops’ days may be numbered in Europe

Pressure from the president of the European Commission has not succeeded in advancing the cause of transgenic crops. In spite of the power wielded by the executive organ of the European Union, the bloc’s member countries are gradually discontinuing the use of genetically modified seeds. [...] Portuguese biologist Margarida Silva, the national coordinator of Plataforma Transgénicos Fora, comprising 12 Portuguese non-governmental organisations working on agriculture and the environment and networking with likeminded NGOs in the EU, told [...] that ”the movement against transgenics is growing in civil society throughout Europe, and GM crops have already been banned in several countries.” ”There isn’t much that Europeans can do, but the power of numbers is still on our side, and we can use them to back Stavros Dimas,” she said.

2008-09-18 |

Major row erupts ahead of All Africa Biotechnology Conference in Kenya

The intentions of a biotechnology forum to be held in Nairobi next week has come under scrutiny from civil society groups that fear it could be a lobbying platform for commercialisation of genetically modified foods in Kenya. The international meeting dubbed ’All Africa Biotechnology Conference’ has been organised by the African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum (ABSF). [...] ”We suspect that the meeting will come up with a resolution that Africa is ready for GM foods and there are no dissenting voices,” said Samuel Ochieng, the acting director general of Consumers International.

2008-09-18 |

Despite a ban, Bt cotton cultivation is widespread in Orissa (India)

THE recent death of 93 goats after grazing near a cotton field in Bolangir, a tribal-dominated district in Orissa, has put the authorities on alert. The field in Kuthurla village, Khaprakhol block, was reportedly under Bt cotton cultivation. The state government discourages cultivation of Bt cotton as a matter of policy. Following the incident, the police arrested one Shankar Deep from the village for allegedly poisoning the goats by sprinkling organophosphate pesticides, a potent neurotoxin, on the field.

2008-09-18 |

Indian GE rice trial under cloud - field test rules flouted

A field trial of genetically-modified rice conducted earlier this year on a farm in Jharkhand’s Ranchi district flouted rules, a non-government agency campaigning for better regulation of biotechnology has claimed. The New Delhi-based Gene Campaign on Tuesday accused Mahyco, a Mumbai-based seed company, of planting an experimental GM rice on a farm in Saparong village without physical isolation of the trial area from neighbouring farms.

2008-09-17 |

Canadian Federal Election: Call for a moratorium on GE crops and foods

A broad coalition of civil society groups is calling on all candidates and Parties in the federal election to support an immediate moratorium on all new genetically engineered (GE) crops and food approvals until the government’s procedures for GE risk assessment have be reviewed and strengthened to meet strict international and scientific standards. The coalition, coordinated by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, has made this call for action on the same day as the National Film Board releases the DVD version of the controversial documentary: The World According to Monsanto.

2008-09-17 |

Greenpeace calls on Philippine Senate to ban GM rice

Greenpeace today called on the Philippine Senate to enact a legislation to ban the commercialization of genetically-modified rice (GMO) rice. The call was made at the opening of a photo exhibit in the Senate halls, featuring the importance of rice in Filipino life and culture and why it must be protected from risky genetic modification.
”Greenpeace is here at the Senate to lobby our senators to enact a legislation to protect our most important staple food from the inherent risks of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering is an unproven, unpredictable and unnecessary technology.

2008-09-17 |

New Zealand’s local councils liable for damages by GE crop trials

Northland ratepayers could shoulder the risk if a field trial of genetically modified organisms goes wrong in the region. The risks and management options of GMO trials is being considered by a Northland and Auckland working party, which includes both the Whangarei District and Northland Regional Councils. It found local councils would have to pay for any environmental damage if a GMO release, approved by the Environmental Risk Management Agency, was to go wrong.

2008-09-17 |

Australian Government stops funding GE virus project to kill invasive toads

FUNDING for research on a genetically engineered virus to control toads has been cancelled for fear it could also wipe out native frogs. The Federal Environment Department withdrew funding for the CSIRO research because its long-term feasibility was questionable and because it faced a major hurdle in being approved for release. [...] Prof Alford said immediate results on small-scale toad control were available for low-tech but community friendly methods such as better trapping that greatly reduced numbers. ”We’ve tripled the catch rate simply by playing back toad calls at a trap,” he said.

2008-09-17 |

GE RR lupins are key to Western Australian future

WORD about genetically modified (GM) plants didn’t take long to surface at the International Lupins Conference in WA this week. Strawberry (west Mingenew) farmer Clancy Michael [...] left no doubt that GM lupins was the key to the future. ”There is a compelling case for the development of a glyphosate-tolerant lupin compared to developing similar technology in other crops such as canola and wheat,” he said. Mr Michael said the lupin industry needed a plant that is highly tolerant to a broad spectrum herbicide such as a glyphosate-tolerant variety.

2008-09-17 |

GM crops lobby sees golden opportunity under new government of Western Australia

WA’s major farming groups are pushing for trials of genetically modified canola under a new government, but opponents warn that unleashing the controversial technology will ruin the State’s clean and green image. The farming industry is expecting a more lenient stance from the new government to test the technology and ultimately produce commercial GM crops in WA. ”Industry will be looking to engage in discussions with this government where as they saw absolutely no way forward with the Carpenter Government,” the chairman of industry body AusBiotech, Ian Edwards, said.

2008-09-16 |

Scottish Ministers urge UK-wide ban on GM crops

SCOTTISH MINISTERS are putting mounting pressure on the UK government to end its support for GM crops now that Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have all agreed to become GM-free. In the wake of the latest GM crop contamination revealed on Friday, the Scottish environment minister, Michael Russell, is urging Whitehall to alter its stance to take account of the strong opposition to genetically modified crops in all the devolved administrations.

2008-09-16 |

Illegal GM crops are found In Scotland (UK)

Fields of oilseed rape in Scotland have been destroyed after it was discovered that the experimental seeds which had been sown were contaminated with unauthorised genetically modified material. The unauthorised GM material was contained among seeds of a new variety of oilseed rape from North America. All new varieties must undergo strict quality control tests which are carried out in trials by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB).

2008-09-16 |

GM potato ”of no use” in South Africa

A pest-resistant strain of genetically modified potato, earmarked for possible commercial release in South Africa, will be of no use to local spud farmers, said the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) this week. It will also increase risk to the farmer in an already volatile agricultural sector. [...] ”The tuber moth is not high on the list of problem pests for our farmers,” explained Mayet. ”This cultivar of potato appears to be a solution, developed in a foreign lab, to search for a problem that hardly exists in South Africa.”

2008-09-16 |

South African Ministry rejects warnings on consumer bill including GE food labelling

Warnings of the dire consequences for business if strict product liability were introduced have failed to convince the trade and industry department that such a measure should be left out of the Consumer Protection Bill. [...] the department was open to the idea of product labelling of genetically modified organisms to give consumers choice. Committee members felt quite strongly that there should be such labelling. Ntuli said a requirement for such labelling was in the original draft of the bill but that the agriculture and health departments were opposed to it on the grounds of cost and technical complexity.

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