domingo, octubre 19, 2014

From GM Watch: Lack of evidence to prove GMO safety

Lack of evidence to prove GMO safety – new peer-reviewed study

on .

81% of approved GMOs not studied for detailed health effects
A group of researchers set out to see how much evidence there is for the safety of crops containing the most common GM genes – for insect resistance and herbicide tolerance – for animals that eat them. They focused on histopathological investigations of the digestive tract in rats, since this would be the main target organ of any new toxic proteins produced by the GM process.
The researchers found that of 47 crop varieties approved by government regulators for animal or human consumption, there were peer-reviewed published studies for only 9. They could find no studies whatsoever for the other 38 approved varieties. This means that they could not find any published histopathology studies for 81% of approved GM crop varieties. What is more, the studies that were carried out were poorly conducted or reported.
The researchers concluded, "There is a lack of evidence to prove that these crop varieties are safe to eat."
The study is a useful antidote to the recent review by former Monsanto scientist Alison Van Eenennaam, which claimed to show that over 100 billion animals had eaten GM feed with no ill effects.
1. Does eating GM crops harm the digestive tracts of rats? – Clear English summary
2. GM crops and the rat digestive tract: A critical review – Study abstract

1. Does eating GM crops harm the digestive tracts of rats?

A review of the scientific evidence
Clear English summary of paper by Dr Judy Carman
29 September 2014
This is a briefing about a new, peer-reviewed scientific paper titled: GM crops and the rat digestive tract: A critical review, by Irena Zdziarski, Dr John Edwards, Dr Judy Carman and Dr Julie Haynes*. The paper is a review done by researchers at the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the Institute of Health and Environmental Research, all based in South Australia. The paper reviewed published studies where the health of rats was assessed after the rats were fed certain GM crops.

2. GM crops and the rat digestive tract: A critical review

Zdziarski IM, Edwards JW, Carman JA, Haynes JI.
Environ Int. 2014 Dec;73C:423-433. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2014.08.018. Epub 2014 Sep 20.
The aim of this review is to examine the relationship between genetically modified (GM) crops and health, based on histopathological investigations of the digestive tract in rats. We reviewed published long-term feeding studies of crops containing one or more of three specific traits: herbicide tolerance via the EPSPS gene and insect resistance via cry1Ab or cry3Bb1 genes. These genes are commonly found in commercialised GM crops. Our search found 21 studies for nine (19%) out of the 47 crops approved for human and/or animal consumption. We could find no studies on the other 38 (81%) approved crops. Fourteen out of the 21 studies (67%) were general health assessments of the GM crop on rat health. Most of these studies (76%) were performed after the crop had been approved for human and/or animal consumption, with half of these being published at least nine years after approval. Our review also discovered an inconsistency in methodology and a lack of defined criteria for outcomes that would be considered toxicologically or pathologically significant. In addition, there was a lack of transparency in the methods and results, which made comparisons between the studies difficult. The evidence reviewed here demonstrates an incomplete picture regarding the toxicity (and safety) of GM products consumed by humans and animals. Therefore, each GM product should be assessed on merit, with appropriate studies performed to indicate the level of safety associated with them. Detailed guidelines should be developed which will allow for the generation of comparable and reproducible studies. This will establish a foundation for evidence-based guidelines, to better determine if GM food is safe for human and animal consumption.

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Toward the agro-police state


Toward the Agro-Police State

Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero | 09.20.2014
Welcome to the brave new world of precision farming, in which every farmer will need a wifi connection and an iPad. 

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sábado, octubre 18, 2014

Syngenta sued for $1 billion over China's rejection of GM corn

On Wednesday, October 15, 2014 5:24 PM, TWN Biosafety Info wrote:

Title : Syngenta Sued for $1 Billion Over China's Rejection of GM Corn
Date : 15 October 2014
London, 13 Oct (Mae-Wan Ho*) -- US corn prices plummeted as China rejected all shipments containing traces of Syngenta's MIR162. Farmers from 5 major corn growing states have filed 3 class action lawsuits against Syngenta, claiming damages of more than $1 billion**. 
[** See "Billion-dollar lawsuits claim GMO corn ‘destroyed' US export to China", RT Question More, 6 October 2014, . See also ‘Farmers Sue Syngenta'. Chemical & Engineering News, 13 October 2014,] 
Syngenta released MIR162, trade name Agrisure Vipera, in 2009. It is engineered to make a Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) protein vip3Aa20 toxic to lepidopteran insect pests (butterflies and moths) [Event Name: MIR162, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, accessed 13 October 2014, EventID=130], and also has a gene pmi (phosphomannose isomerase) from E. coli to allow positive selection for the transgene. 
It was created with Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated plant transformation, a particularly hazardous vector system that risks further horizontal gene transfer (see ‘Ban GMOs Now', ISIS Special Report available at 
While MIR162 is approved for use in the US, China has not allowed its import into the country. 
Syngenta is blamed for destroying the export of US corn to China, which led to depressed prices for domestic corn, according to Volnek Farms, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in Omaha, Nebraska federal court. The two other suits were filed in Iowa and Illinois federal courts. 
None of the farmers involved in the lawsuits planted MIR162 seed in their fields in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. But their harvested crop was contaminated with traces of the transgenic trait, and hence unsalable to the Chinese market. 
Although Viptera has been planted on only about 3% of US farm acreage, it is difficult to say for sure "that any shipments of US corn will not be contaminated with trace amounts of MIR162", the Nebraska plaintiff stated. 
The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) had encouraged Syngenta to stop selling Viptera, according to the Iowa claim. The NGFA estimated that actions taken in China against US corn have caused prices to drop by 11 cents per bushel. 
The Iowa suit also claims that the release of Syngenta's Viptera caused the US-to-China export market to drop by 85%. Nebraska plaintiffs, too, accuse Syngenta of having crippled the 2013-14 corn export market to China. 
The NGFA reported in April 2014 that China had barred nearly 1.45 million tons of corn shipments since 2013. 
In 2011, Syngenta requested in federal court that a grain elevator firm, Bunge North America, to remove its signs that said it would not accept Vipera corn. The request was denied. 
Concern over the safety of GM food may have played a role in a recent decision by China's officials to move away from GM production. 
In August, China's Ministry of Agriculture announced it would not continue with GM rice and corn ["End of the line: GMO production in China halted", RT Question More, 21 August, 2014,]. 
[* Dr Mae-Wan Ho is the co-founder and director of the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS), an independent, not-for-profit organisation founded in 1999 and dedicated to providing critical public information on cutting-edge science, and to promoting social accountability and ecological sustainability in science. Since 1994, she has been scientific advisor to the Third World Network. This article was first published on the ISIS website and can be found at:$1_billion.php] +

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Venezuela defiende sus semillas

Venezuela: Primera Discusión de la Nueva Ley de Semillas en la Asamblea Nacional

 Campaña Nacional Venezuela Libre de Transgénicos

"El proceso de construcción de esta ley ha movilizado al movimiento popular ecosocialista, y en ejercicio de la contraloría social se ha venido participando activamente en la redacción de esta propuesta legislativa fundamental para la soberanía alimentaria, en una coyuntura regional en la cual las transnacionales del agronogocio y principalmente Monsanto han venido haciendo lobby en otros países para impulsar leyes de semilla neoliberales."

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Conventional outperforms GMO


Plant Breeding vs. GMOs: Conventional Methods Lead the Way in Responding to Climate Change

Genetically engineered (GE) seeds are often sold to farmers and the public on the grounds that they are the wave of the future, taking over where conventional plant breeding left off by improving productivity and sustainability. But that might be changing.
Last month, the highly respected science journal Nature published a news article reporting that conventional breeding substantially out-performs genetic engineering for several very important traits—drought tolerance and the ability of crops to use nitrogen (e.g., from fertilizer or manure) more efficiently.
- See more at:

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viernes, octubre 17, 2014

Second Discovery of Unapproved GM Wheat in the U.S.

 14 October 2014


Unapproved genetically modified (GM) wheat developed by Monsanto has recently been found growing at a research facility of Montana State University, which ended field trials on it over a decade ago. This is the second such finding of GM wheat, following the discovery of another unapproved Monsanto GM wheat variety in an Oregon farm last year. Both varieties are resistant to Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup. (See Items 1 and 2). 
GM wheat has not been approved for commercial release anywhere in the world. The Oregon discovery resulted in countries like South Korea and Japan temporarily stopping imports of U.S. wheat and there are concerns that the Montana incident will trigger the same reaction. Several Oregon farmers sued Monsanto for failing to protect the market from contamination and the parties have agreed to a settlement. “Genetic contamination is a serious threat to farmers across the country,” says Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its final report on the Oregon case. While admitting that it did not know how the contamination occurred, it has dismissed it as an “isolated incident” and declared that the GM wheat was not found in commercial supplies. It is currently investigating the Montana event. (See Item 3).
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Item 1
Mary Clare Jalonick, The China Post
Item 2

by Carey Gillam, Reuters

Monsanto Co's experimental genetically engineered wheat, never approved for sale, has been found growing in a second U.S. state, and regulators said on Friday they could not explain how the plants escaped field trials that ended almost a decade ago.
Item 3

After conducting a thorough and scientifically detailed investigation into the detection last year of genetically engineered (GE) wheat growing in a single field on a single farm in Oregon, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has concluded that the presence of the GE wheat appears to be an isolated incident. The GE wheat found on the Oregon farm was developed by Monsanto to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, also known as Roundup.

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Insect Pollinators a Significant Factor in Transgene Flow in Rice

Oryza sativa with small wind pollinated flowers

Oct 17 2014

It has generally been assumed that, because rice is largely a self-pollinated crop and dispersal of its pollen by wind is limited, there is low risk of gene flow between cultivated GM rice plants and other cultivated or wild rice. Few studies have, however, paid attention to the impact of insect pollination on gene flow in rice.
A large-scale study conducted in China has found that over 510 insect species visited rice flowers and several of these carried away large amounts of pollen, some up to 500 metres away. In a field-cage experiment with GM and non-GM rice, using honeybees as pollinators, the screening of over 1-5 million germinated offspring seeds over three years revealed that honeybees increased transgene flow in rice significantly.
The researchers concluded that “the potential exists for long-distance gene escape due to the abundance of insects that carry rice pollen”. They stressed that this factor must form part of the ecological risk assessment for GM rice as well as for other GM crops. 
The summary of the research report published in the Journal of Applied Ecology is reproduced below.  

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Journal of Applied Ecology 2014 doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12299 
1. Rice is one of the most important crops in the world. Several transgenic varieties of rice have been developed, and some have recently entered pre-production trials. One concern with genetically modified (GM) crops is transgene escape, but prior studies suggest this risk is low for rice because it is self-pollinated and the dispersal of pollen by wind is limited.
2. Little is known about the impact of pollen transport by insects. We characterized the insects visiting rice plants during anthesis and considered the effects of insect pollination on gene flow. 3. We conducted a 2-year nationwide survey in China and identified more than 510 insect species that visited rice flowers. Honeybees, hoverflies and several other species carried large amounts of pollen. The European honeybee Apis mellifera visited rice flowers regularly with daily foraging activity peaking between 12.00 and 13.00 h.
4. We monitored 20 European honeybee colonies located 100–1000 metres away from rice fields in mixed agricultural landscapes and found the honeybees carried viable pollen at least 500 m away from the rice pollen source.
5. We used four GM rice lines as pollen donors, their non-GM parental varieties as pollen recipients and the European honeybee as the pollinator in field-cage experiments to assess whether honeybees increase the frequency of gene flow in rice. Results from screening over 1-5 million germinated offspring seeds over a 3-year study period showed that honeybees significantly increase transgene flow in rice.
6. Synthesis and applications. Our results indicate that a remarkably high diversity of insects visit rice flowers in China and that hundreds of species including honeybees carry large amounts of rice pollen. European honeybees carry viable pollen over long distances, forage on rice flowers regularly and increase the frequency of transgene flow. Insects mediate gene flow in rice more than previously assumed, and this should be taken into consideration during the ecological risk assessment of transgene flow in self-pollinated and/or anemophilous crops.

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Hacia el estado agropolicial - ahora vas a necesitar un iPad para ser agricultor, por Carmelo Ruiz Marrero

El año pasado el gigante de biotecnología Monsanto compró la empresa Climate Corporation por $930 millones. Esta compañía, fundada en 2006 por ingenieros y científicos de Google y otras empresas de alta tecnología, posee una plataforma tecnológica que combina un minucioso monitoreo de condiciones meteorológicas locales, modelaje de datos agronómicos y simulaciones del tiempo en alta resolución. Maneja 50 terabytes de datos en cualquier momento dado para poder procesar datos meteorológicos de 2.5 millones de localidades y 150 mil millones de análisis de suelos, los cuales generan 10 trillones (10 a la 13 potencia) de puntos de datos para simular el tiempo. Con esta vasta información, Climate le vende a agricultores lo que llama Total Weather Insurance, un paquete analítico, de monitoreo y manejo de riesgo para asegurar cosechas.


Bienvenidos al mundo de la agricultura de precisión, donde el agricultor necesita internet inalámbrico wifi y un iPad para sembrar. La agricultura de precisión es el nombre colectivo de una gama de tecnologías de informática y monitoreo de siembras. Los alegados beneficios de este nuevo paquete tecnológico incluyen mayores rendimientos de las cosechas, mejor información para tomar decisiones en el manejo de la finca, reducción del uso de agroquímicos y fertilizantes, y aumento en los márgenes de ganancia. Esta nueva modalidad de agricultura se sirve de varias tecnologías de punta, como sistemas de información geográfica, percepción remota, telecomunicaciones, computadoras portátiles, procesamiento de información, y sistema de posicionamiento global (GPS, por sus siglas en inglés).


Hay críticos, sin embargo, que temen que estas nuevas tecnologías serán un riesgo para la sustentabilidad agrícola y las comunidades rurales, ya que podrían someter a los agricultores a nuevas formas de dependencia y establecer de facto un estado agropolicial, gobernado por corporaciones trasnacionales.

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jueves, octubre 16, 2014

Study Finds that Monsanto’s GM Soybean May Increase Insect Pest

16 October 2014


Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) soybean ‘Intacta’ (MON 87701×MON 89788) has both an insect resistance trait and a herbicide (glyphosate) resistance trait. Insect resistance comes from the expression of Cry proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). 
Although the Bt soybean has been found to be effective against Lepidopteran pests, it is not effective against the southern armyworm, Spodoptera eridania, a non-target organism which feeds on soybean leaves and pods. Such organisms are becoming economically significant soybean pests. A recently published scientific study in Brazil, co-authored by Monsanto employees, has evaluated the impact of Intacta on Spodoptera eridania and on the development of Telenomus remus, which parasitizes the former’s eggs (Item 1). 
The study found that the Bt soybean reduced S. eridania’s larval development duration by two days and lengthened the adult male lifespan by three days. The researchers describe this as “favorable to pest development”. This was attributed to be a likely result of unintended changes in plant characteristics caused by the insertion of the transgene. Thus, the results represent a warning that farms planting the Intacta soybean may see an increase in S. eridania populations. However, the Bt soybean had no effect on T. remus, which can help prevent S. eridania outbreaks. 
In the European Union, Intacta soybean has been approved for import and processing of food and feed. Testbiotech and other organisations have filed a lawsuit at the European Court of Justice opposing this approval. "The EU approval for the Intacta soybean should be withdrawn, since there is an obvious need for thorough reassessment and further investigations, "says Christoph Then for Testbiotech. "The newly published findings have unknown causes and could affect food safety." (See Item 2) 
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 Item 1 
Genetically modified crops with insect resistance genes from Bacillus thuringiensis Berliner (Bt-plants) are increasingly being cultivated worldwide. Therefore, it is critical to improve our knowledge of their direct or indirect impact not only on target pests but also on non-target arthropods. Hence, this study evaluates comparative leaf consumption and performance of Spodoptera eridania (Cramer), a species that is tolerant of the Cry1Ac protein, fed with Bt soybean, MON 87701×MON 89788 or its non-Bt isoline. We also assessed the comparative performance of the egg parasitoid Telenomus remus Nixon on eggs of S. eridania produced from individuals that fed on these two soybean isolines as larvae. Results showed that Bt soybean reduced by 2 days larval development and increased by 3 days adult male longevity. Therefore, we conclude that the effect of Bt soybean MON 87701×MON 89788 on S. eridania development and reproduction is small, and favorable to pest development. These differences are less likely to directly result from the toxin presence but indirectly from unintended changes in plant characteristics caused by the insertion of the transgene. Our results should be viewed as an alert that S. eridania populations may increase in Bt soybeans, but on the other hand, no adverse effects of this technology were observed for the egg parasitoid T. remus which can help to prevent S. eridaniaoutbreaks on these crops.
Keywords: plant resistance, non-target pests, natural enemy, egg parasitoid, genetically modified organisms (GMO) 
Item 2
by Testbiotech

A new scientific publication co-authored by Monsanto employees, is warning that the cultivation of the genetically modified soybean Intacta (MON 87701 × MON 89788) could promote the spread of specific pest insects. According to the authors, the effects are likely to be caused by unintended effects in the plants, possibly arising from the insertion of the additional DNA. The genetically engineered soybean produced by Monsanto is resistant to herbicides containing glyphosate and produces a Bt insecticide. Brazilian scientists in collaboration with Monsanto employees have discovered that certain pest insects (Spodoptera eridania, southern armyworm), which can cause considerable damage in soybean fields, develop faster and live longer if their larvae feed off the plants.

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Acquisition of Africa’s SeedCo by Monsanto, Groupe Limagrain: Neo-colonial occupation of Africa’s seed systems

Addis Ababa 7 October 2014
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) is deeply concerned about the recent acquisitions by multi-national seed companies of large parts of SeedCo, one of Africa’s largest home-grown seed companies. Attracting foreign investment from the world’s largest seed companies, most of who got to their current dominant positions by devouring national seed companies and their competitors through mergers and acquisitions, is an inevitable consequence of the fierce drive to commercialise agriculture in Africa.


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miércoles, octubre 15, 2014

Dr. Ray Seidler, Former Senior Scientist of the EPA: Vote YES on 92!

Andrés Carrasco vs. Monsanto

El profesor Andrés Carrasco tuvo enemigos muy poderosos, pero también muchos amigos en un país que depende en gran medida de la soja transgénica. A continuación mostramos el homenaje que le han rendido en un medio de comunicación de Venezuela. después de su muerte el pasado mes de mayo. La prensa corporativa argentina ha mantenido silencio sobre su muerte y su trayectoria, por las razones que se explican en el artículo.


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martes, octubre 14, 2014

La fábrica de genes defectuosos. Cuando los genes se portan mal.

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lunes, octubre 13, 2014

Ponencia de Carmelo Ruiz Marrero ante la Cámara de Representantes: Por un Puerto Rico agroecológico y libre de transgénicos

Las megaempresas que controlan la agricultura industrial ahora nos ofrecen cultivos genéticamente alterados, o transgénicos, que supuestamente aumentan los rendimientos, reducen el uso de agrotóxicos, controlan malezas y plagas de manera ambientalmente benigna, y muchos otros beneficios para consumidores, agricultores, el ambiente y los hambrientos del mundo. Pero los alegados beneficios de estas novedosas semillas producto de la biotecnología moderna son puramente imaginarios. Al contrario, los cultivos transgénicos han exacerbado el hambre y la miseria rural, han llevado al desarrollo de supermalezas y superplagas, han empeorado los problemas ambientales causados por la agricultura moderna, y estudios científicos no financiados por la industria de biotecnología consistentemente han encontrado en los alimentos transgénicos daños a la salud de animales de laboratorio lo suficientemente serios como para exigir una moratoria a su producción. Esto nos concierne a los puertorriqueños no solamente como consumidores sino que nos concierne también porque las compañías de biotecnología agrícola, como Monsanto, Syngenta y Pioneer, tienen una gran concentración de cultivos transgénicos experimentales y de propagación de semilla en terrenos agrícolas de nuestro país.

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