jueves, noviembre 27, 2014

GM Contamination Register Logs 396 Incidents over 17 Years


November 26, 2014

Article 17 of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety addresses unintentional transboundary movements and emergency measures to be taken in the case of such movements. The Protocol requires Parties to take appropriate measures to notify affected or potentially affected States when it knows of a release leading to an unintentional transboundary movement of an GMO that is likely to have significant adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health. 
Many cases of unintentional transboundary movements have taken place since the introduction of GMOs. Some of these are also illegal transboundary movements, which are addressed by Article 25 of the Protocol. 
In the absence of a global monitoring system, GeneWatch UK and Greenpeace International launched the GM Contamination Register database (www.contaminationregister.org) in 2005 to record all publically documented incidents of contamination arising from the intentional or accidental release of GM organisms as well as illegal plantings of GM crops and reported adverse agricultural side-effects.
An analysis of the Register database has been recently published. From 1997 to the end of 2013, 396 incidents in 63 countries were recorded. There have also been nine cases of contamination associated with GM lines with no authorisation for cultivation anywhere in the world, hence these have not been risk assessed. An analysis of the data concludes that “GM contamination can occur independently of commercialisation”, as evidenced by GM rice which has never been grown commercially but which records the highest number of contamination incidents. GM maize, soya and oilseed rape, all grown commercially, rate next. 
Once GM contamination has happened, it can be difficult to contain it. However, the detection of GM contamination is dependent on routine and targeted regimes, which is inconsistent across countries. Furthermore, the lack of analytical methodology to detect GM crops at the field trial stage poses an obstacle to detecting any arising contamination.
The Abstract and Conclusions of the paper are reproduced below. 
With best wishes 
Third World Network
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Becky Price and Janet Cotter
International Journal of Food Contamination 2014, 1:5
Since large-scale commercial planting of genetically modified (GM) crops began in 1996, a concern has been that non-GM crops may become contaminated by GM crops and that wild or weedy relatives of GM crops growing outside of cultivated areas could become contaminated. The GM Contamination Register contains records of GM contamination incidents since 1997 and forms a unique database. By the end of 2013, 396 incidents across 63 countries had been recorded.

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Jack Heinemann: Science vs assumption


13 November 2014

The first intentionally pesticidal GM crop trait based on RNA is before food safety regulators for approval to release as a food for humans or feed for animals. Will regulators substitute their assumptions, seemingly validated by the bold statements of some scientists, for data on its safety?


A key plank in the argument made by the food regulator and some scientists is that ingested dsRNAs are too fragile to survive digestion and therefore we cannot be ‘exposed’ to them in an active form. A second plank in the argument is that the concentration of dsRNAs in food would be too low to have an effect even if they were taken up. These arguments are rapidly losing their power to convince as a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that nature doesn’t share their assumptions.

Differences between food and environment regulators

Furthermore, risk assessment by food regulators does not take into account environmental effects. Therefore, their opinions are not relevant to the potential for adverse effects to arise in the environment and are not the final word when it comes to generating the full picture of GMO safety, for people or the environment.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently concluded a large-scale evaluation of dsRNA-based pesticide products and whether or not existing risk assessment frameworks are sufficient to evaluate them for safety. The answer, succinctly, was ‘no’.


...the argument that RNA won’t survive digestion is hypothetical because there are few studies on dsRNA stability through digestion, and none that prove complete removal of dsRNA at the stomach acidity levels typical of different kinds of consumers. Consequently, the EPA Panel “recommended that the stability of dsRNA in individuals that manifest diseases, immune compromised, elderly, or children be investigated.”


Probably more troubling to the scientists and regulators who have attempted to paint a one-dimensional picture of dsRNA risk assessment will be two new publications. The first demonstrates that dsRNAs (miRNAs) found in cow milk are biologically active in humans. The research, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that the miRNA in the cow milk survived digestion and could alter gene expression. The authors said: “We conclude that miRNAs in milk are bioactive food compounds that regulate human genes” 

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miércoles, noviembre 26, 2014

Soberanía alimentaria — Cada Bocado Cuenta 2014

OCA on Starbucks


Organic Consumers Association Statement on Starbucks Participation in Grocery Manufacturers Association’s GMO Labeling Lawsuit against Vermont

Organic Consumers Association, November 25, 2014

FINLAND, Minn. –  The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has called on Starbucks to withdraw from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), an industry lobbying group that is suing Vermont to overturn the state’s GMO labeling law, and is behind H.R. 4432, a federal bill to preempt states’ rights to pass laws requiring the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in food ingredients.

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Trade deals criminalise farmers' seeds


GRAIN | 18 November 2014 | Against the grain
What could be more routine than saving seeds from one season to the next? After all, that is how we grow crops on our farms and in our gardens. Yet from Guatemala to Ghana, from Mozambique to Malaysia, this basic practice is being turned into a criminal offence, so that half a dozen large multinational corporations can turn seeds into private property and make money from them.
But people are fighting back and in several countries popular mobilisations are already forcing governments to put seed privatisation plans on hold.
GRAIN has produced an updated dataset
on how so-called free trade agreements are privatising seeds across the world.
Guatemala’s trade agreement with the US obliges it to adhere to the UPOV Convention. But popular resistance forced the government to repeal a national law passed for this purpose. (Photo: Raúl Zamora)
Guatemala’s trade agreement with the US obliges it to adhere to the UPOV Convention. But popular resistance forced the government to repeal a national law passed for this purpose. (Photo: Raúl Zamora)

Trade agreements have become a tool of choice for governments, working with corporate lobbies, to push new rules to restrict farmers' rights to work with seeds. Until some years ago, the most important of these was the World Trade Organization's (WTO) agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Adopted in 1994, TRIPS was, and still is, the first international treaty to establish global standards for “intellectual property” rights over seeds.1The goal is to ensure that companies like Monsanto or Syngenta, which spend money on plant breeding and genetic engineering, can control what happens to the seeds they produce by preventing farmers from re-using them – in much the same way as Hollywood or Microsoft try to stop people from copying and sharing films or software by putting legal and technological locks on them.

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martes, noviembre 25, 2014

Pueblos fumigados


Los pueblos fumigados queremos hacer pública la constatación del fuerte contraste entre las demandas de poblaciones enteras, alarmadas por el aumento exponencial de enfermedades de todo tipo vinculadas directamente al modelo agrario y la respuesta “de facto” del complejo agroproductor quien sólo atina a huir hacia adelante, produciendo operaciones mediáticas y nuevos experimentos transgénicos, conducta particularmente agravada por la participación de agencias oficiales.

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Why the precautionary principle matters


24 November 2014

A UK government select committee is leading an onslaught against Europe's GMO regulations, warns Claire Robinson

As part of the UK government's unrelenting push to dismantle Europe's GM food regulations, the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee is conducting an inquiry into GM foods and the way they are regulated in Europe under the precautionary principle. 

The intended outcome is almost certainly to replace the precautionary principle, which is currently built into European law, with something along the lines of the 'innovation principle', a concept pushed by corporate interests. 

This initiative comes conveniently in the midst of the TTIP free trade negotiations, which aim to do away with Europe's process-based GMO regulations – that means regulation based on the method of producing the GM plant, which demands that all GMOs are labelled because they are GMOs.

The objectivity of this inquiry is seriously in doubt. The Terms of Reference on the Committee's website state that "European Commission reports" have found "no scientific evidence associating GM organisms with higher risks for the environment or food and feed safety".

The "reports" referred to almost certainly include a report by two divisions of the Commission, "A Decade of EU-Funded GMO Research". Some of the report's editors claim in the introduction that the research projects under this EU initiative found no evidence that GM was any more risky than non-GM breeding. What they do not say is that the project didn't even look at the safety of any GMO that's actually in the food and feed supply!


None of the studies tested a commercialized GM food; none tested the GM food for long-term effects beyond the medium-term period of 90 days; all found differences in the GM-fed animals, which in some cases were statistically significant; and none were able to conclude on the safety of the GM food tested, let alone on the safety of GM foods in general. Therefore the EU research project provides no evidence that could support claims of safety for any single GM food or of GM crops in general.

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GRACE Consortium cannot invalidate criticism of feeding trials


Tuesday, 18. November 2014

The EU project GRACE, has published a first response to Testbiotech’s exposure of flaws in a rat feeding study with genetically engineered maize. In an open letter to Testbiotech, Joachim Schiemann, coordinator of the GRACE Consortium, rejected the objections raised by Testbiotech. At the same time, he neither rebutted Testbiotech’s critique nor did he address the network of vested interests around the publication. In regard to the toxicological data, he mostly repeated what was already stated in the study and therefore criticised by Testbiotech. Consequently, the GRACE Consortium cannot invalidate the evidence presented by Testbiotech.

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lunes, noviembre 24, 2014

Breeder annoyed GM given credit for yield hikes


Brian Rossnagel is tired of proponents of genetically modified crops attributing all the yield increases in corn, soybeans and canola to GM
The plant breeder interviewed in the article below isn't the only one to express annoyance at GM wrongly being credited with yield increases in staple crops.

Earlier this year, a wheat breeder complained that GM is oversold as a plant development method.

The article below contains the misconception that GM is expensive because of regulatory costs. But in fact regulatory costs only amount to 25% of the cost of bringing a GMO trait to market – the rest is basic R&D cost.

Breeder annoyed GM given credit for yield hikes

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Charting the GMO threat


Charting the transgenic threat

Devon G. Peña | Seattle, WA | November 4, 2014

Note: In the world of seed saving and plant breeding, this is the biggest news all year. A new peer-reviewed scientific journal, Food Contamination, has just published a meta-analysis of the GM Contamination Register that was compiled over the past ten years by Genewatch and Greenpeace.  Janet Cotter (Greenpeace) and Becky Price (Genewatch) were the lead compilers of this important database. Here is my take on the significance of this sort of data mapping for  farmers concerned with protecting the genomic integrity and organic or biodynamic status of their land race and heirloom crop varieties.

Image courtesy of Transgenic Study Blog
One of the most significant issues in the debate over the environmental impacts of transgenic[1] crops is the irrefutable scientific fact posed by gene flow.  As a farmer, seed librarian, and plant breeder, I am deeply concerned with the threat of genetic contamination posed by transgenic crops to center of origin land race varieties grown across all of the indigenous First Nation territories of Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Other farmers and scientists who share this concern have been presenting evidence of this transgenic threat since 2001 when Ignacio Chapela and David Quist of the University of California-Berkeley documented introgression of transgenes in native land race populations of Zea mays (maize) in Oaxaca, Mexico.

It has been a challenge to keep track of the growing number of such events in which genetic materials from GMO/GE cropsintrogress[2] (contaminate) the native genome of land race crop varieties. Transgenic introgression is a real, verified, direct, and immediate threat to the genomic integrity of center of origin land race varieties.

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domingo, noviembre 23, 2014

Want to wipe out earthworms and ruin your soil? Use glypho



Using glyphosate puts worms at "risk of local extinction" – study
Using glyphosate herbicide can wipe out local earthworm populations, a new study (below) shows. Even under the regular dose for perennial weeds, the earthworm population showed negative growth rates, meaning there were not enough young worms to replace the old ones as they died out. This means the local worm population could rapidly go extinct.
Given the irreplaceable work that earthworms do to keep the soil healthy, and the negative effects of glyphosate herbicide on beneficial soil microorganisms, it's no surprise that Roundup Ready crop cultivation is associated by some farmers with poor soil quality.

Glyphosate Sublethal Effects on the Population Dynamics of the Earthworm
Eisenia fetida (Savigny, 1826)

Marina Santadino, Carlos Coviella, Fernando Momo
Water, Air, & Soil Pollution
November 2014, 225:2207
Pesticides’ sublethal effects are not regularly taken into account when assessing agrochemical’s toxicity. With the objective of detecting chronic, sublethal effects of the widely used herbicide glyphosate, an experiment was performed using the earthworm Eisenia fetida as model organism. Earthworm adults were randomly assigned to three glyphosate treatments: control (no glyphosate), regular dose for perennial weeds, and double dose. Six E. fetida individuals were placed in each pot. Two random pots were taken weekly from each treatment and the number of adults, individual weight, number of cocoons, and presence and number of young earthworms were recorded. A matrix analysis was performed with the data. The matrix population model built showed that while the control population had a positive growth rate, both glyphosate treatments showed negative growth rates. The results suggest that under these sublethal effects, non-target populations are at risk of local extinction, underscoring the importance of th[ese] type of studies in agrochemical environmental risk assessment.

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¿Cómo gasta la Fundación Gates su dinero para alimentar el mundo?


Bill Gates en la Universidad de Cornell intentando hacer polinización cruzada de trigo (Photo: Universidad de Cornell)
Bill Gates en la Universidad de Cornell intentando hacer polinización cruzada de trigo (Photo: Universidad de Cornell)

La Fundación Gates es posiblemente, como nunca se ha visto, el mayor emprendimiento filantrópico. Actualmente mantiene un fondo por $40 mil millones, captado mayormente a partir de la propia riqueza de Gates y de su amigo multimillonario Warren Buffet. La Fundación tiene un personal de más de 1.200 personas y ha entregado sobre US$30 mil millones en donaciones desde su creación en el año 2000, tres mil seiscientos millones solamente en 2013.2 La mayoría de las donaciones son para los programas globales de salud y trabajo educacional en los Estados Unidos, tradicionalmente las áreas prioritarias de la Fundación. Pero en los años 2006-2007, la fundación expandió de manera masiva su financiamiento para la agricultura, con el lanzamiento de la Alianza para una Revolución Verde en África (AGRA) y una serie de grandes donaciones al sistema internacional de investigación agrícola (CGIAR). En el año 2007 gastó sobre quinientos millones de dólares en proyectos agrícolas y el financiamiento lo ha mantenido cercano a este nivel. La gran mayoría de las donaciones agrícolas de la fundación se centran en África.

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NO a la Ley "Monsanto" de Semillas en Argentina

"La modificación de la actual legislación equivale a avanzar aún más en la privatización de las semillas, prohibiendo la reutilización que los productores hacen de aquellas que obtienen en sus propias cosechas. De este modo se viola el derecho fundamental de los agricultores a seleccionar, mejorar e intercambiar las semillas libremente. Y si las transnacionales avanzan sobre el control de las semillas, también lo harán en la monopolización del mercado y el control corporativo de los alimentos de todo el pueblo argentino."

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sábado, noviembre 22, 2014

Glyphosate and the deterioration of American health


Is the rise in glyphosate use since the advent of GM crops responsible for the rapid deterioration of health in the US in the last 20 years?

A new study by former US Navy scientist Dr Nancy Swanson and co-authors asks this question. The study charts the huge increase in 22 chronic diseases in the US over the last 20 years and plots it against the rise in the use of glyphosate and the percentage of GM corn and soy plantings.

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viernes, noviembre 21, 2014

Poorly Tested Gene Silencing Technology to Enter Food Supply with Simplot Potato


November 7th, 2014
A New Form of Genetic Engineering will soon be sold to unsuspecting consumers
November 7, 2014 (Washington, DC)--Center for Food Safety (CFS) is today warning consumers about a new genetically engineered (GE) potato that may soon enter the food supply. Because GE foods are not required to be labeled, the new GE potato will be sold to consumers without their knowledge. The GE potato was one of two new crops approved today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that uses a new, little understood form of genetic engineering called RNA interference (RNAi). The other is a newlow-lignin alfalfa from Monsanto. Despite the unprecedented nature of these approvals, USDA has inexplicably failed to undertake the legally required rigorous and overarching analysis of the GE crops’ impacts or reasonably foreseeable consequences.
“We simply don’t know enough about RNA interference technology to determine whether GE crops developed with it are safe for people and the environment.  If this is an attempt to give crop biotechnology a more benign face, all it has really done is expose the inadequacies of the U.S. regulation of GE crops.  These approvals are riddled with holes and are extremely worrisome,” said Doug Gurian-Sherman, Ph.D., CFS director of sustainable agriculture and senior scientist.

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Life or death over seeds – worldwide seed war rages



Over half the global seed market is controlled by 3 agrochemical corporations (Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta)
New legislation is threatening to criminalise the ability of farmers to freely save and exchange seeds (see item 1 below).
For example, Ghana is passing a new seed law because of pressure from rich governments, including that of the UK, and big corporations (see item 2 below).
The new law, if passed, will restrict small-scale farmers and food producers from freely saving, exchanging and selling seeds. This will sideline traditional varieties and push farmers towards buying seeds from big business like Monsanto year after year. And small-scale farmers could even face criminalisation for saving seeds that corporations lay claim to.
Take action (UK only): Write to your MP asking that the UK government cease pressuring Ghana to pass the new seed law:
Meanwhile in Europe, the TTIP free trade deal between the US and EU threatens to flood Europe with GMOs.
EXCERPT (item 1): Lobby[ing] from US large corporations has been intense and aimed at attacking those EU restrictions on imports of GM food, including the removal of EU requirement of labelling and traceability for GM crops and food. As a result thousands and thousands of citizens are mobilising throughout Europe and in the UK to say NO TTIP! Already the EU has had to halt part of the negotiations for three months to allow for proper democratic consultation.
1. Life or death over seeds – a worldwide seed war is now raging
2. The fight for seed sovereignty in Ghana

1. Life or death over seeds – a worldwide seed war is now raging

2. The fight for seed sovereignty in Ghana

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