sábado, noviembre 28, 2015

Outsmarting nature?


Many of the world's largest agro-industrial corporations are pushing forward the poorly-defined idea of "Climate-Smart Agriculture"(CSA) to re-market industrial agriculture as 'climate-ready'. This report uncovers how some advocates of CSA are embracing the extreme genetic engineering tools of synthetic biology ("Syn Bio") to develop a set of false solutions to the climate crisis.
The 20-page report includes:
-       An overview of the Players lining up behind the “Climate-Smart” brand and the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA).
-       Details and critique of public and private research projects to alter photosynthesis pathways in plants and microbes, theoretically to increase the carbon sequestration of plants.
-      Details and critique of Synthetic Biology projects that aim to increase nitrogen fixation in plants and create ‘self-fertilizing plants,’ theoretically to reduce fertilizer applications.
-      An exposé of new Syn Bio applications developed by agrochemical giant Syngenta that make the activation of ‘climate-tolerance’ traits dependent on the application of proprietary pesticides – thereby tying farmers closer to agrochemical use.
-      Proposals to release controversial ‘Gene Drive’ technology into the wild to make weed populations more susceptible to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, altering ecosystems to extend the commercial viability of that agrochemical.

Extreme biotech meets extreme energy

Paris, 24th November 2015 - At the upcoming Climate summit in Paris, some governments and much of civil society will be pushing for an urgent transition away from the carbon-rich fossil fuels responsible for climate chaos. However, one hi-tech sector, the multi-billion dollar Synthetic Biology industry, is now actively tying its future to the very oil, coal and gas extraction it once claimed to be able to displace. That’s the conclusion of a new report released jointly today from the ETC Group and Heinrich Böll Foundation. Titled “Extreme Biotech meets Extreme Energy”, the report predicts that as the extreme biotech industry and the extreme extraction industry move towards deeper collaboration, the biosafety risks and climate threats emanating from them will become ever more entangled.

Synthetic Biology (or Syn Bio) describes a set of new and emerging genetic engineering techniques and is also the name for a surging young industry that is designing and engineering life-forms from scratch for industrial purposes. The first round of synthetic biology companies sold themselves to investors on the promise of a ‘clean green’ industry that would replace fossil fuels with biofuels and bioplastics made from sugar and cellulose. However, Syn Bio industry leaders are now retooling their companies explicitly in order to serve the petrochemical industry and to increase the value and flow of fossil minerals from the frackfields and oilfields to commercial markets.

“Only five years ago Syn Bio industry CEOs were posturing that they would bring about a sugar-based bioeconomy that would do away with dirty fossil fuels” explains Jim Thomas, Programme Director with ETC Group. “Now those same CEOs are restructuring their operations to prop up the oil and gas majors and their green promises are melting along with the ice sheets.” 

jueves, noviembre 26, 2015

GM Salmon: knowledge gaps, uncertainties and questions


Foto: tycoon101/dollarphotoclub.com
Foto: tycoon101/dollarphotoclub.com
This chapter on GM salmon is from the recently published GenØk report “Uncertainty and Knowledge Gaps related to Environmental Risk Assessment of GMOs”. This report provides a detailed discussion of uncertainties, knowledge gaps and research needs related to the potential use and introduction of GMOs. It covers GM plants, antibiotic resistance marker genes, GM vaccines, gene therapy and medicinal products containing or consisting of GMOs, as well as GM microorganisms, GM trees and GM salmon.
The salmon chapter addresses knowledge gaps, uncertainties and questions surrounding GM salmon, and among the issues raised are:
  • effects of construct composition, site of integration and gene dosage on expression and effectiveness of the transgene
  • effects of genetic background and the impact of pleiotropic and epigenetic effects on the resulting phenotype
  • the importance of comparative studies
A discussion about questions related to ecological impact, and the potential containment of GM salmon is also included, focusing on:
  • current knowledge about escape and survival of domestic salmon
  • potential impacts on wild salmon populations
  • other ecosystem impacts (on species with similar niches, potential prey, trophic interactions etc.)
  • potential for physical and reproductive containment of GM salmon

La batalla contra los transgénicos en México, por Fernando Córdova Tapia


Actualmente México se encuentra lidiando con la siembra y comercialización de organismos transgénicos para la agricultura. Justo cuando se pensaba que la entrada de esta biotecnología era ya inminente, la semana pasada se estableció un gran precedente para la prohibición de la siembra de transgénicos en nuestro territorio.

Para entender cabalmente este asunto es necesario considerar que el abandono del campo y del sector agrario está empujándonos a depender, cada vez más, del mercado internacional. Las corporaciones multinacionales de semillas transgénicas (Monsanto, Pioneer, Cargill, Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta) han aprovechado esta situación para intentar controlar el mercado nacional. La estrategia que han implementado en México y en otros países incluye un intenso cabildeo en los poderes Ejecutivo y Legislativo, la práctica de “puertas giratorias’’ (rotación de altos cargos entre el sector público y el sector privado) para asegurar la toma de decisiones a su favor, la formación de alianzas entre las empresas y algunos miembros de la comunidad científica –como la recién formada Alianza Pro Transgénicos (1)– y el lanzamiento de campañas propagandísticas como esta de Monsanto: “Food is More Than Just a Meal, It’s Love” (el alimento es más que una comida, es amor).

miércoles, noviembre 25, 2015

Journalists failed to disclose sources’ funding from Monsanto


Following a Columbia Journalism Review article on whether science journalists should accept money from corporate interests, and whether there is adequate disclosure of sources’ corporate ties and conflicts of interest, U.S. Right to Know reviewed recent articles to assess how often journalists and columnists quote academic sources without stating that they are funded by the agrichemical giant Monsanto, which produces pesticides and GMOs.
Our review found 27 articles quoting (or authored by) university professors after they received Monsanto funding, but without disclosing that funding.
This is a collapse of journalistic standards. When reporters quote sources about food issues such as GMOs or organic food, readers deserve to know if the sources have been funded by Monsanto or have other conflicts of interest.

Scientist challenges Monsanto over GMO safety standards

Dr Shiva Ayyadurai challenges Monsanto over GMO safety standards

martes, noviembre 24, 2015

Herbicidas amenazan a Puerto Rico

Nuevo libro de Carmelo Ruiz Marrero

El gran juego de ajedrez botánico: Escritos sobre biotecnología y agroecología es una compilación de 15 años de trabajo investigativo y educativo del periodista Carmelo Ruiz Marrero en torno a los temas de la agricultura, ecología, biotecnología y soberanía alimentaria. Es un esfuerzo por documentar y analizar el modelo de agricultura industrial capitalista, el cual está exacerbando el problema del hambre y la crisis ambiental, y servir de guía a los nuevos movimientos sociales, pensamientos ecológicos y paradigmas científicos que están surgiendo y planteando alternativas.

Para comprarlo:




domingo, noviembre 22, 2015

Dangers of the Gates Foundation: Displacing Seeds and Farmers


From a presentation by Mariam Mayet
Edited by Simone Adler
November 18, 2015
 Mariam is the founder and director of the African Centre for Biodiversity in South Africa.Mariam Mayet - small
 This is the first in a two-part article with Mariam Mayet. Please check back later in this series for further discussion on how the African Centre for Biodiversity is fighting back effectively to keep seeds in the hands of farmers and out of the multinational corporations’.
Our farmer-managed seed systems in Africa are being criminalized and displaced by a very aggressive green revolution project of corporate occupation by big multinational companies. This violent agrarian transformation is facing profound objection. African farmer organizations are outraged because decisions have been made and imposed on us in a very patronizing, patriarchal way, as if the agrarian vision and solution has been designed for us.

From GM Watch: More Monsanto scientific fraud in early glyphosate "safety studies”?

EXCERPT: The author's analysis of the ABC [Laboratories] study refers over and again to scientific fraud -- involving the falsification of data, unsound scientific practice, scientific misconduct and blatant cheating.

More Monsanto scientific fraud in early glyphosate "safety studies"

GM-Free Cymru, 9 Nov 2015

Yet another peer-reviewed journal article has demonstrated the scientifically fraudulent techniques used in Monsanto-sponsored glyphosate "safety" studies in the period when the company was seeking US approval for the controversial herbicide.

Dr Marek Cuhra has conducted a careful study (1) of all of the assessments made of the toxicity of glyphosate to aquatic organisms - and in particular the water-flea Daphnia magna. He discovered that the industry sponsored study conducted by McAllister and Forbis in 1978 for ABC laboratories (which was never published) purported to show that glyphosate was about 300 times less toxic than was revealed in later studies. And yet that deeply flawed study was used for the assessment of glyphosate toxicity by the American EPA and by other regulators worldwide, on the assumption that it was completely reliable. The study purported to show that glyphosate was effectively harmless, and that was accepted as a scientific "fact".

miércoles, noviembre 18, 2015

¿Qué es la biología sintética?

Diseñando en laboratorio la vida y los sustentos. Se le conoce como “ingeniería genética extrema” y como la nueva frontera de la biotecnología. ¿Qué es la biología sintética? ¿Cómo afectará a nuestros alimentos y a los agricultores que los cultivan? Este breve video lo explica.
Visita: http://www.synbiowatch.org y www.etcgroup.org para referencias y más información.