miércoles, septiembre 30, 2015
martes, septiembre 29, 2015
La situación de los transgénicos en Ecuador (2015)
miércoles, septiembre 23, 2015
From GM Watch: Critics of Alliance for Science gonged into silence
This became crystal clear on 10 September, when the Alliance hosted a panel discussion titled, "Ask Me Anything About GMOs", at the Unitarian Church in Ithaca, New York. Ithaca is also home to Cornell.
The Bioscience Resource Project has posted a video recording of the event, which appears to have been most memorable for being extraordinarily boring, thanks to all critical voices having been excluded from the panel. The Bioscience Resource Project has also chronicled some of the background to the Ithaca event.
Two highlights particularly stand out. At 29 minutes into the video, the pro-GMO scientist Kevin Folta, who was recently exposed as having received a $25,000 grant from Monsanto despite repeated claims of never having had a dime from the company, says, "I am one of the most fiercely independent people you will ever meet". Interestingly, emails between Folta and Monsanto, released by the New York Times, discuss setting up “Ask Me Anything" events at US universities with Folta on their panel, i.e. they set out the PR formula followed in Ithaca.
Then at 38 minutes, the director of the Bioscience Resource Project, DrJonathan Latham, questions the claims being made by the panel on pesticide use due to GMO crop adoption. Just as Dr Latham is getting into his stride, supporters of the Alliance for Science start banging a gong to drown him out!
Perhaps the event should have been titled, "Ask Me Anything About GMOs, As Long As It Doesn't Successfully Challenge Our Pro-GMO Claims".
This bizarre episode helped prompt a letter to the editor of the Ithaca Times from Trevor Pinch, reproduced below. Prof Pinch is not only a musician and author of The Golem: What You Should Know About Science; he is also the Goldwin Smith Professor of Science & Technology Studies at Cornell.
Letter: For whom the bell tolls
The Ithaca Times, 16 Sept 2015
Maíz en México. Boletín 621 de la RALLT
RED POR UNA AMÉRICA LATINA LIBRE DE TRANSGÉNICOS
"Las empresas aseguran que es posible la "coexistencia" de maíz transgénico con el maíz campesino. Existen múltiples estudios científicos y estadísticas en muchos países que demuestran lo contrario: donde hay cultivos transgénicos, siempre habrá contaminación, sea por el polen llevado por viento e insectos (a distancias mucho mayores de las "previstas" por las leyes) o por el trasiego en transportes, almacenamiento, puntos de venta, donde no hay segregación de transgénicos y otras semillas."
martes, septiembre 22, 2015
GenØk: Safe use of new biotechnology
This week international recognized speakers within synthetic biology are gathered together with key scientists, regulators and NGOs at North-West University in South Africa. The event is a course that addresses biosafety and the contribution of synthetic biology in addressing societal challenges. The course was opened by the Ambassador of Norway to South Africa, Ms. Trine Skymoen, and Dean Prof. Kobus Plenaar from the Faculty of Natural Sciences at NWU. Funding for this important event comes from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Synthetic biology is a new and emerging field within modern biotechnology that through engineering and de novo synthesis of genetic material aims to improve biological systems for human, agricultural and environmental purposes. The technological advance of SynBio enables easier, faster and potentially more targeted GMO design with the prospective for crop improvements and more efficient biofuel production.
The main objective of this course is to provide high-level policy makers, regulators, scientists, industry representatives and NGOs/civil society from SADEC countries with knowledge and training in crucial gene technology biosafety issues, innovation possibilities and sustainable use of genetic resources with particular attention given to synthetic biology. In order to support governments and authorities and enable them to build up their own system of regulations and management, the course also includes presentations and discussions on how SynBio processes and products are covered by the international protocols under The Convention on Biological Diversity (i.e. Cartagena Protocol, Nagoya Protocol).
The course is organized by North-West University, GenØk-Centre for Biosafety and NIBIO (Norway) and is attended by 40 participants from 13 countries in the SADEC region. In addition, speakers from South Africa, Malaysia, Brazil and Norway also attend and assist in the training.
This successful event is a result of collaboration between NWU and GenØk since 2008. Through this collaboration, bursary support to more than 30 Honours and MSc students, as well as 3 PhD students has resulted in significant local capacity development in the field of biosafety research and risk assessment.
- See more at: http://genok.com/arkiv/4497/#sthash.gpjRnvBb.dpuf
sábado, septiembre 19, 2015
A Systems-Based Assessment of GMOs Urgently Needed
With best wishes
131 Jalan Macalister
Website: http://www.biosafety-info.net/ and http://www.twn.my/
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jueves, septiembre 17, 2015
Death threats, libel and lies – Part 2: Documented liar?
Science must be protected from commercial interests
Science must be defended against commercial interests that attempt to get important papers on GMOs and pesticides retracted rather than encouraging further research to clarify any uncertainties, says an important new peer-reviewed paper published in Environmental Sciences Europe.
The paper, authored by Drs John Fagan, Terje Traavik and Thomas Bøhn, details the events that followed the publication of the research study led by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini on GM maize NK603 and Roundup. The Séralini study found toxic effects in rats, notably liver and kidney damage, from NK603 maize and Roundup, both individually and in combination.
The paper was attacked by pro-GMO scientists, who argued that it should be retracted. Eventually the journal editor capitulated and retracted the paper, though it was subsequently republished in Environmental Sciences Europe.
The authors of the new paper comment on this row, lamenting the growth of “a trend in which disputes, between interest groups vying for retraction and republication of papers that report controversial results, overshadow the normal scientific process in which peer-reviewed publication stimulates new research, generating new empirical evidence that drives the evolution of scientific understanding”.
The paper also reviews the research on the safety of NK603 maize and Roundup herbicide for human and livestock health. The authors’ analysis confirms that NK603 maize and Roundup are kidney and liver toxicants at levels below current regulatory thresholds and that “consequently, the regulatory status of NK603, glyphosate and Roundup requires reevaluation”.
The authors also say that preliminary evidence from the Séralini study indicates that Roundup and NK603, individually and in combination, may increase tumour incidence and mortality. They conclude, “Follow-up long-term carcinogenicity studies, using test animal strains and numbers of animals that assure robust conclusions, are required to confirm/refute this preliminary evidence.”
The paper represents a comprehensive summary of the gaping holes in the pro-GMO lobby’s critiques of the Séralini study. Sadly, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) must consider itself part of this lobby. This is because EFSA followed the pro-GMO lobby in portraying the Séralini study as a failed carcinogenicity study, rather than what it really was – a chronic toxicity study that unexpectedly found increased tumour and mortality incidence in treated rats and which must therefore be followed up with a dedicated carcinogenicity study using larger numbers of animals.
Thus EFSA effectively pretended not to notice the main findings of the Séralini study: that NK603 GM maize and Roundup caused an increase in liver and kidney damage. The new paper sets the record straight and gives the Séralini study its due status as evidence of these serious toxic effects. It also recommends reforms in the regulatory process that would help protect due scientific process from interference by commercial interests.
The Seralini affair: degeneration of Science to Re‑Science?
Environ Sci Eur (2015) 27:19
A paper reporting findings relevant to safety of the genetically modified (GM) maize NK603 and the herbicide Roundup (Séralini et al., Food Chem Toxicol. 50:4221–4231, 2012) was retracted against the wishes of the authors, and subsequently republished in another peer-reviewed journal (Séralini et al. Environ Sci Europe, doi:10.1186/s12302-014-0014-5, 2014). These events exemplify a trend in which disputes, between interest groups vying for retraction and republication of papers that report controversial results, overshadow the normal scientific process in which peer-reviewed publication stimulates new research, generating new empirical evidence that drives the evolution of scientific understanding. This paper reviews the current status of research on safety of NK603 maize and Roundup
herbicide for human and livestock health, and attempts to glean from recent developments insights relevant to risk assessment policy for GM crops and pesticides, as well as relevant to the scientific process in general. Our analysis of currently published evidence confirms NK603 and Roundup are kidney and liver toxicants at levels below current
regulatory thresholds. Consequently, the regulatory status of NK603, glyphosate and Roundup requires reevaluation. Additionally, preliminary evidence indicates Roundup and NK603, individually and in combination, may increase tumor incidence and mortality. Follow-up long-term carcinogenicity studies, using test animal strains and numbers of
animals that assure robust conclusions, are required to confirm/refute this preliminary evidence. The inherent tension between the scientific process and commercial interests of product developers necessitates implementation of safeguards that protect the scientific process and prevent degeneration of Science to Re-Science (typified by retraction and republication disputes).
domingo, septiembre 13, 2015
Marion Nestle: Should scientists with financial ties to Monsanto be subject to FOIA requests?
But transparency laws remain a fundamental tool for monitoring possible scientific misbehavior. And it would be a mistake to believe that scientists should not be subject to a high level of outside scrutiny. So long as scientists receive government money, they are subject to government oversight; so long as their work affects the public, journalists and other watchdogs are simply doing their jobs when they seek out possible misconduct and questionable practices that could threaten the public interest.
Last week, Nature reported that the University of Florida had provided them with emails that U.S. Right to Know had FOIA’d on one of their researchers…the [Nature] story noted that the researcher has received money from Monsanto to fund expenses incurred while giving educational talks on GMOs. The article also noted that the PR Firm Ketchum had provided the scientist with canned answers to respond to GMO critics, although it is unclear if he used them [the Times story says he did but now regrets it].The article does not report that the scientist has repeatedly denied having a financial relationship with Monsanto. The article also does not report on an email titled “CONFIDENTIAL: Coalition Update” from the researcher to Monsanto in which the scientist advised Monsanto on ways to defeat a political campaign in California to require labeling of GMO products.
If the public pays your salary, citizens have the right — within limits — to see what you’re doing. That’s the principle at the core of the federal Freedom of Information Act and of the many similar state freedom of information laws… “snooping” on scientists’ inboxes by journalists, watchdogs and government officials has revealed significant problems that would never have come to light via other means.
- Note: My previous post on organic-industry funding gives the link to the e-mails for Charles Benbrook
- Jonathan Latham provides further details on GMO public relations efforts
sábado, septiembre 12, 2015
Lessons in critical thinking and William Saletan – Part 2
jueves, septiembre 10, 2015
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Jonathan R. Latham, PhD
By training, I am a plant biologist. In the early 1990s I was busy making genetically modified plants (often called GMOs for Genetically Modified Organisms) as part of the research that led to my PhD. Into these plants we were putting DNA from various foreign organisms, such as viruses and bacteria.
I was not, at the outset, concerned about the possible effects of GM plants on human health or the environment. One reason for this lack of concern was that I was still a very young scientist, feeling my way in the complex world of biology and of scientific research. Another reason was that we hardly imagined that GMOs like ours would be grown or eaten. So far as I was concerned, all GMOs were for research purposes only.
Gradually, however, it became clear that certain companies thought differently. Some of my older colleagues shared their skepticism with me that commercial interests were running far ahead of scientific knowledge. I listened carefully and I didn’t disagree. Today, over twenty years later, GMO crops, especially soybeans, corn, papaya, canola and cotton, are commercially grown in numerous parts of the world.
Etiquetas: Jonathan Latham
miércoles, septiembre 09, 2015
Los medios de comunicación y el poder del agronegocio. Boletín 623 de la RALLT
El geógrafo brasileño Carlos Walter Porto Gonçalves critica en un artículo reciente la participación de dos personalidades bastante conocidas en los medios de comunicación de Brasil en la publicidad de dos empresas agroindustriales de productos cárnicos. Recordemos que la industria ganadera constituye, a nivel mundial, el primer consumidor de alimentos transgénicos. Esto también es una realidad en Brasil.
El actor de telenovelas Tony Ramos y la periodista Fátima Bernardes, son la imagen publicitaria de las marcas Friboi y Seara, ambas pertenecientes a JBS, una de las empresas agroalimenticias más grandes del Brasil, que abastece al mercado interno y exporta a más de 100 países.
martes, septiembre 08, 2015
The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left out)
domingo, septiembre 06, 2015
From GM Watch: Folta affair exposed in the New York Times
Damning email stream shows Kevin Folta was in a cosy collaboration with Monsanto since early 2013
The New York Times has published a fascinating article on the Kevin Folta scandal. Folta was revealed by Freedom of Information Requests to have accepted $25,000 from Monsanto, even though he had repeatedly denied having any Monsanto funding.
A damning string of emails, released as a result of the Freedom of Information requests, have been posted online by the New York Times, with a commentary by the NYT editors. Many of the emails are between Kevin Folta and Monsanto or other industry and PR players.
The emails show Folta as an eager partner in a cosy relationship with Monsanto from as early as the spring of 2013.
In November 2013 Folta sent an email to employees of the PR firm Ketchum, which runs the pro-GMO website GMO Answers for its client the Council for Biotechnology. Regarding an upcoming meeting with the rest of the GMO Answers team, Folta wrote: ”Tell them I'm a friend of Ketchum”.
In 2014 Folta wrote to a Monsanto manager: “I’m glad to sign on to whatever you like, or write whatever you like.”
After Monsanto agreed to Folta’s funding bid for $25,000 for a pro-GMO communications programme, Folta wrote to a Monsanto executive, “I’m grateful for this opportunity and promise a solid return on the investment.”
Another Monsanto executive called the Folta deal “a great 3rd-party approach to developing the advocacy that we’re looking to develop [sic.]”.
The 3rd party PR technique is when industry places its messages in the mouths of supposedly independent third parties, such as scientists and doctors, because the public are more likely to trust them.
Folta claimed to be open about funding
Folta has repeatedly claimed that he was open about his funding arrangements. For example, early this year he wrote, "The bottom line is that my university operates under the Sunshine Law. Emails are public information, just like my funding, my salary, my cholesterol levels, and everything else about me."
And in response to online speculation from critics about his funding sources, he wrote: “Hey guys, you know you could just reach out and ask… always glad to talk about such things. My research has been funded 100% by public sources, except for a small amount we get for strawberry research, mostly molecular marker development that helps our breeding program pyramid flavor-related genes via traditional breeding. No Monsanto.”
But while the $25,000 Folta got from Monsanto was for outreach and not research, he was anything but open about it. On page 104 of the newly released emails, you can see Folta apparently trying to hide Monsanto’s $25,000 grant so that it is not “publicly noted”.
Among his outreach work for the GMO industry, Folta answered questions on GMOs for the Ketchum’s pro-GMO website GMO Answers. Ketchum provided canned answers for Folta to repeat for the reading public. Folta had previouslysaid of Ketchum’s pre-prepared points in an article published in Nature, “I don’t know if I used them, modified them or what…”
The email string published by the NYT remedies Folta’s memory failure. The NYT’s editors note: “Dr. Folta was encouraged to make any changes he wanted, but he largely stuck with the script.” Two examples, in which Folta regurgitated Ketchum’s responses, are provided.
Finally, it should be noted that while the NYT tries to draw an equivalence between Folta taking money from Monsanto and Dr Charles Benbrook being funded by the organic industry, the two are not comparable. Benbrook never denied being funded by, or having a relationship with, the organic industry. But Folta repeatedly denied his Monsanto links.
[Comment by Claire Robinson. Read this article online here.]
1. Food industry enlisted academics in GMO lobbying war, emails show
2. Our investigation of Big Food and its front groups
1. Food industry enlisted academics in GMO lobbying war, emails show
By ERIC LIPTON
New York Times, Sept 5, 2015
No substantial equivalence
Systems Biology Study Finds GMOs not “substantially equivalent”
sábado, septiembre 05, 2015
¿Comerán los mexicanos tortillas transgénicas?, por Víctor M. Toledo
Y ¿tamales con alérgenos?, ¿atoles con residuos de glifosato?, ¿chilaquiles con plásmidos?, ¿pozoles con 2,4-D, componente del defoliante agente naranja utilizado en la guerra de Vietnam? o ¿totopos con genes Terminator?