martes, octubre 31, 2006

Lo último de Rifkin

This crop revolution may succeed where GM failed

Gene splicing has been made obsolete by a cutting-edge technology that greatly accelerates classical plant breeding

Jeremy Rifkin

Thursday October 26, 2006
The Guardian

For years, the life-science companies - Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Pioneer etc - have argued that genetically modified food is the next great scientific revolution in agriculture, and the only efficient and cheap way to feed a growing population in a shrinking world. Non-governmental organisations - including the Foundation on Economic Trends, of which I am president - have been cast as the villains in this agricultural drama, and often categorised as modern versions of the Luddites, accused of continually blocking scientific and technological progress because of our opposition to GM food.

Now, in an ironic twist, new cutting-edge technologies have made gene splicing and transgenic crops obsolete and a serious impediment to scientific progress. The new frontier is called genomics and the new agricultural technology is called marker-assisted selection (MAS). The new technology offers a sophisticated method to greatly accelerate classical breeding. A growing number of scientists believe MAS - which is already being introduced into the market - will eventually replace GM food. Moreover, environmental organisations that oppose GM crops are guardedly supportive of MAS technology.

lunes, octubre 30, 2006


The Sunshine Project
News Release - 30 October 2006


How US science's nouveau riche bioweapons constituency is flexing its muscle to carve up safety and security rules


Karl Rove would probably be impressed by the brand of government "oversight" being developed by the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity (NSABB, link below). Like a Bush administration investigation of itself, on last Wednesday (October 25th) an NSABB working group moved to creatively thwart its charge. Although it was formed to recommend biosecurity rules to govern the new field of synthetic biology, the working group will instead assault regulation of a wide range of biodefense and biotech risks.

The working group's outlook is more political than technical. Its science is a veneer that disguises the maturing political muscle of a constituency of bioscientists that has become accustomed, perhaps addicted, to lavish federal biodefense funding. This constituency is challenging the regulations that apply to it and has allied itself with those seeking to block effective regulation of the emerging field of synthetic biology. As such, it will pose a major long-term obstacle bringing under control the wild proliferation of dangerous biodefense research in the US.

The working group's politics deftly unite two distinct scientific camps under the same banner. One camp is synthetic biology, a burgeoning, dangerous science that currently is an unregulated Wild West free-for-all, a condition that many practitioners believe is desirable. The working group also tapped a deep vein of discontent among its other camp, infectious disease researchers. Specifically, the researchers that receive biodefense handouts; but who resent being required to comply with the Select Agent Rule, a law designed to protect the public from bioterrorism.

In biodefense, the synthetic biologists (who use DNA like building blocks) and the infectious disease bug jockeys (who work with full-blown dangerous microbes) usually don't get along very well. The synthetic crowd scoffs at the bug jockey's focus on vaccines and pills for specific microbes, dubbing the narrow approach a "Maginot Line" after the inflexible border defenses that failed to protect France from German invasion in 1940. Genetic tweaks and new bugs, the synthetic biologists say, can outflank these countermeasures. A subtext, of course, is that synthetic biologists think they should get a bigger piece of the biodefense pork pie from the federal budget.

The bug jockeys, on the other hand, argue that the synthetic guys are a bunch of nerdy engineers whose science of using genes like tinker toys is young and unproven. The bug jockeys claim that they can deliver here and now, whereas the synthetic folks are still in scientific diapers, working out basic principles of their discipline. Perhaps interesting down the road, the bug jockeys say, but what counts is the present. (Neither group questions the wisdom of the government bankrolling tens of billions of dollars in biodefense research at hundreds of places across the country.)
What unites these two quarrelling factions? Apart from the fact that their science is potentially dangerous, the two share an appetite for tax dollars and a disdain for federal security rules. The latter point has led to an NSABB marriage of convenience: The synthetic biologists want to shake pressure for new regulation while the bug jockeys want to assassinate the existing Select Agent Rule, enabling both to do as they please with less "interference" from Uncle Sam.

Thus was born a politico-scientific Coalition of the Willing that aims to invade federal rulemaking to take down what they perceive as a threat: biosecurity legislation designed to protect the public. By hijacking the NSABB, they are on well on their way to Mission Accomplished. And because the current political leadership of the US holds itself to its own unique (nonbinding) standards and sees little reason to reign in dual-use research for safety, security, or treaty compliance reasons, the NSABB working group probably won't have to waterboard anybody in the US government - unless there are radical changes in officialdom.

The specifics of the working group recommendations? They include unusual and dubious arguments about taxonomy, gene sequences, and law. These have far broader implications than the working group apparently paused to contemplate. More on that later.
From an unsurprising "finding" that microbial taxonomy systems are imperfect, the working group leaps to the illogical conclusion that this is justification to eviscerate government regulation of (but not cash handouts for) research with biological weapons agents. That's quite a jump. Considering the recommendations carefully, however, it is clear that the working group's intellectual shortcomings - its recommendations don't logically follow from its findings - stem from an attempt to paper over the distinctions between the need for synthetic biology regulation and the need for the select agent rule.

Synthetic biology may be new; but challenges to taxonomic conventional wisdom are not. Evolution happens. Genes turn up in new places, by the hand of man and through the many ways that biodiversity moves itself. The novel possibilities of synthetic biology are thus not without precedent in nature, in the sense that taxonomy is always encountering the difficult-to-classify and is currently incapable of fully describing naturally occurring diversity.

No matter what is cooked up in a synthetic biology lab, that doesn't change the fact that there are diseases out there that can kill you. Scientists know what most of them are, and can reasonably define them. Hence the need for the Select Agent Rule is unaltered by the powers to manipulate, even create, dangerous forms of life (and nucleic acids) that is possibly offered by synthetic biology.

But don't tell the NSABB working group, because that would get in the way of its political agenda. That the working group's logic doesn't parse is unsurprising in view of the fact its science is merely a pretext to table a pre-emptive attack on regulation of synthetic biology and the extant Select Agent Rule. For good measure, the working group adds a pork barrel recommendation to loosen controls on smallpox virus and DNA that suffers from the same logical flaws as the other recommendations.

And, in an easy to overlook item, the working group suggests that biosafety of synthetic DNA can be handled by the failed genetic engineering oversight system known as the NIH Guidelines, designed three decades ago and declining ever since. It's another failure of the logic to parse. The synthetic biologists literally argue that their science antiquates biodefense before it like the Nazi blitzkrieg through Belgium outmoded the Maginot Line. But then they go on to reason that, for biosafety, the scientific equivalent of the Treaty of Versailles (NIH Guidelines) is sufficient to keep the peace!

In the long run, this quagmire of faulty scientific-legal verbiage won't stop the real risks of biodefense proliferation. It would take an intelligence failure of a very different type than Iraq in order for NSABB to be allowed to thwart its charge and debilitate proper federal oversight of dual-use research. But that may be exactly what NSABB does. Certainly that's the way that its working group on synthetic biology is heading. And if it is an indicator of how biodefense researchers, a sort of bioscience nouveau riche, intend to flex their political muscle, then we may be in for many more dangerous years before the wild excesses of the biodefense boom are brought under control.


NSABB's website:

The agribusiness sector has been struggling to respond to worldwide opposition to genetically modified (GM) foods ever since farmers started sowing the laboratory-engineered seeds in the mid-1990s. Transnational corporations want weak and predictable international standards that do not restrict trade in their products. But social resistance to GM food is throwing up all kinds of complications. From the mushrooming of local “GM-free zones” and consumer boycotts of GM foods to national and even local GM labelling legislation, the regulatory landscape for agricultural biotechnology is in constant flux, with direct consequences for corporate bottom lines. The situation is particularly problematic for the small cartel that controls the global grain trade. Yet, rather than let go of GM crops in the face of such resistance, they are aggressively sabotaging any process through which governments might autonomously regulate GM food or feed trade. They are doing this together with the GM seed and pesticide companies, applying pressure wherever they can – in multilateral fora and, increasingly, through bilateral channels.

The growing use of bilateral spaces as a means to exert policy pressure is not unique to agricultural biotechnology. It is happening in all sectors, especially through the explosive rise in free trade agreements (FTAs), which are filling the vacuum left by the breakdown in global trade talks at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Through bilateral trade deals and the oversight structures they create, corporations get direct, behind-the-scenes access to foreign governments, backed by the political clout of their home country’s flag. The resulting arrangements inevitably serve two basic needs of the corporations: strengthened ownership over assets (through intellectual property and investors’ rights) and regulatory standards tailored to their interests (through health and safety norms). This briefing looks at how and why corporations are relying increasingly on the bilateral trade arena to shape worldwide regulatory policy-making over GM food and feed.

sábado, octubre 28, 2006

Why glyphosate resistance is so important

By Ford L. Baldwin
Practical Weed Consultants, LLC

Delta Farm Press, Oct 24 2006 [shortened]

I spend so much time on glyphosate resistance because we have built our entire farming system in cotton, corn and soybeans around this one herbicide.

In the past, when resistance to an herbicide developed, we simply switched herbicides and moved on.

Quite often, as resistance developed, we had a new herbicide coming that was better than what we had. Because of this, farmers had no reason to take the herbicide resistance issue very seriously.

In my former career as a university specialist, I would commonly hear, "By the time I get resistance on my farm, the companies and university will have a solution, so I'm not going to worry about it." At that time, it was hard to argue with that philosophy.

Times have changed. The Roundup Ready technology simply blew existing weed control technology out of the water.

There does not appear to be any novel chemistry being developed. In today's market, because anything developed has to compete with generic glyphosate prices, a newer better herbicide simply is not coming along to solve a major resistance problem.

I am rarely asked for advice by younger university weed scientists. However, when I am asked, I advise them to stake their careers on something other than new herbicides coming along.

If you are farming for the short haul, it probably does not matter. However, if you are farming for the long haul, glyphosate resistance needs to become a "big deal." Next week I will attempt to let Palmer pigweed explain that better.



viernes, octubre 27, 2006

Nos encaminamos a transformarnos en un “exitoso” país de monocultivo, es decir, sojero. Y no sólo eso: la producción de soja extendió las fronteras de la agricultura arrinconando a la ganadería y la lechería, amenazando de extinción otros cultivos como el algodón o la caña y llevando a la deforestación a zonas de montes y selvas vírgenes.


lunes, octubre 23, 2006

Artículo de Jeffrey Smith

Dangers of Genetically Engineered Foods

(Footnotes refer to pages in the book Seeds of Deception by Jeffrey M. Smith.)

The following presents some of the dangers of genetically engineered foods and reasons why avoiding them is an important step to safeguard our health. The footnotes refer to page references in the book Seeds of Deception; there you can find meticulously documented evidence that leaves no doubt that GM food should never have been approved.

For more information, see also these articles:

The biotech industry claims that the FDA has thoroughly evaluated GM foods and found them safe. This is untrue. Internal FDA documents made public from a lawsuit, reveal that agency scientists warned that GM foods might create toxins, allergies, nutritional problems, and new diseases that might be difficult to identify.131-140 Although they urged their superiors to require long-term tests on each GM variety prior to approval, the political appointees at the agency, including a former attorney for Monsanto, ignored the scientists. Official policy claims that the foods are no different130 and do NOT require safety testing. A manufacturer can introduce a GM food without even informing the government or consumers.146 A January 2001 report from an expert panel of the Royal Society of Canada said it was "scientifically unjustifiable"136 to presume that GM foods are safe. Likewise, a 2002 report by the UK's Royal Society said that genetic modification "could lead to unpredicted harmful changes in the nutritional state of foods," and recommended that potential health effects of GM foods be rigorously researched before being fed to pregnant or breast-feeding women, elderly people, those suffering from chronic disease, and babies.263

How could the government approve dangerous foods? A close examination reveals that industry manipulation and political collusion-not sound science-was the driving force.

  • Government employees who complained were harassed, stripped of responsibilities, or fired.77-83
  • Scientists were threatened. Evidence was stolen. Data was omitted or distorted. Some regulators even claimed they were offered bribes to approve a GM product.

There are only ten published animal feeding studies on the health effects of GM foods-only two of these are independent.

  • One study showed evidence of damage to the immune system and vital organs, and a potentially pre-cancerous condition.12-13 When the scientist tried to alert the public about these alarming discoveries, he lost his job and was silenced with threats of a lawsuit.18-20
  • Two other studies also showed evidence of a potentially pre-cancerous condition. The other seven studies, which were superficial in their design, were not designed to identify these details.37
  • In an unpublished study, laboratory rats fed a GM crop developed stomach lesions and seven of the forty died within two weeks. The crop was approved without further tests.37, 137-140

Many industry studies appear to be rigged to find no problems. In the case of a genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH), for example, researchers injected cows with only one forty-seventh the normal dosage before reporting hormone residues in milk.91-92 They heated the milk 120 times longer than standard, to report that pasteurization destroys the hormone.93-94 They added cows to their study that were pregnant before treatment, to claim that rbGH didn't impede fertility.89 Cows that fell sick were dropped from studies altogether.80-81

With soybeans, serious nutritional differences between GM and natural soy were omitted from a published paper.35-36 Feeding studies masked any problems by using mature animals instead of developing ones and by diluting their GM soy 10 to 1 with non-GM protein.34

There are no adequate tests to verify that GM food will not create dangerous allergic reactions. While an international organization developed testing standards to minimize the possibility of allowing allergenic GM varieties on the market, GM corn currently sold in the U.S. has not been subjected to those tests and would most certainly fail them. One of these tests, for example, uses a test tube simulation to evaluate how long a potential GM allergen can last inside the digestive system before being broken down. Compared to the recommended international standards, however, one biotech company used a far stronger acid concentration and more than 1,250 times the recommended amount of a digestive enzyme to make the claim that their protein degrades too quickly to cause a reaction.179

The only human feeding trial ever conducted confirmed that genetically engineered genes from soy transferred to the bacteria inside the digestive tract. (The biotech industry had previously said that such a transfer was impossible.) The World Health Organization, the British and American Medical Associations, and several other groups have expressed concern that if the "antibiotic resistant marker genes" used in GM foods got transferred to bacteria, it could create super-diseases that are immune to antibiotics.59-60 More worrisome is that the "promoter" used inside GM foods could get transferred to bacteria or internal organs. Promoters act like a light switches, permanently turning on genes that might otherwise be switched off. Scientists believe that this might create unpredictable health effects, including the potentially pre-cancerous cell growth found in the animal feeding studies mentioned above.37

The biotech industry says that millions have been eating GM foods without ill effect.This is misleading.

  • About 100 people died and 5-10,000 to fell seriously ill when they consumed the food supplement L-tryptophan. Only those who consumed the variety that was genetically modified became ill. That brand had minute, but deadly contaminants that would easily pass through current regulations today. If the disease it created had not been rare and acute, with crippling and deadly symptoms, the GM supplement might never have been traced as the cause. Once discovered, however, industry and government covered up facts and diverted the blame. Even the FDA testimony before Congress withheld vital information.107-125

For a summary of the L-tryptophan issue, click here. For an in-depth presentation of the issue, see Toxic L-tryptophan: Shedding Light on a Mysterious Epidemic, by William E. Crist.

  • Milk from rbGH-treated cows contains an increased amount of the hormone IGF-1, which is one of the highest risk factors associated with breast and prostate cancer, among others.94-97
  • Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, coinciding with the introduction of GM soy imports from the U.S.160-161

According to a March 2001 report, the Center for Disease Control says that food is responsible for twice the number of illnesses in the U.S. compared to estimates just seven years earlier. This increase roughly corresponds to the period when Americans have been eating GM food. Could that be contributing to the 5,000 deaths, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 76 million illnesses related to food each year? Might it play in role in our national epidemic of obesity or the rise in diabetes or lymphatic cancers? We have no way of knowing if there is a connection because no one has looked for one.

One of the most dangerous aspects of genetic engineering is the closed thinking and consistent effort to silence those with contrary evidence or concerns. Just before stepping down from office, former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman admitted the following:

"What I saw generically on the pro-biotech side was the attitude that the technology was good, and that it was almost immoral to say that it wasn't good, because it was going to solve the problems of the human race and feed the hungry and clothe the naked... And there was a lot of money that had been invested in this, and if you're against it, you're Luddites, you're stupid. That, frankly, was the side our government was on... You felt like you were almost an alien, disloyal, by trying to present an open-minded view"152-153

Contrast this with the warning by the editors of Nature Biotechnology: "The risks in biotechnology are undeniable, and they stem from the unknowable in science and commerce. It is prudent to recognize and address those risks, not compound them by overly optimistic or foolhardy behavior." 137

The biotech industry and the government have been foolhardy indeed. Blinded, perhaps by the baseless myth that GM foods are needed to feed the world,250-251 they gamble with our health and support their safety claims on obsolete or unproven assumptions. Accepting their vacuous assurances by eating these dangerous foods or serving them to your customers may likewise be overly optimistic or foolhardy.

Please read the evidence amassed in the book Seeds of Deception by Jeffrey M. Smith. The meticulously documented facts leave no doubt about a massive injustice. The topic is too important to put this off until tomorrow.

Download this document in MS Word format

domingo, octubre 22, 2006

Dimensiones éticas de la crítica agroecológica a la biotecnología agrícola

Miguel Altieri

El objetivo del presente trabajo es cuestionar las falsas promesas hechas por la industria de la ingeniería genética agrícola, al prometer que los cultivos producidos mediante esta tecnología generarían una agricultura menos dependendiente en insumos químicos, aumentarían la productividad y ayudarían a reducir los problemas ambientales

Este artículo también analiza las críticas ambientalistas a la biotecnología, expresadas en la preocupación por sus efectos sobre las condiciones sociales y económicas, y los valores culturales, religiosos y morales de las diferentes culturas, que han sido ignorados reiteradamente en el desarrollo tecnológico de los OvGM. El autor concluye afirmando que ha llegado el momento de enfrentar socialmente el reto y la realidad de la ingeniería genética. Las compañías de biotecnología deben sentir el impacto de los movimientos ambientalistas, laborales y campesinos, de modo que reorienten su trabajo para el beneficio de toda la sociedad y de la naturaleza.


El problema del hambre y la pobreza en el mundo, cuyas raíces se asientan en la desigual distribución de los recursos productivos y en la injusticia social que prevalecen principalmente en los países del Sur, pretendió ser enfrentado hace cincuenta años mediante las innovaciones tecnológicas de la Revolución Verde. Sin embargo, aun cuando se incrementaron los rendimientos de determinados cultivos, éstos se concentraron en productos de exportación y agroindustriales bajo sistemas de monoproducción a gran escala, sin un impacto significativo en la pequeña agricultura y, por ende, en la pobreza rural.

A inicios del tercer milenio, el hambre y la pobreza mundial se han incrementado, a pesar de que los excedentes alimenticios acumulados en los países desarrollados servirían para enfrentar decididamente este problema. Sin tomar en cuenta esta realidad, los grupos económicos que estuvieron detrás de la Revolución Verde (empresas de semillas y agroquímicos) argumentan, una vez más, que el problema está en el incremento de la productividad agrícola y promueven una Segunda Revolución Verde, basada en la biotecnología y en la ingeniería genética. Las corporaciones de agroquímicos, las cuales controlan cada vez más la orientación y las metas de la innovación agrícola, sostienen que la ingeniería genética mejorará la sostenibilidad de la agricultura al resolver los muchos problemas que afectan a la agricultura industrial y librará al Tercer Mundo de la baja productividad, la pobreza y el hambre.

Comparando mito y realidad, el objetivo de este artículo es cuestionar las falsas promesas hechas por la industria de la ingeniería genética. Ellos han prometido que los cultivos producidos por ingeniería genética harán la agricultura menos dependendiente en insumos químicos, aumentarán la productividad, disminuirán los costos de insumos y ayudarán a reducir los problemas ambientales. Al cuestionar los mitos de la biotecnología, aquí se muestra a la ingeniería genética como lo que realmente es: otra ronda tecnológica o "varita mágica" destinada a entrampar los problemas ambientales de la agricultura sin cuestionar las raíces causales que ocasionaron los problemas la primera vez(1). La biotecnología desarrolla soluciones monogénicas, diseñadas sobre modelos industriales de eficiencia, para problemas que derivan de sistemas de monocultivo ecológicamente inestables. Se ha probado ya que, en el caso de los plaguicidas, tal enfoque unilateral no fue ecológicamente confiable. Este enfoque, unilateral y reduccionista, que utilizó el paradigma "un químicouna plaga" y que llevó a problemas de resistencias de plagas y contaminación ambiental, no difiere del enfoque biotecnológico que ahora enfatiza un paradigma comparablemente reduccionista de "un genuna plaga" y el cual conlleva a las mismas falacias ecológicas.

La agricultura industrial moderna, hoy caracterizada por el modelo de la biotecnología, se basa en una premisa filosófica que es fundamentalmente errónea y que necesita ser expuesta y criticada para avanzar hacia una agricultura verdaderamente sostenible. Esto es particularmente relevante en el caso de la biotecnología, donde la alianza de la ciencia reduccionista y la industria multinacional monopolizadora lleva a la agricultura por un camino equivocado. La biotecnología percibe los problemas agrícolas como deficiencias genéticas de los organismos y trata a la naturaleza como una mercancía y, en el camino, hace a los agricultores más dependientes de un sector de agronegocios que concentra cada vez más su poder sobre el sistema alimentario. Esto es preocupante, especialmente hoy en que son las motivaciones económicas, más que las preocupaciones sobre el medio ambiente, las que determinan el tipo de investigación y las modalidades de producción agrícola que prevalecen en todo el mundo(2).

Para leer el resto del documento cliquee aquí

miércoles, octubre 18, 2006

Contaminación genética: carta abierta a los representantes de las Administraciones de la Alimentación

Queridos compañeros:

Como parte de la reacción global a las contaminaciones genéticas que han sido detectadas recientemente - de manera notable en los EE.UU., en Europa, Japón, China y Nicaragua – la carta que se encuentra a continuación está siendo difundida a través de la red JIDMO. La carta fue firmada por científicos independientes y organizaciones.

No podemos perder la oportunidad de denunciar los negocios de las industrias biotecnológicas y las Agencias de la Alimentación.

Un cordial saludo
Dom de Chevreuse

Carta abierta a los representantes de las Administraciones de la Alimentación

Estimada Señora, Estimado Señor:

Este verano, en varias localizaciones del planeta, se encontraron rastros de construcciones genéticas artificiales (CGAs) en alimentos que se suponía no habían sido modificados genéticamente.

En el Reino Unido y en los Países Bajos, se comprobó inesperadamente que el arroz de grano largo - libre de GM, importado de los EE.UU., contenía una molécula (proteína PAT) que lo hace tolerante al herbicida Liberty®. (1) En Francia, Reino Unido y Alemania, se comprobó que tallarines y bastones de arroz importados de China, en venta en los supermercados, contenían un plaguicida (proteínaBt) de significativo potencial alergénico. (3) En Nicaragua, se encontró que casi todas las muestras de harina de maíz y cereales provistos por el Programa Alimentario Mundial de las Naciones Unidas, alojaban CGAs. (4) En China, el laboratorio independiente GeneScan descubrió vestigios de BT en alimentos para bebés (5).

De esta forma, la contaminación genética habría alcanzado una escala global en 2006. Esto no sería tan preocupante si estas construcciones genéticas transferidas se hubieran aprobado para el consumo humano y se hubieran declarado fehacientemente en las etiquetas de los alimentos que las contenían, a posteriori de una evaluación científica llevada a cabo en forma independiente.Esto no sería demasiado preocupante si se hubiera alertado a las Administraciones de la Salud y la Alimentación de los países involucrados con la suficiente presteza para evitar que se tocara la cadena alimenticia.

En todos los países, el procedimiento de aprobación de un producto GM (genéticamente modificado), se basa en documentos proporcionados por el solicitante mismo. Por ejemplo, una reciente resolución de la FDA (Administración de Alimentos y Medicamentos de los Estados Unidos) concerniente al arroz LLRICE601, resistente a un herbicida, se funda en la información proporcionada por su propio promotor (Bayer). (6).

Esta declaración se basa en la equivocada suposición de que el gen natural seguro, que expresa la proteína PAT, es equivalente a la construcción artificial CGA que está insertada en el organismo hospedador. De hecho, serios problemas de salud encontrados en animales de laboratorio alimentados con comida GM, pueden ser atribuidos a una CGA, mientras que la versión natural del gen que contiene es definitivamente segura. (7).

Por otra parte, el cuestionado arroz GM ha sido discontinuado en 2001. Dada la reconocida alta variabilidad de una CGA (8), no hay ninguna evidencia de que las características moleculares estudiadas años atrás se hayan preservado. Por consiguiente, los productos GM contaminantes, así como los contaminados, pueden ser considerados como no aptos para consumo humano hasta tanto una evidencia inequívoca en contrario sea proporcionada por evaluación científica independiente.

Con respecto al tiempo perdido y a las insuficientes reacciones de las Agencias de Regulación Alimentaria, el caso del arroz estadounidense también resulta ilustrativo:

- La cooperativa Riceland descubrió la contaminación en enero, pero no notificóDepartamento de Agricultura de los Estados Unidos (USDA, según su sigla en inglés). al público ni al

- Bayer tomó conocimiento de esto en mayo, pero no informó al USDA hasta el 31 de julio.

- El USDA ocultó la contaminación durante tres semanas más, anticipando que los importadores de arroz extranjero podrían rechazar el producto. (9)

- El 15 de septiembre, el Panel OMG de la Autoridad Europea de Seguridad Alimentaria (AESA) emitió una Declaración que dice que “los datos disponibles (en EE.UU.) no son suficientes para permitir que la seguridad del LLRICE601 sea evaluada de conformidad con la guía de evaluación de riesgo de la AESA y la AESA no puede efectuar una completa evaluación de riesgo”. Notablemente fundada en la supuestamente accidental baja presencia del arroz LLRICE 601, así como en la discutible equivalencia entre el gen natural y su CGA, afirma que el consumo del arroz contaminado “probablemente no plantea un problema inminente de seguridad para humanos o animales". (10)

Desde enero pasado, por lo menos 140 000 toneladas de este arroz contaminado han sido exportadas a Europa, y actualmente pueden estar presentes en la cadena alimenticia y estar siendo consumidas por millones de personas, incluso por bebés. Aunque las importaciones de arroz fueron interrumpidas por Japón hacia fines de agosto (11), y luego por la Comisión Europea (12), todavía no ha sido fijado ningún plan para retirar del mercado los alimentos contaminados. En el caso del arroz estadounidense, Bayer está tratando en cambio de escapar a los reclamos legales, induciendo la desregulación de la categoría del arroz contaminante LLRICE 601. (13)

Este es el motivo por el cual los convocamos a actuar de modo tal que los actuales productos contaminados se retiren inmediatamente del mercado y las herramientas de evaluación relacionadas se usen en el futuro para prevenir otras contaminaciones de la cadena alimenticia, una medida que contribuiría notablemente a mejorar vuestra credibilidad a la vista de los ciudadanos. A pesar de la conocida poderosa influencia del lobby industrial, esperamos que ustedes todavía cuenten con el poder de decidir que las prioridades importantes encuentren asiento en consideraciones de salud y de seguridad, por encima de las razones económicas. Desde ya les quedamos muy agradecidos por tomar ese rumbo urgentemente.

Dr. Christian Velot, Consejo Científico de CRII GEN, Instituto de Genética y Microbiología, Francia.
Dr. Claude Seureau, Biólogo, Francia.
Dra. Lilian Ceballos, Farmacóloga, Francia.
Dr. Brian Tokar, Director del Proyecto de Biotecnología, Instituto para la Ecología Social, Vermont, EE.UU.
Dra. Dominique Béroule, GMO Committee of Attac, Friends of the Peasant Confederation, Francia.


1- “Bayer kept rice problem secret” (29/08/ 2006)
2- “GMO Chinese Rice Found in EU”, (05/09/2006), SMITH, Jeremy; Reuters
3- PRYME, I.F.; SÉRALINI, G.E.; VÉLOT, C., “Statement on the potential allergenicity of the Bt toxin, Cry1Ac”, (10/09/2006)
4- “Consideraciones de la Alianza de Protección a la Biodiversidad sobre la presencia de Organismos Genéticamente Modificados 2006. Informe de Monitoreo OGM 2006”, (a ser completado por Denis Meléndez Aguirre, Área de Incidencia, CISAS)
5- “Illegal GM rice found in UK”, Comunicado de Prensa, Friends of the Earth (05/09/2006)
6- “U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Statement on Report of Bioengineered Rice in the Food Supply” (08/2006)
7- EWEN, S.W.B. y PUSZTAI, A. (1999b), “Effects of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine”. The Lancet Nº354, págs. 1353-1354.
8- Muestras de la evidencia científica de la variabilidad de las CGAs a lo largo del tiempo:
. Mon810: Hernandez et al. Transgenic Res. 12, 179, 2003;
. Holck et al. Eur Food Res Technol 214, 449, 2002.
. T25: Collonier et al., Eur Food Res Technol, 2003
. GTS 40-3-2: Windels et al. Eur Food Res Technol 213, 107, 2001
. Bt11: Rönning et al. Eur Food Res Technol 216, 347, 2003
. Hotspots: Kohli et al. Plant J 17, 591, 1999
9- “Biotech Firm, Govt. Hid Rice Contamination from Public”, Megan Tady, The New Standard
10- “EFSA’s GMO Panel provides reply to European Commission request on GM rice LLRICE601” (15/09/2006)
11- “Japan Suspends US Long-Grain Rice Imports” (20/8/2006), Easy Bourse
12- LEAN, Geoffrey (27/08/2006), “Rice contaminated by GM has been on sale for months”, The Independant
13- “Protest against the stated intent of APHIS (USDA) to deregulate LLRICE601”, BRIAN, John. (Septiembre de 2006)

Traducción: Gladys Guiñez
Para Acción por la Biodiversidad

martes, octubre 17, 2006

Chile: Verdes quieren Chiloé libre de transgénicos

La isla es centro de origen de la papa y deben protegerse unas 200 variedades de la contaminación con semillas genéticamente modificadas, dicen ecologistas

Tonta, colorada, guapa, clavela banca y azul, zapatona, noventa días, cabeza de santo y cachimba son algunos de los curiosos nombres de las variedades del tubérculo.

Algunas sirven para la alimentación y otras para la medicina, ya que recetas hechas con base en papas servirían para dolencias del hígado o la vesícula.

Los días 17 y 18 de octubre se realizarán los seminarios "Cultivos transgénicos y papas autóctonas de Chiloé", organizados por FSS y CET, en dos ciudades de la décima región: Castro y Puerto Montt.

Manzur explicó que su objetivo será reforzar la conciencia ciudadana sobre las papas nativas y juntar firmas con el fin de presionar a las autoridades para que se declare al archipiélago zona libre de transgénicos.

La ambientalista advirtió que actualmente no existe una figura legal que pueda utilizarse para establecer esta categoría, pero recalcó que es una demanda ciudadana que debe ser atendida por el gobierno y los parlamentarios.

Los habitantes de la Isla Grande de Chiloé volvieron a valorar sus papas nativas gracias a la importante labor realizada por diferentes organizaciones de la zona, como el CET, que en 1987 creó un banco de especies que hoy mantiene más de 200 variedades.

Las semillas son recolectadas por los propios campesinos, que intercambian variedades para cultivar en sus predios, que en general no superan las 15 hectáreas, dijo Venegas. La experiencia fue tan exitosa que los agricultores crearon otros tres bancos de papas.

En abril, la Universidad Austral de Chile inició un proyecto auspiciado por el gobierno para rescatar, proteger, sanear y comercializar variedades de papas nativas de Chiloé, que contempla la descripción e inscripción de las especies chilotas en el Registro de Variedades de Papas del gubernamental Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero.

Según datos del Centro Internacional de la Papa, desde la década del 60 la superficie cultivada en los países en desarrollo creció más rápidamente que la de cualquier otro cultivo alimenticio.

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Fox y Monsanto

Fox le allana a Monsanto el camino para que inunde México de maíz transgénico

Haciendo caso omiso de la ley y sin tomar en cuenta los impactos sociales, económicos y ambientales que tendrá para nuestro país, el presidente Vicente Fox cedió finalmente a las presiones de la transnacional Monsanto y mañana lunes autorizará las siembras de maíz transgénico en Sinaloa, Sonora y Tamaulipas, denunció la organización Greenpeace

DF, México — Con el fin de garantizar la siembra de maiz transgénico, la semana pasada estuvo en México el presidente de Monsanto, Jerry Steiner, quien vino a “supervisar” que sí se den estas aprobaciones antes de que concluya el sexenio.

Estas autorizaciones son ilegales a la luz de la Ley de Bioseguridad, ya que se dan sin considerar lineamientos básicos establecidos en la misma como la necesidad de contar con un régimen de protección especial de maíz. La inexistencia de este régimen así como de acuerdos intersecretariales que definan los centros de origen y diversidad de maíz en México ha provocado interpretaciones encontradas de la ley al interior de las dependencias.

“Dentro del propio gobierno hay fuertes dudas sobre la legalidad de las siembras de maíz transgénico. Esa controversia legal se ha convertido en disyuntiva ética pues desde presidencia se está orillando a los funcionarios a violar o desconocer una ley a fin de beneficiar a las corporaciones productoras de los transgénicos, en particular Monsanto”, dijo Gustavo Ampugnani, coordinador de la campaña de transgénicos y agricultura sustentable de Greenpeace México.

Desde julio Greenpeace informó que el presidente Fox había ordenado a funcionarios federales que eliminaran los impedimentos legales y aprobaran a la brevedad la siembra de maíz transgénico, sin importar los impactos ni las advertencias en contra de un importante sector científico ni el rechazo de numerosas comunidades campesinas.

“A unos meses de concluir su gestión, el presidente Fox trabaja a marchas forzadas para servir a las transnacionales. Estas aprobaciones le heredarán al próximo gobierno el caso de contaminación genética más grave en un centro de origen y un fuerte descontento social. Es lamentable que un presidente que llegó al gobierno con tanta legitimidad y apoyo popular concluya su labor dándole el tiro de gracia al cultivo más importante y, de paso, dándole la espalda al sector campesino que creyó en él”, sostuvo Ampugnani.


lunes, octubre 16, 2006

La Jornada, México, 14 de octubre de 2006

¿Arboles transgénicos? No, gracias

Silvia Ribeiro *

Un estudio de investigadores de las universidades de Umea y la Agraria de Suecia, publicado en septiembre pasado, concluye que los árboles transgénicos presentarían nuevos problemas y serios riesgos ambientales. Según Anders Wennstrom, docente de ecología vegetal, "no se han hecho estudios de los riesgos ecológicos -de los árboles transgénicos- y qué consecuencias podrían tener. La mayor parte de los recursos de investigación se invierten en el desarrollo de tecnología para hacer árboles transgénicos, y una mínima parte en estudiar los riesgos." (Svenska Dagbladet, Suecia, 28/9/2006)

El estudio de Wennstrom y su equipo encontró que en álamos modificados genéticamente para producir mayor cantidad de celulosa (efecto buscado por la industria maderera y papelera), se produjeron cambios en el sistema químico de defensa del árbol, haciéndolo más débil al ataque de hongos y ciertos insectos y, al mismo tiempo, más resistente a otros. Se trata de efectos colaterales de la modificación genética, producto de la alteración del equilibrio natural del organismo. Los investigadores señalan que todos estos factores tendrían una cadena de impactos sobre muchas otras especies que viven en interrelación con los árboles, como insectos, pájaros, mariposas, hongos, líquenes, otros árboles y plantas.

Es apenas una pequeña parte de los múltiples efectos negativos que podrían desplegar los árboles transgénicos. Cualquier impacto que provenga de éstos, durará muchísimo más que con los cultivos agrícolas manipulados, porque los árboles viven como mínimo varias décadas, emitiendo gran cantidad de polen a lo largo de su vida, a distancias que pueden llegar hasta miles de kilómetros. En ese sentido, es la herramienta perfecta para la impunidad de la industria: la contaminación y otros impactos que produzcan -como los efectos en cadena sobre la biodiversidad que describe Wennstrom- serían prácticamente imposibles de rastrear hasta su origen. Esta es también una de las razones por la cual los investigadores de este tipo de manipulación no se han molestado en hacer estudios de impacto ambiental: el terreno a cubrir para evaluar los impactos es demasiado grande, hasta para pensar en hacerlo.

Esto mismo es un argumento contundente que debería inhibir este tipo de desarrollo: si no se pueden medir las consecuencias, y es lógicamente previsible que las tendrán, no deben ser producidos. Pero en un mundo donde la lógica, la ética y el bien común son frecuentemente aplastados por la dinámica del dinero y la ganancia, esto no cuenta, salvo que se desarrolle un fuerte movimiento de resistencia en su contra.

Hasta ahora, solamente China ha plantado árboles transgénicos a gran escala, pero son una de las prioridades de las grandes industrias madereras y papeleras a nivel global. Varias han formado consorcios de investigación para desarrollar árboles transgénicos, como ArborGen (Estados Unidos), GenFor (Chile), o lo han incorporado a su investigación, como Aracruz Celulose (Brasil), Nippon Paper Industries (Japón), entre otras. Sus líneas de investigación tienen como objetivo lograr árboles con menor contenido de lignina (sustancia gomosa que une las células y hace fuerte al árbol) y mayor cantidad de biomasa (para facilitar a la industria papelera el procesamiento, o para biocombustible); árboles insecticidas y resistentes a agrotóxicos (similares a los transgénicos agrícolas); árboles diseñados para absorber mayor cantidad de carbono.

Estos últimos supuestamente para mitigación del cambio climático, falacia que no se sustenta realmente, ya que como ilustra el Movimiento Mundial de Bosques en la publicación Arboles transgénicos: la amenaza definitiva para los bosques (, "la idea es que una tonelada de carbono emitida al quemar carbón o petróleo es igual a una tonelada de carbono contenida en un árbol, pero para que las plantaciones forestales puedan permanecer como almacén de carbono, hay que impedir que se incendien, que las plagas o enfermedades las destruyan o que se les tale, hay que evitar que los árboles mueran y se pudran porque si no emiten más carbono, hay que persuadir o combatir a las comunidades locales que fueron desplazadas para que no intenten reclamar las tierras que las plantaciones les hicieron perder cortando los árboles." Todo esto se suma a los impactos sociales y ambientales tremendos que ya tienen los monocultivos forestales en muchos países, por lo que les llaman desiertos verdes (Brasil), cáncer verde (Sudáfrica) o árboles egoístas (Tailandia), porque absorben toda el agua y los nutrientes de los alrededores.

Las otras modificaciones también tendrán fuertes impactos; por ejemplo, los árboles con menor contenido de lignina serán más débiles, lo que sería fatal si trasmiten esta propiedad -u otras como mayor susceptibilidad a enfermedades- a los bosques nativos. Para "manejar" esta contaminación inevitable, la industria propone entonces usar la tecnología Terminator, que los haga estériles, lo cual de paso les sirve para justificar la legalización de esta aberrante tecnología. Según varios científicos, como Ricarda Steinbrecher, Terminator de todos modos sólo tendría efectos parciales de esterilización (igual existiría contaminación), pero además, al ser una construcción genética altamente complicada e inestable, provocaría aún más efectos secundarios inesperados, del tipo que ya encontraron Wennstrom y su equipo.

Frente a todo esto, varias organizaciones han redactado una carta al Convenio de Diversidad Biológica, demandando que este organismo prohíba los árboles transgénicos por los impactos que tendrían sobre la biodiversidad. La carta se puede leer y firmar en Es urgente ampliar el debate para impedir que la industria provoque este nuevo desastre.

* Investigadora del Grupo ETC

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domingo, octubre 15, 2006



by Gregor Wolbring

October 15 , 2006

I recently met a traveller in the airport lounge in Frankfurt who worked in the forestry industry. We started talking, and he seemed interested in new technologies. In the end, I offered to write a column on nanoforestry for him. I must say I was surprised at the literature that already exists in this area and how little one hears about it. Whenever I mention the term I receive funny remarks. However a lot is going on.

A first International Conference on Nanotechnology for the Forest Products Industry took place in the United States last April. Talks included: "Bioinspired Nanotechnology: Green Chemistry and Sustainable Manufacturing," "Opportunities for Nanotechnology in Advancing Agenda 2020 Technology Platforms Panel," "What Else Might You Do With Nanofibrillar Cellulose Besides Make Nanocomposites?," "Advancing the Forest Biorefinery," "New Production Method for Nano Silica Sol and its Application for Papermaking," "Preparation of Biosilica-Enriched Filler and its Use in Nano-Particle Retention System," "Potentials and Avenues for Nanotechnology in Canadian Wood Products," "Forest Products Industry Nanotechnology Workshop Report European Perspective: NanoForest," and "Application of Nanotechnology in Pulp and Paper in Japan."

According to the Nanotechnology for the Forest Products Industry — Vision and Technology Roadmap, "potential uses for nanotechnology include developing intelligent wood -- and paperbased products with an array of nanosensors built in to measure forces, loads, moisture levels, temperature, pressure, chemical emissions, attack by wood decaying fungi, et cetera. Building functionality onto lignocellulosic surfaces at the nanoscale could open new opportunities for such things as pharmaceutical products, self-sterilizing surfaces, and electronic lignocellulosic devices. Use of nanodimensional building blocks will enable the assembly of functional materials and substrates with substantially higher strength properties, which will allow the production of lighter-weight products from less material and with less energy requirements. Significant improvements in surface properties and functionality will be possible, making existing products much more effective and enabling the development of many more new products. Nanotechnology can be used to improve processing of woodbased materials into a myriad of paper and wood products by improving water removal and eliminating rewetting; reducing energy usage in drying; and tagging fibers, flakes, and much research will be needed to move forward in this arena."

A lot of thought has already been given to this field without much public visibility.

A nanoforestry vision has been developed for Europe, and the Canadian report Nanotechnology: Implications for the Wood Products Industry includes a chart summarizing a range of wood performance issues, and potential impacts of nanotechnology advances. In addition to creating new wood products, nanotechnology and nanoretooling will have a major impact in other areas, including the production of biofuel.

Nanoforestry, NBICS and biofuels

Biofuel from biomass is seen as a renewable alternative to oil. Most biomass used for energy is plant derived. Plants produce biomass using energy from sunlight to combine water and carbon dioxide into sugars through photosynthesis. The sugars are then polymerised and/or combined with other chemicals to produce plant material. But which technologies will be used to create biofuel?

The keyword combination "genetically modified" and "biofuel" generates 343,000 hits in Google, and "nanotechnology" and "biofuel" produces 317,000, indicating that nanotechnology is rising in importance. A recent forest industry roadmap says that cell wall nanotechnology is a primary focus of nanoforestry, and that cellulose -- the building block of plant cell walls -- is key to developing biofuels. While genetic technology and biofuel are linked in the public consciousness, however, nanotechnology and biofuel are not.

The Choice is Yours

I want to make two main points in this column. First, there seems to be a disconnect between work on new technologies and their public visibility in applications of nanotechnology in forestry and biofuels, or synthetic biology in biofuels (where there is the potential to engineer bacteria to produce bacteriofuels, for example). Second, each application must consider many different technology options, their possible convergence, and their social and environmental impacts.

Whatever one decides, all participants in the discourse -- scientists, policy makers, funders, NGOs, and others -- must be more multifaceted in their analysis. Foresight exercises are needed to see what technologies and challenges may be on the horizon. The discourse on biofuel, for example, needs to answer three questions: (1) should we use it? (2) what technology or mixture of technologies should we use to produce it, if any? and (3) what social and environmental challenges does this pose?

Gregor Wolbring is a biochemist, bioethicist, science and technology ethicist, disability/vari-ability studies scholar, and health policy and science and technology studies researcher at the University of Calgary. He is a member of the Center for Nanotechnology and Society at Arizona State University; Member CAC/ISO - Canadian Advisory Committees for the International Organization for Standardization section TC229 Nanotechnologies; Member of the editorial team for the Nanotechnology for Development portal of the Development Gateway Foundation; Chair of the Bioethics Taskforce of Disabled People's International; and Member of the Executive of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. He publishes the Bioethics, Culture and Disability website, moderates a weblog for the International Network for Social Research on Diasbility, and authors a weblog on NBICS and its social implications.

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Cambio climático y transgénicos

GM/Biosafety mailout from Teresa Anderson at the Gaia Foundation -

UN Climate Conference - An Opportunity for GM?

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held in Nairobi, Kenya this year from the 6th-17th November.

Climate change is now acknowledged to be one of the biggest threats facing the planet, although some sections of business (the oil industry in particular) and some governments (e.g. the US) have been reluctant to acknowledge the devastating role that modern industry, transport and food systems have had in contributing to carbon dioxide emissions and climate change.

Deforestation is exacerbating the problem as there are fewer trees to absorb carbon dioxide for growth. As the atmosphere warms up due to increased carbon dioxide, climate responds by changing in different ways across the planet. We are already seeing changes in patterns of temperature and rainfall across Africa, as many of you who lament the loss of the reliable and regular rainy seasons well know.

At the UNFCCC, countries will attempt to implement mitigation measures to reduce the impact of climate change, while also discussing adaptation techniques. There are many controversies over the proposed measures put forward in the Kyoto Protocol, and NGOs attending the session will have their hands full in trying to push for solutions that truly address the problems and interests of the rural poor and not just big business.

As it happens, Nairobi provides a base to a number of groups that promote GM for African Agriculture: Africa Harvest (run by Florence Wambugu), Africa Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum (ABSF), African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Africa Biotechnology Network Africa (ABNETA), Biotechnology Trust Africa and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). Furthermore USAID, Monsanto and Syngenta all have a strong presence there. It is therefore possible that the GM industry will be looking to turn the Nairobi UNFCCC COP-12 into an opportunity to promote GM technology as the next big solution to climate change.

The GM industry may push for the UNFCCC to endorse GM in a number of areas, such as biofuels, GM trees, and drought tolerant GM crops. However, it is vitally important that NGOs and country delegates attending the UNFCCC know the true story behind the hype, and the risks that GM technology can bring. Having lost the argument that GM will feed the world, the industry is now desperate to cast itself again as the global solution - but yet again GM offers only empty promises and more problems.

Biofuels - There is increasing talk of using Biofuels made from crops as ethanol instead of petrol and biodiesel instead of diesel. The crops absorb as much carbon dioxide (CO2) when they are growing, as they release when they are burned, so they are termed as "carbon neutral", and seen by some as an environmentally friendly option instead of fossil fuels. European countries aim to replace a percentage of their fossil fuels with biofuels, and the EU has a programme called "Partners for Africa" to encourage African countries to grow biofuels for export to Europe. The GM industry intend to capitalise on this new vision of African agriculture. Syngenta have developed a variety of GM maize that contains an enzyme that would speed up the conversion to ethanol, and a GM cassava is also being developed for use in biofuels.

However, according to a study by Cornell University, the amount of energy input required for fertiliser, machinery, processing and transport for ethanol from maize is actually greater than the energy in the resulting fuel. In Indonesia, the rainforest, a valuable ecosystem which helps to absorb carbon dioxide and reduce climate change, is being cut down and replaced with Palm Oil plantations for biofuels.

Furthermore, according to the Earth Policy Institute, the amount of grain for fuel required to fill one 4x4 SUV tank, would feed a person for a year. We are going to find ourselves in a situation where the best agricultural land in Africa is increasingly used to grow fuel for European cars, instead of food for Africans. Biofuels could therefore pose a threat to food security in Africa. If acceptance of biofuels allows backdoor entry to GMOs, this would pose an even greater threat to African farmers through cross-pollination and patented seed.

GM Trees - One of the approaches that has been taken up since the development of the Kyoto Protocol is the concept of "Carbon Sinks" - large tree plantations that can allow countries, businesses and people to "offset" their CO2 emissions. The carbon sinks tend to be grown in the South, in tropical countries such as Uganda, and paid for by wealthy industrial countries. This approach has been criticised as allowing business to continue as usual in the developed countries, and distracting policy makers from the need to actually reduce carbon emissions. Whether carbon sinks really reduce CO2 emissions or not is also a point of controversy. Some research suggests that they can be damaging to local communities and the environment. They many be monoculture plantations which affect the water table or have replaced forest that is already there.

The GM industry is also attempting to turn this crisis into an opportunity. Fast-growing GM trees may be pushed as the next solution to creating instant carbon sinks. However, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held in April this year, urged countries to take a very cautious approach to GM trees. Tree pollen can travel for hundreds of miles and could cross-pollinate with non-GM trees. Pine pollen can travel 2000 miles. Trees have such a long growth cycle we have little or no idea what the impact will be on their ecologies. But trees provide the planet's most important ecosystems for keeping climate in the balance. It seems insanity to use this untested technology as a so-called "solution" when there is a large chance that it could harm global forest systems and create even more long-term chaos.

Drought Tolerance - When aiming to justify GM technology in agriculture, one of the most frequent arguments brought out is that GM will give us drought tolerant crops, which will be important in Africa and in the face of impending climate change. This has been repeated so often by lobbyists and ambitious scientists that the media, the public and the policy makers actually believe that drought-tolerant crops are almost a reality, and that there is a moral imperative to pursue GM technology for the sake of the hungry.

But the reality is that the genetic coding for drought tolerance is incredibly complex, and it is quite possible that understanding of genetic engineering will never gain the ability to harness the trait. There may be up to 60 different genes involved in drought tolerance, all interacting and reacting in a subtle and complex way. The successful transferral of many complex genes, which can respond to a variety of conditions, and not produce unwanted toxins and allergens, is a long way off for current scientific knowledge. That is why some geneticists admit that even hoping for drought tolerance in the next 10 or 20 years may be too ambitious. Even Monsanto has admitted that it will take 8-10 years - however this is likely to be a strategic understatement for the purposes of public relations.

In the meantime, African farmers already know that their traditional varieties can survive drought conditions more successfully than the bought hybrid varieties. Genuine strategies for ensuring drought tolerance and future food security need to preserve and encourage natural genetic diversity in seed, by encouraging seed saving programmes and traditional farmer breeding knowledge. By endorsing GM technology to find drought tolerance, valuable resources are being drained from the real solutions.

Please forward this information to any of your colleagues who work on climate change issues, or who are planning to attend the UNFCCC COP-12 in Nairobi this November. It is vitally important that the GM industry does not take advantage of the opportunity to get official UN endorsement through the back door.

Best wishes,



1. Starving the People To Feed the Cars
Article from the Washington Post. Date: 10 September 2006
Lester R. Brown

2. Cornell Ecologist's Study Finds that Producing Ethanol and Biodiesel from Corn and Other Crops is Not Worth the Energy Article from Cornell University News Service, US. Date: 5 July 2005 Susan S. Lang

3. Feeding Cars, Not People - Article from the Guardian. Date: 22 November 2004
George Monbiot

4. On Eve of Nairobi Climate Conference, New Book Exposes Scandal of Carbon Trading
Press Release from The Corner House. Date: 4 October 2006

5. GE Trees: No Solution to Climate Change, Articile from Gen-ethischer Informationsdienst. Date:
February/March 2005. Chris Lang

6. Drought-resistant GM seeds won't benefit Kenyans for the next
decade, says Monsanto
Comment from GM Watch. Date: 1 February 2006

7. Drought-Resistant GM Seeds Won't Benefit Kenyans for the Next Decade
Article from the Nation (Kenya). Date: 31 January 2006
Kevin J. Kelley



sábado, octubre 14, 2006


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

viernes, octubre 13, 2006

Giorgio Trucchi

Cuando se habla de ingeniería genética o biotecnología, es común que la gente quede fascinada con las fantasías que las empresas nos muestran

En medio de grandes transformaciones sociales, económicas y políticas, la prensa interesada presenta a la “Nueva biotecnología” como la ciencia del mañana. El puente para alcanzar el “Admirable Mundo Nuevo”.

Nuestra oposición no surge de un simple temor “a lo nuevo”, sino de que las inversiones son tan enormes que la necesidad de retorno es implacable. Por lo tanto, no puede haber errores y, si los hay, todo será hecho para que nadie se entere. La ley es la del mercado y como sabemos muy bien, el mercado no tiene ética.

Nosotros tenemos una posición ética y queremos saber y conocer los riesgos. En un momento donde quien debería garantizar la ética social, el Estado, no tiene fuerza ante las empresas planetarias.

Esas mismas empresas que nos encandilan con sus “inventos”, presionaron al gobierno de los Estados Unidos para que certificara que los productos transgénicos son naturales.

En Europa, por su parte, se logró que los alimentos transgénicos tuvieran un sello de advertencia al consumidor.

No obstante, un emergente ejercito de científicos se esfuerza en negar los peligros de esta tecnología, de la misma forma que negaron, en su momento, los peligros de los agrotóxicos. Tecnócratas alienados, analfabetos políticos que no están al servicio de la sociedad sino de las empresas que son quienes pagan sus salarios.

Su modelo de sociedad es el de las empresas, no otro. (“Transgénicos transnacionales y un gen llamado Terminator” de Sebastián Pinheiro y Enildo Iglesias) No es primera vez que en Nicaragua y Centroamérica se descubre la presencia de Organismos Genéticamente Modificados en alimentos para el consumo humano, pero el impacto fue más preocupante cuando diferentes organizaciones pudieron probar, con datos en las manos, que los alimentos distribuidos a los sectores más vulnerables por el Programa Mundial de Alimentos (PMA), estaban contaminados con transgénicos.