Friday, July 20, 2012
GM animals coming soon to Europe despite public distaste
By Mute Schimpf
Public Service Europe
July 20, 2012
There is one thing genetically modified foods always bring to the table - controversy. And there is one thing European Union authorities and biotech companies seem intent on ignoring: the fact that nobody wants GM crops or animals on their plates. Last month, European food authorities took steps to open our markets to genetically modified animals, by publishing guidelines for their introduction. The guidelines, commissioned by the European Commission on behalf of the European Food Safety Authority give biotech companies the capability to seek permission to develop GM animals like salmon, pig, sheep and chicken.
This move by the commission comes even though there is no appetite among consumers for GM milk or meat, and no appetite from food processors or retailers to sell them - and for good reason. Nowhere in the world is any GM animal authorised for food production. Even in the United States, where there is less resistance to GM than in Europe, the planned introduction of the first GM animal - a salmon - caused widespread concern. Environmental, human health and economic problems have been identified with GM salmon.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
EU Commission (temporarily) stops approvals for cultivation of genetically engineered crops
July 18, 2012
Munich/Brussels - Recent investigations reveal that new approvals for the cultivation of genetically engineered crops in Europe in 2012 are unlikely. The Commission returned the dossiers for three maize lines to the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA). MON810, Bt11 and maize 1507 have all been considered safe by EFSA numerous times. In a letter to the EU Commission, EFSA announces a new opinion on maize MON810 till December.
”In our view, this is a first sign that the Commission acknowledges that the present risk assessment for genetically engineered crops must be improved considerably. If EFSA was honest they would admit that there isn’t even any precise knowledge about the content of insecticidal Bt toxin in the plants”, says Christoph Then for Testbiotech „During the last ten years, there have been manifest problems with the independence of EFSA’s GMO experts. Now, opinions that were already finished with are being put to test again. However, there is a reasonable assumption that EFSA’s safety checks will in fact be more critical than in the past.”
In June, the GMO Panel was partly re-established but according to an assessment of Testbiotech, the majority of experts still can be seen as proponents of genetically engineered plants in agriculture.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Malaria parasite killed by gene-modified germs in study
By Kristen Hallam
July 16, 2012
Benign bacteria residing in mosquitoes’ guts can be recruited to destroy the parasite that causes malaria, offering a potential way to prevent infections, according to U.S. researchers.
Genetically modifying the germ enabled it to produce proteins toxic to the parasite without harming the insects, scientists from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and Duquesne University in Pittsburgh wrote today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. The proportion of mosquitoes carrying the parasite fell by as much as 84 percent, the researchers said.
Malaria kills a child in Africa every minute, and about half the world’s population is at risk of infection, according to the Geneva-based World Health Organization. New ways of stopping the disease are needed as genetic mutations in parasites make them resistant to medicines, and as mosquitoes become less vulnerable to insecticides, the researchers said.
”These findings provide the foundation for the use of genetically modified symbiotic bacteria as a powerful tool to combat malaria,” the study’s authors wrote.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
British GM crop scientists win $10M grant from Gates
July 15, 2012
A team of British plant scientists has won a $10m (£6.4m) grant from the Gates Foundation to develop GM cereal crops.
It is one of the largest single investments into GM in the UK and will be used to cultivate corn, wheat and rice that need little or no fertiliser.
It comes at a time when bio-tech researchers are trying to allay public fears over genetic modification.
The work at the John Innes Centre in Norwich is hoped to benefit African farmers who cannot afford fertiliser.
Agricultural fertiliser is important for crop production across the globe.
But the many of the poorest farmers cannot afford fertiliser - and it is responsible for large greenhouse gas emissions.
The John Innes Centre is trying to engineer cereal crops that could get nitrogen from the air - as peas and beans do - rather than needing chemical ammonia spread on fields.
If successful, it is hoped the project could revolutionise agriculture and, in particular, help struggling maize farmers in sub-Saharan Africa - something the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is keen to do.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Expert warns of illegal GM papaya on EU market
June 29, 2012
The food and fruit industries to be vigilant against a banned variety of genetically modified papaya coming into the EU from Thailand, say experts.
The warning comes after a ‘wave’ of genetically modified (GM) papaya was rejected by European Union Border Controls in June.
Richard Werran, Managing Director of Cert ID Europe, noted that Thailand is an important global producer of papaya – with a significant percentage exported primarily to Europe.
“Although genetically modified crops are not permitted in Thailand, there is support for GM technology and it would appear that GM seeds for an EU banned variety of papaya have been illegally distributed to farmers across Thailand,” he suggests.