Sunday, January 30, 2011
IMR completes field trial for GM mozzies
By TAN SHIOW CHIN
The Star Online
January 27, 2011
PETALING JAYA: The Institute for Medical Research (IMR) has completed one run of its field trial involving genetically-modified (GM) male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes at a forest near Bentong, Pahang.
IMR director Dr Shahnaz Murad said the institute released about 6,000 GM mosquitoes at the site on Dec 21, along with a similar number of normal male mosquitoes.
“The experiment was successfully concluded on Jan 5,” she said in a press statement here yesterday.
“Fogging with insecticide was conducted on Jan 6 to eliminate all mosquitoes but monitoring will continue for up to two months,” she said.
Dr Shahnaz said no further release of GM mosquitoes was planned until the post-trial monitoring was completed and the results analysed and presented in peer-reviewed scientific journals and meetings.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Victory for Independent Science
Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
January 26, 2011
Gilles-Eric Séralini, professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen in France, and president of the scientific council for independent research on genetic engineering (CRIIGEN), is a leading researcher into the risks of GMOs. Not surprisingly, he and his team became the target a concerted campaign of vilification, which included Monsanto, EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and scientific societies representing biotechnology in France: the French Association of Plant Biotechnology and the French High Counsel on Biotechnology.
This attack was triggered by the team’s recent thorough re-analysis of data submitted by Monsanto to obtain commercial approval in Europe for three GM maize lines, MON 863, MON 810, NK603, on which EFSA had given a favourable opinion. In a published paper, the team concluded that the data “highlight signs of hepatorenal toxicity, possibly due to the new pesticides specific to each GM corn. In addition, unintended direct or indirect metabolic consequences of the genetic modification cannot be excluded.”
Séralini and his colleagues received massive support from scientists and civil society. But Séralini decided to sue for libel; he believed the researchers Claude Allegre, Axel Kahn, and Marc Fellous were behind the defamation and intimidation campaign in France and that is why he pursued Fellous, who chairs the French Association of Plant Biotechnologies (AFBV), in the courts. Séralini argued that the campaign had damaged his reputation, reducing his opportunities for work and his chances of getting funding for his research.
On Tuesday 18 January 2011, the court of Paris concluded the lawsuit and decided in Séralini’s favour, much to everyone’s surprise.
Friday, January 28, 2011
USDA Decision on GE Alfalfa Leaves Door Open for Contamination, Rise of Superweeds
Center for Food Safety
January 27, 2011
Center announces immediate legal challenge to USDA’S flawed assessment
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Center for Food Safety criticized the announcement today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it will once again allow unlimited, nation-wide commercial planting of Monsanto’s genetically-engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa, despite the many risks to organic and conventional farmers USDA acknowledged in its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). On a call today with stakeholders, Secretary Vilsack reiterated the concerns surrounding purity and access to non-GE seed, yet the Agency’s decision still places the entire burden for preventing contamination on non-GE farmers, with no protections for food producers, consumers and exporters.
“We’re disappointed with USDA’s decision and we will be back in court representing the interest of farmers, preservation of the environment, and consumer choice” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety. “USDA has become a rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment.”
USDA to Fully Deregulate Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered Alfalfa
by Will Fantle
The Cornucopia Institute
January 27, 2011
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this afternoon that the agency will fully deregulate Monsanto’s controversial genetically engineered alfalfa. The choice was favored by the biotech industry and one of three options identified in the USDA’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) released last month.
USDA could have maintained regulatory status over the perennial crop that is so important as forage for the livestock industry. Or they could have chosen a limited regulation strategy with bans on the planting of GE alfalfa seeds in seed growing regions to attempt to limit the contamination of alfalfa seed stock by foreign DNA from Monsanto’s crop (alfalfa is pollinated by bees and other insects and has a pollination radius of five miles). Instead, the agency, under heavy pressure from the biotech sector, chose total deregulation. Over 250,000 public comments were received during the FEIS process, with the vast majority opposing deregulation.
Vilsack did announce that the USDA would establish a second germ plasm/seed center for alfalfa in the state of Idaho to try and maintain GE-free strains of alfalfa. They currently operate such a facility in Prosser, WA. He said the FEIS process brought home two key points to USDA: choice and trust.
The Center for Food Safety, supported by The Cornucopia Institute and others, has been embroiled in a court case fighting the release of GE-alfalfa. Cornucopia is a formal plaintiff in the case. The legal matter has been on hold while the USDA completed its court-ordered EIS. Opponents of GE-alfalfa may soon determine their “choice” and resume the legal battle.
Genetic engineered crops, animals and food are banned in organic agriculture. Many conventional alfalfa and seed producers also have expressed their opposition to Monsanto’s new crop. Like organic producers, they do not want their strains of alfalfa contaminated by foreign DNA. Monsanto has aggressively pursued farmers for damages when they have discovered evidence of their patented DNA in their conventional crops.
Planting of GE-alfalfa could begin this spring as Forage Genetics (owned by Land O’ Lakes) has millions of pounds of Monsanto’s seed in storage.
U.S. Approves Genetically Modified Alfalfa
By Andrew Pollack
New York Times
January 27, 2011
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Thursday that he would authorize the unrestricted commercial cultivation of genetically modified alfalfa, setting aside a controversial compromise that had generated stiff opposition.
In making the decision, Mr. Vilsack pulled back from a novel proposal that would have restricted the growing of genetically engineered alfalfa to protect organic farmers from so-called biotech contamination. That proposal drew criticism at a recent Congressional hearing and in public forums where Mr. Vilsack outlined the option.
Mr. Vilsack said Thursday that his department would take other measures, like conducting research and promoting dialogue, to make sure that pure, nonengineered alfalfa seed would remain available.
“We want to expand and preserve choice for farmers,” he told reporters. “We think the decision reached today is a reflection of our commitment to choice and trust.”
Mr. Vilsack in recent months has been calling for coexistence among growers of genetically engineered crops, organic farmers and nonorganic farmers growing crops that have not been genetically altered.
Organic farmers can lose sales if genetic engineering is detected in their crops, which occurs through cross-pollination from a nearby field or through intermingling of seeds. And exports of nonorganic but nonengineered crops to certain countries can be jeopardized if genetically engineered material is detected in significant amounts.