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How CRISPR works: what could possibly go wrong? In fact, an awful lot, as it turns out. Image: James atmos via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

CRISPR and the three myths of precise genome editing

Jonathan Latham, PhD / Independent Science News

25th April 2016

The very term 'genetic engineering' implies high precision in the alterations made to genes and deep understanding of their consequences, writes Jonathan Latham. In fact, we have never had either. And even with the arrival of CRISPR and other 'gene editing' systems, that remains the case: technologists are thrashing about in a perilous sea of unfathomable complexities and unknowable outcomes. more...
Image of CRISPR / Cas9. Image: NHGRI. via ja.wikimedia.org (Public Domain).

New GMOs are 'not GM' - EU folds under US pressure

Oliver Tickell

21st April 2016

The EU Commission has caved in to US pressure in TTIP trade talks by deciding to consider organisms modified by new 'gene editing' techniques as non-GM - in violation of the EU's own laws. The move could make the 'new GMOs' exempt from labeling and from health and environmental testing. more...
Ben & Jerry's GMO Labeling poster in Portland, Oregon, 15th October 2014. Photo: anna Hanks via Flickr (CC BY).

Flawed US GMO labeling will damage the anti-GM movement on both sides of the Atlantic

Lawrence Woodward / Beyond GM

22nd April 2016

Little Vermont is having a big impact on GMO food labeling across the US, writes Lawrence Woodward. And with 'regulatory cooperation' under TTIP that influence could reach into the EU. Trouble is, Vermont's labeling law contains major exemptions - on meat products, take-aways and restaurant food, as well as products from animals fed GM feeds. The US, and the EU, deserve better. more...
Cabbage white butterfly with deformed wings (pinned to an insect board) that was fed an experimental diet enriched with long chain omega-3 fatty acids, 48 hours after emergence. Photo: PLOS One.

Nutritionally-enhanced GM crops? Too bad about the deformed butterflies

Claire Robinson / GMWatch

18th April 2016

It looked like such a good idea: take the pressure off wild fish stocks by growing GM oilseeds that produce health-enhancing long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, writes Claire Robinson. But as a new study has established, those fish oils, novel in terrestrial ecosystems, cause wing deformities in cabbage white butterflies. Yet a third open field trial of these GM crops could soon be under way. more...
Failed Bt Brinjal crop in Bangladesh, afflicted by the bacterial wilt to which the variety is highly prone, resulting in near total crop loss for many farmers in 2015. Photo: UBINIG.

BBC's GMO coverage 'fair and accurate'? You decide

Claire Robinson / GMWatch

14th April 2016

There's absolutely no evidence for BBC Panorama's claim of 90% success for Bt brinjal in Bangladesh, writes Claire Robinson. But that has not stopped the BBC Trust from dismissing all complaints against its monstrously dishonest report. Nor has it diminished the jubilation of GMO cheerleaders. more...
It's our future! Photomontage: Beyond GM.

Opening up the debate on GMOs to the voices of the future

Pat Thomas

13th April 2016

An exciting new project has been launched to give children a chance to join in the GMO debate, writes Pat Thomas. With young people speaking up and becoming more aware of food, health and environmental issues, they deserve the platform to voice their concerns and join in a wider global network of youth working for positive change in the world they will inherit. more...
Late blight is a serious disease - but there are already dozens of conventionally-bred potato varieties with much stronger resistance than the 'new improved' GM version. Photo: Graham Rawlings via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Campaigners' No to UK field trials of GM potatoes, oilseeds

The Ecologist

7th April 2016

British NGOs have objected to two applications for open-air field trials to grow GM crops. One is for a blight-resistant potato that is much less resistant than existing non-GM varieties. The other is an oilseed to be used as fish food whose fatty acid profile has been subject to only 'rudimentary analysis'. more...
A farmer stands amidst a rice farm in Burundi, Africa. Photo: IRRI via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Philanthropic colonialism: embedding agribusiness and GMOs into African agriculture

Colin Todhunter

8th April 2016

Perhaps all the 'do gooders' busy forcing industrial models of agriculture onto poor but independent African farmers really do think they are helping them, writes Colin Todhunter. But if so they are deeply deluded. All they will achieve is the takeover of export-oriented agribusiness and GMOs, the destruction of agroecological farming systems, and a future of debt and landlessness. more...
Breakfast at McDonalds in Maddur, Karnataka, India. Photo: Harsha K R via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

India: obesity, malnutrition and the globalisation of bad food

Colin Todhunter

4th April 2016

India's food system, essentially clean just a generation ago, has been comprehensively contaminated with sugar, bad fats, synthetic additives, GMOs and pesticides under the country's neoliberal 'great leap forwards', writes Colin Todhunter. The result? a surge in obesity, diabetes and cancer incidence, but no let-up in the under-nutrition of those too poor to join in the over-consumption. more...
Male Atlantic salmon showing the kype (hook) in the lower jaw, used in battle with rival mates during the spawning season. Photo: E. Peter Steenstra / US Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region via Flickr (CC BY).

FDA sued for 'unlawful' approval of GMO salmon

The Ecologist

1st April 2016

A coalition of fishing, consumer, and environmental groups are suing the FDA for its 'unlawful' approval of Aquabounty's GM salmon, as it relied on treating the fish as an 'animal drug' under a 1938 law, and ignored serious risks to wild salmon and fishing communities. more...
Nigerian farmers like her see no benefit from GM crops, only pain and poverty. Photo: Conflict & Development at Texas A&M via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND)

Nigerians say no to Monsanto's GM crops

Vanessa Amaral-Rogers

30th March 2016

Groups representing over 5 million Nigerians are resisting Monsanto's attempt to introduce GM maize and cotton, writes Vanessa Amaral-Rogers. With growing evidence of harm to human health and environment, and failing GM crops in other countries, they say Monsanto's applications must be refused. more...
Intensive arable farming in England: no space for people or wildlife. Photo: Peter Roworth / Natural England via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Six steps back to the land: an agricultural revolution for people and countryside

Colin Tudge

22nd April 2016

What's the point of farming? To produce an abundance of wholesome food, writes Colin Tudge, while supporting a flourishing rural economy and a sustainable, biodiverse countryside. Yet the powers that be, determined to advance industrial agriculture at all costs, are achieving the precise opposite. It's time for a revolution in our food and farming culture, led by the people at large. more...

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From a mock-up of a possible label on a can of Campbell's Soup Spaghetti-Os, with the words: 'Partially produced with genetic engineering.' Image: Campbell's Soup.

Soon a flood? Mars, General Mills begin US-wide GMO labels

Oliver Tickell

22nd March 2016

The small state of Vermont is changing the face of US food as companies hasten to comply with its GMO labeling rule which comes into effect in July 2016. Mars and General Mills - and now Kelloggs and ConAgra - are the latest companies to announce their labels will comply with Vermont law US-wide - and many more are sure to follow. more...
It took centuries of smoking before tobacco's link to cancer was proven - so how come 20 years of eating GMO's 'proves' they are safe? Photo: Ximena Salazar via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

The Precautionary Principle: the basis of a post-GMO ethic

Rupert Read

18th April 2016

GMOs have been in our diets for about 20 years, writes Rupert Read. Proof that they are safe? No way - it took much, much longer to discover the dangers of cigarettes and transfats, dangers that are far more visible than those of GMOs. On the scale of nature and ecology, 20 years is a pitifully short time. To sustain our human future, we have to think long term. more...
Golden rice is an example of GM which has failed to deliver what has been promised. International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA)

The demise of GM and the new future of food

Peter Melchett

8th March 2016

BASF are to halve their GM research and development and reduce the time spent on developing these technologies, writes Peter Melchett. Given the many problems that GM agriculture is facing, and that new non-GE technologies offer such valuable benefits as increased crop yields, does BASF's announcement spell the beginning of the end of GM crops? more...
The principle that we have a right to know what we are eating is admirably straightforward. That's why the biotech and agrochemical industries have to spin so hard to convince us that ignorance is bliss. Photo: Daniel Lobo via Flickr (CC BY).

Bill Gates: can we have an honest conversation about GMOs?

Stacy Malkan / US Right to Know

8th March 2016

Some of the world's most powerful figures tout the benefits of GMOs, writes Stacy Malkan, but what's the real story? Facts on the ground expose the PR spin, half truths and outright propaganda that has come to dominate a public conversation that is not so much about engineering genes, but engineering truth for the benefit of multinational corporations. more...
Could they finally be getting what they want? Federal legislation for clear, simple GMO labelling could be on its way. Vermont Right To Know protestors against the DARK Act in Washington DC, 2014. Photo:Cat Buxton via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

LIGHT Act? Democrat senators' new GMO label law

The Ecologist

3rd March 2016

The 'Biotechnology Food Labeling Uniformity' bill has been introduced to the US Senate to require clear, simple labelling of GMOs nationwide - informing consumers while saving manufacturers from a confusing patchwork of state regulations. Could it defeat the dreaded DARK Act? more...
Farm machinery spraying glyphosate to oilseed rape. Photo: Chafer Machinery via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

European Union - stop glyphosate reauthorisation!

Molly Scott Cato MEP

3rd March 2016

Next week, EU governments will vote on whether to re-authorise the weedkiller glyphosate, judged by IARC to be a probable human carcinogen, writes Molly Scott Cato. The disgraceful shenanigans of the Commission and the European Food Safety Agency to date provide a clear example of the EU and member states conspiring with corporations, against citizens. more...
Monarch butterfly on Milkweed. Photo: bark via Flickr (CC BY).

Monarch butterfly decline: the overwhelming case for banning glyphosate

Eva Sirinathsinghji / ISIS

2nd March 2016

Monarch butterfly numbers are dwindling despite protection of their wintering forests in Mexico, and voluntary schemes to restore their food plant, milkweed, in US field margins, writes Eva Sirinathsinghji. These measures alone are insufficient: no less than an end to the mass spraying of glyphosate on crops, predicated by 'Roundup-ready' GM corn and soy, will do. more...
The technology is neat - but can it ever be industrialised? JBEI researcher using synthetic biology to engineer microbes to ferment complex sugars into advanced biofuels. Photo: Roy Kaltschmidt / Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory via Flickr (CC BY-NC-

Oil: $30-35 per barrel. Synthetic biology diesel: $3,180 to $7,949 per barrel. Game over?

Almuth Ernsting

29th February 2016

A synthetic biology plant producing the anti-malarial drug artemisinin has just shut down as it's much cheaper to use wormwood grown by African farmers, writes Almuth Ernsting. The technology is even further from making affordable diesel, with a production cost of $20-50 per litre. No wonder investors are losing patience - and confidence - in loss-making synbio companies. more...
Insecticide spraying in Brazil, 2014. Photo: Malova Gobernador via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Zika, microcephaly, and pesticides: half-truths, hysteria, and vested interests

Claire Robinson / GMWatch

26th February 2016

Those who dare suggest that pesticides might be implicated in Brazil's microcephaly outbreak are being furiously attacked as irrational, nonsense-spouting 'conspiracy theorists', writes Claire Robinson. But the attackers have an uncanny ability to get their own facts in a twist. And among them are writers linked to industries with huge economic interests in the matter. more...
There is another way: cotton farmers in India studying about insects as part of a course on 'integrated pest management'. Photo: S. Jayaraj / The AgriCultures Network via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Monsanto's pride, Monsanto's fall: playing God with the Indian farmer

Colin Todhunter

19th February 2016

India's farmers are the targets of structural violence aimed at uprooting indigenous agriculture and replacing it with an intensive corporate model based on GMOs and agrochemicals, writes Colin Todhunter. But as Monsanto's GM cotton succumbs to insect infestations despite repeated pesticide applications, agroecological farming is an increasingly attractive option for cultivators. more...
These red bananas are naturally red and high in beta carotene. So why the need to develop a patented GM banana that does the same job? Photo: Choo Yut Shing via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Gates Foundation: stop 'biopirated' GMO banana feeding trials

Vanessa Amaral-Rogers

17th February 2016

The Gates Foundation has received a 57,000 strong petition denouncing its support for a 'biopirated' GM banana program in Africa, and calling on it to suspend a feeding trial on US students, writes Vanessa Amaral-Rogers. The banana threatens both the health of the students, say campaigners, and the future of African agriculture. more...
Dr Vandana Shiva in Brussels as part of a tour to promote a new campaign and booklet: 'The law of the seed'. Photo: GreensEFA via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

In the footsteps of Gandhi: an interview with Vandana Shiva

Scott London

14th February 2016

Vandana Shiva is more than just a leading scientist, author and campaigner on green issues and anti-globalisation, writes Scott London. She is also among the most prominent of Mahatma Ghandi's intellectual heirs. In this interview, she discusses how this led her to be an outspoken voice on such crucial environmental issues as seed legacy, biopiracy and economic injustice. more...
A farmer at work in her mustard field in Kashmir, India. Photo: Rajesh Pamnani via Flickr (CC BY-NC-DD).

Beware the GMO Trojan horse! Indian food and farming are under attack

Colin Todhunter

11th February 2016

Global oilseed, agribusiness and biotech corporations are engaged in a long term attack on India's local cooking oil producers, writes Colin Todhunter. In just 20 years they have reduced India from self-sufficiency in cooking oil to importing half its needs. Now the government's unlawful attempts to impose GM mustard seed threaten to wipe out a crop at the root of Indian food and farming traditions. more...

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