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Bt crops and insect pests: Past successes, future challenges and opportunities - Gassmann & Hutchison (2012) - GM Crops & Food:

Bt crops and insect pests: Past successes, future challenges and opportunities - Gassmann & Hutchison (2012) - GM Crops & Food: | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

In 1997, 4 million hectares were planted with crops genetically engineered to produce toxins derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). By 2011, the global area planted to Bt crops covered over 66 million hectares. During this time, maize and cotton covered the majority of the world’s agricultural landscape devoted to Bt crops. Benefits of Bt crops include effective control of certain key insect pests and reduced use of conventional insecticides... There are many unquestionable successes in the application of Bt crops
to manage pests and in their companion IRM programs to delay resistance. However, the challenge of pest resistance will be present as long as Bt crops are grown. To meet this challenge, there will need to be continued proactive research on interactions among pests and Bt crops, and continued discussions on how to best apply Bt crops for sustainable pest management and IRM.

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Bringing light into the discussion about GMOs? – A rather long reading list

[updated 12 June, 2014]  

 

These days I received an apparently easy request: “Do you have any recommendations for reading about the debate on GMOs? I think there is a lot of heat, but too little light in the discussion; I trust you can send me some…” To which I answered carelessly: “Sure, I will look into it, select a few references and post them…” 

 

I thought I’d have a quick look into my collection of bookmarks and references and post some of the links to satisfy the request. Obviously there would be too many individual studies and crop-specific or country-specific reports, but focusing only (i) on what was published in recent years, (ii) on sources where all this information was already aggregated (literature reviews, meta-analyses, authoritative statements, FAQs, etc.), and (iii) on academic or publicly funded sources should produce a fairly concise list, I thought. 

 

While not unmanageable, the list has become quite long. To get a rough idea of the current state of knowledge, it may be sufficient to peruse the first 1-2 (starred *) references under each heading, and to have a quick look at the abstracts and summaries of some of the others. (Given the controversy surrounding this topic I did not want to suggest just one or two sources, but show a bit the width of the scientific consensus, and to offer some titbits of related information.) ... 

 

http://ajstein.tumblr.com/post/40504136918/
 

 

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Jennifer Mach's comment, March 30, 2013 6:05 AM
I admit I haven't read this list... but for future reference, I'll definitely have a look.
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New resource shows half of GMO research is independent - GENERA (2014)

New resource shows half of GMO research is independent - GENERA (2014) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Those who follow the issue of genetically engineered crops have heard claims that there is little independent research on their safety for consumption or the environment. A new public database of research tells a different story. The resource is the GENetic Engineering Risk Atlas (GENERA)... The results show that independent peer-reviewed research on GMOs is common, conducted worldwide, and makes up half of the total of all research on risks associated with genetic engineering.

 

GENERA is a searchable database of peer-reviewed scientific studies on the relative risks of genetically engineered crops. The database includes important details at-a-glance to help people find and learn about the science of GMOs. GENERA has now entered its beta-testing phase with the first 400 out of over 1,200 studies that have been curated... 

 

Dr. Karl Haro von Mogel... said that people are looking for independent information about GMOs. “People are looking for sources that they can trust that can help them find unbiased information about genetic engineering, but in a politically-charged debate, unbiased sources are difficult to find. We’ve been recognized for our independent expertise on this subject, so it was only natural that we should take a project like this on” ... 

 

Out of the first 400 randomly-selected studies available in the GENERA beta test, half of them are funded entirely by government agencies and independent nonprofit organizations. Before the project began, rough estimates placed them at just a third of the research. And the government-funded research is worldwide in scope – concentrated in Europe and Asia, followed by North America and Australia. These findings should turn the heads of people who thought it was skewed to private, U.S.-based laboratories... 

 

“Systematic reviews have concluded that genetically engineered crops are safe to eat, and when you look at the results collected in GENERA, it agrees with that conclusion” ... 

 

http://genera.biofortified.org/wp/genera-announces-beta-test-launch

 

Alexander J. Stein's insight:

The statements in the article draw on "only" the first 400 out of over 1,200 studies, but still... It indicates how widespread (funding-wise and geographically) research into the safety of GMOs has been over the last decades. 

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Why Vegetables Get Freakish In The Land Of The Midnight Sun - NPR (2014)

Why Vegetables Get Freakish In The Land Of The Midnight Sun - NPR (2014) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Everything in Alaska is a little bit bigger — even the produce. A 138-pound cabbage, 65-pound cantaloupe and 35-pound broccoli are just a few of the monsters that have sprung forth from Alaska's soil... 


At the annual Alaska State Fair... the public will have the chance to gawk at giants like these as they're weighed for competition. It's "definitely a freak show... Some things [are so big], you can't even recognize what they are"... 

 

It's Alaska's summer sun that gives growers an edge... Basking in as much as 20 hours of sunshine per day, Alaskan crops get a photosynthesis bonus, allowing them to produce more plant material and grow larger... But many of the biggest ones — the real monsters — aren't flukes; they're a product of careful planning.

 

Selecting the right seed varieties is just as important as the time spent in the sunlight... growers... spend years experimenting with different varieties... "Let's face it: You're not going to win the Kentucky Derby with a mule or a Shetland pony... If you don't have the right genetic material, you're never going to achieve that ultimate goal"... 

 

"It really reminds me of Frankenstein's laboratory... If you were to go visit somebody who was growing a giant veggie for this fair, I think the thing that what would impress you is how much science and technology goes into this"... 

 http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/20/341884706/why-vegetables-get-freakish-in-the-land-of-the-midnight-sun ;

 

Alexander J. Stein's insight:

The real frankenfood? -- And all conventional... 

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Plant genetic engineering, climate change and food security - Ortiz &al (2014) - CGIAR [pdf]

This paper exploreswhether crop genetic engineering can contribute to addressing food security, as well as enhancing human nutrition and farming under a changing climate.


The review is based on peer-refereed literature, using results to determine the potential of this gene technology. It also provides a brief summary of issues surrounding this genetic enhancement approach to plant breeding, and the impacts on farming, livelihoods, and the environment achieved so far.


The genetic engineering pipeline looks promising, particularly for adapting more nutritious, input-efficient crops in the development of the world’s farming systems... 


Although the technologies demonstrate potential to reduce crop losses, food waste, and enhance nutritional quality... farmers’ surveys reveal that increased yields are among the benefits for growing transgenic crops. Such a finding results from yield increases because of reduced losses from insect pests and weeds. In most developing countries, crop yields are low and yield gaps are large because of low input use, poor soil health, and pests and diseases.


Genetic engineering has a lot promise in increasing overall adaptive capacity of agriculture but emphasis on good agricultural practices, including maintenance of soil, water, and genetic resources and increasing irrigation and fertilizers remains critical to increasing production...

 

Given that current trends in yield increase are insufficient to double food production by 2050 and keep up with population and shifting consumption patterns, new approaches to the problem are needed. Transgenic cultivars could be a piece of that puzzle, building on success stories such as that of WEMA, but it is crucial that safety concerns are adequately addressed.


Further research should benchmark conventional approaches to crop improvement, compare them with likely yield increases available from transgenic approaches, and explicitly address climate impacts to ascertain the true potential of transgenic technologies in adapting to and mitigating climate change in the long term.

 

https://www.results.waterandfood.org/bitstream/handle/10568/41934/CCAFS%20WP%2072.pdf


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EU organic food might not be truly organic - FoodNav (2014)

EU organic food might not be truly organic - FoodNav (2014) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

The Alliance for Natural Health suggests that non-organic inputs may be used in EU organic production... and call the public to action in support of true organic agriculture... 

 

EU has permitted the use of non-organic food in ‘organic’ production... allow the use of various additives in organic production. “We find it shocking that the EU permits so many additives in organic products... and continues to sanction several non-organic agricultural inputs,” said Adam Smith... 

 

http://www.foodnavigator.com/content/view/print/955176

 

Alexander J. Stein's insight:

"true organic agriculture" >> Seems there are parallels with (fundamentalist) ideologies: There's always somebody who's more "true" or pure, who's more extreme or radical... A slippery slope off the middle ground where those who compromise lose. 

 

All these back-doors and loopholes that currently exist seem to indicate that even to be able to offer organic food at the current (already high) prices, the organic industry has to cut many corners -- something its proponents usually accuse modern agriculture of doing... 

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Vandana Shiva’s Crusade Against Genetically Modified Crops - New Yorker (2014)

Vandana Shiva’s Crusade Against Genetically Modified Crops - New Yorker (2014) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Full article at: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/08/25/seeds-of-doubt

 

Early this spring, the Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva led an unusual pilgrimage across southern Europe. Beginning in Greece, with the international Pan-Hellenic Exchange of Local Seed Varieties Festival... Shiva and an entourage of followers crossed the Adriatic... to Florence, where she spoke at the Seed, Food and Earth Democracy Festival. After a short planning meeting in Genoa, the caravan rolled on to the South of France... to celebrate International Days of the Seed. 

 

Shiva’s fiery opposition to globalization and to the use of genetically modified crops has made her a hero to anti-G.M.O. activists everywhere... At each stop, Shiva delivered a message that she has honed for nearly three decades: by engineering, patenting, and transforming seeds into costly packets of intellectual property, multinational corporations such as Monsanto, with considerable assistance from the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the United States government, and even philanthropies like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are attempting to impose “food totalitarianism” on the world. She describes the fight against agricultural biotechnology as a global war against a few giant seed companies... Shiva contends that nothing less than the future of humanity rides on the outcome... 

 

The global food supply is indeed in danger. Feeding the expanding population without further harming the Earth presents one of the greatest challenges of our time, perhaps of all time. By the end of the century, the world may well have to accommodate ten billion inhabitants... Sustaining that many people will require farmers to grow more food in the next seventy-five years than has been produced in all of human history... Many scientists are convinced that we can hope to meet those demands only with help from the advanced tools of plant genetics. Shiva disagrees; she looks upon any seed bred in a laboratory as an abomination.

 

The fight has not been easy. Few technologies, not the car, the phone, or even the computer, have been adopted as rapidly and as widely as the products of agricultural biotechnology. Between 1996, when genetically engineered crops were first planted, and last year, the area they cover has increased a hundredfold—from 1.7 million hectares to a hundred and seventy million. Nearly half of the world’s soybeans and a third of its corn are products of biotechnology. Cotton that has been engineered to repel the devastating bollworm dominates the Indian market, as it does almost everywhere it has been introduced.

 

Those statistics have not deterred Shiva. At the age of sixty-one, she is constantly in motion: this year, she has travelled not only across Europe but throughout South Asia, Africa, and Canada, and twice to the United States... Nowhere is Shiva embraced more fully than in the West, where, as Bill Moyers recently noted, she has become a “rock star in the worldwide battle against genetically modified seeds.” ... Shiva... holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario... 

 

At least sixty million Indians have starved to death in the past four centuries. In 1943 alone... more than two million people died in the Bengal Famine... Independence, in 1947, brought euphoria but also desperation. Tons of grain were imported each year from the United States; without it, famine would have been inevitable. To become independent in more than name, India also needed to become self-reliant. The Green Revolution—a series of agricultural innovations producing improved varieties of wheat that could respond better to irrigation and benefit from fertilizer—provided that opportunity. In 1966, India imported eleven million tons of grain. Today, it produces more than two hundred million tons, much of it for export...

 

“Without the nitrogen fertilizer to grow crops used to feed our recent ancestors so they could reproduce, many of us probably wouldn’t be here today,” Raoul Adamchack told me... Adamchack runs an organic farm in Northern California, and has served as the president of California Certified Organic Farmers. His wife, Pamela Ronald, is a professor of plant genetics... their book “Tomorrow’s Table” was among the first to demonstrate the ways in which advanced technologies can combine with traditional farming to help feed the world.

 

There is another perspective on the Green Revolution. Shiva believes that it destroyed India’s traditional way of life... She told me that, by shifting the focus of farming from variety to productivity, the Green Revolution actually was responsible for killing Indian farmers. Few people accept that analysis, though, and more than one study has concluded that if India had stuck to its traditional farming methods millions would have starved... 

 

To feed ten billion people, most of whom will live in the developing world, we will need what the Indian agricultural pioneer M. S. Swaminathan has called “an evergreen revolution,” one that combines the most advanced science with a clear focus on sustaining the environment. Until recently, these have seemed like separate goals... Farmers learned how to make better plants and varieties, but it was a process of trial and error until the middle of the nineteenth century, when Gregor Mendel demonstrated that many of the characteristics of a pea plant were passed from one generation to the next according to predictable rules. That created a new science, genetics, which helped make breeding far more precise. Nearly all the plants we cultivate—corn, wheat, rice, roses, Christmas trees—have been genetically modified through breeding to last longer, look better, taste sweeter, or grow more vigorously in arid soil. 

 

Genetic engineering takes the process one step further. By inserting genes from one species into another, plant breeders today can select traits with even greater specificity. Bt cotton, for instance, contains genes from a bacterium,Bacillus thuringiensis, that is found naturally in the soil. The bacterium produces a toxin that targets cotton bollworm, a pest that infests millions of acres each year. Twenty-five per cent of the world’s insecticides have typically been used on cotton, and many of them are carcinogenic. By engineering part of the bacterium’s DNA into a cotton seed, scientists made it possible for the cotton boll to produce its own insecticide. Soon after the pest bites the plant, it dies.

 

Molecular biology transformed medicine, agriculture, and nearly every other scientific discipline. But it has also prompted a rancorous debate over the consequences of that knowledge. Genetically modified products have often been advertised as the best way to slow the impact of climate change, produce greater yields, provide more nutrients in food, and feed the world’s poorest people. Most of the transgenic crops on the market today, however, have been designed to meet the needs of industrial farmers and their customers in the West...

 

Vandana Shiva was born in Dehradun, in the foothills of the Himalayas. A Brahmin, she was raised in prosperity. Her father was a forestry official for the Indian government; her mother worked as a school inspector in Lahore... The first time we spoke, in New York, she explained why she became an environmental activist. “I was busy... for my doctoral work, so I had no idea what was going on with the Green Revolution... In the late eighties, I went to a conference on biotechnology, on the future of food... I realized they want to patent life, and life is not an invention... I decided on the flight back I didn’t want that world.” ... 

 

In contrast to most agricultural ecologists, Shiva remains committed to the idea that organic farming can feed the world. Owing almost wholly to the efforts of Shiva and other activists, India has not approved a single genetically modified food crop for human consumption... Shiva insists that the only acceptable path is to return to the principles and practices of an earlier era... 

 

Navdanya does not report its contributions publicly, but, according to a recent Indian government report, foreign N.G.O.s have contributed significantly in the past decade to help the campaign against adoption of G.M.O.s in India. In June, the government banned most such contributions... Shiva maintains a savvy presence in social media, and her tweets, intense and dramatic, circulate rapidly among tens of thousands of followers across the globe. They also allow her to police the movement and ostracize defectors.

 

The British environmentalist Mark Lynas, for example, stood strongly against the use of biotechnology in agriculture for more than a decade. But last year, after careful study of the scientific data on which his assumptions were based, he reversed his position. In a speech to the annual Oxford Farming Conference, he described as “green urban myths” his former view that genetically modified crops increase reliance on chemicals, pose dangers to the environment, and threaten human health... he said. “I am also sorry that I... assisted in demonizing an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.” Lynas now regards the assumption that the world could be fed solely with organic food as “simplistic nonsense.” ... 

 

Perhaps nobody was more incensed by Lynas’s conversion than Shiva, who expressed her anger on Twitter: “#MarkLynas saying farmers shd be free to grow #GMOs which can contaminate #organic farms is like saying #rapists shd have freedom to rape.” The message caused immediate outrage. “Shame on you for comparing GMOs to rape... That is a despicable argument that devalues women, men, and children.” ... Shiva has a flair for incendiary analogies. Recently, she compared what she calls “seed slavery,” inflicted upon the world by the forces of globalization, to human slavery... 

 

Shiva cannot tolerate any group that endorses the use of genetic engineering in agriculture, no matter what else the organization does, or how qualified its support. When I mentioned that Monsanto, in addition to making genetically engineered seeds, has also become one of the world’s largest producers of conventionally bred seeds, she laughed. “That’s just public relations,” she said. She has a similarly low regard for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation... She dismisses the American scientific organizations responsible for regulating genetically modified products, including the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the United States Department of Agriculture, as little more than tools of the international seed conglomerates.

 

At times, Shiva’s absolutism about G.M.O.s can lead her in strange directions... She mentioned glyphosate, the Monsanto herbicide that is commonly used with modified crops. “If you look at the graph of the growth of G.M.O.s, the growth of application of glyphosate and autism, it’s literally a one-to-one correspondence. And you could make that graph for kidney failure, you could make that graph for diabetes, you could make that graph even for Alzheimer’s.” ... But no relationship between glyphosate and the diseases that Shiva mentioned has been discovered... Shiva had committed a common, but dangerous, fallacy: confusing a correlation with causation. (It turns out, for example, that the growth in sales of organic produce in the past decade matches the rise of autism, almost exactly. For that matter, so does the rise in sales of high-definition televisions, as well as the number of Americans who commute to work every day by bicycle.) 

 

Shiva refers to her scientific credentials in almost every appearance, yet she often dispenses with the conventions of scientific inquiry. She is usually described in interviews and on television as a nuclear physicist, a quantum physicist, or a world-renowned physicist. Most of her book jackets include the following biographical note: “Before becoming an activist, Vandana Shiva was one of India’s leading physicists.” When I asked if she had ever worked as a physicist, she suggested that I search for the answer on Google. I found nothing, and she doesn’t list any such position in her biography... 

 

In fact, glyphosate has become the most popular herbicide in the world, largely because it’s not nearly so toxic as those which it generally replaces. The E.P.A. has labelled water unsafe to drink if it contains three parts per billion of atrazine; the comparable limit for glyphosate is seven hundred parts per billion. By this measure, glyphosate is two hundred and thirty times less toxic than atrazine.

 

For years, people have been afraid that eating genetically modified foods would make them sick, and Shiva’s speeches are filled with terrifying anecdotes that play to that fear. But since 1996, when the crops were first planted, humans have consumed trillions of servings of foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients, and have draped themselves in thousands of tons of clothing made from genetically engineered cotton, yet there has not been a single documented case of any person becoming ill as a result. That is one reason that the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the World Health Organization, the U.K.’s Royal Society, the French Academy of Sciences, the European Commission, and dozens of other scientific organizations have all concluded that foods derived from genetically modified crops are as safe to eat as any other food.

 

“It is absolutely remarkable to me how Vandana Shiva is able to get away with saying whatever people want to hear,” Gordon Conway told me recently. Conway is the former president of the Rockefeller Foundation and a professor at London’s Imperial College. His book “One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World?” has become an essential text for those who study poverty, agriculture, and development. “Shiva is lionized, particularly in the West, because she presents the romantic view of the farm,” Conway said. “Truth be damned. People in the rich world love to dabble in a past they were lucky enough to avoid—you know, a couple of chickens running around with the children in the back yard. But farming is bloody tough, as anyone who does it knows. It is like those people who romanticize villages in the developing world. Nobody who ever lived in one would do that.” ... 

 

Shiva contends that modified seeds were created almost exclusively to serve large industrial farms, and there is some truth to that. But Bt cotton has been planted by millions of people in the developing world, many of whom maintain lots not much larger than the back yard of a house in the American suburbs. In India, more than seven million farmers, occupying twenty-six million acres, have adopted the technology. That’s nearly ninety per cent of all Indian cotton fields. At first, the new seeds were extremely expensive. Counterfeiters flooded the market with fakes and sold them, as well as fake glyphosate, at reduced prices. The crops failed, and many people suffered. Shiva said last year that Bt-cotton-seed costs had risen by eight thousand per cent in India since 2002.

 

In fact, the prices of modified seeds, which are regulated by the government, have fallen steadily. While they remain higher than those of conventional seeds, in most cases the modified seeds provide greater benefits. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, Bt farmers spend at least fifteen per cent more on crops, but their pesticide costs are fifty per cent lower. Since the seed was introduced, yields have increased by more than a hundred and fifty per cent. Only China grows and sells more cotton.

 

Shiva also says that Monsanto’s patents prevent poor people from saving seeds. That is not the case in India. The Farmers’ Rights Act of 2001 guarantees every person the right to “save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share, or sell” his seeds. Most farmers, though, even those with tiny fields, choose to buy newly bred seeds each year, whether genetically engineered or not, because they insure better yields and bigger profits.

 

In the West, the debate over the value of Bt cotton focusses on two closely related issues: the financial implications of planting the seeds, and whether the costs have driven farmers to suicide. The first thing that the cotton farmers I visited wanted to discuss, though, was their improved health and that of their families. Before Bt genes were inserted into cotton, they would typically spray their crops with powerful chemicals dozens of times each season. Now they spray once a month. Bt is not toxic to humans or to other mammals. Organic farmers, who have strict rules against using synthetic fertilizers or chemicals, have used a spray version of the toxin on their crops for years.

 

Everyone had a story to tell about insecticide poisoning. “Before Bt cotton came in, we used the other seeds,” Rameshwar Mamdev told me when I stopped by his six-acre farm, not far from the main dirt road that leads to the village. He plants corn in addition to cotton. “My wife would spray,” he said. “She would get sick. We would all get sick.” According to a recent study by the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology, there has been a sevenfold reduction in the use of pesticide since the introduction of Bt cotton; the number of cases of pesticide poisoning has fallen by nearly ninety per cent. Similar reductions have occurred in China. The growers, particularly women, by reducing their exposure to insecticide, not only have lowered their risk of serious illness but also are able to spend more time with their children... “Bt cotton is the only positive part of farming... It has changed our lives. Without it, we would have no crops. Nothing.” ... 

 

The World Health Organization has estimated that a hundred and seventy thousand Indians commit suicide each year—nearly five hundred a day. Although many Indian farmers kill themselves, their suicide rate has not risen in a decade... the suicide rate among Indian farmers is lower than for other Indians and is comparable to that among French farmers. Plewis found that “the pattern of changes in suicide rates over the last fifteen years is consistent with a beneficial effect of Bt cotton for India as a whole, albeit perhaps not in every cotton-growing state.” 

 

Most farmers I met in Maharashtra seemed to know at least one person who had killed himself, however, and they all agreed on the reasons: there is almost no affordable credit, no social security, and no meaningful crop-insurance program. The only commercial farmers in the United States without crop insurance are those who have a philosophical objection to government support. In India, if you fail you are on your own. Farmers all need credit, but banks will rarely lend to them... In most cases, there is no choice but to turn to money lenders... The annual interest rate on loans can rise to forty per cent, which few farmers anywhere could hope to pay... “If you revoked the permit to plant Bt cotton tomorrow, would that stop suicides on farms?” she said. “It wouldn’t make much difference. Studies have shown that unbearable credit and a lack of financial support for agriculture is the killer. It’s hardly a secret.” 

 

It would be presumptuous to generalize about the complex financial realities of India’s two hundred and sixty million farmers after having met a dozen of them. But I neither saw nor heard anything that supported Vandana Shiva’s theory that Bt cotton has caused an “epidemic” of suicides... “She is very canny about how she uses her power,” Lynas said. “But on a fundamental level she is a demagogue who opposes the universal values of the Enlightenment.”

 

It long ago became impossible to talk about genetically engineered crops without talking about Monsanto—a company so widely detested that a week rarely passes without at least one protest against its power and its products occurring somewhere in the world. Shiva has repeatedly said that the company should be tried for “ecocide and genocide.” When I asked Monsanto’s chairman, Hugh Grant, how he dealt with such charges, he looked at me and shook his head, slowly. “We are a science-based company,” he said. “I feel very strongly that you need to be grounded in the science or you lose the drift.”

 

It was an unusually hot day in St. Louis, where Monsanto has its headquarters, and Grant was in shirtsleeves, rolled halfway up his arm. “Obviously, I am an optimistic Scotsman,” he said, in an accent that has been softened by many years in the U.S. “Or I would be doing something else for a living.” Grant often stresses the need to develop crops that use less water—and has argued for years that G.M.O.s alone could never feed the world... 

 

“When G.M. technology was in its infancy, many people were concerned,” Anne Glover, the chief scientific adviser to the president of the European Commission, said recently. Glover considers it unethical to ignore G.M. crops if other approaches have failed. “People are still concerned about G.M. ... Most of them are uneasy not with the technology per se but, rather, with the business practices in the agrifood sector, which is dominated by multinational companies.” She said that those companies need to do a much better job of communicating with their customers.

 

Grant concedes the point. “For years, we would have said that we are a biotech company,” he said. “We are so far down the food chain... we always felt that we were divorced from what ends up on the shelf. And we are not.” He noted that, during the past fifty years, the connection between American farmers and their customers had become increasingly tenuous, but that had begun to change. “People may despise us,” he said, “but we are all talking about the same issues now, and that is a change I welcome. Food and agriculture are finally part of the conversation.” ... 

 

The all-encompassing obsession with Monsanto has made rational discussion of the risks and benefits of genetically modified products difficult. Many academic scientists who don’t work for Monsanto or any other large corporation are struggling to develop crops that have added nutrients and others that will tolerate drought, floods, or salty soil—all traits needed desperately by the world’s poorest farmers. Golden Rice—enriched with vitamin A—is the best-known example.

 

More than a hundred and ninety million children under the age of five suffer from vitamin-A deficiency. Every year, as many as half a million will go blind. Rice plants produce beta carotene, the precursor to vitamin A, in the leaves but not in the grain. To make Golden Rice, scientists insert genes in the edible part of the plant, too. Golden Rice would never offer more than a partial solution to micronutrient deficiency, and the intellectual-property rights have long been controlled by the nonprofit International Rice Research Institute, which makes the rights available to researchers at no cost. Still, after more than a decade of opposition, the rice is prohibited everywhere... 

 

The need for more resilient crops has never been so great. “In Africa, the pests and diseases of agriculture are as devastating as human diseases,” Gordon Conway, who is on the board of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, told me. He added that the impact of diseases like the fungus black sigatoka, the parasitic weed striga, and the newly identified syndrome maize lethal necrosis—all of which attack Africa’s most important crops—are “in many instances every bit as deadly as H.I.V. and TB.” For years, in Tanzania, a disease called brown-streak virus has attacked cassava, a critical source of carbohydrates in the region. Researchers have developed a virus-resistant version of the starchy root vegetable, which is now being tested in field trials. But, again, the opposition, led in part by Shiva, who visited this summer, has been strong...

 

Mustard is grown on six million hectares in India. There are parts of the country where farmers raise few other crops. “We have developed a line of mustard oil with a composition that is even better than olive oil,” he said. “It has a lot of omega-3 in it, and that is essential for a vegetarian food”—not a minor consideration in a country with half a billion people who eat no meat. The pungency that most people associate with mustard has been bred out of the oil, which is also low in saturated fats. “It is a beautiful, robust system,” he said, adding that there have been several successful trials of the mustard seed. “All our work was funded by the public. Nobody will see any profits; that was never our intention. It is a safe, nutritious, and important crop.” It also grows well in dry soil. Yet it was made in a laboratory, and, two decades later, the seed remains on the shelf... 

 

Pental struggled to keep the disappointment out of his voice. “White rice is the most ridiculous food that human beings can cultivate,” he said. “It is just a bunch of starch, and we are filling our bellies with it.” He shrugged. “But it’s natural,” he said, placing ironic emphasis on the final word. “So it passes the Luddite test.”

 

In a recent speech, Shiva explained why she rejects studies suggesting that genetically engineered products like Pental’s mustard oil are safe. Monsanto, she said, had simply paid for false stories, and “now they control the entire scientific literature of the world.” Nature, Science, and Scientific American, three widely admired publications, “have just become extensions of their propaganda. There is no independent science left in the world.”

 

Monsanto is certainly rich, but it is simply not that powerful. Exxon Mobil is worth seven times as much as Monsanto, yet it has never been able to alter the scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels is the principal cause of climate change. Tobacco companies spend more money lobbying in Washington each year than Monsanto does, but it’s hard to find scientists who endorse smoking... 

 

The most persistent objection to agricultural biotechnology, and the most common, is that, by cutting DNA from one species and splicing it into another, we have crossed an invisible line and created forms of life unlike anything found in “nature.” That fear is unquestionably sincere. Yet, as a walk through any supermarket would demonstrate, nearly every food we eat has been modified... Corn in its present form wouldn’t exist if humans hadn’t cultivated the crop. The plant doesn’t grow in the wild and would not survive if we suddenly stopped eating it.

 

When it comes to medicine, most Americans couldn’t care less about nature’s boundaries. Surgeons routinely suture pig valves into the hearts of humans; the operation has kept tens of thousands of people alive. Synthetic insulin, the first genetically modified product, is consumed each day by millions of diabetics. To make the drug, scientists insert human proteins into a common bacteria, which is then grown in giant industrial vats. Protesters don’t march to oppose those advances. In fact, consumers demand them, and it doesn’t seem to matter where the replacement parts come from. 

 

When Shiva writes that “Golden Rice will make the malnutrition crisis worse” and that it will kill people, she reinforces the worst fears of her largely Western audience. Much of what she says resonates with the many people who feel that profit-seeking corporations hold too much power over the food they eat. Theirs is an argument well worth making. But her statements are rarely supported by data, and her positions often seem more like those of an end-of-days mystic than like those of a scientist.

 

Genetically modified crops will not solve the problem of the hundreds of millions of people who go to bed hungry every night. It would be far better if the world’s foods contained an adequate supply of vitamins. It would also help the people of many poverty-stricken countries if their governments were less corrupt. Working roads would do more to reduce nutritional deficits than any G.M.O. possibly could, and so would a more equitable distribution of the Earth’s dwindling supply of freshwater. No single crop or approach to farming can possibly feed the world. To prevent billions of people from living in hunger, we will need to use every one of them. 

 

Full article: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/08/25/seeds-of-doubt

 

Alexander J. Stein's insight:

“There are two trends... One: a trend of diversity, democracy, freedom, joy, culture—people celebrating their lives... And the other: monocultures, deadness. Everyone depressed. Everyone on Prozac. More and more young people unemployed.” >> Amazing how she can link monoculture, Prozac and youth unemployment, blame it all on GMOs, and be taken serious... 

 

“In the late eighties, I went to a conference on biotechnology, on the future of food... “These people were talking about having to do genetic engineering in order to take patents... I realized they want to patent life, and life is not an invention... I didn’t want that world.” >> Insights from one conference 25 years ago are good and well, but the world and people didn't stop there and then. Patents on plants do not necessarily depend on them being GMOs, and there are GMOs that are developed in the public domain -- things moved on since the late eighties! If the problem is patents, fight for weaker intellectual property rights regimes, not against a technology... 

 

When Shiva writes that “Golden Rice will make the malnutrition crisis worse” and that it will kill people, she reinforces the worst fears of her largely Western audience. Much of what she says resonates with the many people who feel that profit-seeking corporations hold too much power over the food they eat. Theirs is an argument well worth making. But her statements are rarely supported by data, and her positions often seem more like those of an end-of-days mystic than like those of a scientist. >> Indeed, her arguments on Golden Rice are completely unfounded, as I discussed on pp. 27-30 in the supplementary discussion paper to an article in Nature Biotechnology at http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v24/n10/suppinfo/nbt1006-1200b_S1.html

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Coming soon: Genetically edited fruit? - EurekAlert (2014)

Coming soon: Genetically edited fruit? - EurekAlert (2014) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Recent advances that allow the precise editing of genomes now raise the possibility that fruit and other crops might be genetically improved without the need to introduce foreign genes... 

 

With awareness of what makes these biotechnologies new and different, genetically edited fruits might be met with greater acceptance by society at large than genetically modified organisms (GMOs) so far have been, especially in Europe...

 

"The simple avoidance of introducing foreign genes makes genetically edited crops more 'natural' than transgenic crops obtained by inserting foreign genes"... For instance, changes to the characteristics of fruit might be made via small genetic tweaks designed to increase or decrease the amounts of natural ingredients that their plant cells already make... 

 

So far, editing tools have not been applied to the genetic modification of fruit crops. Most transgenic fruit crop plants have been developed using a plant bacterium to introduce foreign genes, and only papaya has been commercialized...

 

Genetically edited plants, modified through the insertion, deletion, or altering of existing genes of interest, might even be deemed as nongenetically modified... That would open the door to the development of crops with superior qualities and perhaps allow their commercialization even in countries in which GMOs have so far met with... controversy. 


"We would like people to understand that crop breeding through biotechnology is not restricted only to GMOs," he said. "Transfer of foreign genes was the first step to improve our crops, but GEOs will surge as a 'natural' strategy to use biotechnology for a sustainable agricultural future."

 

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/cp-csg080614.php

 

Original article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tibtech.2014.07.003

 

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GM flies 'could save crops' - BBC (2014)

GM flies 'could save crops' - BBC (2014) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

A type of genetically engineered fly which eventually kills itself off could be an effective method of pest control... These... flies have a lethal gene which interrupts female development. They were trialled in a greenhouse resulting in "population collapse". If released into the wild, they could prevent damage to crops in a way that is cheap, and environmentally friendly... 

 

The Mediterranean fruit fly is a global agricultural pest which infests over 300 crops, including wild fruit, vegetables and nuts, causing extensive damage. Currently, techniques for pest control include sterilisation and insecticides. However, sterile flies do not mate as well in the wild as the process to make them sterile weakens them. Insecticide also poses problems as flies can quickly develop immunity.

 

The male GM flies... are only capable of producing male offspring... a female specific gene kills the females before they become adults.

This means that after several generations, the flies die off as the males can no longer find mates... In a local area where you perform this process, the population levels quickly shrink, massively reducing the amount of crop damage... 


http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-28744701

 

Original paper: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.1372

 

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GMOs: Are They a Regulatory or Food Safety Issue? - Goodman (2014) - Cereal Foods World

GMOs: Are They a Regulatory or Food Safety Issue? - Goodman (2014) - Cereal Foods World | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) ... are typically engineered through the introduction of DNA from a different organism or synthesis, with the new sequence encoding a protein or genetic regulatory element to alter endogenous gene expression or block viral infections.

 

Many countries have adopted regulations that are consistent with the science-based Codex Alimentarius Commission guidelines that outline a process to evaluate the potential allergenicity, toxicity, and nutritional qualities of foods derived from GMOs.

 

Harmonization of regulations between countries is needed to ensure food safety and allow trade at low costs for consumers. However, regulators in some countries are demanding expensive tests based on unsubstantiated concerns, and some... bodies are trying to implement a generic “GMO” labeling system that has no established basis for improving food safety and, in fact, may detract from labeling that is useful for protecting consumers with food allergies, celiac disease, or metabolic disorders.

 

The continuing controversy is driven largely by misinformation spread by social media, some news media sources, and, occasionally, controversial peer-reviewed publications. Although there is an absence of proof of harm to consumers from commercially available GMOs, accidental contamination of foods by bacteria, fungi, and chemicals and unlabeled allergenic foods can and do cause real harm. Dissemination of accurate information concerning GMOs is crucial to allay public fears and improve regulatory efficiency.

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1094/CFW-59-4-0164


Alexander J. Stein's insight:

Indeed, label where there is proven risk for sub groups of consumers (allergens, salt, fat, sugar, etc.), and explain that bacteria and fungi (not least in organic food) are what always did and will continue to do real harm... 

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GMO cultivation in Europe: A decade of legal battles - EurActiv (2014)

GMO cultivation in Europe: A decade of legal battles - EurActiv (2014) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

The European Union has agreed on a new approach to the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) which allows member states to ban or restrict [the cultivation -- but not the trade and use -- of] GMOs in their territory. The agreement should mark the end of a decade of legal problems, but in the context of ongoing EU-US free trade negotiations, vocal GMO opposition from member states and civil society is unlikely to subside...

 

The new president of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has backed the new comprehensive legal framework which will give EU member states a legal basis they have been wanting for years. The EU regulatory system is based on tight safety standards and freedom of choice for consumers and farmers. The tools used to ensure freedom of choice are effective labelling and traceability [which have led to GM food only appearing in negligible quantities on supermarket shelves, effectively limiting the choice of consumers] ... 


Under an agreement reached in June 2014, member states have been given three means of opting-out of the [cultivation of EU-authorised GMOs]. (i) Before the authorisation of a GMO, individual member states can request the applicant company to specify that the GMO cannot be cultivated on all or part of its territory... (ii) EU countries are able, by adopting an opt-out measure, to have the final say on whether to allow an EU-authorised GMO [to be cultivated] on their territories... (iii) Member states can reinitiate or withdraw the cultivation ban during the 10 year time-period of the GMO authorisation, should new objective circumstances appear. 


The GMO approval process remains broadly unchanged however and is still outlined by the 2003 Regulation currently in force. The producer must request authorisation to a national competent authority. The national authority then informs the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which is mandated to conduct a scientific assessment and report to the Commission... The Commission then submits its decision on the matter to the Council... In the event that the Council does not reach a majority for or against authorisation, the matter is handed back to the Commission, which is free to authorise the GMO...

 

http://www.euractiv.com/sections/agriculture-food/gmo-cultivation-europe-decade-legal-battles-303799

 

Alexander J. Stein's insight:

... and while cultivation of GM crops may be blocked in individual countries, the EU continues to import massive amounts of GM crops (or the related feed and fibres) from the Americas and Asia; it's just an export of the cultivation of GMOs... 

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The GMO Fight Ripples Down the Food Chain - WSJ (2014)

The GMO Fight Ripples Down the Food Chain - WSJ (2014) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Two years ago, Ben & Jerry's ... initiated a plan to eliminate genetically modified ingredients from its ice cream, an effort to address a nascent consumer backlash... This fall, nearly a year behind schedule, it expects to finish phase one, affecting its flavorful "chunks and swirls" like cookie dough and caramel. The only part left to convert: the milk that makes ice cream itself. Thanks to the complexities of sourcing milk deemed free of genetically modified material, that could take five to 10 more years. 


"There's a lot more that goes into it than people realize," said Rob Michalak, Ben & Jerry's director of social mission. Two decades after the first genetically engineered seeds were sold commercially in the U.S., genetically modified organisms—the crops grown from such seeds—are the norm in the American diet, used to make ingredients in about 80% of packaged food... 

 

Now an intensifying campaign, spearheaded by consumer and environmental advocacy groups... is causing a small but growing number of mainstream food makers to jettison genetically modified organisms, or GMOs... 


"Non-GMO" is one of the fastest-growing label trends on U.S. food packages, with sales of such items growing 28% last year to about $3 billion... In a poll of nearly 1,200 U.S. consumers... found that 61% of consumers had heard of GMOs and nearly half of those people said they avoid eating them. The biggest reason was because it "doesn't sound like something I should eat." ... 


GMO crops used in the U.S.—which also include alfalfa, cotton, papaya and squash—have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which doesn't mandate labeling food that contains them. And even though the European Union requires labeling in member countries, it has approved many GMO foods as safe for consumption.

 

The debate aside, how companies like General Mills and Ben & Jerry's fare in dropping GMOs will offer a guide to others that are considering it. So far, the process has proved expensive, complex and politically dicey. For Ben & Jerry's, the premium for non-GMO ingredients ranged from 5% to 20%, reflecting how deeply rooted the technology is in the U.S. food chain... 

 

Companies like Monsanto and DuPont... sell genetically engineered seeds to give crops traits like the ability to repel insects or resist weed killers. Today, more than 90% of corn, canola, soybean and sugar beet crops in the U.S. are genetically modified. Most of the produce Americans consume directly isn't GMO, but the crops are used to produce common ingredients like corn syrup, soy lecithin and more than half of the sugar consumed in the U.S.—plus the feed consumed by most of the nation's livestock. 


In a statement, a spokeswoman for Monsanto said the company was confident about the safety of its seeds based on an "extensive body of rigorous testing" by company and independent researchers. DuPont pointed out the technology was backed by "regulatory agencies and scientific organizations around the world." The switch to GMO, proponents say, has led to higher crop yields and lower food costs. 


When a big brand announces plans to drop GMOs, it stirs the debate further. GMO backers criticized General Mills for its change to Cheerios, saying it gave credence to misperceptions of the technology. Anti-GMO groups quickly started calling on General Mills to drop them from its Honey Nut Cheerios, too. The company said that changing the ingredients of its other cereals would be too difficult, but that GMO products are safe, adding that it offered the non-GMO variety to give consumers more options... 


Ben & Jerry's... says it doesn't consider GMOs unsafe to humans either... Aside from the milk, Ben & Jerry's said most ice cream ingredients were already non-GMO. Still, the company needed to check with suppliers and rigorously investigate all 110 ingredients it uses to make ice cream.


Among the surprises: finding out a product couldn't be considered non-GMO if the supplier dusted the pan with cornstarch before baking. The supplier had to switch to rice starch. "Our suppliers generally had to negotiate all the way down the supply chain to get to the farmer," ... prices last year for non-GMO corn averaged 51 cents per bushel higher than those for regular, GMO corn. That is a significant difference for farmers when the national average corn price was between $4 to $4.50. But some farmers also worry that dropping GMO seeds could lower their yields, meaning fewer bushels per acre.

 

Ben & Jerry's paid an average of 11% more for each ingredient that changed to a non-GMO version... The company says it can't quantify how much it spent on the non-GMO conversion in total. "It was really expensive" ...


To some degree, Ben & Jerry's process was simple relative to what some companies put themselves through. Unlike with organic foods—which also can't contain GMOs but must follow additional restrictions—the government sets no standard for what qualifies as "non-GMO." Companies seeking some authoritative imprimatur must go to third-party certifiers, usually the Non-GMO Project... founded by natural foods retailers... 


For Ben & Jerry's, the biggest hurdle is milk. The vast majority of the feed given to dairy cows in the U.S. is made with GMO corn, soybeans and alfalfa. That makes it difficult to find non-GMO milk... so the company hasn't committed to doing it... 


http://online.wsj.com/articles/the-gmo-fight-ripples-down-the-food-chain-1407465378


Alexander J. Stein's insight:

"'Non-GMO' is one of the fastest-growing label trends on U.S. food packages, with sales of such items growing 28% last year to about $3 billion." >> Showing clearly that non-GMO is as profit-driven, commercial and corporate as anything, a clever marketing strategy to be able to sell products (at premium prices). Not least because >> "Ben & Jerry's... says it doesn't consider GMOs unsafe to humans." 

 

"61% of consumers had heard of GMOs and nearly half of those people said they avoid eating them." >> A clear sign of people saying one thing and doing something entirely different: Half of 61% is 30% -- but the non-GMO market isn't 30% of the total food market... 

 

"For Ben & Jerry's, the premium for non-GMO ingredients ranged from 5% to 20%... Ben & Jerry's paid an average of 11% more for each ingredient that changed to a non-GMO version... The company says it can't quantify how much it spent on the non-GMO conversion in total. 'It was really expensive'" >> Meaning that any enforced general labeling (to the extent that producers try to source more non-GMO ingredients) drives up food prices for everybody, also for the majority of people (70%) who didn't say they'd avoid eating GMOs -- while the few who want to avoid GMOs can free-ride on this development. 

 

"Companies seeking some authoritative imprimatur must go to third-party certifiers, usually the Non-GMO Project... founded by natural foods retailers." >> Smart move by the natural foods industry... (Like Pepsi saying Coke is bad to drive up its own sales.) 


"For Ben & Jerry's, the biggest hurdle is milk. The vast majority of the feed given to dairy cows in the U.S. is made with GMO corn, soybeans and alfalfa. That makes it difficult to find non-GMO milk... so the company hasn't committed to doing it." >> Funny, I'd have thought milk/dairy makes the biggest part of ice cream, and exactly this is where the company compromises?! How convenient. 

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Biotech Authority pushes for Bt cotton variety - The Herald (2014)

Biotech Authority pushes for Bt cotton variety - The Herald (2014) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

The National Biotechnology Authority yesterday told Parliament to push for a genetically modified variety of cotton crop to improve declining output. Commonly known as Bt cotton (Bacillus thuringiensis), the crop produces insecticidal proteins and toxins that reduce the amount of cotton lost to insects. 

 

National Biotechnology Authority registrar and chief executive officer Dr Jonathan Mufandaedza told [Parliament] that the country should adopt production of Bt cotton, a variety that is pest resistant and produces improved yields. “Documentary evidence shows that it increases the yield by 24 percent... It is a type of cotton that has been improved by this technology to fight against pests... 

 

About 15 countries have so far adopted the production of Bt cotton and those who are growing it like Burkina Faso and India report low use of chemicals, less time and labour on weeding and cultivation. It results in reduction of pesticides spray from about ten to fifteen times down to two times per season. 


Dr Mufandaedza said the local cotton industry was reeling because of high production costs yet financial returns were low, hence adoption of Bt cotton would solve some of the challenges and increase yields. “If the government decides to adopt Bt cotton, we are a competent authority to regulate such technology,” he said... 


Adopting Bt cotton would also reduce human health problems associated with pesticides... EMA (the Environmental Management Authority) is particular about polluting the environment... Our farmers are really at the mercy of these chemicals. If we were to adopt this technology it means protecting farmers as well,” he said.


According to the Agricultural Marketing Authority cotton production dwindled from 283 000 hectares in 2012 to 125 000 hectares because production costs were high while market prices were low... the benefits of growing Bt cotton to include a reduced cost per acre of between $25 and $65 in the years of 1996 to 1998 from the spraying of insecticides. 


http://www.herald.co.zw/biotech-authority-pushes-for-bt-cotton-variety/


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Do GMO Crops Foster Monoculture? - Applied Mythology (2014)

Do GMO Crops Foster Monoculture? - Applied Mythology (2014) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Do GMO crops "foster monoculture?" This is a frequent criticism of modern agriculture. I have three with problems it:
1. "Monoculture" isn't the right term to use to describe the relevant issues - its really about a limited crop rotation 

2. History and economics are the drivers behind this phenomenon, not crop biotechnology 

3. The solutions - to the extent that they are needed - are not what most critics seem to imagine 

 

The Corn Belt of the Midwestern US, is a multi-million acre farming region almost entirely dominated by just two crops - corn and soybeans. This phenomenon is often termed "monoculture,"  but monoculture is merely the practical approach of growing a single crop in a given field. The opposite of monoculture is "polyculture" and it is entirely impractical for even minimally mechanized farming...  

 

Corn and soybeans happen to be crops which involve widespread use of biotech crop options, but there are many other farming areas with a narrow crop rotation where "GMO" options have never been available. There are areas in Northern Europe where "continuous wheat" is the norm and many premium wine regions where essentially only grapes are grown. If farmers somewhere are not using a diverse crop rotation - there is a rational explanation involving history, economics, and risk management... 

 

http://appliedmythology.blogspot.be/2014/08/do-gmo-crops-foster-monoculture.html

 

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Iron nutrition, biomass production, and plant product quality - Briat &al (2014) - Trends Plant Sci

Iron nutrition, biomass production, and plant product quality - Briat &al (2014) - Trends Plant Sci | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

One of the grand challenges in modern agriculture is increasing biomass production, while improving plant product quality, in a sustainable way. Of the minerals, iron (Fe) plays a major role in this process because it is essential both for plant productivity and for the quality of their products.


Fe homeostasis is an important determinant of photosynthetic efficiency in algae and higher plants, and we review here the impact of Fe limitation or excess on the structure and function of the photosynthetic apparatus. We also discuss the agronomic, plant breeding, and transgenic approaches that are used to remediate Fe deficiency of plants on calcareous soils, and suggest ways to increase the Fe content and bioavailability of the edible parts of crops to improve human diet... 

 

It is well known that Fe uptake through plant rootsresults from complex interactions between plant and soil within the rhizosphere, and does not solely depend on plant genotype. Solid phase modulation of Fe solubility in soils, the chemical speciation of Fe in solution, the importance of redox in the solubilization of Fe, and the role of synthetic and natural chelates in transport processes that occur near roots, are all soil-dependent factors that determine Fe bioavailability. Improvements to Fe nutrition of plants and Fe biofortification are therefore highly dependent on the physicochemical properties of soils, and not only on the plant genotype improvements that can be obtained through breeding or genetic transformation... 


Insights obtained over the past 20 years on Fe homeostasis in plants could lay the foundation for translational research in the field (i) to remediate Fe deficiency of plants on calcareous soils to increase crop productivity, and (ii) to increase the Fe content and bioavailability of the edible parts of crops to improve the diet and to combat human Fe deficiency anemia. Multidisciplinary programs promoting collaborations between molecular plant physiologists, soil scientists, agronomists, breeders, and animal and human nutritionists will be necessary to increase the chances of success in these applications.

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tplants.2014.07.005

 

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Improvement of the oil quality of the main oil crops - Baldini &al (2014) - CAB Reviews

The growing demand for vegetable oils will increase even more in the near future because of their fundamental role in human and animal nutrition, increasing interest in their non-food applications as biofuel, lubricants, biopolymers, paints, etc. and the rising price of fossil fuels. The development of alternative vegetable oil feedstocks with modified functionality and at the same time maintaining the nutritional quality has therefore become a priority. In particular, modification of the fatty acid composition of vegetable oils specifically suitable for nutrition and/or industrial and other non-food applications has been one of the major challenges of the last few years.


This review provides a focus on the improvement in oil quality of the main oil crops cultivated in temperate zones, specifically soybean, rapeseed and sunflower, achieved by conventional breeding based on natural or induced genetic variability and by biotechnological approaches, especially adopting transgenic technology for the identification, isolation and transfer of genes and silencing of genes coding for key enzymes involved in the synthesis of fatty acids.

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/PAVSNNR20149021

 

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The Problem with G.M.O. Labels - The New Yorker (2014)

The Problem with G.M.O. Labels - The New Yorker (2014) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Americans are spending a lot of time worrying about what is in their food. This is understandable, given that so much of it is laden with sugar, highly processed flour, and saturated fat. In polls, an overwhelming majority of respondents say they want foods with genetically engineered ingredients to be labelled, and most people add that they would use those labels to avoid eating such foods... 

 

Who... wants to stand in the way of transparency? ... Yet there is another, equally compelling truth to consider: the overwhelming scientific consensus, based on hundreds of independent studies, demonstrates that foods containing currently available G.M.O.s pose no greater health risk or environmental concern than any other foods.

 

Americans demand labels, at least in part, because they are afraid. And they are afraid because of the kinds of assertions made by [activists who] talk constantly about dangers of G.M.O.s that are not supported by facts. G.M.O. labels may be a political necessity, but they make no scientific sense.


Most of the legislation that has been proposed would require a label that says something like “produced with genetic engineering.” Almost none of the labels would identify any specific G.M.O. ingredient in any particular food... How could that help anyone make a sound decision about his health?

 

All breeding... modifies genomes. There is no other reason to do it. And all the food we eat has been modified in some way... Conventional techniques, often simply a random mixing of genomes, are not necessarily safer than engineering. Nor is mutagenesis, a process in which mutations and variations are induced by radiation or chemicals. 

 

Let’s concede that politics is going to trump science on this issue, and that labelling is inevitable... Warning labels on cigarette packs save lives. What can we expect to get out of such labels on engineered foods? Activists speak loudly about consumer choice, but many of them want, ultimately, to ban the products of agricultural biotechnology...

 

This kind of crop will be necessary to help feed the ten billion people that will inhabit this planet by the end of the century... let me be clear: genetically engineered products are not magic. They will not by themselves feed the poor or heal the sick. But the world needs crops that demand less from the environment and provide more nutrition, using less water, on the same amount of land...

 

http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/problem-g-m-o-labels

 

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The State of Genetically Modified Crop Regulation in Canada - Smyth (2014) - GM Crops & Food

The State of Genetically Modified Crop Regulation in Canada - Smyth (2014) - GM Crops & Food | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Genetically modified (GM) crops were first commercialized in Canada in 1995 and the 2014 crop represents the 20th year of successful production.

 

Prior to the first commercialization of GM crops, Canada reviewed its existing science-based regulatory framework and adapted the existing framework to allow for risk assessments on the new technology to be undertaken in a timely and efficient manner. The result has been the rapid and widespread adoption of GM varieties of canola, corn and soybeans.

 

The first decade of GM crop production precipitated two landmark legal cases relating to patent infringement and economic liability, while the second decade witnessed increased political efforts to have GM crops labelled in Canada as well as significant challenges from the low level comingling of GM crops with non-GM commodities.

 

This article reviews the 20 years of GM crop production in Canada from a social science perspective that includes intellectual property, consumer acceptance and low level presence... 

 

Canada has reaped the benefits of 20 years of GM crop production. Farmers have gained billions in terms of improved production and reduced chemical costs, while the environment has also benefited from the reduced application of pesticides and insecticides. The adoption rates for GM canola and corn can be seen as full market adoption, while 80% of soybean production in Canada is now done using GM varieties. Clearly, farmers are receiving substantial benefits from GM crops, otherwise the adoption rates for GM varieties would be declining rather than continuing to increase or remaining at full adoption.


The commercial production of GM crops in Canada did create some policy issues that required resolution. The Supreme Court of Canada upheld existing intellectual property laws regarding the patenting infringement and ‘use’ of a technology... Canada is struggling to determine a threshold level for LLP in commodity imports. This aspect has stalled Canada’s LLP policy for nearly three years and it is unlikely that this issue is going to be resolved in the near future...

 

https://www.landesbioscience.com/journals/gmcrops/article/947843/

 

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Taking stock of the genetically modified seed sector worldwide: market, stakeholders, and prices - Bonny (2014) - Food Sec

Taking stock of the genetically modified seed sector worldwide: market, stakeholders, and prices - Bonny (2014) - Food Sec | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

The seed sector has become a subject of attention, debate, and even controversy with the development of genetically modified (GM) crops. However, this sector is generally rather poorly known. This paper aims to take stock of the economy of transgenic seeds in order to better understand the structure of this seed sector, its size, stakeholders, pricing, and major trends.

 

The global market of the various types of seeds (saved, conventional, and transgenic) is first presented, as well as some aspects of their development, such as the significant consolidation in the past few decades. Next, the economic characteristics of the transgenic seed sector are analysed: actors, research and development expenditures, and the value of technology fees. In the final section, the cost of transgenic seeds is studied at the farm level, notably through the case of soybeans in the United States.

 

The rise in transgenic seed prices over time is analysed as well as some repercussions of the growing trend toward the use of stacked traits. The conclusion highlights some issues related to the use of transgenic seeds from the point of view of seed and food security... 

 

In the last two decades, with the development of GM crops, a number of NGOs, media, citizens, elected officials and some farmers’ associations have expressed concerns about certain trends in the seed sector, including its concentration and the increase in seed prices, which could alter seed availability, affordability, utilisation and resilience for farmers and the public as a whole. Food security depends, inter alia, on seed security... 

 

As shown in the analysis, concentration in the seed sector, and particularly in the GM seed sector, is very high and... reflected not only by the growing part of total seed sales commanded by the biggest seed groups, but also by the weight of these companies in R&D expenditures... also reflected in the high and growing proportion of GM seeds in overall commercial seed sales, which reached almost one-third in 2013... 

 

Another concern is that the concentration of companies may contribute to an increased focus on the most profitable or widely cultivated crops, as major firms centre their activities on the more profitable sectors... crops cultivated on smaller areas would become orphan sectors, with little investment in plant breeding...

 

Diverse species and varieties are needed because of the considerable and evolving diversity of soil and climate conditions, agro-economic situations, and end-user utilisations. Even if they are present in many countries, the few largest seed companies cannot meet the enormous range of agricultural situations and needs that exist. It seems therefore to be important that public research invest in plant breeding once again...

 

The magnitude of future challenges argues for diversity in plant breeding, notably a recovery of public R&D investment in this sector and the maintenance of SMEs... Many other aspects and tools of plant breeding are essential, including widening the genetic diversity of crops, better adaptation to local conditions, genomics and other technologies, as well as all the many other aspects of agricultural production.

 

The analysis presented here has revealed strong heterogeneity in the seed sector... as well as its modest economic size within the overall food chain, especially compared to downstream processing and large-scale retailing. Despite the rapid growth and significant weight of the top agbiotech companies, the influence of downstream sectors on the food chain remains dominant... the economic weight of the seed industry remains small within the food chain. The downstream sectors act powerfully upon the entire food chain, notably through their requirements and their influence on consumption patterns, as well as on agricultural and food prices. 

 

For farmers, the profitability of transgenic crops depends on the type of GM crop, the relative prices between GM seeds and other inputs and outputs, and on certain non-pecuniary effects (saving of time, association with other practices, etc.). GM seeds may be profitable despite their additional costs if the latter are compensated by a decrease in other input costs (such as pesticides) or by a slightly higher gross profit. Herbicide-tolerant or insect-resistant crops may allow some reduction in production costs, fewer losses, and higher yields...

 

If today there is consensus on the need for more sustainable agriculture and reinvestment in this sector, there are also strong controversies over the directions the agricultural sector should take. This controversy is especially pronounced in plant breeding: some advocate the use of modern tools of breeding, particularly those derived from biotechnology; others argue for more smallholder farming and participatory breeding, while refusing GM crops. Many people support genetic engineering because of its expected ability to confer some valuable traits more quickly, which may more efficiently address some agricultural, food, and climate issues...

 

To address these many current and future issues, there is no technological panacea. Modern plant breeding methods such as biotech applications should not be opposed to agro-ecological methods, but rather should be combined with them when possible. Rejection of GMOs is often associated with the concerns expressed over the GM seed industry and its concentration. However... the direction, implementation, regulation, and practical use of genetic engineering and biotech applications depend on the governance of the seed sector... 

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12571-014-0357-1

 

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Allergenicity Assessment of Genetically-modified Tobacco Expressing Salt Tolerance cbl Gene - Kumar &al (2014) - Plant Foods Hum Nutr

Allergenicity Assessment of Genetically-modified Tobacco Expressing Salt Tolerance cbl Gene - Kumar &al (2014) - Plant Foods Hum Nutr | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

It is mandatory to assess the allergenic potential of genetically modified (GM) crops before their commercialization. Recently, a transgene ... has been introduced into tobacco plant to make the crop salt resistance. Therefore, it was felt necessary to assess the allergenic potential of the cbl gene product, which was... compared [with] the allergenic effects with the wild-type (WT) counterpart.


Bioinformatic analysis revealed that there was no significant sequence homology with known allergens. Also, no difference between the protein digestibility profiles of GM and WT tobacco was found. Rapid digestion of CBL protein... by simulated gastric fluid (SGF) indicated reduced chances of this protein to induce allergenicity. In addition, BALB/c mice sensitized by intraperitoneal administration of WT and GM tobacco protein showed comparable levels of clinical score...T


hese findings indicate that insertion of cbl gene in tobacco did not cause any additional allergic risk to consumer and the GM and native tobacco proteins behave similarly in both in vitroand in vivo situations even after genetic modification.

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11130-014-0435-8

 

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Reply to Cisgenesis as a golden mean - Schouten (2014) - Nature Biotechnol

Reply to Cisgenesis as a golden mean - Schouten (2014) - Nature Biotechnol | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

[This is a reply to http://www.scoop.it/t/ag-biotech-news/p/4026130298/]

 

I agree with Eriksson et al. that transgenesis potentially provides numerous opportunities for sustainable food production. It opens unprecedented possibilities for improving biobased products and food with higher nutritional value. Eriksson et al. mentioned the availability of the genes across the “entire clade of life.” Actually, the possibilities of transgenesis are even wider, as also intelligently designed constructs can be synthesized...

 

However, cultivation of transgenic crops in the EU is very difficult, even after a painstakingly slow and cumbersome process of approval for commercial cultivation... Only food products from animals that have been fed with imported, transgenic commodities are widely consumed because these animal products are not labeled...


Cisgenic food is substantially better accepted than transgenic food and this is borne out for public perception in the EU... public acceptance is not the main reason for deregulating cisgenesis. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) compared the biosafety of cisgenic plants with the biosafety of transgenic plants and conventionally bred plants and concluded that cisgenic plants are as safe as (or as risky as) conventionally bred plants.


Transgenesis can introduce new traits to plants, and therewith possibly new risks compared with conventional breeding, according to EFSA. Very importantly, the implicit conclusion from this report is that GM technology itself is as safe as conventional breeding. Only foreign genes or synthetic constructs leading to novel traits may lead to risks that go beyond the risks of conventional breeding. The implicit conclusion of the EFSA report that GM technology itself is as safe as conventional breeding deserves a hearty welcome from people who are in favor of transgenesis.


Should cisgenic plants and their derived products be exempted from GMO regulation, this would be a principal and formal recognition of the low risk of GM technology for the environment and for feed and food... Moreover, exemption of cisgenesis from the GMO regulation would be a breakthrough from a technology-based regulation toward a product-based regulation... 


If consumers would buy cisgenic food products, this could lead to a wider acceptance of GM technology itself. This may lead in the long run also to a more balanced and less negative reaction of the general public toward transgenic applications... acceptance of cisgenic crops might lead to a 'foot in the door' for transgenic crops... 


The concept of cisgenesis... is a result of taking the opinions and concerns of consumers seriously. Also it has taken into consideration that insertion of novel genes and novel traits may trigger biosafety concerns, and thus lead to severe regulatory oversight. These biosafety issues can be evaded when using genes from the gene pool of the conventional breeder, which is not under this regulatory oversight... it is important that the technology be accessible for small and medium-sized companies and for niche markets, without the burden of unbearable regulatory oversight... 

 

Unfortunately, transgenic crops have failed to arrive in the EU, despite their potential for providing enhanced traits. This represents a missed opportunity, although in countries outside of the EU, commercial successes have been obtained for several transgenic commodity crops (http://www.isaaa.org/). I hope that cisgenesis will valorize the wealth of genomic information, which transgenesis could not redeem for the EU and other parts of the world, where antitransgenic crop attitudes and regulations prevail.


http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v32/n8/full/nbt.2981.html


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Endogenous allergens in the regulatory assessment of genetically engineered crops - Graf &al (2014) - Food Chem Toxicol

A scientific approach to the assessment of foods derived from genetically engineered (GE) crops is critical to maintaining objectivity and public confidence in regulatory decisions. Principles developed at the international level support regulators and enable robust and transparent safety assessments.


A comparison of key constituents in the GE crop with a suitable comparator is an important element of an assessment... Over recent years, improved proteomic methods have enabled researchers to focus on major allergenic proteins in conventional food crops, as information on natural variability is largely lacking.


Emerging data for soybean indicate that variability in levels of major allergens already in the food supply is broad. This raises questions about the biological interpretation of differences between a GE plant and its conventional counterpart, in particular, whether any conclusions about altered allergenicity could be inferred.


This paper discusses the scientific justification for requiring proteomic analysis of endogenous allergens as part of the evaluation. Ongoing scientific review and corresponding international discussion are integral to ensuring that data requirements address legitimate risk assessment questions.

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2014.08.001

 

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The slippery slope of cisgenesis - Eriksson &al (2014) - Nature Biotechnol

The negative public perception of genetically modified (GM) food... has certainly contributed to the current regulatory system in the European Union... that singles out GM products on the basis of technology rather than trait. In a creative attempt to get some GM crops into commercialization 'through the backdoor', several research groups are lately promoting the concept of cisgenesis as an alternative to transgenesis.

 

We would counter that there are no scientific indications of either risk or unpredictability associated with the phylogenetic distance between the DNA donor and recipient. The only raison d'être for this conceptual diversification is thus a somewhat arbitrary notion of unnaturalness in the mixing of unrelated genetic material in a fashion that cannot occur without human assistance.

 

We would further point out that the idea of naturalness in plant breeding became obsolete already at the turn of the 19th century when scientific progress and particularly Mendelian genetics, rather than farm-based bulk selections, were adopted as the main drivers of crop improvement. The exploration of heterosis enabled an agronomically superior mix of alleles, and the introduction of induced mutations as an approach later created a vast wealth of novel genetic variation.

 

Cisgenesis... was defined as the transfer of the full coding DNA sequence of a gene... originating from the sexually compatible gene pool of the recipient plant. This concept was introduced as a smokescreen to counter one of the major public concerns about GM crops, namely the combination of genetic elements derived from species that cannot be crossed by natural means... cisgenesis therefore respects species barriers...

 

We must not forget that the essence of modern plant breeding is the steady increment of genetic variation available for crop improvement. Seen from this perspective, the promotion of cisgenesis as a replacement for transgenesis is nothing less than a giant leap backwards in the historical progress of plant breeding.

 

What may or may not be considered as 'natural' among the public is highly subject to change over time. Whereas we do acknowledge that public acceptance of scientific endeavors is essential in a democratic society, we argue here that rather than blunt appeasement, rational information is the key to moving the public debate forward... 

 

At least part of the rationale for the cisgenic approach's focus on the origin of the genetic material appears to be to sidestep the burdensome regulatory pathway in the EU, thereby facilitating commercial release of a subset of transgenic products. However, even if cisgenics would deliver this proposed benefit, the strategy also poses risks and additional costs.

 

First, the adoption of a cisgenic strategy over a transgenic one will involve the need to invest yet more resources (purely for the purpose of circumventing discriminatory regulations). The expertise and time needed to create case-specific genomic clones that include endogenous promoters and terminators, free from selectable marker genes and vector backbones, should not be underestimated.

 

Second, rather than promoting public understanding of scientific principles, adoption of the approach may be seen as tacit agreement with the nonscientific view that there is something inherently unnatural and risky with the cross-kingdom transfer of genetic material. This strictly philosophical notion is not based on current scientific knowledge. As a consequence, it reinforces prejudice and discrimination against transgenic crops.

 

Therefore, if the postulated cisgenesis concept alone is exempted from the regulation that currently applies to GM crop plants, we would enter a slippery slope that inexorably leads away from objective and unbiased scientific principles... 

 

http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v32/n8/full/nbt.2980.html

 

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Economic Milestone: Green Revolution (1963) - Forbes (2014)

Economic Milestone: Green Revolution (1963) - Forbes (2014) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

As India battled bitter memories of the 1943 Bengal famine, and the prospect of another threatened the nation in the ’60s, renowned geneticist Dr MS Swaminathan invited American biologist Dr Norman Borlaug to help increase the country’s food production.


Borlaug... was famous worldwide for developing high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat varieties. He came to India in 1963 and, along with Swaminathan, examined its food situation and advised the government on a new course of action.


Their work led to a surge in food production and a decline in food prices, and eventually contributed to Borlaug winning the Nobel Prize in 1970. Meanwhile, Swaminathan was hailed as the ‘Father of the Green Revolution in India’... helped India move from being a massive food importer, heavily dependent on aid, to a food exporter... 

 

http://forbesindia.com/article/independence-day-special/economic-milestone-green-revolution-(1963)/38403/1

 

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The problems with arguments against GM crops - The Namibian (2014)

The year 2013 marked the 18th consecutive year of commercial cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)... And in just under two decades, the volume of land on which biotech crops are grown has increased from 1.7 million hectares in 1996... to about 175 million hectares in 2013... In 2013, more than 18 million farmers in 27 countries across the world made independent choices to grow biotech crops. 

Yet, despite these figures showing a technology on the upward trajectory in terms of adoption, the anti-GMO lobby has continued to hold its position that farmers shouldn’t grow biotech crops due to a myriad of excuses... 

How then can this contradiction be explained? ... Could such a large number of farmers be fooled for nearly two decades with a technology that is not delivering? Would the governments of these countries growing or approving use of biotech crops be so indifferent and reckless as to allow and support application of the technology in their territories? ... 

The first problem with the whole debate against biotech crops is differentiating between perception and reality. Contrary to widely held opinion that GM technology will only benefit multi-nationals and is meant for large-scale farmers, the latest trends reveal otherwise.

At least 90% of the 18 million farmers who grew biotech crops in 2013 were small-scale resource-poor farmers in developing countries... national benefits to Bt cotton farmers in Burkina Faso were estimated at US$26 million, representing 67% of total benefits with US$12 million accruing to the technology developers... 

A look into the source of funding for anti-GM activities reveals that although they are often portrayed as grassroots movements, many are part of a much larger coalition of social activists, environmental NGOs and social-investment organisations backed by a reservoir of funding from special interest foundations. 

Almost all anti-GM activists back, and in turn receive support from, organic or so called ‘socially responsible’ investment industries. Competition from cheaper and safer biotech products is seen as a threat, thus the use of anti-biotechnology rhetoric and support for activist groups to validate their products and grow their markets.

Another problem is a strong desire by some interest groups to romanticise poverty and hunger. Ironically, poverty and food insecurity provide booming businesses... for several anti-GM lobbyists... While lobbyists spend three quarters of their time globe-trotting and peddling unsubstantiated claims against biotech foods, farmers — especially women — are breaking their backs weeding with their hands and scouting for pests in a merciless scorching sun...

Continuing to deny farmers the choice of proven, safe and efficient agri-biotechnologies would be equated to ‘protecting poverty’ and obstructing them from optimising chances of enhancing their social welfare as well...

According to the WHO, the GM foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present health or environmental risks. In addition, no negative effects on human health have been shown as a result of consuming foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.

Extensive and independently reviewed health studies — including long-term animal studies — conducted over the past 20 years using the same biotech crops have found no negative results and confirm the safety of biotech foods.

The few researchers who have made claims on negative effects refuse to share their data and research protocols for review with regulators or independent academic authorities. When they have shared the data, food safety, health and regulatory agencies have rejected the findings as flawed and misleading... 

Under ideal conditions, the use of GM crops grown by smallholder farmers could improve gross margins by 114%, reduce pesticide costs by 60 to 90%, and improve yields by 18 to 29%.This could make a significant contribution in lifting farming communities out of abject poverty, subsistence farming and improve their health.

Considering these overwhelming progress and opportunities, regardless of the widely spread fears about GM crops, one thing remains certain: That biotech crops have already demonstrated a crucial contribution in fighting food insecurity and environmental degradation. 

Coincidentally, in 2015, as the world leaders will meet to re-assess the success and challenges of meeting the Millennium Development Goals, biotech crops will also be marking 20 years of sustained commercial cultivation.

 

http://www.namibian.com.na/indexx.php?id=16258

 

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No Adjuvant Effect of Bacillus thuringiensis-Maize on Allergic Responses in Mice - Reiner &al (2014) - PLoS One

No Adjuvant Effect of Bacillus thuringiensis-Maize on Allergic Responses in Mice - Reiner &al (2014) - PLoS One | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Genetically modified (GM) foods are evaluated carefully for their ability to induce allergic disease. However, few studies have tested the capacity of a GM food to act as an adjuvant, i.e. influencing allergic responses to other unrelated allergens at acute onset and in individuals with pre-existing allergy.


We sought to evaluate the effect of short-term feeding of GM Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)-maize (MON810) on the initiation and relapse of allergic asthma in mice. BALB/c mice were provided a diet containing 33% GM or non-GM maize for up to 34 days either before ovalbumin (OVA)-induced experimental allergic asthma or disease relapse in mice with pre-existing allergy.


We observed that GM-maize feeding did not affect OVA-induced eosinophilic airway and lung inflammation, mucus hypersecretion or OVA-specific antibody production at initiation or relapse of allergic asthma. There was no adjuvant effect upon GM-maize consumption on the onset or severity of allergic responses in a mouse model of allergic asthma. 

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0103979

 

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Consider some of the benefits of genetically modified foods: Jack Fisher, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation - Cleveland (2014)

Consider some of the benefits of genetically modified foods: Jack Fisher, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation - Cleveland (2014) | Ag Biotech News | Scoop.it

Some technologies enjoy nearly universal approval. What's not to like about safer cars, better health diagnostics and instant access to virtually all the world's knowledge? But high tech on a fork? Now there's something that for some folks is hard to swallow. 

 

When I agreed to contribute to this discussion about genetically modified (GM) foods, it was with the understanding that Farm Bureau isn't in the business of telling anyone what types of food to embrace or avoid. That said, we also believe there are aspects of the GM story that would be beneficial to anyone who wants to make informed food choices.  So here are a few items to consider.

 

Experts confirm the safety of GM foods. Granted, food choices aren't purely academic, but to the extent you're influenced by research, ... "the science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe." ... GM crops also help make eating affordable... This technology is also environmentally friendly... Another item to consider is the impact of GM crops on jobs... 


Do the above ideas mean you should rush out and fill your shopping cart with GM goodies? What I'd prefer is that you rush to your search engine. Check out some of the thoughts I've shared and the ideas presented in the accompanying article. Find trustworthy sources to help you make informed decisions. Choose the foods and food production systems that are right for you and be respectful of the choices made by others.  

 

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/08/consider_some_of_the_benefits.html

 

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