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Contaminated Rice Cultivar Banned in Arkansas

March 20, 2007 (Un)Sustainable Farming, Biotechnology, News Comments Off on Contaminated Rice Cultivar Banned in Arkansas

Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson

As part of an ongoing US effort to purge contaminating transgenic traits from rice varieties, the state plant board of Arkansas has banned the BASF rice variety Clearfield 131. Clearfield 131, which is a popular variety with non-GM tolerance to Newpath Herbicide is a popular variety for growers with red rice problems and its loss is likely to be a major setback for many growers.
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Cisgenic Plants: Just Schouten from the Hip?

February 23, 2007 Biotechnology, Commentaries, Environment, Health Comments Off on Cisgenic Plants: Just Schouten from the Hip?

Allison Wilson and Jonathan Latham

Many genetic engineers have long resented the regulatory procedures imposed on transgenic crop plants, often arguing that there is no difference between the risks arising from transgenic plants and plants bred using ‘conventional’ methods. A recent proposal calls for complete deregulation of transgenic plants which have only plant DNA inserted into their genomes (Schouten et al., 2006a,b). The term cisgenic has been coined for such plants in order to highlight the origins of the transferred DNA. Other terms for plant-derived transgenes include ‘all-native DNA’ and ‘P-DNA’ (Rommens, 2004).

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Transgene Escape! – But No One Has Called Out the Guards

February 4, 2007 Biotechnology, Commentaries, Environment Comments Off on Transgene Escape! – But No One Has Called Out the Guards

Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Centre for Food Safety

Introduction

One route by which transgenes (the genes engineered into crops) may cause harm is by permanently escaping from agricultural environments into wild or natural areas. This is not likely to happen with most GMO crop plants, because most crops have been hobbled by millennia of breeding and cannot survive without human intervention, such as planting and weeding. The addition of one or several transgenes generally cannot overcome this long history of domestication. However, most crops have wild relatives that they can interbreed with, thus passing crop genes and transgenes into these wild species. For example, over 20 important crops grown in the U.S. have related wild species they can mate with (1).
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Unapproved Transgene Contaminates US Rice Supply

January 9, 2007 Biotechnology, Health, News Comments Off on Unapproved Transgene Contaminates US Rice Supply

Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson

Transgene escape has again become a major biosafety and financial issue. On 18 August the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed that non-transgenic long grain rice in the US was contaminated with Bayer transgene event LL601. This transgene encodes resistance to the herbicide phosphinothricin and LL601 has not been approved (deregulated) for cultivation or use in food supplies in the US or elsewhere. Contamination with LL601 was first detected in January and reported to Bayer in May, Bayer informed the USDA in late July. Contamination however is likely to have predated detection in January since the last permit for growing LL601 rice expired in 2001.
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Transgenic Bt Maize Pollen Harms Swallowtails

January 2, 2007 (Un)Sustainable Farming, Biotechnology, Environment, News Comments Off on Transgenic Bt Maize Pollen Harms Swallowtails

Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson

Pollen from a Bt insect resistant maize is highly toxic to the European common swallowtail butterfly (Papilio Machaon) according to a paper published last week in the journal Basic and Applied Ecology (Lang and Vojtech 2006 Vol. 7 pp296-306; doi:10.1016/j.baae.2005.10.003). The paper found that for first instar caterpillars the LD50 of Bt 176 corn was 14 pollen grains and that for harm to occur required consumption of as few as 5 pollen grains.
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Commentaries

The UK’s Royal Society: a Case Study in How the Health Risks of GMOs Have Been Systematically Misrepresented

by Steven Druker For more than twenty years, many eminent scientists and scientific institutions have routinely claimed that genetically modified foods are safe. And because of the perceived authority of their pronouncements, most government officials and members of the media have believed them. But when the arguments these scientists employ …

“Poison Papers” Snapshot: HOJO Transcript Illustrates EPA Collusion With Chemical Industry

The Poison Papers

by Rebekah Wilce The world of independent chemical testing has a shiny veneer. The public is reassured that chemicals they’re exposed to on a daily basis are certified by technicians in spotless white lab coats who carefully conduct scientific studies, including on animals in neat rows of cages. But a …

The Biotech Industry Is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs from the Inside

by Jonathan Latham, PhD The British non-profit GMWatch recently revealed the agribusiness takeover of Conabia, the National Advisory Committee on Agricultural Biotechnology of Argentina. Conabia is the GMO assessment body of Argentina. According to GMWatch, 26 of 34 its members were either agribusiness company employees or had major conflicts of …

The Meaning of Life (Part I)

DNA double helix

by Jonathan Latham, PhD Many people date the DNA revolution to the discovery of its structure by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953. But really it began thirty years before, conceived by the mind of John D Rockefeller, Sr. Thus it is fitting that DNA is named after him. …

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Reviews

Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA

Poison Spring Evaggelos Valllianatos

Book Author: Evaggelos Vallianatos with McKay Jenkins Reviewed by: Carol Van Strum “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts,” Richard Feynman famously declared in 1966. Ever quick to challenge accepted wisdom, he distinguished the laudable ignorance of science, forever seeking unattainable certainties, from the dangerous ignorance of experts …

The Real Cost of Fracking: How America’s Shale Gas Boom Is Threatening Our Families, Pets, and Food

The Real Cost of Fracking book cover

Book Authors: Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald Reviewed by Allison Wilson (The Bioscience Resource Project) The first researchers to systematically document ill health in livestock, pets, and people living near fracking drill sites were Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald. Bamberger, a veterinarian, and Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at …

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