Five international judges say Monsanto's activities have negatively affected individuals, communities and biodiversity, writes Claire Robinson. The Monsanto Tribunal's damning ruling denounces the company's harmful impacts on food sovereignty, agricultural production, access to nutrition, the natural environment, seed diversity, climate change, pollution and traditional cultural practices.
Advocates claim that synthetic biology and the so-called New Breeding Techniques (NBTs) are distinct from genetic engineering (GE), write Helena Paul, Elisabeth Bücking & Ricarda Steinbrecher. In fact synthetic biology and NBTs carry similar risks to old-style GE, and even create novel hazards. The 'new GE' techniques - as they should be named - and their products deserve regulation at least as strict as those applying to GMOs.
Increasing quantities of 'hidden GMOs' are finding their way into our diet, writes Pat Thomas. They are coming mainly in US imports for supermarkets and caterers, and in animal feeds used for meat, dairy and egg production. It's time for chefs, pubs, takeaways and restaurants to take responsibility for the food chains that supply them - labelling the GMOs in their meals, and better still, cutting them out.
UK supermarkets led the world in saying 'no!' to GM foods and ingredients, writes Liz O'Neill. But they faltered on GM feeds for pigs, cattle, poultry and fish, with GM soy and corn dominating the UK's non-organic market. Now campaigners are putting the pressure on supermarkets to make their entire supply chains GMO-free for the sake of animal, human and ecological health.
The troubled project to develop GMO 'golden rice' cultivars has just hit a serious obstacle. An attempt to breed the 'event' responsible for carotenoid production into a commercial rice variety has produced widespread genomic instability, causing weak plants and poor grain production. Has the golden rice hype bubble finally burst?
They promote GMOs, defend toxic chemicals, and attack people who raise concerns about those products as 'anti-science'. But behind the slick 'astroturf' PR fronts lurk some very dubious funders: the same arch-conservative foundations that finance climate science denial. Stacy Malkan exposes the key players in the agribusiness and chemical industry propaganda wars.
At what point are technologies so complex, uncertain, or unmanageable as to be beyond regulation? The question is key to human and ecological health, writes Jonatham Latham. But instead of learning from successful approaches, such as aviation safety, we are throwing the lessons away when faced with truly complex problems - like chemicals, GMOs, and now 'gene drives'.
A coalition of farmer and public interest groups are suing the US Environmental Protection Agency for unlawfully approving the use of Monsanto's highly toxic herbicide dicamba on its dicamba-resistant GMO soybeans and cotton, without consulting wildlife and fisheries agencies.
With USDA proposing to redefine GMOs for the purposes of food labeling, the issue is more important than ever, writes Jonathan Latham. It's not just to give consumers' the 'right to know' when they buy GM food, it's also a vital means to empower citizens to fight back against the industrialisation of food and farming, and the monopolies of agribusiness corporations.
Back in the 1990s Scotts Miracle-Gro worked out a cunning plan, writes Jeff Manning: to make a fortune from a GMO grass seed for golf courses that survived the Roundup herbicide. But after investing $100 million in the project, it has never sold a single seed. And now the GMO is spreading from test plantings in Idaho, and threatening Oregon's $1 billion hay and grass seed industry.
160 global groups have called for a moratorium on new 'genetic extinction' technology at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Cancun, Mexico. Gene drive technology, they say, poses serious and irreversible threats to biodiversity, national sovereignty, peace and food security.
A study of GMO cotton varieties shows they disrupt an important beneficial soil fungus, writes Eva Sirinathsinghji, apparently due to the Bt insecticide they are engineered to express. Disruption caused by the transgenic cotton to mycorrhizal fungi, and the wider soil ecosystem, may underlie the low yields and poor pest resistance now endemic among Bt GM crops.
To feed the world we must abandon not just GMOs but all diversity-destroying selective crop breeding, organic farmer John Letts told Oliver Tickell. Only by using biodiverse local seed mixtures that evolve in the field can food production adapt to climate change without ever-increasing chemical inputs, and meet human needs for wholesome nourishment.
The organizers of tomorrow's International Monsanto Tribunal describe it as a 'moral trial', while the company dismisses it as a 'mock trial' and 'stunt'. The truth, writes Pete Dolack, is that it's about much more than this one company. On trial is the entire neoliberal system of 'free market' finance and monopoly capitalism.
The purported mission of the Cornell Alliance for Science is to explain the science underlying biotechnology and GMOs, writes Jonathan Latham. So with a debate on the issue taking place tomorrow, 5th October, on the Cornell campus, how come CAS can't find a single speaker prepared to defend their zealously pro-GM stance?
Bayer's $66 billion takeover of Monsanto represents another big click on the ratchet of corporate power over farming and food, writes Colin Todhunter. With the 'big six' of global agribusiness now set to turn into the 'even bigger three', farmers and consumers are facing more GMOs and pesticides, less choice, and deeper price gouging. Agroecology has never looked more attractive.
There's no such thing as 'healthy food' if it's not produced by sustainable farming systems on living soils, Patrick Holden told the recent 'Food: The Forgotten Medicine' conference. But after 70 years of industrial farming, there's a huge job to be done to restore our depleted soils and the impoverished genetic diversity of our seeds and crops.
The very first GE product, a dietary supplement, poisoned thousands of people of which dozens died, writes Steven M. Druker. The first GE food, the 'Flavr Savr' tomato, caused stomach lesions. But a long campaign of concealment and deception by regulators and corporate scientists re-engineered the truth to present GMOs as so safe they did not even need to be tested for safety.
India celebrates its Independence Day today, writes Colin Todhunter. But the highly visible system of British colonial dominance has been replaced by a new imperial hegemony: the invisible, systemic rule of transnational capital, enforced by global institutions like the World Bank, while US-based global agribusiness corporations have stepped into the boots of the former East India Company.
The real reason why 'golden rice' remains uncultivated after a 20 year effort is its poor agronomic performance, write Angelika Hilbeck & Hans Herren. But beyond that, the very idea of golden rice as a 'solution' to Vitamin A deficiency fails to recognise the real causes of malnutrition - poverty, hunger and poor diet. How will golden rice reach poor children in the first place? And will they ever get the rich, oily diet they need to assimilate its fat-soluble nutrients?
Cornell student Robert Schooler was shocked at the pro-GMO propaganda emanating from Cornell University and it's Gates-funded 'Alliance for Science'. But rather than just complain about it, he decided to fight back - with his popular 'GMOWTF' website and an important lecture series this fall by GMO experts on the Cornell campus - the ones that Cornell has been ignoring for years.