Centre for Society and Genomic’s “Ten Years After: Mapping the Societal Genomic Landscape” Conference
The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) has co-produced a series of six short videos on /Highlights of the Global Status of Biotech Crops/. Dr. Clive James, ISAAA Founder and Chair, provides a focused and comprehensive analysis of the different themes of the video series. All six videos are available in video streaming or in downloadable format at the ISAAA website (http://www.isaaa.org
) or in YouTube. The topics of the videos are:
* The Norman Borlaug Legacy
* Global Adoption of Biotech Crops
* Biotech Crops in Developing Countries: The Significance of Bt Rice
and Phytase Maize in China
* The Global Impact of Biotech Crops
* The Future Prospects of Biotech Crops
* The Mission of ISAAA: Knowledge Sharing
Web visitors may also subscribe to podcasts to be alerted on new videos such as those mentioned above, audio files and PDFs by visiting http://www.isaaa.org/rss/podcast/default.asp
Genetically engineered crops are more environmentally friendly than
By Elliot Entis
April 11, 2010
The Boston Globe
The yield per acre of such organic crops as wheat and beans is
between 50 and 80 percent of the yield of conventional crops
GE outperforms conventional crops: yields from genetically
engineered crops are 36% better for corn and 12% better for soy beans
Since 1997, the reduction in pesticide use resulting from
genetically engineered crops is estimated at 790 million pounds,
or 8.8%, and herbicide reduction in soybeans at 161 million
pounds, or 4.6%
“Farmers who grow Bt-corn [a GE variety that contains the natural pesticide Bt] use 75 percent less pesticides, essentially receiving the benefits of chemicals without releasing them into the environment or leaving residue on the final product.’’ Bt is one of the pesticides organic farmers use to protect their own crops.”
“The organic movement is largely a romantic ideal, far removed in many ways from science. It believes it is environmentally friendly, but it largely avoids science. True environmentalists look at the facts, and those facts do not support the growth of organic farming as a way to feed the world. However, with few exceptions, environmental organizations do not admit to this publicly. Why? Because they share a constituency: citizens who oppose certain elements of mass production farming, who yearn for a simpler time, when things were more natural. But this constituency is built on a shared belief system about the past, not the future.” http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2010/04/11/…
April 9, 2010
A shipment of genetically modified (GM) maize has been blocked at the Kenyan port of Mombasa after protests by environmentalists. GM imports have been banned in several African countries. The 40,000-tonne shipment contained four varieties of maize, three of which were made by Monsanto.
Mariam Mayet, an activist at the South African-based African Centre for Biosafety, criticised her government’s policy. “The way it is, one is inclined to say that South Africa was a springboard to contaminate the rest of the African continent by allowing multinationals to export from South African soil,” she told South Africa’s Business Report newspaper.
Many African countries are under increasing pressure to grow GM crops to tackle hunger and malnutrition, and drought in recent years has caused food shortages in Kenya.
Farmers prefer to use GM seeds for cash crops, survey finds
T. V. Padma
9 April 2010
“India’s first survey of farmers’ and consumers’ views on genetically modified (GM) crops indicates farmers are more willing to use GM seeds for cash crops rather than food crops…The findings, released last week (1 April), revealed that around 40 per cent of the farmers surveyed were willing to grow cash crops with GM seeds, but 80 per cent of them said they would not cultivate food crops from seeds containing a poison to control pests. The response was consistent across big and small farmers and those educated or uneducated…The survey revealed low awareness among urban consumers of GM foods. ”
See more at: http://xrl.us/bhf7fp
On 7 May 2008, the European Commission delayed a decision on allowing farmers to grow more GM crops, and asked European Food Safety Authority to reconsider its previous review, which it had admitted was inadequate, as it was unable to take indirect and long term impacts into account. This paper represents a follow up from this debate which concluded that the Commission services should work on a technical solution for the issue of LLP of non approved GMOs in feed and foodstuffs before the summer.
A Search for Regulators and a Road Map to Deliver GM Crops to Third World Farmers
March 31, 2010
The New York Times
by Gayathri Vaidyanathan of ClimateWire
“In the transgenic crop fight, the foot soldiers on either side have been dug in for years. But despite the doubts about the necessity of GM, farmers have been voting with their seeds.”
Key points in article:
Now and what is to come:
* transgenic crop acreage is increasing with developing nations and small farming ops being the newest adopters (up 7% over the last year according to the ISAAA)
* European Commission predicts that by 2015 there will be 120 commercial crops grown worldwide (currently there are 30)
* ~ 90% of 14 million farmers worldwide that use GM are ‘resource
* As many as 100 developing countries lack tech and management capacity to review tests and monitor compliance of GMs
“Biosafety regulations of countries are usually modeled after the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, an international agreement that promotes a “precautionary approach.” It says that GM crops can be adopted if they are of minimal risk to the environment and human health. It lays out a clear set of guidelines to test for that risk. But guidelines alone don’t suffice.”
Genetically modified foods get U.S. traction, global debate
by Elizabeth Weise, USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2010-03-17-Biotech17_cv_N.htm?loc=inters…
Biologically engineered crops continue to be embraced in both developed and developing nations. Last year, 330 million acres of biotech crops were planted in 25 countries, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Application (ISAAA) says.
“China most definitely will have an influence in the future of agriculture and trade. They grow an incredible amount of food and fiber, and the more they embrace this technology, the more it’s going to be used,” says Eric Hoffman, the group’s genetic engineering policy campaigner in Washington, D.C. “There’s potential for China shifting the balance away from the movement that Europe is creating to stop these technologies.”
‘GM Organics’ Paper Awarded International Society of Bioethics 2009 Prize
The International Society of Bioethics has decided to award its 2009 prize to the paper entitled “More sustainable food: genetically modified seeds in organic farming” presented by Mrs. *Mertxe de Renobales Scheifler*, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. You can find the announcement here: http://www.sibi.org/ingles/jgp/index.htm
Zimbabwe Farmers Calls for Planting of GMOs
– Sarah Ncube, The Zimbabwe Telegraph, Nov. 19, 2009 http://www.zimtelegraph.com
Zimbabwe – Harare – The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) has called on the Government to allow farmers to plant Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) maize seed so as to increase harvest and counter imports. In a telephone interview yesterday, the organisation’s vice president for administration Robert Marapira said GMO maize could be the short term solution to the country food shortages. “It is known that the country has over the past decade failed to harvest adequate maize to cater for the needs of the citizens hence we believe that the growing of genetically modified maize could be the counter measure especially taking into consideration that the Government has been spending millions of dollars in sourcing grain from outside the country,” he said.
Marapira said research had shown that a hectare of land planted with GMO seed could harvest 15 tonnes compared to natural seed, which rakes in only three tonnes. “GMO seeds mature faster than the natural seed and they need less water looking at a possibility of the country receiving less rainfall meaning that if such a thing was to occur the country would be guaranteed of a good harvest,” said Marapira.
He added that GMO maize could also be used as a way of countering imports that have flooded the local market. “The majority of food stuffs coming into the country are GMOs and paying particular attention to maize you would notice that South African maize is cheaper than local because production costs lesser meaning that most businesses and millers would prefer to buy from neighbouring countries a situation which would negatively affect farmers,” said Marapira.
Meanwhile various farmer organisations met to discuss challenges faced by farmers and strategies on how to effectively market their produce.