Category Archives: Genetic Engineering

Genetically engineering perennial grasses for biofuels: the USDA’s next dumb idea

Oh brother.  Where to start with this mess.  First off, genetically engineering perennial grasses is a disaster waiting to happen.  As with genetically engineering trees, there is no way to stop GE perennial grasses from genetically contaminating other grasses once they are released into the environment.  In fact, contamination has been caused simply by conducting outdoor field trials of GE grasses.  GE perennials are an even worse idea than GE annual crop plants because they cannot be contained.

Then there is the problem of trying to create fuel from plant material of any kind, which is leading to massive land grabs around the world, destroying biodiversity and displacing food crops, since there is simply not enough land on Planet Earth to come close to replacing the fossil fuels currently being devoured on a daily basis.

How about instead of these fake techno-fixes, we try reducing the amount of fuel we consume–especially in the U.S.–by, oh, around 90% or so.  Now there’s a real solution.

USDA Funds Genetic Engineering Research for Switchgrass Biofuels

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-  July 24, 2014, Farmers’ Advance

Michigan State University (MSU) plant biologist C. Robin Buell has been awarded $1 million from a joint U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program to accelerate genetic breeding programs to improve plant feedstock for the production of biofuels, bio-power and bio-based products.

Specifically, the MSU College of Natural Science researcher will work to identify the genetic factors that regulate cold hardiness in switchgrass, a plant native to North America that holds high potential as a biofuel source.

“This project will explore the genetic basis for cold tolerance that will permit the breeding of improved switchgrass cultivars that can yield higher biomass in northern climates,” said Buell, also an MSU AgBioResearch scientist. “It’s part of an ongoing collaboration with scientists in the USDA Agricultural Research Service to explore diversity in native switchgrass as a way to improve its yield and quality as a biofuel feedstock.”

For the full article, click here

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Uncategorized

Agent Orange Crops Poised for Commercial Use

Dow, Monsanto, Dupont.  Who ever thought it would be a good idea to put huge chemical companies in charge of our food supply?  Oh yeah, the US Department of Agriculture.  Time to end this industrial agriculture nightmare of poisoned air, water, land and food and get back to organics–better for the climate, for our health, for pollinators and for the planet.  For more on why industry now needs more toxic pesticides, see yesterday’s blog post: The Predicted Impacts of Monsanto’s Chemical Warfare.

‘Outrage’ Follows USDA’s Advancement Of New Genetically Engineered Crops

By Andrea Germanos | August 8, 2014 Source: Mintpressnews.com

‘We need to get off the pesticide treadmill,’ said George Naylor, farmer and Center for Food Safety Board Member

GMO corn in Yellow Springs, Ohio. (Photo/Lindsay Eyink via Wikimedia Commons)

Watchdog groups are denouncing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommendation on Wednesday to approve new varieties of genetically engineered corn and soybeans as a path towards more toxic pesticides that threaten the environment and public health.

“We are outraged,” stated Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, PhD, senior scientist with Pesticide Action Network, adding that the “USDA has turned its back on America’s farmers and rural communities.”

The new crops are Dow AgroScience’s 2,4-D- and glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybeans. They are made to be used with Dow’s Enlist Duo herbicide, which contains 2,4-D and glyphosate and is also under review by the USDA.

The decision to advance the crops towards full deregulation flies in face of warnings by food and environmental groups, doctors, scientists, 50 members of Congress, as well as thousands of public comments to the USDA.

For the entire article, click here

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Filed under Biodiversity, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture, Pollution, Uncategorized, Vietnam War

Earth Minute: Anne Petermann on Green Products Re-Branding Genetic Engineering

Image from SynBioWatch

Image from SynBioWatch

Earth Minute is written and recorded by GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann in partnership with KPFK. 

Listen to Anne Petermann’s Earth Minute for this week:

Transcript

Synthetic biology, or “extreme” genetic engineering, is, without any warning, on its way to a supermarket or coop near you. Yeast and algae have been bioengineered to produce vanilla, stevia and saffron, palm and coconut oil substitutes.

“Green” Companies like Ecover are moving to incorporate this controversial new technology into everyday products even though truly natural alternatives–like coconut oil–are readily available and can be sustainably sourced.

So what is synthetic biology?  According to Friends of the Earth, “Synbio involves stripping organisms of their natural genes and replacing them with digitally created DNA codes to create new forms of life.”

Learning from the anti-GMO movement, however, food and biotechnology companies are attempting to replace the terms “synthetic biology” and “synbio” with words like “nature-identical” and “sustainable.”

But with companies like Monsanto, DuPont, BP, Chevron, Cargill and others in the mix–calling synthetic biology sustainable or natural is not only dangerous, it is just plain ridiculous.

For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann, from Global Justice Ecology Project.

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Filed under Commodification of Life, Earth Minute, Earth Radio, Genetic Engineering

The Predicted Impacts of Monsanto’s Chemical Warfare

Here we see what many non-GMO activists predicted years ago.  Creating herbicide resistant GMO crops will create herbicide resistant weeds–and the “need” for increasingly toxic chemicals.  Thanks Monsanto.  Job well done.

Invader Batters Rural America, Shrugging Off Herbicides

Mr. Harper uprooted a palmer by hand, the last resort in fighting the weed. Each plant can produce up to 200,000 seeds in an average field. Photo credit: Daniel Acker for The New York Times

WHEATFIELD, Ind. — The Terminator — that relentless, seemingly indestructible villain of the 1980s action movie — is back. And he is living amid the soybeans at Harper Brothers Farms.

About 100 miles northwest of Indianapolis, amid 8,000 lush acres farmed by Dave Harper, his brother Mike and their sons, the Arnold Schwarzenegger of weeds refuses to die. Three growing seasons after surfacing in a single field, it is a daily presence in a quarter of the Harper spread and has a foothold in a third more. Its oval leaves and spindly seed heads blanket roadsides and jut above orderly soybean rows like skyscrapers poking through cloud banks. It shrugs off extreme drought and heat. At up to six inches in diameter, its stalk is thick enough to damage farm equipment.

“You swear that you killed it,” said Scott Harper, Dave Harper’s son and the farm’s 28-year-old resident weed expert. “And then it gets a little green on it, and it comes right back.”

For the full article, click here

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Filed under Biodiversity, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture, Pollution, Uncategorized

Court Says No to GMO: Monsanto defeated in Mexican court by Maya campesinos

soybeans

Mexican indigenous groups won a lawsuit revoking Monsanto’s permit to plant GMO soy in the Yucatán and six other states. The campesinos argued that “the license endangered the traditional production of organic honey in a region including the Yucatán communities of Ticul, Santa Elena, Oxkutzcab, Tzucacab, Tekax, Peto and Tizimin,” according to an article in the World War 4 Report. The ruling is one of several recent court cases moving toward restoring Indigenous Peoples authority in proposed uses for their territories and lands.

This was the third defeat for GM soy in eastern Mexico this year. In March and April a court in Campeche ruled in favor of two suits brought by Maya beekeepers from the Hopelchén and Pac-Chen communities in Campeche’s Cancabchen municipality. The decisions on GM soy follow a ruling in October 2013 by a federal judge that restrained Sagarpa and the Environment Secretariat (Semarnat) from granting further licenses for planting GM corn in Mexico. But Ximena Ramos, an adviser for the Litiga OLE legal assistance group, said the July ruling in Yucatán was especially important because the judge ordered a public consultation with the affected indigenous communities before any resolution could be made about the sowing of GM soy. This enforces “the multicultural principle in the Constitution, along with the human rights implied in the right to prior consultation with the Maya,” she said. (Terra Mexico, July 22; El Ciudadano, Chile, July 30.

 

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Filed under Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture

Mexican judge bans Monsanto GMO soybean crops

2013 Monsanto protests in Mexico. Photo: cipamericas

2013 Monsanto protests in Mexico. Photo: cipamericas

A federal judge in Mexico overturned a permit that allowed Monsanto to plant GMO soy when evidence proved that the frankenplants endangered native honeybee colonies.

Victory is sweet!

In his article, “Monsanto in Mexico: Court rules against the Gene Giant in Yucatan,” Devon G. Pena explains the situation:

According to reports appearing in the Mexican print media, a federal district court judge in Yucatán yesterdayoverturned a permit issued to Monsantothe U.S.-based multinational corporation that is a leading purveyor of genetically modified crops (GMOs). The permit, which had been issued by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food on June 6, 2012, allowed the commercial planting of GM soy bean in YucatánThe ruling was based on consideration of scientific evidence demonstrating (to the judge’s satisfaction) that GMO soy crop plantings threaten Mexican honey production in the states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán. (Read More)

Across the globe, governments backed by corporate cash call for scientific evidence that GMOs are harmful, but when that proof is placed before them, they dodge reality and keep on pushing their agendas. Mexico revoking Monsanto’s permit shows other governments that it is not too late to turn away from Big Ag and back to the people.

 

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by | July 25, 2014 · 3:00 PM

GM agriculture does not deliver higher yields than organic processes

bananas-925216“Failure to Yield,” a study produced by the U.S. Union of Concerned Scientists, shows that the bio-fortification of bananas in Uganda and genetic engineering of bovines in the “1000 bull genome project” does not actually combat hunger, malnutrition or result in higher yields. A recent article in the Inter Press Services by Julio Godoy explains how these two projects fall short when compared to traditional, organic methods.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture

GM Eucalyptus: Brazil considers authorizing GM Trees in contravention of COP9 Decision

The Campaign to STOP GE Trees (Coordinated by GJEP) is actively campaigning to prevent the commercialization of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in Brazil.  A similar proposal is under consideration in the US.  Please sign our petition to the USDA demanding a ban on GE trees here: http://globaljusticeecology.org/petition/

–The GJEP Team

By Jay Burney, June 2014. Source: CBD Alliance

stopge

 

In Brazil, Futuragene, a UK-registered company wholly owned by Brazilian timber giant Suzano, has submitted a request to CTNBio to commercially release genetically modified eucalyptus trees in Brazil.

CTNBio is the governmental institution charged with authorizing commercial release of GMOs in Brazil. Hundreds of social and ecological justice organizations representing millions of people joined forest protection groups from around the world to reject the commercial release of GM trees due to their potentially serious negative effects on biodiversity and human rights, as well as the complete lack of independent assessments of their social, ecological and economic risks. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Genetic Engineering