Photo from ETC group
San Francisco, Calif.
– In an open letter
released today 17 national and international consumer, environmental, women’s health and farming groups called on leading “natural” cleaning and personal care products manufacturer Ecover and its U.S.-based subsidiary, Method Products Inc., to cancel plans to use oils and other ingredients derived from synthetic biology, a new and unregulated set of genetic engineering techniques. Earlier this month, Ecover announced it would switch to using oils produced by synthetic biology company Solazyme Inc. (SZYM) via synthetically engineered algae which feed on sugar.
The organizations, including Friends of the Earth, Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Women’s Voices for the Earth, Clean Production Action, Organic Consumers Association, and ETC Group, as well as watchdog and farmer groups in Brazil concerned about the environmental impacts of increased demand for Brazilian sugarcane, say the use of synthetic biology ingredients contradicts Ecover and Method’s branding as “sustainable” and “ecologically sound.”
“Synthetic biology is a new area of extreme genetic engineering and there are no regulations yet in place to deal with the implications of these new synthetic organisms. Our ability to even assess the risks is lagging way behind,” said Jim Thomas of ETC Group. “A wider switch to synthetic biology ingredients is likely to cause serious harm to biodiversity and farmers, and it is disappointing that Ecover and Method are leading the charge.”
Synthetic biology is the practice of artificially constructing genetic material such as DNA in order to create new forms of life or attempt to ‘reprogram’ existing organisms, such as yeast and algae. Synthetic biology companies claim that they can now generate millions of new, untested organisms per day. If a fraction of these synthetic organisms were released, the potential effects on health, the environment and farmer’s livelihoods are wide-ranging – from relatively benign to ecological and economic disruption.
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance is a national alliance of grassroots organizations building a popular movement for peace, democracy and a sustainable world. GGJ is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this week with a delegation of 16 leaders of grassroots organizations from impacted communities in the US to call out the false solutions to the economic and ecological crises at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.
We call on the US government to take a stand against the worst tendencies of “Green Capitalism” and the “Greed Economy,” and instead invest in solutions to the root causes of the ecological and economic crises that put our communities to work, cool the planet, and transition to local economies.
Sign the Petition TODAY!
We have five demands:
1. Stop destructive climate projects and unsustainable energy developments including the Canadian Tar Sands, the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, and proposed oil drilling in the off-shore Outer Continental Shelf areas of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas of Alaska.
“The Canadian Tar Sands has allowed the Indigenous peoples of Canada to become economic hostages. We have inherent Constitutionally Protected Rights that say we can always go to the land to hunt, fish, and forage; however, we are being deliberately ignored by the industry and by our Governments. The US has an obligation to ensure they participate in ethical protocols and procedures. Supporting an industry that is displacing a people and desecrating their lands is not acceptable! — Crystal Lameman, Indigenous Environmental Network, Beaver Lake Cree Nation in Northeast Alberta, Canada.