Tag Archives: GMOs
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.
Note: Global Justice Ecology Project collaborates with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK each week for an Earth Minute on Tuesday and an EarthWatch segment on Thursday.
Protest in Sacramento, California during a meeting of the WTO’s Agricultural Ministers, hosted by the USDA in June 2003 in preparation for the WTO summit in Cancun that fall. Global Justice Ecology Project co-founder Orin Langelle joined allies at this WTO miniterial to organize protests against the development of dangerous and uncontrollable genetically engineered trees. Photo: Langelle/GJEP
Global Justice Ecology Project coordinates the international STOP GE Trees Campaign. We recently produced a briefing paper on the current status of genetically engineered trees, as well as a history of the campaign to stop GE trees, which we have led since 1999.On March 29th, Global Justice Ecology Project co-organized aconference on Synthetic Biology in Berkeley.
Industry plans to combine the use of GE trees and the use of manufactured and totally synthetic lifeforms to create so-called “advanced cellulosic biofuels.” These synthetic organisms have never existed before and there is no way to know what would happen if they “escaped” into the environment. This is a reckless technology that must be ended.Genetically engineered trees live for decades, can spread their pollen and seeds for up to hundreds of miles, making them much more dangerous than agricultural crops. GE versions of native trees like poplar and pine will inevitably and irreversible contaminate native forests with their pollen and seeds, leading to total disruption of the forest ecosystem. GE eucalyptus trees are non-native, invasive, highly flammable and deplete ground water.
Today the issue of GE trees is more urgent than ever with industry proposals to commercially release millions of GE eucalytpus trees in huge plantations pending with the USDA. If approved, these plantations will exacerbate droughts and cause massive firestorms. They must be banned.
To read our briefing paper, “Analysis of the Current State of GE Trees and Advanced Biofuels, click here.
And forward to minute 26:00